The Diablo Chronicles: Enemies & Combat

  • #1

    "You move between tight clusters of rocks so that the Fallen can't swarm you from all sides. You prioritize your targets, choosing carefully between the foes that trap you, the foes that slowly peck away at your life, and the sluggish, but heavily armored threat. And then, you let fly with some surprising maneuvers of your own."

    The heart of the series remains unchanged. Diablo is back and both he and his minions are threatening this world. It is our job to hunt and put them down. The various aspects of combat haven't changed much across the series, but rather have been expanded and built upon. This Chronicle will cover those aspects as well as the monsters and demons that have also evolved quite a bit. And as with all fights, this Chronicle begins with...

    Encountering the Enemies

    The very first meeting players had with enemies used to be somewhat disappointing. Most idled around, seemingly waiting for someone to step up and fight them. This applied to both - Diablo I Diablo I and - Diablo II Diablo II, but not so much for - Diablo III Diablo III. While there are still a lot of enemies simply waiting for someone to attack, there are also enemies with other ways to appear and approach you. Take the Dark Vessels" class="wiki-link">Dark Vessels"/> Dark Vessels, for example. These possessed cultists will remain in place as you near them, tapping their staves on the ground. The demon possessing them will eventually tear its host apart and emerge into the field, unless their hosts are killed in the meantime. Other enemies such as the Undead Ghouls" class="wiki-link">Ghouls"/> Ghouls will at times not be present when you arrive, but shortly after they can be seen climbing the walls in order to reach and surround you.

    Click for a larger version

    There were a few cases in Diablo II where enemies wouldn't be found idle on the battlefield. Immobile Blood Hawk Nests" class="wiki-link">Blood Hawk Nests"/> Blood Hawk Nests would spawn Blood Hawks" class="wiki-link">Blood Hawks"/> Blood Hawks until they were destroyed, and Sand Maggots" class="wiki-link">Sand Maggots"/> Sand Maggots would lay eggs that eventually hatched into larvae" class="wiki-link">larvae"/> larvae. While we haven't seen any egg-laying enemies in Diablo III as of yet, we have seen Wraiths" class="wiki-link">Wraiths"/> Wraiths spawned from Ghostly Orbs" class="wiki-link">Ghostly Orbs"/> Ghostly Orbs. I think it is safe to assume that we will see many more enemies with different ways of initiating encounters in the future. We have, after all, only seen a small part of Acts 1, 2, and 3.

    Designing Danger

    "As you encounter new monsters in subsequent acts, events, and quests, you'll need to keep your combat strategy fluid"

    Enemies vastly different from each other have been a key ingredient to Diablo's combat since the very beginning. There are too many abilities available to enemies for them to be listed here, but some notable ones were the various offensive spells, the Teleport ability used by the Mages" class="wiki-link">Mages"/> Mages in Diablo I, the Fallen Shaman" class="wiki-link">Fallen Shaman"/> Fallen Shaman's ability to resurrect enemies and cast fireballs in Diablo II, and the Skeletal Shieldmen" class="wiki-link">Skeletal Shieldmen"/> Skeletal Shieldmen with the ability to block incoming attacks from the direction their shields are facing in Diablo III.

    Fallen Shaman
    Diablo I had a lot of different enemies, Diablo II increased that number, and Diablo III will extend the amount of enemies by even more. They all have something that makes them unique, be it stats or a certain ability. These differences are often designed to work together in order to provide an even greater challenge, such as the Skeletal Shieldmen's ability to protect those behind them from damage, or the Overseers" class="wiki-link">Overseers"/> Overseers in Diablo II that will heal, buff or even turn their minions into suicide bombers.

