Diablo 3 Features, Environments and Enemies
Deckard Cain Returns
The Next and Best Generation
It's the usual story: a major Blizzard Entertainment release looms on the horizon and frenzied fans the world over are holding their breath and constantly searching for "Diablo 3 Release Date", even though anyone well enough acquainted with Diablo to be anticipating its coming knows full well that Blizzard never rushes perfection.
All the same, we know the bulk of the character class design, art direction, and scripting is finished. We can by no means be certain as to the entirety of Diablo 3's gameplay: too much of the actual content has yet to be revealed and most of it simply won't be until we get our hands on it and start playing it. However, we can be pretty confident in our assessment of how Diablo 3 will feel and look, and we can go off what Blizzard's game developers themselves have said about their intent for Diablo 3 as we build a sketch of what the latest iteration of the wildly popular franchise will be like.
The Beastly Demons of Diablo 3
Diablo 3's Final Release Date
When Do You Think Diablo 3 Will Be Released?See results without voting
Diablo 3's Greatest Innovations
There are a couple of major overhauls and improvements we'll be seeing in Diablo 3, broken down here by category for easier digestion:
Major Feature #1 3D Graphics and Interactive Environments
A full departure from previous Diablo games, the new engine is capable of phenomenal spectral effects, shadows and full 3D rendering. However, far from simply being an improvement in the quality of the eye candy, Diablo 3's new fully three dimensional environments are going to become a major part of the gameplay.
In one of the early demo reels, for example, we see the barbarian entering a dungeon and running over a thin and highly risen bridge surrounded on all sides by plunging darkness. As the hero reaches the center of the bridge, we see hordes of ghouls clambering up the sides to instantly surround the barbarian. This is our first indication of three dimensional traps and the dangers of becoming surrounded.
As the barbarian begins hacking away at the enemy hordes, we see an impressive display of rag doll physics as the ghouls are flayed and sent flying in every direction, sometimes striking their legs on the lip of the bridge, sending them into an intense spin as they bleed and plummet back into the depths. This illustrates one of Diablo 3's most badass improvements: full fledged rag doll physics .
When you put an arrow in the brain of an enemy standing at the top of a hill or ramp, you can take satisfaction in watching their head snap back as they crumple backwards and roll down the incline.
3D Environments Change Gameplay
Far from simply being nice to look at, this extra dimension will have a profound impact on the nature of gameplay and combat. We've seen a demon hunter chuck a couple grenades through prison bars toward large demons that were constrained on the other side. We've seen a barbarian outright destroy a bridge providing a path for his enemies to reach him, effectively cutting them off and buying himself some time.
You will be able to destroy large teetering pillars and watch them bury enemies beneath them, and we can only assume that the destructible goodness won't stop there. This new dimension will also probably complicate a quick escape. If you want to run from an overly stacked pack of demons, you'll not only have to pick your direction but also watch above and beneath you. Archers or ranged casters may still have an angle on you.
All in all, mastery of environments is likely to become a key skill in Diablo 3 as players come to terms with the possibility of death from above, and below.
New Worlds to Explore
Major Feature #2: Health Orbs
In a concentrated effort to stamp out the classic Diablo healing dynamic known as potion spamming, Diablo 3 developers have added a completely redone health management system known as health orbs. While fighting monsters, small to large health orbs will drop somewhat randomly from slain foes. Players can simply walk into these health orbs to collect them and regain life force.
The purpose of this new healing system is twofold: For one thing, developers were tired of players having to walk around the world or crawl a dungeon with two fingers constantly poised over the health and mana potion buttons, waiting to get hit hard enough to eat a potion and immediately regain their health. In fact, much of the combat in previous Diablo games came down to: eat a potion fast enough or die. Now, thanks to the health orb system, players will more or less be able to remain in constant battle so long as they pace themselves and maintain a positive rhythm wherein they are doing far more damage than they are receiving.
Secondly, health orbs add an added layer of excitement to combat for being slightly unpredictable in their frequency. Because not every single monster will drop an orb, players getting low on health will need to hang back so their teammates can pick up their slack and keep the monster off the wounded character long enough for them to seek treatment.
We can also imagine that solo heroes will eventually have to decide whether to cut and run or hang on in the midst of a dangerous fight in the hopes that a health orb will drop in time to sustain them.
The Mysterious Witch Doctor
Diablo 3 Gear
Major Feature #3 - Crafting
Crafting has always held a somewhat odd position in the Diablo franchise. Crafting, as a system partially under player control, was definitely most pronounced in Diablo 2, thanks to the introduction of the Horadric cube.
An important quest item that also lived on beyond the quest itself in eternal usefulness, the Horadric cube allowed players to insert several different items and combine them using the magical energies contained within the cube.
Eventually, powerful recipes began to spring up on the internet and some of the game's most powerful items came from arcane and difficult to complete recipes combined by the cube. All the same, there still remained a certain degree of randomness that was beyond player control. A set piece item might well have come from a well-known horadric cube crafting recipe, but no player could control exactly what degree certain featured stats on the item would reach.
