UnicorNDA Day Dawns: New Info!


This post briefly summarizes all of the biggest new info from the Blizzard Event last week. Click through for the key info about the Beta test, the Auction House and RMT, big to skills and traits, new Arena combat rules, Battle.net account banners and customization, shared stash enlargement, the new style of introductory cinematic, the baffling Dark Wanderer retcon, and more.

We’ll have more detailed, editorial-style posts coming up later this week as well, with all the blue quotes, images, new FAQs and other full info coming up shortly. (Apologies about the delay in posting — the whole IncGamers.com network has been under a major DoS attack since Sunday evening.)

The DiabloWikiDiablo 3 Beta test.
No start date yet. (Maybe during Wednesday’s conference call?) The beta goes right from the start of the game up to King Leoric. It’s demo-sized; less than half of Act One, but is nearly identical to the final game; DiabloWikiquests, DiabloWikiNPCs. The purpose of the beta is tech fixes, and to get feedback on early game content/features. The development team will continue to work on a number of game features (mainly DiabloWikirunestones) during the beta.

DiabloWikiSkills changes.
The maximum number of skills is now 6, not 7. Yes, one less. Skill tiers have changed as well, and they now unlock at 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24. (There are more skills per tier.)

A bigger change is the removal of skill points. Skills are now basically on/off, and you can switch between them freely. (The DiabloWikirespec system is always on.) Some skills scale up with your character’s level, others do not. DiabloWikiAttributes effect skill damage, as do items. Blizzard feels that the benefits of being able to switch skills regularly outweigh the loss of character customization that came from skill points.

DiabloWikiTraits are gone.
Instead of Traits, characters now have access to passive skills at tiers, set to levels 10, 20, and 30. There are a lot fewer of these passives than there were of traits. I hope we get some better system info, and/or skill shots of the skills/non-traits, since I’m not entirely clear on them from the various descriptions I’ve read.

The DiabloWikiAuction House.
The big new feature reveal is an Auction House for trading. It’s similar to WoW’s auction house, and players can post trades for almost everything that drops in the game. Weapons, armor, runes, gems, gold, etc. Trading is realm-wide, with a very robust search/sorting option to find the mods you want on the item types you want. There are also systems to associate items of the appropriate level to your character.

The kicker, and what had our chat channel outraged, was the RMT aspect. There are essentially two parallel Auction Houses; one uses in-game currency (gold) and the other uses real world currency. Yes, dollars, euros, yen, coconut shells, or whatever your local currency is. Blizzard’s theory is that since there’s always been black market RMT, they might as well facilitate it themselves so players don’t get ripped off by third party hack sites.

Blizzard will not create items to sell; they’re purely facilitating player trading, while charging a small price for each listing. (To prevent spamming of junk items — each account gets a few free trades to start off.)

Battle.net account DiabloWikiBanners. AKA DiabloWikiE-Peen.
This new system shows off a banner/flag/pennant sort of thing for your account. It can be customized in color and design/logo, and the banner gains bells and whistles as your characters earn various achievements. The labeled screenshot demonstrates the options nicely. There are very many possible options, and the team means these to be quite distinctive; you’ll eventually recognize your friends at a glance just from their account banner.

The Battle DiabloWikiArena.
The Arena will not be accessible to Beta testers. Yes, I agree. That sucks. They’ve changed the Arena from the round-based form we saw at Blizzcon 2010 to a death match style. For ten minutes the teams fight, dead characters respawn after a few seconds, and the team with the more total kills, wins. DiabloWikiHardcore Arena character may yet get the sparring mode many HC enthusiasts have been pushing for all along, since the D3 strike team agrees with our estimates; that there simply won’t be a HC dueling community if the only option is permanent death.

The shared DiabloWikiStash.
The stash is large. The shared stash is just as large, and players can spend gold to make it larger. Up to five pages/tabs in size, eventually. This is the shared stash, that all characters on an account can access. There is no option (yet) to increase individual character inventory or stash size.

Diablo III introductory cinematic.
Attendees were shown a portion of the game’s introduction cinematic. It detailed some of the plot developments leading up to Diablo III, and teased images from the later game plot developments. A giant-sized Diablo was shown erupting from the earth, and battalions of armored Angels were seen flying down to Sanctuary. There will also be individual cinematics for each character; attendees were shown an excerpt from the Demon Hunter’s.

The big surprise is that these cinematics are not the usual 3D, almost-real life looking cinematics we’ve grown used to. They were stylized and artistic; a sort of moving 2D mural, or a painting come to life. Most attendees are quite enthusiastic about how they looked, though it’s hard for people who didn’t see it to visualize. It’s not known if these are all the cinematics we’ll see, or if there will be the usual 3D style cinematics shown between acts, or at the conclusion of the game.

