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Blizzard Announces Final Diablo 3 Class, PvP Arena Battles 187

Blizzard kicked off Blizzcon 2010 today with the announcement of Diablo 3’s fifth and final class – the Demon Hunter. The class uses crossbows, bolas, traps, and other gadgets to rid the land of Diablo’s evil minions. Blizzard also unveiled a major new feature for Diablo 3 – PvP Arena Battles. Players can join solo or in groups to take on other players through the Battle.net matchmaking service. Read on for more about Diablo 3

Blizzard chose Demon Hunter because it filled an archetype for conventional ranged weaponry that wasn't filled by the other classes they’ve already developed. They favored the idea of a character like a bounty hunter – not necessarily somebody with a noble, honorable soul. This led them to bring in various gadgets and traps in addition to ranged weapons, as well as shadow magic. She’s more knowledgeable about demons than anyone else, and she’s got a decidedly unheroic attitude.

Their early concepts for the class involved a woodland ranger design, but they weren’t satisfied with a typical swift and deadly stalker. As they tried to twist the concept to fit the Diablo world, they found it turning into a character like the assassin from Diablo 2, which they didn’t really want. After the Monk was announced last year, they picked some key traits for the ranged class that they wanted to stick with: Dark, Mysterious, Medieval. They toyed with the idea of making the Demon Hunter an actual demon, but decided that didn’t fit with the Diablo story. They also had trouble making demonic art concepts fit the sleek and agile archetype. They settled on a dark-armored human with dual crossbows.

Lead World Designer Leonard Boyarsky said the Demon Hunter is “the most diverse class.” They are recruited from all walks of life, bound together by their hatred for demons and an obsessive, overriding desire to keep fighting and killing demons until they’re all gone. “She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty.” She doesn’t just want to kill them, “she wants them to know the terror of being stalked,” and Demon Hunters know better than any other classes the true stakes of the conflict in Sanctuary.

The first skill they demonstrated for the new class was Bola Shot. The Demon Hunter throws a bola, which wraps itself around the target's neck — and then explodes. Next came Vault, a shadowy leap forward that will take the character through enemies. Spike Trap is a gadget the Demon Hunter throws to the ground, which then explodes in fire and shrapnel when a monster walks over it. Along those same lines, the class can throw grenades, which will bounce and ricochet off walls, giving players some interesting new tactics that weren't possible in Diablo 2.

Diablo 3’s skill system has seen a lot of work over the past year. The skill tree concepts reminiscent of World of Warcraft was felt to be unwieldy. The UI is now list-based, using two separate windows, which makes picking new skills and deciding between upgrades easier. Skills have also been supplemented by a new system called Traits. Traits are passive aspects of your character that improve one aspect of it.

For example, Barbarians get a Trait called Inner Rage, which reduces the amount of fury (their resource for using skills) lost and increases the amount gained from attacks. Wizards have one called Prismatic Cloak, which makes all of her armor spells stronger. Blizzard added Traits to give the classes another level of customization, and to separate the fun choices (skills) from the math choices. You can pick a particular theme for your character and select traits that fit the theme. Each class has about 30 traits, and you’ll be able to spend multiple points to make a trait stronger. “I want to spend points in Whirlwind, I don’t want to spend points in ‘more armor.’” The design for Traits isn’t finished yet – Jay Wilson said we’ll likely see more changes to its UI, the rate of accumulating trait points, and how many you get total.

They showed off some new skills for various classes – Barbarians get a spear attack that grabs an enemy at range and pulls them close. Meteor is coming back for the Wizard. Witch Doctors get a skill called Spirit Walk, which phases him out so he can walk around without detection for a brief time.

Another new feature they announced is Talisman. It’s a dedicated inventory for Charms that grows as you level up. No longer will you sit with half a backpack worth of charms, wondering if some minor bonus is worth not being able to pick up an extra piece of loot while you’re slaying monsters. Charms themselves are also becoming more focused on particular attributes.

Skill Runes didn’t get much play last year, since Blizzard was in the process of overhauling the system. The idea is that you use runes to modify how your skills work, similar to the way gems modify what your armor does. It’s essentially another way to customize your character. This arose out of the tendency for Diablo 2 players to divide class builds into things like “Spearazons” or “Zealadins.” The skill runes, affecting only active skills, now provide 97 billion different permutations. Per class.

