Blizzard has updated the official Diablo 3 site with a Followers page. It includes the Followers movie and some of the screenshots we’ve already posted, plus a Followers FAQ. It doesn’t convey any new info, but you may enjoy the read. A quote:
The skills are awesome, and they make for really great choices. Each of the skills that players have to choose from are competitive at their level. The goal was to make the followers’ skills, in normal difficulty, enhance the player’s choices about his or her playstyle. If you’re playing a barbarian and you’ve got the Templar, you don’t need him to absorb physical damage for you—you won?t need a charge ability, you’ll want the Templar to take an ability that’s more healing based. We want to make sure that each follower has a few different things that they can offer each class so you can customize each follower to match and augment your playstyle.
Elsewhere, Bashiok has added a number of blue posts explaining and clarifying issues about followers. His main point, in all the threads, is to stress that Followers are only strong and viable in Normal difficulty, and will become weak in Nightmare and more or less helpless in Hell. They’re a fun story element, add personality and character, get new players used to working with a teammate, and help out beginners… but they are not intended to be viable in Hell, much less essential and useful end game MF tools. The quote:
Encouraging Co-op play. This is a big one. How does creating an amazing system like the followers, and then disallowing them in multiplayer games encourage co-op play? It doesn’t. It discourages it. In order to fully experience everything D3 has to offer, I need to not play with my friends. This is simply not in line with a clearly stated Diablo 3 design goal.
It encourages co-op by giving people that are going to be playing the game alone from the start many of the thoughts and process that go into playing with another person. Seeing someone else on screen. Thinking about their items and skills. Hearing them talk. That all sounds silly from a lot of our perspectives, because, we all play co-op and who needs a primer? Well, a lot of people, and that’s where this encourages co-op. More people playing co-op means more people in a mindset of an online community, and that has many far reaching benefits for all players.
True, if you want to hear every line of follower dialogue and really toy around with them you’ll need to play by yourself. I think though you’ll have plenty of time when your friends are not online to load up an alt character you solo with, and hear all of Lyndon’s biting puns.
Avoiding Single Player Online Magic Find(MF) Games. One of the big reasons that everyone only sees their own loot is to encourage people to play together and kill bosses together. It was specifically stated that Blizzard doesn’t want people creating their own solo games because they felt like that was the best way to get loot. Yet here you are creating a followers system which is required in order to maximize your MF (5 item slots and a skill), yet is SP only.
Followers will not stay alive easily past Normal, and if they’re not alive you aren’t going to be getting their bonuses. I’m sure people will try to game this, and ideally they will fail. If not we will ensure followers are not part of the end-game MF equation. They are not intended to be, and we will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure they cannot be.
Why should I invest in time/money/energy into equipping and speccing a follower who is just going to be collecting dust every time I hop in a game with other people? And the flip side: Why should the time/money/energy I spent fully gearing and speccing my follower be completely wasted every time I step into a multiplayer game?
Because it’s not much of an investment. Again, it’s really only going to be useful for Normal. The items you find and give them you can easily remove and salvage. Respecs for them are going to be cheap. There’s no upkeep cost for them. It’s just not a real investment (aside from emotional… that Enchantress! /swoon)
There were some player questions about why Followers only seemed to go up to Clvl 25ish, and if that meant they only leveled up once for every two player levels, or were otherwise on a different exp curve. From Bashiok’s comments here, it sounds like they might just max out around there; and this would be part of why they become weak in NM and useless in Hell. Even if you could keep them alive, their attacks would be too weak to make much difference against the much stronger Hell monsters?
Click through for another pair of long Bashiok defenses of Followers.
Bashiok jumped in to counter a doubter elsewhere with more of the same.
They’re also tuned so that they become very weak starting in Nightmare, and then are completely unusable in Hell. Even if you’re playing alone, you will probably not be using Followers past Normal – – you can try but they’re going to just be one-shot back to back. They’re there as a bit of flavor, to help get people into the mindset of co-op if they’re a bit reluctant, and… that’s about it. They won’t be usable at end-game, and they’ll never replace the abilities and power that another player can bring.