The DiabloWikiDark Wanderer
The only interesting new bit of plot info given out at the event came courtesy of Chris Metzen. He revealed that they’ve done some (more) retconing, and that the Dark Wanderer’s identity has changed. He’s now been retroactively changed from the Diablo I Warrior to Prince Albrecht. Just how this works in the plot is unknown. In Diablo I, your hero killed Diablo, who was in Prince Albrecht’s body, then took the soulstone and jammed it into their own forehead. And thus became the Dark Wanderer. (We discussed this retcon on the new podcast, and were all baffled by it.)

Permanent DiabloWikiInventory Items.
Joining the DiabloWikiNephalem Cube as a permanent, reusable item in your inventory is the Cauldron of Jordan (used to sell items instantly, while not in town) and the Stone of Recall, which functions as an inexhaustible supply of Town Portals.

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  1. Wait… if Prince Albrecht was the Dark Wanderer then who are they saying served as Diablo’s first physical shell? And what happened to the Diablo 1 Warrior since we know that the Rogue was Blood Raven and the Mage was the Summoner… And why bother changing this plot point in the first place if the Dark Wanderer is no more anyway…? So confused… :p

    • it is his older brother I would assume scorch

    • It seems Flux got it all wrong. The Wanderer and Prince Albrecht are brothers…
      The Warrior is Leoric’s [b]eldest[/b] son, while Albrecht was a teen-ager when he got possessed by Diablo…

      • Ohhh ok… makes more sense now I guess… Except your character was a random warrior and was treated as such right? One would think if they were the potential heir to the throne, they would’ve been recognized…

        • Well… Ogden did greet him as he was away, fightning against Westmarch maybe. Originally in D1 there was to be only a single hero, which was offered 3 paths of specialization – Melee, Magic and Archery (well not with those exact names).
          The hero was on a vengence spree because his family was killed by Diablo/some demons. But later on in development we got the other 2 classes in the place of the old design. Parts of the original story however, although cut out, was still in the game, most notably the Dark Riders story which was never explored, only mentioned by Ogden. Due to time constrains a large portion of the story was cut, most of it would have made a more significant connection between the player character and Tristram.

          It’s interesting how much tragedy the family of Leoric has endured. The Warrior had to kill his father and his younger brother, trying to vanquish the one responsible for all of it, but ultimately succumbing either to his own arrogance or Diablo’s influence (or both) and only furthers the goal of the Lord of Terror. 
          I like this new story element, maybe because I orignally imagined something bigger (and really lame) about the Wanderer to be retconned. 

          It’s still important to note that Cain didn’t mention the Warrior being related to Leoric in his journal on the D3 page, either because the lore team didn’t want to spoil that when they launched the official D3 site, or because Cain didn’t knew Leoric had another son. Was he exiled? Did he had mistress? I wonder if he (the warrior) was around when Lachdanan killed his father. I definitely want to know more about him now…

  2.  
    Teh Dark Wanderer thing makes no sense… unless the PC’s didn’t kill the Big D in Diablo 1… or he was possessing someone else.
     
    And the skills being changeable on the fly it too much… i hope at least that you have to be in town to do it… (not having skill points and levels for skills i’m ok with, i’ve always liked how D&D 3.5 did it, with one off feats and spells, i just hope they do it right, so it doesn’t feel cheap)…

  3. no skill customization? so every level 50 barbarian is the same and people can yell at you to go change your skills and play style for different sections? (STOP TRYING TO BE A BATTLEMAGE AND JUST STAND BACK AND CAST LIGHTNING!) real world $ for gear in the auction house? who is gonna use the auction house to sell items for in game gold then? weird confusing retconing? do people actually care about diablo npcs ? denial of service attacks on diablo.incgamers? =( sad news

  4. Skills: DO NOT WANT!
     
    RMT: Couldn’t care less.

  5. If theres one thing to say is blizzard has a lot of balls with some of those changes. Be interesting to hear your thoughts, Flux.

  6. it was going to be skyrim and d3 for me but now it looks like bf3 just took over d3’s spot lol

  7. Skills/Traits: Wow, this sounds incredibly bad. I dont understand what they are thinking. Half of the appeal of D2 was trying out different skill combinations, this will be shattered with this new system.
    HC Arena: Good, it was neccessary.
    RMT: Dont really care

  8. Apparently you can take only three passive skills. Three! So much for customization.

    • You can take three at a time. If the effect they have is relevant enought and there is a decent number of them it makes for some decent customization.