There are five types of runes. Crimson, Indigo, Obsidian, Golden, and Alabaster. Each rune type loosely follows a particular theme, and each color has seven ranks. To demonstrate the rank system, they showed the Wizard skill Magic Missile. With a first rank Indigo rune, it shoots two missiles instead of one. With the seventh rank rune, it shoots seven extra missiles. Another example showed how the Barbarian can use the various runes to modify a skill that throws his weapon. Different runes make him throw different weapons, with different effects – more damage, stuns, confuses, etc. The Wizard’s Hydra can swap to different elements, or can shoot fire walls instead of bolts. The Witch Doctor has an ability that summons frogs to attack monsters. A Crimson rune makes them flaming frogs. Another rune turns the spell into a rain of toads, and another will turn the little frogs into one giant toad which eats and digests monsters.

Finally, they went into some details about Battle Arenas. Since dueling and PvP was so popular in Diablo 2, they wanted to support it much more in Diablo 3. It’s focused on team-based play. Since there are so many permutations for individual builds (and some are supposed to be better than others), they’re less worried about 1v1 balance than team balance — a philosophy similar to that for World of Warcraft arenas. Some player skills are designed specifically for PvP. Since the PvE game has a lot of skill focusing on monster control, and they didn't want PvP to be about taking away your ability to do things, they're designing class abilities to counter crowd control.

The arena matches will be played out with multiple rounds – best 3 out of 5 or best 2 out of 3. They’re also working on custom games, and making 1v1 dueling easy to do. There will be a skill-based ranking system, with titles, vanity rewards, achievements, and so forth for people who want to show off their PvP abilities.

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Blizzard Announces Final Diablo 3 Class, PvP Arena Battles

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  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Friday October 22, 2010 @04:47PM (#33990312)
    The game looks like it's going to be awesome, but considering the DRM and bad behavior by Blizzard, I'm not going to be playing. I hate going without, but when a company can ban accounts for what one does during single player gaming and isn't even required to give a refund, that's not something that I'm willing to be a part of.
    • by Quantus347 ( 1220456 ) on Friday October 22, 2010 @04:56PM (#33990436)
      Personally, Im going to wait and see what kinds of DRM etc they try before I make any blanket boycott statements. And even then just because I dont buy it doesn't mean I wont playit.

      Anyone else miss the double unit production of the early SC2?
      • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:07PM (#33990584)
        I think the assumption is that it will be like what they've got in SC2. Which definitely justifies boycotting. Requiring you to be connected or to play via the guest account and reactivate every 30 days is not something that I consider to be acceptable. Likewise I don't think that it's OK to take away somebody's game because they chose to cheat in a way which Blizzard doesn't approve of.

        Just the fact that they can take away your game without providing a refund for things you do in single player games makes me really concerned about it.
        • by Quirkz ( 1206400 ) <ross.quirkz@com> on Friday October 22, 2010 @06:37PM (#33991512) Homepage
          I don't actually begrudge them blocking cheaters, but I hate the idea of having to exercise an internet connection or an online account to play a game single-player on my own computer. I don't ever play online, don't want to ever play online, and wish I could have a simple, self-sufficient game that worked without an internet connection.
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by X0563511 ( 793323 )

            Ooooh but there's a tiny chance you might be A DIRTY PIRATE!

          • You do not need an internet connection to play SC2 in singleplayer you ignorant, gullible moron. You click "Play as Guest" from the Battle.net login screen and you are in offline mode. They are banning Battle.net accounts for cheating in online, SP mode. Having a banned Battle.net account still means you can play in offline mode. Get a clue before you spout crap like this.

        • Honestly, there are enough other reasons to be pissy at Blizzard. No LAN play, having to be online to play, no parental controls for SC2 at launch, no way to play on another Bnet cluster even if you happen to be non-american but have been playing WoW since launch so thats where all your friends are. With all these though you're bitching about then banning people who are basically hacking the game to cheat, when, in single player mode there are built in cheats anyway. The only reason to use those cheats and
    • Same here. Blizzard-DRM, phone home, and no cheats? Do not want!!1!

    • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday October 22, 2010 @04:58PM (#33990462) Journal
      I still occasionally play Diablo II. I bought it (and the expansion pack) for Windows, but I can use the same CD on a Mac or under WINE. There's no copy protection that needs bypassing, and the game still works when I am on a train (no Internet) with my laptop, under pretty much any OS. The DRM that they seem to want to put into Diablo III means I won't get it. A shame, as I'd probably enjoy it, but there are lots of other forms of entertainment competing for my time and money, so not a huge loss.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by fishbowl ( 7759 )
        The "DRM" is a symptom of a bigger problem -- someone very high up at Activision is hell bent on the whole competitive PVP element being the thing that drives the market. PVP means you have to deal with other people. Some can handle that, and others can't. But once you make your game into this intense worldwide competition for individual and team achievements, then there is going to be a rift between players who just want to play a computer game casually, and those who have nothing but contempt for the "
        • "Hell is other people."