    Tomb Viper
    Fragile Desert Wasps" class="wiki-link">Desert Wasps"/> Desert Wasps can deal a lot of damage through the horde of offspring they fire, like homing missiles, at the player, but your path to them is blocked by a pair of heavy Dune Dervishes" class="wiki-link">Dune Dervishes"/> Dune Dervishes that are spinning fiercely, reflecting everything coming at them. You decide to step back and wait them out, but then a group of stealthed Tomb Vipers" class="wiki-link">Tomb Vipers"/> Tomb Vipers appear and surround you. You are now pinned down and unable to avoid the incoming Wasp missiles, your death following in their trail. These are the kind of unlucky situations you might find yourself in, and it is your job to find a way to escape and counter your attackers.

    Randomization of Death

    In order to create even more interesting and varied encounters there are three randomization systems in place that have evolved throughout the series.

    The Chaos Sanctuary contains 4 Super Uniques
    The first was introduced back in Diablo I and was the random placement of enemies. Each time a new game was started a new set of enemies were placed at random positions together with the randomization of the map. As with maps there were some areas with less randomized enemies than others, something that will stay the same in Diablo III. Examples of this are areas with quest objectives, areas with specific events, areas with certain - Super Unique Super Unique enemies, and of course the lairs of the boss enemies.

    The second and third systems were very similar to each other and were both introduced in Diablo II. The first of the two generated Champions" class="wiki-link">Champions"/> Champions, indicated by a name in blue. When they spawned, they did so in groups of varying sizes, with each member of that group being one of the five different Champion types. The type decided which set of stats changes had applied on top of the standard monster level and health boost that were given to all Champions.

    The third and final system generated Unique" class="wiki-link">Unique"/> Unique enemies, indicated by a name in gold. They never spawned in groups, but were always accompanied by minions. Each Unique was given a random set of additional enchantments and abilities that sometimes also affected their minions as well. There were thirteen different abilities they could spawn with, including Extra Fast, Teleporting, Lightning Enchanted, and a dozen more. Some Unique enemies were extra powerful, not randomized, and sometimes part of a quest. They were referred to as Super Unique enemies and included familiar faces like Blood Raven and Rakanishu, but also all act bosses.

    Examples of either Champions or Uniques have been seen in Diablo III, but it is still unknown whether or not they both exist or if they have been merged and/or tweaked in some way.


    Goatman Shaman
    There was not much complexity in the attacks of the monsters in the previous installments of the series. They pretty much used the simple strategy of picking the closest target and attacking it. Even the bosses didn't have a much more sophisticated AI beyond the ability to use a larger and more impressive spell pool. We have seen proof of some significant improvements in Diablo III, such as Goatman Shamans" class="wiki-link">Goatman Shamans"/> Goatman Shamans running away to find a new pack when its first is dead, or Desert Wasps hovering away from players to position themselves better. Of course a clever AI like this is not applied to all enemies, only those to which it makes sense. You won't be seeing extremely clever Fallen Imps" class="wiki-link">Fallen Imps"/> Fallen Imps avoiding every projectile you throw at them, and half of the entire enemy group won't suddenly run away to join another group, eventually creating a group so large that it is overwhelming.

    Big Bad Bosses

    Impressive spells aside, there were not a lot of interesting mechanics in place to make boss fights interesting in the previous games. Depending on your strength compared to the boss you would end up either soaking up every attack from the boss (with the aid of - Healing Potions Healing Potions) while dealing more damage in return from your own spells, or you would run around in circles in order to kite it to death. When you think about it there was really no difference between regular enemies and bosses in terms of how you fought them. In many cases it was actually easier to fight a boss because it alone couldn't reduce your hp faster than your flow of Potions could restore it. The only exception would have to be when - Diablo Diablo used his Lightning Inferno, a spell that could easily kill those without enough survivability in a few seconds. Spells like that makes bosses interesting because it encourages swift reactions in order to survive, although the near instant death of the Lightning Inferno might be a bit too punishing.

