Diablo 3: What We Know So Far, Post-BlizzCon Edition

As expected, we learned a lot of new things about Diablo III at BlizzCon. And as many of these bite-sized details got swept away in all the excitement, I figured it was time to update our massive Diablo III guide.

In addition to tons of new videos and screenshots, we've added plenty of information on the new Wizard class (including her entire current skill tree), details on the newly announced Skill Runes, and a note on a major change to the attribute system, among many other updates.

Also included is new information on which way Blizzard is leaning on the issue of console ports, subscription fees, and other key development decisions.

Red-shaded bullets denote new information. As always, feel free to suggest additions in the comments.

Table of Contents:

1. General Overview
2. Gameplay
3. Items
4. Questing
5. Interface
6. Multiplayer
7. Classes
8. Monsters
9. Story
10. Trailers, Gameplay Footage, and Screenshots

1. General Overview

  • No plans for a console version yet, but the team has considered it.
  • No decisions made on the financial model. Blizzard is leaning toward not charging a subscription for Battle.net, but some features will be monetized.
  • Largely follows in the style of past Diablo games.
  • Controls and camera kept simple, but depth of combat enhanced.
  • The story takes place 20 years after the events of Diablo II.
  • Greater emphasis has been placed on a character-driven story.
  • Targeting a length similar to Diablo II, which ran four acts.
  • Uses a new in-house 3D engine and the Havok physics engine for destructible environments.
  • Has been in development for four or five years. Was rebooted after Blizzard North shut down in March 2005.
  • Will ship simultaneously on Mac and PC.


2. Gameplay

  • Attributes such as Strength and Intelligence are currently leveled automatically. Blizzard hopes this will place even more of an emphasis on equipment and talents. It also frees up the developers to plan for specific class builds.
  • All classes now have significant DPS capability.
  • A skill respec system is planned, but has not been detailed.
  • Checkpoints have been added to dungeons.
  • Players that die have the option of using a Vial of Resurrection or spawning at the last checkpoint, with full gear and items, and a sliver of health. No more fighting back to your corpse.
  • Killing a large number of monsters in a row can earn players extra experience bonuses.
  • The waypoint system will return, and will now feature an option to teleport to any nearby player.
  • A world map will be used in conjunction with the waypoint system.
  • Town portal system will "probably" be changed to speed up gameplay.
  • Large focus on encouraging cooperative play.
  • Level design will be a mix of randomized and static maps, as in Diablo II.
  • Much more vertical terrain. Bridges, ladders, etc.
  • Destructible environments have been added. Weak walls and hovering chandeliers can be used to kill enemies.
  • Blizzard plans to offer higher difficulty levels.
  • The permanent-death Hardcore mode from Diablo II is likely to return. "Don't see why we wouldn't do it."
  • Booby traps return.
  • Helper/bodyguard NPCs are back.
  • Leveling up emits an explosion from the character, dealing damage to surrounding enemies.
3. Items
  • A Skill Rune system has been added to the game.
    • Skill Runes will drop randomly from monsters like any other loot.
    • Each talent/spell has a single Skill Rune slot. Once socketed, the runes add various effects to the skills.
    • The runes can be swapped in and out--they do not bind.
    • Blizzard has created around 8 runes so far, with varying degrees of power--minor, major, etc.
    • Confirmed Rune Types:
      • Multistrike: Multiplies the effect of the spell. Example: Adds extra fireballs to Magic Missile, chain lightning to Electrocute, or multiple player copies with Mirror Image.
      • Lethality: Adds critical hit chance to the spell. Example: Adds explosion effects to spells like Electrocute or Disintegrate.
      • Power: Enhances the power of the spell. Example: Skull of Flame fireballs leave burning areas on the ground.
      • Striking: Adds a damage effect. Can turn a spell like Teleport into a damage-dealing warp.
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  • Passive skils and the Skill Runes have replaced the Diablo II synergy system.
  • 12 item slots: weapon, shield, helm, medallion, chest, sash, two rings, boots, pants, shoulders, and gloves.
  • Weapons will include offhands such as wands and crystal balls/orbs.
  • Inventory space can be expanded via extra bags, along the lines of World of Warcraft.
  • Items all take up one inventory slot--no more shuffling that giant spear around.
  • Color-coded items, uniques, runes, gems, and other conventions return, in addition to identification scrolls.
  • Loot is now generated per player. You only see the loot that you can pick up. Blizzard hopes this will help to foster a spirit of cooperation.
  • Damage-per-second statistics on all weapons.
  • Trading will be improved over the ad-hoc Diablo II experience, but nothing like an "auction house" system has been confirmed.
  • Less focus on potions in order to emphasize skill use. Monsters can drop instant health regen orbs which heal anybody nearby in your party.
4. Questing
  • There will be class-based quests in addition to main storyline quests.
  • Quests reward players with chunks of experience a la WoW.
  • A new "Adventure" system will power randomly generated scripted events and quests. An example provided was an area the player would come across, such as an old abandoned house, that may have a story behind it and enemies to dispatch.
  • A new conversation system will see fully-voiced characters interacting with each other.
  • Quests are denoted with yellow WoW-like symbols.
  • A quest tracker will allow players to easily determine which quests they are on.
5. Interface
  • The full-screen map has been replaced with a traditional minimap, which can be toggled on and off.
  • Lore can be collected in the form of scrolls. A voiceover begins on pick-up, with pause and play buttons at the bottom of the screen to control the audio playback.
  • The new hotbar acts like an abbreviated four-slot form of a World of Warcraft hotbar, with two additional slots for potions.
  • New skills are added simply by right clicking on the hotbar and selecting from a list of your learned skills. No skillbook needed.
  • Players will be able to easily assign a primary LMB attack, as well as quickswap between two RMB skills using the mouse wheel or tab key.
  • Isometric view that can be zoomed in, but not zoomed far out.
  • Hit point numbers and words like "block" now appear above monsters.
  • Buffs are now displayed as an icon in the bottom left corner of the screen.
  • Gold is now automatically picked up if you run over it.