      And really, anything is better than putting enought str for whatever you want to equip, everything else in vit and maybe getting max block.

  9. hey, they didn’t say that warrior was prince albrecht. That would not make sense since warrior was looking for albrecht… They just said that warrior was leoric’s son (check bashiok’s post). So leoric had 2 sons?

  10. Well first time posting been lurking for a while. Must say I’m very disapointed with the change to both skills and traits. Very disapointed. Everything else I’m ok with, but it feels as though customization has gone completely out the window.

  11. Are you sure that the D1 warrior is *specifically* Prince Albrecht?

    That obviously doesn’t make any sense at all. What makes *more* sense is that the D1 warrior is Albrecht’s brother, as in We-Said-He-Was-King-Leoric’s-Son-But-We-Never-Said-He-Was-Albrecht. Be it long-lost or a bastard brother resulting from a drunken night of Leoric’s.

  12. Drekk. The whole Skill/Trait-changes sound like a pile of “Yes, we want that consolerelease”-shit to me: All is interchangeable now, which leads to fast, unbinding fun. But where D2s core was making choices that defined the character and how he worked, D3’s “choices” have been shrunken to more or less equall emoticons; changing with the players mood – and back. Longterm(re)playability will take a great hit on that account.
     
    Silverfang

  13. my guess is they believe the skill changes make sense since they believe that a large number of players never played past normal in D2
    now someone who is in normal mode can try all the skills and skill combos as many times as they want without having to advance beyond normal
    I’ll have to wait until I get in the beta to see if I like it or not
     
     

    • They can’t, at least not on normal, because a character won’t be at max level, have dedicated equipment / runes to favour each build, etc. You’ll be able to see and get a “feeling” for each skill, but that’s quite different from having an effective build for high level content.

      In a vacuum it might seem like a bad/oversimplified decision, but there are so many other things that affect gameplay that when you add that to the playtime “lost” by not having to make eight different sorceress it’s not as high as it seems.

  14. You’ll still be able to test different builds, and much faster.  I really like that, it works pretty well in other games that use similar systems, and as atm I have much less free time than I had ten years ago that makes it so that I can experience every aspect of every class after maxing each of them only once, which will probably still be a ton of playtime anyways and itself worth the price of the game. Add item finding and pvp to that and there’s quite a long lifetime guaranteed for the game, specially with more expansions down the line.
    As for the real money trading, if they regulate it properly with amount of items sold/for sale and / or money intake restriction per account it’s not very hard to make it pretty much unprofitable to dedicated farmers while still guaranteeing a fair market for normal sellers and item availability. It would also effectively make it impossible for a small group of individuals to control the prices/market.
    A lot of people ( rightfully ) accuse Blizzard of not being innovative, but I think the announced changes are pretty meaningful in advancing the genre.

  15. The most annoying change makes for non-hardcore PVP. Respawns during one fight is the stupidest thing, ruined Arena good adrenaline feelings.
    Crappest decision i ever seen in DIII team  :choler: Disappoint me a lot.

  16. These changes just reinforce the feeling that I’ve had for awhile about D3. I think the game will great fun playing through a couple of times but will lack the lasting appeal that could make me stick with it for a long time.
    Sure, with alot of different skills and rune effects we will still have a choice of what we bring to the battle field but I feel it will be more like chosing what weapon to use in a FPS rather than the feeling that you actually BUILD the character. There will be no WW-barbs, singers or Berserkers, only barbs that at the time have chosen to equip WW, Berserk or whatever. So eventhough the chars can be played in different ways i think character building is sort of dead.

    • Yeah. What’s left is an anticipation of D3 beeing shallow [edit:], glamorous[/edit] but without a soul. Just like a good marketing stunt: A great hit, soon forgotten… I’ll bet Roper&Co are getting furious swallowing these chunks of info about what they’ve done with their child.

      • Considering that shallow and without a soul is exactly how I’d define Hellgate, I’d say Roper should probably keep quiet and wait until/if DIII goes down before saying anything to that effect (:

        • With Hellgate you’d seen on every corner, how a forced rushjob has lead to destroying good potential: With the Abyss-Chronicles as it’s basis it would have been in a shape that would qualify for a release accounting Blizzards standards for going gold. And it would have hit the shelfs right at the moment, when the gap of shooterrpgs left by DeusEx and its unsatisfying followup turned into a market. If you want to discredit Roper for Hellgate, then on the point that he failed to deliver the same backup for Flagships developement team, as they’d been used to have at Blizz North. Hellgate had a soul, but it’s fundament was brittle.