        • by smash ( 1351 )

          PvP would be fine if we were dealing with people. However if Playstation Network is anything to go by, listening to a bunch of 12-14 year old kids yapping about fucking each other's mother all day long gets old quick.

          I play games if i don't want to deal with people, or MAYBE to play with a select group of friends. Global PvP against a bunch of kids who have 10 hours a day to spare on learning maps, etc holds no interest.

      • by tirefire ( 724526 ) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:26PM (#33990808)
        I think it's also worth noting that Diablo II has seen significant development past the release date. If I recall correctly, they've put out at least 12 major patches and a few minor ones, too. Changes range from bug fixes to added items (Being an item-based game, Diablo II really benefits from this) to (in the latest patch) changing quest rewards.

        For all the people out there who haven't played Diablo II in a while, I suggest you patch to 1.13 and try it again. You can respec your stats and skills after completing the den of evil quest (once respec allowed per difficulty level). This is every bit as money as it sounds; it's way easier to power through normal difficulty and then respec to make your character more robust in nightmare and hell. Game on!
        • by Amouth ( 879122 )
          <quote>(in the latest patch) changing quest rewards.</quote>

          that actually got me - went back to do a replay through a month or so ago. i thought my computer had bugged out when i killed the Ancients and didn't get anything.. although i did find 2 area's where they fudged up the drop rates for set items in act 5.. quite nice and quick to farm too.
    • I've purposely not bought any DRM'ed games since the EA three activation stunt so forgive my ignorance. Can someone expand on the Blizzard DRM issues?

      The Diablo sequel was the one game I've been looking forward to. If it has anything like the activation limits or constant internet connection crap, etc., then I'm out too.

      • You too? Between the 3 activation bit and the whole "Oops, we just installed x32 DRM on your x64 system, you're boned!" crap I just gave up and now shop at Good Old Games [gog.com] where I actually OWN what I pay for, but being a fan of Diablo I was willing to put up with a little DRM if it wasn't too bad. So what is up with the DRM? Is it more like easily removable SecuROM? or is it that "always on 24x7" pile o' suck style DRM?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by LingNoi ( 1066278 )

        Skip Diablo 3 and go straight to playing Torchlight. It's made by the original developers of Diablo and if you buy from their site doesn't have DRM.

    • Yeah I know, the bogeyman is under the bed. Still the DRM that Blizzard has employed has never interfered with my games from them. I guess I am just too damn boring. I live with Steam DRM and see people bellyache about it as well. You can't win them all. The few games I do have without DRM seem to come from companies with games I find myself not playing long. So I take the bad with the good and go on with life. It is just a game and honestly taking a stand on DRM is about the least of my concerns.

    • The game looks like it's going to be awesome, but considering the DRM and bad behavior by Blizzard, I'm not going to be playing. I hate going without, but when a company can ban accounts for what one does during single player gaming and isn't even required to give a refund, that's not something that I'm willing to be a part of.

      As we've seen with numerous games where the vendor attempts to lock them down...there's always someone out there just as or more smarter than the company and will break/disable to DRM. It's just a matter of time and we'll all be enjoying the game.

      On the other hand...if they come out with either a PS3/360 version...might not be worth all the trouble to screw with the PC version and just play it on my 360.

    • by JSmooth ( 325583 )

      Ouch, thanks for the reminder. I read that tibit a while back but I haven't been on Steam in a long time as HL2TFC bored me. Figured I was aiming to rejoin with D3 but no more. I totally agree with you. No problem banning cheaters in MP games but if I want to cheat in SP that my business and my alone.

      Sorry Bliz that two fewer sales for you.

  • but what about releasing Diablo and/or Diablo 2 at a reasonable price rather than the full MSRP on Battle.net?
  • I wonder how many people will create Wizard characters named "Galstaff, Sorcerer of Light"?

  • Seriously, a mountain of mice will have their buttons sacrificed. Is logitech publicly traded? I'd buy that.
  • You don't know? Then fuck off with the Diablo 3 'news' until you do.

    • They announce the final class and some details regarding it and you don't think it isn't news - but you'd think the release date WOULD be news?

      Are you a fan of the series or not?

