Diablo 3 Beta Receives Massive, Worrying Skill & Attribute Changes
In the past month, we’ve seen massive changes introduced to core systems within the Diablo 3 beta. With the full game targeted for release by June, concerns have been raised regarding whether Blizzard can get the game in a release-ready state in time. The scope and timing of these changes suggest Diablo 3 is nowhere close to release-ready, and Blizzard fully intends to continue iterating on game systems until it is — the question is, can it meet its Q2 2012 deadline?
Let’s take a look at the three major patches the D3 beta has received since launch.
Patch 5: November 3rd, 2011
The first major changes came into effect little more than a month after the start of closed beta.
Nephalem Altars were introduced as a means to prevent players from switching trained skills mid-combat. In order to change skills, a player would need to locate and click on an altar, which could be found in towns and key locations. This feature would be short-lived.
Blizzard began to phase out the Cauldron of Jordan, an item which effectively allowed players to sell items anywhere, anytime — a process that would be complete five patches later. In this patch, the Cauldron was no longer accessible in the beta, becoming a reward at higher levels in the game.
In a controversial move, Blizzard reworked the skill system to make every skill based on weapon damage. This was the only major change this patch introduced that is still in effect today.
Patch 10: January 23, 2012
Nephalem Altars were removed in favor of a 30-second cooldown on freshly equipped skills.
The Cauldron of Jordan was removed entirely.
The Nephalem Cube, an item that allowed players to break items down into crafting materials, was removed from the game, and its functionality was passed on to the Blacksmith.
The Mystic, an upgradable NPC that enchants player gear with magic attributes, was deemed superfluous by the design team and removed from the game. Diablo 3 Game Director Jay Wilson explained:
(…) the Mystic simply wasn’t adding anything to our customization system. Enhancement was really just the socket and gem system with a different name, and it would prolong the release of the game even further to go back to the drawing board and differentiate it, so we’ll revisit the Mystic and enhancements at a later time.
Scrolls of Identification were removed from the game. While this wasn’t a huge change to the overall game — and one I believe was an obvious improvement — it follows in this patch’s trend of cutting features.
Most strikingly, Blizzard completely reworked the core character attributes, removing Attack, Defense, and Precision, and adding the more traditional Strength, Dexterity, Intellect, and Vitality.
Jay Wilson said:
Obviously these stat changes are one of the bigger systems changes we’re currently working on as they have far reaching requirements to re-itemize and balance the game.