Turn the page for details on multiplayer and the game's classes. _PAGE_BREAK_
6. Multiplayer

  • Players will be automatically partied when they join a multiplayer game.
  • Player vs. player combat is reportedly planned, but no details have been released.
  • A scroll that would teleport you to other players is also being considered for inclusion.
  • Drop in/drop out cooperative play over Battle.net.
  • There will be a single realm/region for North America.
  • The game can support about eight players in multiplayer, but currently plays better with around five. The maximum has not yet been decided upon.
  • Battle.net will receive new upgrades, some of which will be seen in StarCraft II.
  • Blizzard is looking at Battle.net features that will increase player accountability in order to cut down on annoying jerks.
  • Blizzard is looking at integrating web community features, such as a WoW Armory-like website, that would allow players to show off their characters outside of the game.
7. Classes
  • Five total character classes.
  • Players will be able to choose a male or female variant of each class.
  • Confirmed classes:

    Witch Doctor

    • Hails from the Teganze, an area of the Torajan jungles.
    • A self-sacrificing people that believe in an alternate reality called the Unformed Land, which the Witch Doctors are able to tap into for their powers.
    • Similar to Necromancer in function, but not necessarily intended as a replacement.
    • Confirmed abilities:
      • Skull of Flame: Grenade-like AoE (Area of Effect) fire spell.
      • Horrify: AoE fear spell, causes most creatures to run away.
      • Locust Swarm: Summons a swarm of insects that literally devour clusters of enemies, leaving nothing but bones.
      • Mongrel: Summons a demon dog from a skeleton. Casting locust swarm on a mongrel adds disease damage to its attacks. Intentionally destroying the mongrel damages nearby enemies.
      • Mass Confusion: Temporarily turns a group of enemies against each other.
      • Soul Harvest: AoE spell that kills an enemy and converts it into mana.
      • Wall of Zombies: Firewall-like spell that summons a line of zombies which stand and swing at nearby enemies.