      • They can announce all the great things it's going to do, but if there's no release date, no hint of a release date, it's just another in a long line of vapor announcements. Do you remember when Diablo II came out? What year was that again?

        I think this isn't news, but a news release by a company that has no idea when their product is going to ship, and wants to keep it in the public consciousness until they have some real news, like a release date or a beta or SOMETHING of substance.

        And yes, I'm a big Diablo

        • They announced a new Diablo and a new Starcraft at the same time, then followed it up saying that Starcraft would come first.

          Given enough time, it has come out. If you seriously think Diablo 3 is going to become Vaporware then I think you're a fool. They may change the DRM scheme if the next 2 Starcrafts don't do well, but I don't see them Cancelling D3 for any reason - it's got even more steam behind it than SC2 had.

          The thing is - you can't just set deadlines and assume things to be proper. Valve has gotte

          • It's not something you can say "Will be done by Christmas" - they obviously just finished fleshing out the last class, so now the whole motion of implementing it is under way, and then you've got scores of beta testing to go through.

            I don't think that's obvious at all. For all we know, they fleshed out the class a long time ago and have just been drip feeding information to the public. Why would they reveal all their cards in one go when they don't know when the game will ship?

        • Oh, please. It would be a "vapor announcement" if it wasn't going to come out. There's a small chance of that, granted, but let's be realistic: this game is not getting canceled. It will be released, which makes it not vaporware by definition.
    • Seriously. I don't think I can tolerate slow trickle of news that leads up to the 2016 release date.

      • Seriously. I don't think I can tolerate slow trickle of news that leads up to the 2016 release date.

        Anything that takes THIS long to come out has the potential to go all 'Phantom Menace' on us. :(

  • by BobMcD ( 601576 ) on Friday October 22, 2010 @06:15PM (#33991258)

    Blizzard's design staff recently, famously lamented: "Our worst mistake was PvP"

    And yet...

    Since there are so many permutations for individual builds (and some are supposed to be better than others), they’re less worried about 1v1 balance than team balance — a philosophy similar to that for World of Warcraft arenas.

    ...they're ripping their Arena system from WoW?

    I would have like to have seen more information about _why_ they think this is a good idea...

    • by rotide ( 1015173 )
      WoW gets them millions upon millions each month... It's a freaking behemoth.. It worked there, so.. why not? (mind you, I'm not saying I like it, frankly I HATED the Arena's)
      • The biggest mistake in the arenas was that you got better gear for winning, immediately giving you further advantage. Equivalent gear was not always available via other methods or required 10 - 40 people to co-operate over the internet on a often timed exercise (raiding) and usually had lockout timers. If you were a decent player and got started early in the arena it was easy to stay ahead of even a dedicated raiding guild. and you were usually acquiring better gear for PvP. I enjoy casual PvP as I like to

    • by am 2k ( 217885 )

      PvP is pretty essential to MMOs. You can't just leave that out.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Because their aren't as many balancing difficulties with Diablo. WoW had it added without considering the incredible amount of options people could be wearing, and the characters in WoW where not designed and balanced to fight each other, but to balance a team formula.

    • by smcn ( 87571 )

      Blizzard's design staff recently, famously lamented: "Our worst mistake was PvP"

      Generally when you put quotation marks around a phrase it's meant to signify that someone actually said those words. You're referencing WarCry's 2009 interview with Rob Pardo [warcry.com], wherein he expresses his feeling that adding arenas was their biggest mistake. However, it's not because arenas were a bad idea, but because he felt it was tacked-on.

      Blizzard these days is heavy into e-sports, which is why Diablo 3 will have PvP, and why they'll focus as much energy as they need in order to make it competitive.

  • ...they put the entire article in the summary, since they sure didn't provide a link to it. Not that I wanted to go find more pictures or videos or anything...
  • I played the PSone version of Diablo 1, and it was good. I even tried out the PC version, which was much harder on my wrists, and slightly less fun to play. Every Diablo III article we see has folks drooling over every tiny little bit of info on the game that Blizzard leaks out. But as the Rogue from Diablo 1 says when she defeats Gharbad the Weak: I am NOT impressed. Why not?

    Diablo III isn't doing anything that different from the various Snowblind engine games on the PS2...years ago.

    http://www.gamespot [gamespot.com]

  • I'd like to see them come up with one or more classes that isn't sex linked. In most other games you can play almost all classes as either male or female. Why is Blizzard so obsessed with gender-based classes?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bertok ( 226922 )

      They've already announced that all of their classes will be playable as either male or female.

      It's one of the first questions in their FAQ [blizzard.com].

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson