blizzcon2013Blizzcon 2013 kicks off in less than a week, and many fans are gaining EXCITE by the minute as we speculate and anticipate what new information and visuals we’ll see at the show. Of course we don’t know everything that the show will reveal yet, but we can make educated guesses. Besides, speculation is fun!

    The most interesting feature, at least for me and most of the others who are lucky enough to attend, is the playable Reaper of Souls demo. At past Blizzcons I felt like I got more information from playing the game myself than I did from listening to panels or interviews, and I’m quite looking forward to getting my hands on the RoS demo and trying out the Crusader. What’s the demo this time going to feaure? Here’s what we know, from the official press release:

    With 300 demo stations at their command, attendees will have the opportunity to join the fight for Westmarch, seek fame and treasure in all-new Nephalem Rifts (previously called Loot Runs), and journey through Adventure Mode, where the world itself is your battlefield. All five of the original Diablo III classes will be playable, as well as the recently-unveiled Crusader.

    …We’re also excited to announce that Diablo III: Reaper of Souls will be making its public debut on the PlayStation® 4 at BlizzCon 2013!

    RoS Gamescom Gameplay preview.

    RoS debuted as a playable demo at Gamescom back in August, and I half expected that Blizzard would just trot out that same demo for Blizzcon. (Which would only have been fair, after all those years of Gamescom and PAX and other shows getting sloppy seconds and thirds on demos debuted at for Blizzcon.) It doesn’t sound like they’re doing that, though. For one thing they’ve had 3 months more dev time since then and they’ll surely want to show off the most and latest and best version of RoS that they can. Also, that blurb mentions that Nephalem Rifts will be playable in the demo, and I don’t believe those were available in the Gamescom, demo — at least I didn’t see them mentioned in any of the hands-on reports, and NRs aren’t the sort of thing you’d forget to bring up if you encountered one.

    So, probably new demo of RoS in Act Five with Loot 2.0 active, smart drops, playable DiabloWikiCrusader, at least one new DiabloWikiElite Affix, DiabloWikiNephalem Rifts, etc. That right there is enough for me to look eagerly forward to Blizzcon, and for those of you who aren’t going to be there, I’ll be recording a podcast or two with other show attendees, and cranking the usual some hugely-detailed demo report, so what we learn you can learn to. Bathe vicariously in our enlightenment!

    But wait, there’s more! Five Diablo 3 panels, lots of developer interviews, new screenshots, probably a new gameplay movie, and more. (But apparently not news on a RoS beta, alas.) Click through for some analysis of the panels and the other new stuff coming soon.


    Reaper of Souls Beta Test

    I have not drunk of the “RoS coming in early/mid-2014” Kulle-Aide, so I was not expecting anything about a RoS beta at the show. Other reasonably-sane people have been speaking of it like that might happen though, so it’s a shame that Lylirra seemed to rule that out in some tweets late last week:

    So…we see tha Blizzard change Diablo icon ti ROS icon, but can you give us more details about this..? pic.twitter.com/kcZyuKIRDl –vaskobgn
    No details to share right now about a Reaper of Souls beta. Sorry, sir (or madam)! –Lylirra

    I’m Sir..no problem. Can you give us hope that we can hear good news for ROS Beta at Blizzcon?I’m just so excited about D3: ROS! 🙂 –vaskobgn
    I don’t believe we’ll have any additional news/updates about an ROS beta at BlizzCon either. (Me = party pooper, I know.) –Lylirra

    She might be bluffing to avoid spoiling the surprise, but I wouldn’t count on that. I do not expect anything like a Beta start date, but I wouldn’t rule out someone like Metzen or Morhaime saying something like we heard at a Blizzcon pre-D3, when they said that 1000 show attendees would be randomly selected to earn a slot into the D3 beta.

    (Or perhaps not, since that announcement was met with brief cheers that quickly turned to boos as the 25,000 people listening did some quick math and found those odds unfavorably-stingy.)


    Blizzcon Panels

    The Blizzcon 2013 panels were revealed a couple of weeks ago. At first there were only 3 Diablo 3 panels listed, but before I even finished writing the news post the schedule was further populated and two more panels were added. Since then no moar panels have been included, but Blizzard has added more Diablo 3 content to the side stage artist stuff, and there’s now a Diablo 3 Faction Feud listed for Friday evening. (Whazzat? I neither know nor care.)

    Here’s the current panel schedule, but keep in mind this is still subject to change right up until the show. A couple of years ago one Diablo 3 lore panel got scrapped and partially rolled into another D3 panel so close to the show that the printed guides they handed out in the goodie bag still listed it.

