As promised yesterday, here are some “new” “ninja” photos of the game skill interfaces, showing how things have changed as of the beta build preview at Blizzard Irvine two weeks ago. We discussed skills during the second DiabloWikiDiablo podcast over the weekend (coming on Wednesday) and since neither of the guests were quite sure what the new system was, I figured most of you guys could use some refresher as well.

    • There are now 6 skills usable at a time (down from 7). You get 2 to start with, and add another at Clvl 6, 12, 18, and 24.
    • There are no more respecs; you can switch between your active skills at any time. (There may be some limits put on this freespecing on higher difficulty levels.)
    • There are no more skill points. DiabloWikiSkills are either enabled or not; and their power scales up from Clvl, equipment, DiabloWikiattributes, passives, etc. Not points in the skill.
    • DiabloWikiTraits were (why?) changed back to DiabloWikiPassive Skills. They have no points either, and you only get to use 3 of them total, enabled at 10, 20, and 30
    • DiabloWikiRunestones were not enabled in the pre-beta demo, since they’re undergoing some randomized item mod retesting.

    You see the whole system in this screenshot of the DiabloWikiDemon Hunter skills, which I compiled from two photos (hence the not quite matching in the middle).This is by no means the whole screen; the skill window covers about 2/3 of your display, with a bit of game action visible to the right. (How much varies by how widescreen your resolution is. There’s a cool comparison display of that in the wiki.) The assigned/usable skills are in the middle; when you select them from the full list (scroll down to see it all, in-game) on the right.

    This new system is designed to ease players into the skills, and allow for a lot of early experimentation. Instead of 3 or 4 skills becoming active at once in a tier (as previously) you now get a new skill every level or two, and can try it out instantly thanks to the freespecs. Your 3rd skill slot goes active at 6, with the others coming at 12, 18, and 24. New skills become available every level or two until around Clvl 29, so in theory a player will have had a chance to try out every skill in the game by the end of Normal difficulty.

    The three locks below the window show when the passive skills become available. They work much like the active skills, with a new passive coming on every other level or so. They can be switched in and out freely as well, but the first one isn’t usable until Clvl 10. In theory players will see the traits as they become active, read the tooltips, and start thinking about what they want to use as they level up. So by the time you get to 10, or 20, or 30, you’ll have decided which trait to enable. Plus you can switch them in and out freely, for experimentation.

    We have fully-updated lists of all the active skills in the DiabloWiki.

    Click through to see additional skill and trait passive interface images, with more informative captions.

    Part of the DiabloWikiWizard passive skills menu can be seen here. There are around 20 passives per character (subject to change) which seems like an awful lot when you can only have 3 active at a time. Most of the passives in the pre-beta demo build were exactly the same as the traits we saw at Blizzcon 2010, and there were big gaps and disparities in how many passives each class had, so it’s obvious that development continues on this system.

    You can see updated lists of all the passive skills in the game as of the beta build in the DiabloWikiDiabloWiki.net.

    DiabloWikiFrost Nova is the first DiabloWikiWizard skill available, and here you see the tooltip.

    DiabloWikiBlur is a Clvl 10 DiabloWikiWizard passive skill. Here you see the DiabloWikitool tip.

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