    Barbarian

    • The Mount Arreat area, home of the barbarians, was devastated in Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. The barbarian people have subsequently fallen into decline.
    • Some barbarians have been turned into inhuman beasts.
    • Confirmed abilities:
      • Cleave: Hits multiple enemies in one swing.
      • Ground Stomp: A thundering AoE stun.
      • Leap: Precision jump that destroys enemies on landing.
      • Seismic Slam: The Barbarian slams the ground, creating a directed shockwave that can hit multiple enemies in a line.
      • Whirlwind: A reckless spinning attack that takes out any enemy in the Barbarian's path.

  • Wizard

    • An upstart magic user, not fit for the term sorceress.
    • "A rebellious wizard, young and inexperienced, wandering the world, dabbling in powerful magics she does not understand."
    • Full spell tree, including passive skills, available here: http://www.shacknews.com/featuredarticle.x?id=1020
    • Confirmed returning abilities:
      • Charged Bolt: Launch a volley of 3 electric bolts that deal 1-8 lightning damage each.
      • Storm Armor: Surround yourself in electrical energy. Electric bolts are automatically fired at all attackers for 1 to 8 damage.
      • Frost Nova: An explosion of ice pelts nearby enemies for 1-3 cold damage. Has an additional 25% chance of a critical hit. 12 second cooldown.
      • Electrocute: Lightning arcs from the Wizard's fingertips towards enemies, electrocuting them for 4-5 damage.
      • Ray of Frost: Project a beam of cold energy that deals 6 cold damage per second.
      • Blizzard: Call down shards of ice to pelt an area dealing 6-10 cold damage per second for 3 seconds.
      • Magic Missile: Fire 1 missile(s) of energy at your enemies causing 7-13 arcane damage to them.
      • Disintegrate: Emanate a beam of pure energy dealing 10 arcane damage per second. Damage is modified to 80% each time the beam passes through a target.
      • Wave of Force: Project a wave of force outwards, repelling enemies and projectiles and dealing 1-8 damage.
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      • Arcane Orb: An orb of pure energy explodes on contact dealing 12-16 arcane damage to all enemies in the blast area.
      • Slow Time: Warp space and time, slowing nearby monsters and projectiles.
      • Temporal Armor: Surrounds the wizard in a protective shell that stops all damage from an attack every 6 seconds. The shell dissipates after absorbing 12 attacks.
      • Spectral Blade: Summons a spectral blade that strikes each enemy in front of the Wizard 3 times causing 1-5 physical damage with each hit.
      • Stone Skin: Shield yourself with rock and stone, absorbing 30 damage. Lasts 8 seconds. 15 second cooldown.
      • Mirror Image: Create an illusionary duplicate of yourself that lasts for 8 seconds.
      • Meteor Storm: Meteorites pelt the targeted region dealing 10 to 20 damage per second.
      • Acid Cloud: Drop a deluge of acid on the targeted area. Deals an initial 1-4 poison damage followed by 4-8 poison damage per second to enemies who remain in the area.
      • Hydra: Creates a multi-headed beast that attacks your enemies with bolts of fire.
      • Magic Weapon: Imbue your weapon with magical energy granting it increased damage.
  • Other classes are still not fully decided upon by Blizzard, but an obvious addition would be some kind of Archer.

Turn the page for some information on the game's monsters. _PAGE_BREAK_
8. Monsters

