Big changes are in the works for Diablo III. If you thought the ongoing beta was nothing more than an extended demo, think again. Based on feedback from beta and internal testers, the developers are retooling systems once thought to be set in stone.
For starters, the core character attributes are being changed to Strength, Dexterity, Intellect, and Vitality. The Cauldron of Jordan, which allowed the sale of items anywhere in the world, and Nephalem Cube, which broke items down into crafting materials, have both been removed from the game. They were both rendered unnecessary when the team worked out a solution for including the Stone of Recall for quick returns back to town. And, that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Game director Jay Wilson laid out the massive ongoing development plans in a "System Changes" post on battle.net. To lay the groundwork he wrote, "We trust in our ability to make a great game, but we're not quite there yet." Given the significant overhauls being made to crafting, items, core attributes, and inventory, Wilson may be downplaying the changes.
The full post goes into detail on the changes, but here are the highlights:
- Scrolls of Identification are gone from the game as no longer needed. When a player gets an unidentified item now, they only need to study it for a brief time to identify its properties.
- The fifth quick slot button on the interface will become a dedicated potion button.
- The Mystic NPC has been eliminated from the artisans. The enhancements they added were found to be too similar to the socket and gem system already in the game.
- The Cauldron of Jordan and Nephalem Cube have also been removed from the game. The Stone of Recall is now a proper Town Portal, and it eliminats the need to process inventory items in the field. Players will just zap back to town, deal with gear, and zap back to the fight.
- The Blacksmith NPC artisan takes over the item salvage duties, basically doing what the Cube did. And common items will no longer be salvageable.
- And then the other big one, the core character attributes are changing to Strength (+Barbarian damage, +Armor), Dexterity (+Demon Hunter and Monk damage, +Dodge), Intellect (+Wizard and Witch Doctor damage, +Health from globes), and Vitality (+Health).
- Defense, Attack, and Precision are out as attributes. The new Armor represents what Defense did. +Physical Resist will take the place of the old armor. + Chance to Crit is the new Precision.
- Character stats are now shown directly on the inventory screen, making it easy to see the effects of each piece of gear as it gets swapped in and out.
In addition to the above, changes are also in the works for the core skill and rune systems.
These changes represent a massive retooling of core mechanics in Diablo III. Wilson writes that all of them will be implemented in the latest patch, so we won't have to wait long to see them for ourselves. He did not say anything more about the planned changes to runes and skills, other than to say the game wouldn't ship without them being complete. That date has been the subject of much speculation with many suggesting it would be coming soon. From the extent of this work, and the implications of the other planned changes, it could be a little further off than many fans would like.
[Thanks to GoldfishInAJarOfPickels who spotted and posted to chatty]