DIII community manager “Bashiok” of Blizzard Entertainment was on hand at PAX to talk to us about the upcoming title. Much to my surprise, the Diablo III CM dished on quite a bit. I’ve elected to outline some of the things we spoke about, rather than transcribe the whole thing, as you wouldn’t find that too interesting. So here were the main talking points:
Speaking of classes:
The barbarian is the only class from prior games that is going into DIII. Definitively, without question, none of the others will be in the game. None.
Bashiok says: “We might look at including one or two of the old classes to in the expansion, but that’s too far off to think about right now.”
I’d like to point out something intrinsic to the above statement: Blizz is already thinking about the DIII expansion. Bashiok was completely open about that.
Speaking on art:
Bashiok stated, with some amusement, that the controversial art style of the next Diablo game wasn’t going to change. Blizzard is actually very happy with the new, brighter art style of Diablo III.
“It’s not changing at all,” he said definitively.
When asked about concerns among fanboys that DIII wouldn’t be as grim as DI and DII, he indicated that the game was still very dark and grim in its overall feel.
“The tone is a lot darker. There are more grotesque creatures, and insane blood splatter.”
On character customisation at creation: “That’s undecided right now. We’re leaning toward handling it like with did with the prior Diablos, but might add some customization at some point. Really, though, we’re leaning towards characters becoming individualized with their gear and talent specs.”
What about infinitely upgradeable epic weapons? Hellgate did something similar, and LOTRO is adding it in the Mines of Moria expansion. Will DIII do something similar?
“No. There will be loot drops you can customise, like in the prior versions. But you’ll still be hunting for better gear throughout the game.”
Bashiok talked a bit about Battle.Net 2.0, which is soon to be released by Blizzard.
“Not much has been officially said about the new Battle.Net, so I can’t say a lot. But I can say that you’ll be able to find your friends, and get grouped up, very easily. Very. And you’ll be able to get matched up with other people at your level to group with online.”
Interstingly, Bashiok stated that the game would be much more of an online experience than we’d previously thought.
“It’s going to have strong online support, and the online game will be very solid. However, we’re focused on the single player experience at the moment, and perfecting that is our goal.”
Bashiok reiterated, upon questioning, that Diablo III isn’t going to be an MMO. He made clear that the “action RPG concept” is the direction they are taking the game.
“The focus is still on the ‘action game’ aspects of it, not the role playing aspects.”
He gave us an example, which he indicated isn’t commonly known: “We’re iterating a lot on the health orb system. The way it looks right now, orbs will just drop. It may end up a lot more like a ‘health up’ from a platformer, and not like the way it worked in Diablo II. You step into one, and you heal yourself.”
He also added that the health orbs may also aid people in your group, possibly according to need and range: “We’re also looking at a system where you step into it, and you’ll heal a party member.” He indicated that none of this, of course, is confirmed, and much testing and implementation has yet to be done.
We asked Bashiok for something exclusive. He dished: “Well, health and mana leach may not come back. There’s balance issues, and they may not make it into Diablo III”.
Last, but not least, was an interesting, amusing little moment. I asked Bashiok about Diablo III being playable at BlizzCon next month. I honestly expected a very firm, very direct, “No way. It’s nowhere near ready.” or something similar. Instead, when I asked the question, there was a palpable pause, then he said, “I can’t say anything about that.” I pressed, and there was a lot of eye-rolling and face-making. “You really have to watch the BlizzCon site for any breaking information though. I can’t say any more.”
Let me be really clear: Bashiok definitely did not say, or confirm, anything about DIII at BlizzCon. But it was the way he handled it – a light-hearted, I’m-not-saying-jack vibe – that almost had me laughing. It left open the possibility that maybe, just maybe, you’ll get your paws on this one next month, friends.
Keep checking back; virtually the entire IncGamers network, including the Diii.net staff, is heading off to BlizzCon next month, and we’ll keep you up to date on all the latest developments for Diablo III and all the Blizzard titles. For now, Ciao!
For Jeff’s other MMO articles, click here.