Another new interview on the Followers has popped up today, on IGN. It’s a fairly short piece, more of an article than an interview, but they have some quotes from Lead Content Designer Kevin Martens that are worth a read. Quote:
“[The Followers] are not just a sack of somewhat expensive hit points,” says Martens. “If you’re not actually playing with a friend, you’ve got the next best thing with these people because they’re very active story-wise. Beyond what the mercenaries did [in Diablo II], you can spec [the Followers] to match how you play your class. I think that any three of them can work with any class depending on how you spec them, and they’re also free to take with you. There’s no cost to taking them. So we do expect and kind of want people to switch them out whenever they feel it’s necessary. They might take the Enchantress because she’s got useful debuffs when they know they’re going to fight a certain boss. Or maybe they’ll take the Templar as a Wizard and spec him so he’s got more resistances and hit points and a heal ability and turn him into their tank. That I think is a huge advantage. I also hope that people will just take them because they like the personalities as well, whether it’s perfect for their build or not.”
Even though you won’t have direct control, Martens says the artificial intelligence will be smart about combat. Hopefully that holds true. “[The Followers] will do their own thing depending on what their build is. I’m not a huge fan of the pet bar control thing anyway. I think that the AI is actually quite good. They’ll choose contextually the right thing to do. The descriptions of the skills make it obvious how their AI works. For example, the Scoundrel and the Templar both have a heal and it tells you right in the description they’ll do it automatically as soon as you get low hit points. If you don’t want that skill, take a different one. Then pathfinding-wise, they’ll keep up with you if you ever manage to get too far ahead of them. If you die, they’ll just warp over to you.”
There are also two new (and one not new) screenshots on the official Followers page. Click them to embiggen.
Update: Yet another interview with Kevin Martens, this one on Diablo-3.esp. It covers the same ground as the rest, but here’s a nice quote about some of the merc abilities.
Diablo 3 ESP: What are the main differences or similarities with the mercenaries from Diablo 2? In terms of what they have been before and what you want to do right now.
Kevin: I think the ones in Diablo 2 were largely “glorified pets”, I’m not even sure “glorified” is correct, they were just pets, and they were just hit points more than anything else that distract my enemies. The new ones are a lot more, story-driven, they have their personal backstory and each of them has a mission on the critical path of the game where you get them, so they?re more tied-in. And because of how they act and talk to you, they feel more alive than the ones in the previous game.
Now, beyond that, I think that the tactical differences are significant. You can take someone like the Scoundrel and, the three first skills you can choose are different types of crossbow bolts for him. You can do poison bolt, which has such poison damage over time like the classic rogue-like skill, you can do a crippling shot which will slow your enemies down which for certain builds like the Barbarian where not having to chase things down is very useful, or you can do rapid fire that increases DPS (Damage Per-Second), and it goes on like that as well, you know, the respecs are very cheap, you can take him and use one of his skills that increases your gem and rune find and maybe you want to go on a mission to find better runes for yourself or take on a boss, and you can change it.
So the Templar can increase his hit points for instance, and you can use him as a tank, or maybe if you are a Barbarian and you are tanky yourself, maybe going to use his Intervene ability to only help you when you?re low on health, and these are sort of choices you have to make. I think that every follower will be an interesting part of the build that you have in the single player game.
Update #2: Yet another new interview with Leonard Boyarsky. I’m not quoting since there’s nothing in it we haven’t seen in the others, but here’s the link, courtesy of GameArena OZ.