Some quick impressions from the D3 class panel I just attended. As with the other panels, we’re filming them all, but Blizzard is not (yet) allowing any sites to post the videos since they have the exclusive TV deal with Direct TV.

    The panel opened with a discussion of the Wizard class design. Like the Barbarian and the Witch Doctor, the class is meant to be immediately archetypal and familiar, but to have new features as well. The wizard is an update of the sorcerer and sorceress, but adds a ton of new skills, new elemental types, much more variety, and a more aggressive attitude. The female wizard is the only one playable at this event, and they talked about her personality a bit. She’s rebellious, headstrong, sassy, impulsive, and brilliant. Too smart for the wizard school. Smarter than her teachers. Her opening dialogue in the game she taunts a cautioning guard, says she’ll be back shortly once she’s wiped away the monsters, etc.  Very cocky.

    More below the page break..

    Skill theory
    D3 is designed to have characters using 6 active skills (and lots more passive). The controls work with that, and they want to allow/enforce about that much variety. So they’re trying to make the skill trees support that concept, and that much variety. They do not want to repeat the D2 style of most players specializing in just 1 or 2 killing skills, with a few other support that you might only have 1 or 2 points in. Or the synergy style of 4 skills maxed out just to support one skill. They want more variety, a mixture of active skills, all of which require multiple points to become powerful. They also want beginning level skills to remain useful throughout.

    Wizard Signature Skills
    Four skills were profiled as her signature skills.

    Magic Missile.  This is a firebolt-like skill that hits for spectral damage. It gets much more powerful with additional points, and has some explosive shrapnel damage on impact. Just very visceral and fun to blast them out.

    Electrocute.  This is a single beam of lightning that locks onto monsters, like a beam weapon in an FPS. It can chain to multiple targets with more points, and creates a steady drain of damage.  Very crackly.

    Slow Time. This spell creates a bubble of protection, that greatly slows incoming missiles and monsters. The bubble stays where it’s cast, and the Wizard can move out of it. It’s basically the Amazon’s slow missile, but in one place.

    Disintegrate. This one fires a laser-like beam that sweeps around with the mouse movement. The wizard remains stationary while casting. It does more damage the longer it remains on a single target, heating them up.

    Skill Runes
    These are brand new items in D3. They are used to socket skills, adding damage or other modifications to your character’s skills. They can be used on any character, and runes can be removed and replaced at any time. There are going to be about 5 tiers of quality, and runes should be common enough that most characters will usually have their skills rune’d, but the higher level ones will be quite rare, of course.  The best example shown was of the WDs firebomb skill. With a striking rune, each firebomb would bounce several times, like skipping a stone over water. It created an explosion each time it hit, earning applause from the audience.

    The panel covered a bit more, but we’ll add that later in our more thorough write up.

    All the Blizzcon 2008 Coverage.

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