  • Skeletons
    • Will come in standard soldier form, as summoners, or as shield bearers.
    • Shield bearers are slow but tough, and will absorb damage until their shield breaks, protecting casters behind them.
    • Skeletons be summoned by necromancers anywhere, but will require less effort to summon in a graveyard than in the middle of a forest.
    • Necromancers can summon a horde of skeletons or one single uber-skeleton for the same cost.
    • Summoners will automatically replenish skeleton warriors for a necromancer, creating a self-sustaining army.
    • Ghouls
      • Standard ghost-like wraiths. Once killed, can turn into a Crawling Corpse, which holds down players until killed.
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  • Berserker
    • Aggressive monster with a mace that charges up its attacks, becoming vulnerable if it misses.
  • Scavenger
    • A two-legged monster that burrows underneath the ground, exploding upwards to attack the player. Similar in appearance to the Leapers of Diablo II.
  • Dune Thresher
    • A burrowing monster similar in function to the Scavenger. Its long tail is visible above ground as it worms its way through the earth.
  • Khazra (goat-men)
    • Similar to the goat-men in past games.
    • Moon Clan Charger variant wields a large axe.
  • Dark Cultists
    • Weak magicians, they summon demon spawn to fight against you.
    • The Dark Vessel variant transforms into powerful entities on a timer. The player must kill them before they morph or face a tough battle.
  • Grotesque
    • A fat zombie. When killed, dozens of blue eels swim free of its stomach and swarm the player.
  • Beast
    • A large wooly beast with horns. Seems to have a charge and slam ability.
  • Thousand Pounder
    • A mini-boss demon shown in the Forgotten Tombs dungeon. It wields two giant maces.
  • Gnarled Walkers
    • Entities from another dimension that disguise themselves as massive trees, picking off men and animals when they come near.
    • Employ some kind of poison attack.
  • Siegebreaker Assault Beast
    • A very large mini-boss resembling a dog creature with a human torso attached to it. Shown at the end of the recent gameplay demonstration.
    • Picked up a player and bit his head off in a scripted animation, finishing it off in one attack.
  • The Skeleton King
    • A large boss in the Tristram church catacombs. The return of King Leoric from the original Diablo.
    • Challenges players to reach his throne, at which point he attacks along with several minions.

Turn the page for more on Diablo III's story. _PAGE_BREAK_
9. Story

  • Player character now interacts with characters in dialogue scenes.
  • Old characters like Deckard Cain return.
  • Plot:
    • It has been twenty years since the events of Diablo II. Of those who faced the Lords of Hatred, Terror, and Destruction in the battle over the fate of Sanctuary, there are few still living who can bear to remember the horrors that the Prime Evils wrought upon the world. And of those who did not witness the terrible events firsthand, most believe the stories to be little more than myth. But something evil is stirring once again in Tristram, and it may already have claimed its first victim: Deckard Cain.
      (Source: Blizzard.com)

    • "In the previous two games, Diablo and his two brothers, Mephisto and Baal, were the three Prime Evils of a world called Sanctuary. Where we start off in Diablo III, it's twenty years later and the brothers are gone, they've been vanquished. Essentially everyone was kind of geared for Hell to actually invade. At the end of Lord of Destruction, the Worldstone was destroyed, it left a giant crater and everyone was expecting the hordes to come pouring out of it and nothing happened. So, Deckard Cain is one of our main characters from the first two games, he's spent the last two decades trying to find out where the last two Evils are, what they're doing and why the invasion didn't happen. A lot of the rest of the story focuses on Tyrael, the Angel of Justice, and what's happened to him since that event as he was actually the angel who destroyed the world." (Source: Kotaku)

  • World Locations:
    • New Tristram
      • Town formed by merchants looking to make a profit off of the legends of riches found in the cathedral.
      • Fell into decrepitude after the cathedral was looted.
      • Now comprised of "depressing shacks" and the old inn.
      • Cain says that there is still value in the cathedral in the form of ancient tomes.

    • Caldeum
      • Located in Kehijstan.
      • Rivals Diablo II's Kurast in size.
      • Began to decay after Kurast's nobles fled their city and took up residence in Caldeum and brought with them a sense of entitlement.
      • When the unifying Emperor of Kehjistan became ill and died, the Zakarum returned and the city fell into chaos.
    • Confirmed Outdoor Zones: Leoric Highlands, Tristram Woods
    • Confirmed Dungeons: Forgotten Tombs, Tristram Church Catacombs

10. Screenshots and Video

New Media:

Old:

Have any corrections or additions? Post in the comments!