IF I WANT TO PLAY WITH SUPPORT I CAN EASILY PLAY WITH ANOTHER HUMAN BEING AT WILL – IT’S THAT DUNKING SIMPLE
Cool, you should do that, then. Followers are for solo-players in Normal and maybe into Nightmare. That’s it. If you have a friend to play with you won’t even be able to bring them with you.
SO WHY THE DUNK, IF I CAN SO EASILY PLAY IN A PARTY, WOULD I WANT SOME FUMBLING FOLLOWER WHEN I’D RATHER PLAY SOLO?
Normal is not hard. You don’t need a follower. I think they’re cool and why not bring them along. They’re essentially wandering DoTs most of the time (that talk). From a mechanic perspective I don’t know why any level headed person would refuse to take them. (maybe though that’s why this is an issue for you…
On the note of eating crow, a lot of people yesterday were really upset that followers were going to be required for the entire game (somehow based off a video of Act 1 Normal it was able to be discerned how the entire game would be balanced). Then there were quite a few people defending it and trying to make sense of a video without any context. Both people were wrong in their arguments, thus, that’s why I said that.
Followers are a colossal waste of time.
Followers are confirmed as only usable in Solo games. Ok whatever. They are also confirmed to be virtually useless beyond Normal mode. Ummm, that’s pretty dumb/weird….but ok. Bashiok also confirmed they’re not even be needed to finish Normal mode. Ummm…why do these things even exist?
Really Blizzard? Really!? Why even have them? Flavor you say? That’s not flavor. That’s a huge waste of Development time, and for what?
Why go into so much detail with for a system that will barely be used?
I really liked yesterday’s leak about Followers. Today I don’t like them at all. Someone unwittingly hit the nail right on the head yesterday with the thread entitled “Why even have Followers?” It’s true. The way Blizzard is describing them, they are useless. Not even needed to finish Normal mode according to Bashiok.
Does anyone NOT see Followers as a huge waste of Dev time?
My biggest beef is that they are useless beyond Normal mode. At least make them viable throughout all difficulties of the game for those who want to use them. If this one thing was changed, I’d still be cool with Followers.
I don’t mean any offense, but you don’t represent the majority of people that will play the game. For better or worse. People here, logging in with their Diablo II keys to talk about an unreleased product – – on an essentially hidden forum – – do not represent the vast majority of people that will play the game. Which doesn’t mean we don’t want the game to appeal to you or be a lasting game you’ll want to play as long as you played Diablo II, it very much is our intent to be, but we have a broad range of Diablo fans to appeal to.
Looking at Diablo II the amount of people that bought the game, never logged on to Battle.net, and never went beyond Normal are not insignificant. In fact, they’re a substantial portion of the people that bought copies throughout the life of the game. The same goes for StarCraft II. Many (maybe most) people play through the story on normal difficulty, they MAY jump into multiplayer for a bit, and then that’s about it. Putting effort into ensuring their experience is a solid one is not a waste of time because some other people completely skip the story and go straight to the 1v1 ladder.
Followers fit in with that ‘average’ use of games very well, but their intent is to also help people expand beyond their initial intent of beating it on Normal, and then shelving the game. If the followers can get a player excited about co-op because they like playing with another character, that’s a win. We also think they just add a lot to the experience up front, which is important.
And, they’re memorable characters. I don’t think the scope of who these people are needs to end because their health doesn’t scale so we can ensure the end-game is pure and there’s less visual noise in multiplayer games. We don’t have any plans for them beyond what we’ve announced, but, I wouldn’t be surprised if they became meaningful in other ways in the future. Even if they’re not, if someone enjoyed playing along with them, enjoyed the dialog, and liked what they add to the single player experience (which is pretty significant) then that’s not a waste of time.
Not even needed to finish Normal mode according to Bashiok
Normal is super easy. It’s intentionally super easy. You will die, but you can essentially slap on gear and not think too much about it, and probably beat the game without too much trouble. There will be many people though that will get a good amount of damage and utility by keeping their follower along. But, realistically people aren’t going to actively refuse the help of a follower as they play through the game the first time.
I can beat the game on normal without gemming any items. That doesn’t mean gems are a waste of time as a system. One happens to be required more at higher difficulties, one happens to be more useful and fun when playing alone in Normal. There’s nothing that says all of our mechanics have to be useful at all times through all difficulties and classes or else it’s a waste of time, and in fact, that’d probably make things super boring.