          Edit: Blizzard doesn’t have that excuse concerning D3, as long as they’re officially saying that the sellout to first Ubisoft, then Activision isn’t meddling with their freedom of developement. Up to now they’re in denial 😉

    • The whole feeling of the game should be that I am building up a powerful character as I traverse the various lands of Sanctuary, one that will eventually take on the Prime Evils. This whole feeling is just GONE when you say you can respec at any point of time!! No matter what your alpha test feedback sheets told you, how dare you change Diablo from its very core? From being a proper RPG?

  17. mmmmmmmmmmmmm all this don’t matter beside the always internet connection part seriosly blizz whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy u stripped the lan and now this fck battle.net cuz i will certainly b pirating this game for Lan and Offline 🙁 and Blizzard is to blame

  18. Doesn’t anyone else find it hilarious that we can basically stop leveling at level 30?
     
    Think about it… now that skills are interchangeable and trait tiers max at 30, why bother going past 30? Think of how uneventful leveling up will become now. We have autostat, now we have autoskill [aside from choice of where to spend said skill], so what will we do from levels 31-60?
     
    I envision my D3 experience being this: Make 6 characters, 1 variation of each class, level to 30, test out the skills, then either loot farm til my fingers bleed or quit. Kind of sad.

    • “Some skills scale up with your character’s level”
      That’s why you’d continue leveling past 24.  However, I agree it seems leveling up is now very uneventful.  You get slightly stronger by some set amount and you can equip new items.  I thought they were saying they wanted each level to feel really significant.  Now it feels like each level is pointless.

      • But to a certain point, what’s the difference in level between 69 and 70 in D2?  In level 19 Firewall and level 20?
         
        I agree that they’ve said all along that they want the levels to be significant, and that this throws that myth into much doubt. However, I’m curious how the skills will level up, making each level retain its significance. For example, did certain Runestone effects make it into the level-up process? (Longer duration, more missiles, larger WW arc…)
         
         

  19. I have to wonder how the RMT is actually going to work.  In some states in the US (Rhode Island comes to mind) you aren’t allowed to spend real money on virtual items, Diablo 3 would fall under that category.  Heck they won’t even let you enter online contests for things like City of Heroes in Rhode Island because it’s considered gambling (even if you spend nothing and just enter a picture contest, if the prize is something online, it’s now allowed in Rhode Island).  How are they going to get around this?  Will Rhode Islanders simply be banned from the RMT AH?  Other than that, I see no changes I really dislike except for one, and that’s the loss of customization.  Now, I don’t mean the skills, I actually love that I won’t need a ton of re-rolled characters for testing.  However, the passives/traits thing means we lose virtually all meaningful customization.  I wouldn’t mind if they did the same thing as skills and made it so you could pick and choose forever, I just don’t like the idea you only seem to get three of them.

    • Damn Rhode Island sounds like a real shitty place to live. Aside from being a spec of a state, you can’t spend money on virtual items? Does that include virtual stuff like stocks? Or buying things on sites like Ebay?

  20. So much news! I truly think Blizzard has made a lot of smart choices based on necessity and experience. Before we continue this endless stream of “I love Diablo 2, so any major changes or additions equals ‘do not want!'” please consider the following:
     

    We do not know everything, including all details of what we do know.
    The game is still in alpha stages and will most likely take on major changes where majority rules.

    In the upcoming beta, Blizzard will be able to see how players take to certain game play aspects and make changes where necessary.

    There is probably good reason behind keeping the game to online play only, even though it will end up being ported and modded eventually.

    We should be thanking Blizzard for ‘Real Money Trading’ auction house. Their basically regulating and ensuring safe transactions for us so we aren’t forced to go to scam ridden, greed controlled, hard to use 3rd party options to do exactly what most people in Diablo 2 were already doing. I for one hated dealing with sites like d2jsp, but was forced to if I wanted my enigma without a bot.

    The skill system may need tweaking but I find it hard to complain about since Blizzard seems to have made this change to keep things ‘fun’ and ‘practical’, rather than use their old gimmick of build 8 sorceresses to find the math perfect character just to add hours to the game play. While that may have been fun for some, it didn’t make sense and even drove some players with limited experience or time away from the game and turned into a lack luster grind, especially in hardcore.

    Was there this much complaining about ‘respec’? Respec in Diablo 2 also seemed gimmicky because after a short period of time, it was just a hassle, not a challenge like they seemed to intend it to be.

     
    Reminding you all again, this is Diablo 3, NOT Diablo 2, just like Diablo 2 was NOT Diablo 1. If half the comment posters here got things their way.. Blizzard would come out and say something like.. you will get 50 stat points each level and can allocate them to 20 different stats and there will be 500 skills per character and instead of synergies were using rune stones to make each tier of skills useful at any point. Also there will be respecs but only one and you have to beat a real tough monster to obtain it. Could you imagine people loving this simple minded approach? Only to realize they just remade Diablo 2, and the only slack they picked up is extending old gimmicks for more hours of possible game play because old fans were used to the bull shit, without realizing how it made no logical sense after doing it a few times.
     
