BlizzCon 2010: Diablo III “Skills” Update

The Diablo III “Skills” system has progressed quite a bit since last year’s BlizzCon, and we attended the “Hero Emerges” panel (which also focused on the Demon Hunter class) to get the scoop on how you’ll acquire new a$$-kicking abilities in the game.

Skills UI Metamorphosis

The first iteration of the Diablo III Skills UI was, as Lead Content Designer Kevin Martens put it, “unwieldy and overwhelming.” It displayed too many options at once, and “encouraged players to spend their skill points too thinly.” They needed to refine the system so that it was more accessible.

The next step was a tabbed system (below). It was nice in the sense that it compartmentalized all of the skills into tabs, and was very organized. However, you couldn’t see all of your options at once. Also, since all of the skills were walled off in the tabs, players would often not level up skills hidden in the other tabs.

Next, they went with a “list” approach (below). This was a big improvement right away. You can see all of the skills you have on the right, and all the skills you and upgrade too on the right in the sidebar.

Finally, here’s the current Skills UI (below). It’s basically the same “list” approach, but the right hand side is a lot bigger, so you can see all of your options for new skills much more clearly.

Kevin Martens explained that their intention here is to make it easier to spec out your build, and also figure out to “respec” if you want.

New Class Skills

Diablo III Technical Designer Wyatt Cheng took over to walk us through a bunch of new skills they’ve implemented for the different classes.

Barbarian
Ancient Spear:
Ranged attack that shoots out a spear.

Wizard
Meteor:
Fan-favorite in D2, brought it back and made it better. Cheng mentioned that “when you get some Runes in meteor, it’s just five times the fun.”

Witch Doctor
Spirit Walk:
Can walk through walls. Wanted “movement” abilities for each class.

Monk
Wave of Light:
Calls down a giant bell, and thrusts it outward for a powerful melee attack. Cheng mentioned that they needed to differentiate the monk from the Barbarian. This skill sells the fact that the Monk is about combing mystic arts, with martial arts.

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