It was a bit of a high stakes dice roll that rewarded some and left others feeling quite understandably upset that they'd spent the same amount of time and risked the same amount of valuable items only to get a slightly diluted version of a set item.
All the same, crafting remained extremely popular throughout Diablo 2 and almost singlehandedly fueled a vibrant player driven trading economy over battlenet. Diablo 3 designers well understood the importance of featuring crafting functionality in Diablo 3 as well, but decided to go about it a bit differently this time around.
How Crafting Will Work in Diablo 3
Diablo 3's crafting system essentially won't exist until the player completing the main storyline stumbles upon a lowly blacksmith.
After having met this craftsman and hearing his tale of plight, the player will be able to support and assist the blacksmith through a serious of sequentially unfolding quests.
These quests will ultimately grant the blacksmith sufficient peace of mind for him to return his focus to his craft and his unyielding desire for improvement. However, the materials needed for the blacksmith to complete his ascension to the ranks of a master artisan via trial and error will not come easily and cheaply - they must be sought out in the world - often in dangerous regions or dungeons - by the player.
As the player continues to hand in increasingly rare and difficult to obtain tiers of materials, the blacksmith will succeed in his toils and correlatively improve the breadth and quality of items he is able to offer for sale.
The blacksmith's shop and working area will actually evolve visually with the blacksmith's skill. It will start as a modest anvil beside a covered wagon and become a sprawling master's workshop packed to the gills with intimidating weapons and shields.
You can watch the official Artisan Intro video below:
Diablo 3 Artisan Crafting
A Bulbous Beastie
Diablo 3's Nefarious Enemies
Continuing its rich tradition of downright disturbing demons, Diablo 3 will feature an absolute parade of hellish creatures from the bowels of darkness.
Some of the first few beasties we've seen in demo videos include painfully bloated demons that explode into schools of dangerous hell eels when killed, fragile but briliant cultists that must be dispatched immediately before they can summon extremely dangerous spirits, and gargantuan assault beasts that step through entire stone castle walls to chase down heroes and skewer them with blades mounted on their fists.
Something new and exciting we've seen from initial demo reels is that specialized enemies are intelligently grouped together in order to form more complete traps and formidable assault squads. For instance, heavily armored skeletons toting large tower shields that absorb direct assaults will be found as the vanguard of a rear guard full of dangerous cultists that, while physicall frail, can quickly summon highly damaging undead minions. Clearly, the skeletons are meant to distract the hero and buy the glass cannons behind them plenty of time to sow their destruction - if the cultists can summon enough minions, the tide of battle will be turned irreparably against the hero.
Such multi-unit attack forces must be quickly summed up and dissected with haste and precision. If a hero were to focus on the shielded skeletons, he'd be sealing his own fate. It will be interesting to see what other difficult combos arise in the dungeons underneath Diablo 3's new worlds.
Gargantuan Assault Beast
The Uber Tank
More or less familiar to longterm Diablo fans, the Barbarian can count Diablo 1's Warrior and Diablo 2's own Barbarian among his ancestors.
Many of the same skills that Diablo 2's barbarian made popular are making a return here, such as the leap attack, some assorted battle shouts and cleaving attacks that damage multiple nearby enemies at once.
Designed specifically with those who love to wade directly into the thick of a fight and stay there, smashing faces and hacking off limbs, the barbarian is gifted at absorbing damage and remaining standing, as well as at doling out heaps of physical punishment.
The Ultimate Glass Cannon
A longtime archetypal favorite of Blizzard's, the wizard has gotten a lot of love in Diablo 3. A couple big spells have already been revealed, such as a time dilation shell that blooms around the wizard, slowing enemy projectiles caught within it, even allow the wizard to bat some of them back at their shooters!
More offensive spells include a focused laser death ray that the wizard can point at lines of enemies to fry them all at once, the ever popular hopping lightning bursts which fry foes and leap to nearby enemies as well, and the classic fireball.
Another nice addition to Diablo 3's casting repetoire is the wizard's teleport spell, which allows her to quickly zap between short distances, evading big enemy hits, bypassing entire squads of demons or helping to beat a quick escape once things get too dicey.
The Witch Doctor
In one of the fresher new offerings classwise, Blizzard has designed the witch doctor to be a capable hybrid caster class. True, the witch doctor has a makeshift heal spell that his allies will be glad to receive in the heat of combat, but the witch doctor's specialties are dark magic and fire casting.
Those familiar with the RPG genre can think of the witch doctor as a capable blend of a shaman, warlock and magician, since he is capable of pet summons, rejuvenation magic, direct damage fire spells, powerful disease based damage over time spells (DoTs) and even terror spells that can be used to reverse kite monsters.
The witch doctor can summon up to three mongrels at a time, small undead dogs that seek out enemies and rip them apart. He can also cash locust swarm on enemies to eat the flesh from their bones, or cast it on his pets to add disease based DoT to their attacks.
The witch doctor's terrify spell sends enemies scattering in every direction, allowing the witch doctor to load them up with DoT spells, sick his pets after them, or just make a hasty escape.