    The game will speak for itself. Changes will be made along the way. So be more optimistic! This is Blizzard. Their not rushing anything and certainly not making blind decisions.
     
    P.S. I think artisans sounds gimmicky like what ‘The Smith’s hammer quest’ became in Diablo 2.. but I hope I am wrong.

    • So far so good (or sad, but well, can live with most of it, somehow…), but one question:

      Does it really mean, there are no “levels” of skills anymore? I mean, I reach a certain tier and switch on a skill and that’s it? So every Barbarian having switched on Whirlwind will have the same “Level” of Whirlwind like every other Barbarian that switched it on? Or is there customization on “power” of the skills via items and/or by other means? I think there is or at least must be, but is there really a way to use items to have a skill being “Level 20” in comparison to the same skill on another character being “Level 5” or so?

      Is this sad or am I not getting some important details here?! Maybe there are no more skills, where it might be still useful to just put one skill point in them, so one could use them, while others would love to max those out? I’m kind of uncertain with that, especially when there are runes, that alter some skills in a way, that they might just be a little bit useful, so you would want to put only one skill point in those?

    • >>We do not know everything, including all details of what we do know.
      The game is still in alpha stages and will most likely take on major changes where majority rules.
      In the upcoming beta, Blizzard will be able to see how players take to certain game play aspects and make changes where necessary.
      There is probably good reason behind keeping the game to online play only, even though it will end up being ported and modded eventually. <<
      We do not know everything about the details given, you’re right. But at least it’s probably one of the worst unprovoked PR-job ever done pre-gamerelease. And the center on marketing conditions is clear as day. The PR-Team made themselves a lot of overtime to cover their own mess up again. You haven’t seen PR-Trolls lining up already, have you?

      >> We should be thanking Blizzard for ‘Real Money Trading’ auction house. Their basically regulating and ensuring safe transactions for us so we aren’t forced to go to scam ridden, greed controlled, hard to use 3rd party options to do exactly what most people in Diablo 2 were already doing. I for one hated dealing with sites like d2jsp, but was forced to if I wanted my enigma without a bot. <<
      I agree with your arguments there. But on the other hand it’s just a way to reduce the amount of maintenance while milking the cow, others had built a market for. It also relieves them from balancing the game for selffoundplayers and “legit players” (from a D2-viewpoint).

      >> The skill system may need tweaking but I find it hard to complain about since Blizzard seems to have made this change to keep things ‘fun’ and ‘practical’, rather than use their old gimmick of build 8 sorceresses to find the math perfect character just to add hours to the game play. While that may have been fun for some, it didn’t make sense and even drove some players with limited experience or time away from the game and turned into a lack luster grind, especially in hardcore.<<
      “We take the short buck” is more like it. With these changes, the game will be a blast – for a while. But the longtermreplayability has been screwed up and replaced with a regular drop of new content. (The underlying message of the changes is “Milk the fanbois! Shit on the Fans.”)

      >> Reminding you all again, this is Diablo 3, NOT Diablo 2, […]. <<
      Give me the developement team, the money to pay them and full freedom of developement and timetable, and I’m sure it would turn out with aspects exactly like you describe, although in quite a different way as you paint the picture, perhaps not even in fitting into the setting “arpg” anymore because of the communitydriven contentapproach, but I’m certain it would turn out quite true to core and vision behind the series.

      >> The game will speak for itself. Changes will be made along the way. So be more optimistic! This is Blizzard. Their not rushing anything and certainly not making blind decisions. <<
      Sorry, but when I’ve felt shat onto my face I don’t feel optimistic about the possibility of someone coming along to wipe it away. Up to yesterday the optimism was there. Despite DRM, despite missing LAN, despite the need to be online to play singleplayer. But now I’m sober. The BlizzNorth-Bonus is up. Now it’s time for Blizzard to proof that they haven’t lost their way. We’ll see it when the game comes out. That’s true.

      Alexis of Silverfang
       

  21. Ok, let’s try this again (damn comment box had glitched). Anyway, It looks like I was right that there’d be no beta release on aug 1st. Rumors are rumors… >.>

  22. Judging from most of negative feedback looks like I was right a couple of weeks ago, when i said that once Blizzard starts to overdo things all will eventually fuck up. I hope the beta proves me wrong, but at the moment i have no reason to be optimistic about D3.

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