    Friday November 8

    • 11-11:45am, Main Stage — Opening Ceremony, (Which usually features new announcements for all properties.)
    • 12-1pm, Panel Stage — Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Cinematic Intro – Bringing Death to Life
    • 3:30-4:30pm, Main Stage — Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Preview
    • 5:00-6:00pm — Diablo III Lore and Story Q&A
    • Saturday November 9
    • 11:15am-12:15pm, Panel Stage — Diablo III Gameplay Systems + Crusader
    • 3:15-4:15pm Panel Stage — Diablo 3 Open Q&A

    It’s time for fun with close reading! Or not. After all, Blizzcon panel descriptions have to be brief to fit into the show directory, and while they want to give fans something of a sense of what will be covered in that panel, they’re as much (or more) targeted to draw fans to attend the panel in the first place. And probably to give the devs some wiggle room as they prepare for the panel and decide what to focus on, what to profile, and what to leave out entirely.

    We don’t know what the Opening Ceremonies will show of Diablo 3. Four months ago most of us assumed that moment would mark the debut of the Diablo III Expansion and the reveal of the new character class, but that’s obviously off the table now. Will they just rehash the Crusader and Westmarch/Maltael details? Or have they saved back some new and big stuff? Surprise PvP announcement? That would be the awesome time to break news about a RoS beta test start date, but alas that seems to be off the table.

    The Reaper of Souls Cinematic Panel seems pretty straight forward; back in Blizzcon 2011 they hosted a similar panel on DiabloWikiThe Black Soulstone cinematic, and while there was interesting and new info about the story and cinematics there, it’s not what most fans are after.

    How about the “Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Preview” panel? Another one that could be most anything. Probably some Crusader info, but since there’s a later panel headlined by the Crusader, this one seems likely to be more about Act Five’s setting, story, monsters, and various new game features like Nephalem Rifts, Transmog, the Mystic, etc. How about other new game features like [/wiki]Paragon 2.0[/wiki] and DiabloWikiLoot 2.0? Sure, but those seem like more appropriate topics for the later Diablo 3 Gameplay Systems panel since they are not RoS-specific. So what else will this panel hold? Just some Crusader stuff and then Act 5 setting and story doesn’t sound like a full hour of panel content. Moar?

    There’s also a Diablo 3 story and lore panel but… meh. I’ll watch it after the show, but I’m not leaving the demo machine for that.

    Saturday brings two more Diablo III panels, the second of which is the always unpredictable Diablo 3 Open Q&A. At previous years this was your best chance to hear brilliant questions about things like when the Necromancer would be returning to Diablo 3 (even after all five classes had been revealed and the devs had repeatedly stated the Necro was not coming back as a playable class).

    In the past we’ve wished fervently for some more pre-screening of the questions — perhaps Vaeflare could do her “always sympathetic” thing and gently guide the “WANT Nerkomantor!” guy away from the mic before he wastes three minutes of everyone’s life that we’ll never get back? I wouldn’t count on that though, and there are usually some good questions mixed in with the chaff, so let’s hope for the best.

    Earlier Saturday comes the the second of our ambiguously-titled extravaganzas:

  • 11:15am-12:15pm, Panel Stage — Diablo III Gameplay Systems + Crusader
  • Note that it’s D3 gameplay systems, not “Reaper of Souls.” So this seems like a great time to cover new features and changes that will be found in both D3V and the expansion, such as Loot 2.0, Paragon 2.0, smart drops, Nephalem Rifts, etc. But as I said a minute ago, the devs aren’t going to double dip too much on panel content, so expect most of the Crusader content here and not in the earlier panel, etc.

    I haven’t done the math, but it seems like they’ll need more topics for these two panels to avoid overlapping, and I’m hoping for some infos or new systems to be revealed that we don’t know much/anything about yet.

    Developer Interviews

    The other best source of new game infos comes from developer interviews. These are sometimes awesome, but as we saw with some of them from Gamescom, that’s far from guaranteed.

    The main problems are interviewers from general gaming sites who don’t know or care much about Diablo 3 and thus ask very generic questions which have all been covered in panels and press releases. Even interviewers who do know about the game can fall into this trap, since it’s impossible to keep up with all the news and info coming out of the show while you’re there running around.

    That said, interviews can be really good sources of info and get into specific details the devs skip over during panels. I’ll be conducting an interview at the show this year and will do what I can to bring forward interesting new infos, and we’ll have a post up later this week asking you guys to submit questions that you most want answered.

    Anything else you’re expecting or anticipating from the show? New screenshots? New gameplay movie? More story? Moar details on changes to D3V? Dates and times?

    You can follow all the Diablo 3 coverage via the Diablo: IncGamers BlizzCon 2013 section.

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