Blizzard Continues To Carefully Tinker With Diablo III

The devil is in the Diablo details.

While there is plenty of work being done on the look and feel of Blizzard's upcoming Diablo III, often when the creators talk about the game, it's to discuss the little things.

There's a reason for that, Blizzard doesn't just want to win over a entirely new generation of gamers with their action title, they also want to keep their hardcore, well established and rather large existing fan base.

So this week in Germany, Blizzard's discussions about the upcoming game weren't about major new gameplay elements or new character classes you can play, they were instead about things like how inventory will work and collecting matching sets of armour.

Matching sets were a big deal in Diablo II, and they'll remain a big deal in Diablo III, but the team is doing their best to make sure that people use them more often this time around.

The problem with the sets in the second game was that it often took so long to find all of the pieces needed to complete a full set of armour that by the time you did, your character was so far advanced that they didn't want to use the set anymore, said Diablo III game director Jay Wilson.

"They were pretty difficult to make use of," he said. "The reason they are in design right now is that we want to solve that problem, but not necessarily by making them easier to find."

The team is playing around with several solutions including making the less valuable armour more prolific in the lower levels or bunching all of the sets at the end of the game, and not early on at all.

"There are a bunch of different ways we can handle it," he said.

The game's inventory system is also being tweaked.

In Diablo II players spent an inordinate amount of time trying to wedge all of their items onto their character sheet, a process that at times felt like playing Tetris.

But Wilson said the team didn't want to completely get rid of their inventory system.

"The new system is at a halfway point between where Diablo II was and other inventory systems are," he said.

While items won't each fit into single boxes neatly, they also will no longer take up different number of boxes in odd shapes.

"We tried a one-to-one system with weapons and armour, but it didn't feel as solid and real when they were representing by a small icon," Wilson said. "So we created two sizes: A larger one and smaller one.

"There will be no odd shapes."

The team is also working on a new crafting system that will allow players to salvage items they no longer want without being forced to go into town to do it.

When you salvage an item you break it down to elements, but the elements are what Wilson described as "fantastical", things that sound magic and can be used to craft other special items.

If a player wants to get gold for their items while in the field they can just use a "scroll of wealth," he added.

Everything that Blizzard is doing with their game is aimed at bringing in a larger, more connected audience.

Most players went through played Diablo II on their own, Wilson pointed out.

"Our greatest victory would be if people play Diablo III with strangers all of the time," he said. "If that happens it will be a much greater game."

In the end, though, Wilson said their goal is to make a game that feels a lot like the first two games.


    Completely agree that the set items were hard to collect at useful levels. I'm a huge Diablo fan but I must say that my excitement for D3 (which peaked when announced) is slowly declining as I'm not sure I like the direction the series is heading in...

      really? it doesnt look like theyre straying away much from what made D2 so awesome. Im assume it will be like starcraft 2 which shares a lot with the original.

        Diablo 2 was a good game not a perfect game. It seems like most of the changes in D3 are expansion pack tweaks rather than a new generation game (has it been 10 years now?). It looks like the Diablo series has barely evolved with this new game if you look beyond the graphics. Artisians make use of old features from D2 and add an MMOesque grind to them. This inventory system has been known for almost a year now so it's not news.

        Set items were a problem in the old system but reserving them all for the end game is stupid. It's a typical MMO philosophy: must get to the end game, that 5 months I spent playing and levelling my character through the mid-game are irrelevant, the end game is where I get cool loot and start having fun.

        Set items at lower levels had two problems. The biggest wasn't their rarity - it was the weapon. A set with good stats but a crappy weapon was a bad set. To get the set bonus you sacrificed using a superior weapon. The second problem was the rarity, but making set items quest rewards or increasing drop potential, maybe at certain bosses, could easily fix that problem. In the end sets were often worse than uniques and rares because you had vastly decreased ability to customise your character and the set rewards for a full set of three items were almost never superior to three uniques in the same slots.

      For me, my excitement declined a bit when i realised just how FAR AWAY this game was going to be, but a lot of the recent stuff i've seen (this, and the artisan) is starting to get me interested again.

      I've... even gone and installed D2 again...

    I am slightly disappointed that your inventory won't be the challenge like in D2, it really made you think what you wanted to carry.

      It was a pain in the ass more than anything. Something as simple as an auto-fill would've made it that much less annoying.

    I'm buying this and Torch Light 2 when they come out. yew!

    Can't wait! They sold me on it when i hear that the D2 Barbarian was gonna be re-appearing. That guy was awesome!

    D2 was successful due to bnet and being able to farm bosses. It's a pretty simple formula :P

    I'm extremely concerned they will remove the later part, and slightly worried about the new bnet.

    Here's hoping :D

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