BlizzCon 2011: Diablo 3 Has 2.8 Trillion Character Builds; Beta Feedback Has Helped Shape the Game


While Blizzard is riding the Achievement bandwagon, it is making making achievements more meaningful in Diablo 3. Every player has a custom banner — a battle standard — and unlocking achievements unlocks additional components for this banner. Achievements are given for progressing through the game, as well as “extreme behavior” and “absurd shenanigans,” such as killing a boss with your bare hands.

The banner is not just a decorative element — in co-op mode, you can teleport directly to a teammate by clicking on his banner in the user interface. Without Diablo 2′s town portals, this mechanic is a necessity. Town portals do return in a way — every character possesses a Stone of Recall, an item with no usage limits that teleports you back to town and creates a blue portal back to your location. However, unlike in Diablo 2, only you can travel through the portal. Using the Stone of Recall takes ten seconds, and if you are attacked during that time, you will be interrupted.

You’ll find yourself using the stone often as you progress through Diablo 3′s four difficulty levels, which see more than merely an increase in monster health and attack damage. The game begins in Act I, which is akin to a tutorial; monsters have low awareness of your presence, slow attack rates, and limited abilities. Each subsequent act adds a higher degree of challenge and more responsive foes.

The real challenge begins on your second playthrough, on the game’s Nightmare difficulty setting. To quell concerns that Diablo 3 would be too easy, the development prepared a video of testimonials on how difficult the game becomes toward the end. “You will get your asses kicked. We promise.”

The developers asserted, “Hardcore games for everyone is what Blizzard does.” They bring in casual players and turn them into hardcore players.

This hardcore mentality does not extend to the game’s competitive aspects, however. Blizzard is taking a strong stance against Diablo 3 becoming an eSport, and will not balance classes for PvP purposes. The game’s player-versus-player mode is currently a team deathmatch arena that pits two teams against each other. Matches last 10 minutes, characters respawn in three seconds, and players cannot swap skills or items during the match.

However, some of this may still be subject to change based on player feedback — beta feedback has already helped shape the game. For instance, players would swap skills so often that they would keep the skill UI menu open during battle — to alleviate this, Blizzard will patch the game so that skills can only be swapped in town. Further, followers were initially intended to only be viable in Normal difficulty, a singleplayer story feature. However, thanks to fans clamoring, followers will now be viable throughout the game.

Did you know that Diablo 3 has 15,000 lines of spoken dialogue? Are you up to speed on Diablo 3′s new and returning characters? You never know when another Blizzard beta key giveaway contest will pop up, so be sure to be on top of your Diablo trivia.

Follow CJ on Twitter: @rhykker

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