    Click for a larger version
    This appears to be the route Blizzard has chosen for bosses this time. Unless you play as a bulky - Barbarian Barbarian you probably won't be able to soak up all of the attacks a heavy boss will throw at you. This is further emphasized by the cooldown given to all Potions, something that will surely make players care more about their red globe. However, you might think that you are safe from damage if you choose to play with a Barbarian as one of your party members, but that is not necessarily true. One example of this is the Siegebreaker" class="wiki-link">Siegebreaker"/> Siegebreaker's ability to charge through his enemies, possibly through the Barbarian and into another player. The Barbarian would have to act swiftly to gain its attention again before the Siegebreaker decides to target the other player that now is much closer to it.

    Of course every boss won't be using a charge attack, but most should have some way to make you feel threatened regardless of your position. The - Thousand Pounder Thousand Pounder rages into a frenzy near death, drastically increasing his speed. The - Skeleton King Skeleton King might not be the most challenging opponent by himself, but in order to compensate for that he starts off by summoning minions to aid him.

    A good way to experience these changes for yourself, other than fighting the bosses yourself when the game is released (or maybe in the beta if we are lucky), might be to watch a video. I have compiled footage of the Thousand Pounder, the Skeleton King and the Siegebreaker Assault Beast for your convenience. If you haven't seen it already, make sure to pay close attention to the execution of the Witch Doctor and Barbarian by the Siegebreaker. Personally, I find that part to be particularly awesome.

    Small Components - Big Impact

    A few other things have to be mentioned before rounding this one up. Some significant changes have been made to some very key elements that greatly affect combat. Back in Diablo I you could only walk, so your mobility was very limited. Diablo II increased that mobility by introducing - Stamina Stamina as a resource for running. This was very important since without the ability to run you were often not able to escape pursuing enemies. What happened to this system in Diablo III is still unclear, but by looking at the UI it appears that Stamina has been removed, which would mean that players can at least run at all times if they wish.

    After that we have the addition of a cooldown for Potions, something that didn't exist in the previous implementations of the system. In its place we have been introduced to the - Health Globes Health Globes, an item with a chance to drop from any enemy that restores health over time to everyone nearby when touched.

    As stated in
    the previous Chronicle, - Town Portals Town Portals are removed and are no longer a shortcut out of any danger. If you are overwhelmed you can't simply take a portal to town and wait for your party to solve the problem, you have to do your best to survive.

    Finally there is the major change made to resource systems in Diablo III. The purpose of this change is to create more unique gameplay between each class.

    The - Barbarian Barbarian uses Fury" class="wiki-link">Fury"/> Fury, a resource that increases when the Barbarian deals or takes damage. This emphasizes his role as a warrior that should stay in the middle of the fray at all times, since that is the best way to gain as much Fury as possible. An attack like Whirlwind" class="wiki-link">Whirlwind"/> Whirlwind can even restore as much Fury as it drains by damaging enough enemies, which is why the Barbarian might never run out of resource as long as he has enough enemies to fight.
    The - Wizard Wizard uses
    Arcane Power" class="wiki-link">Arcane Power"/> Arcane Power, a quickly regenerating resource with a fixed maximum amount. This allows her to either cast minor spells that won't drain Arcane Power faster than she can regenerate it, or she can cast more powerful spells that depletes her resource pool much faster.
    It was stated at BlizzCon 2010 that the Wizard might be going back to - Mana Mana.

    The - Monk Monk builds up

    " class="wiki-link">Spirit
    "/> Spirit
    by using normal attacks or combo skills. The spirit can then be spent on other more powerful skills. This makes the Monk use a mix of weak and strong attacks as opposed to the more balanced Barbarian.

    The - Demon Hunter Demon Hunter is using a
    resource system" class="wiki-link">resource system"/> resource system that remains quite unknown. It is based on two different skill types, Hatred and Discipline. Hatred is associated with bow attacks and burst damage while Discipline focuses on traps and preparation. Hatred skills will be used more than Discipline skills.

    The - Witch Doctor Witch Doctor is using the well-known - Mana Mana system that I'm sure everyone is familiar with. The pool is large and regenerates slowly, thereby enabling stable damage to be dealt until the large pool is empty.

    Are you Following me?

    Click for larger versions - Hirelings Hirelings, introduced in Diablo II and commonly referred to as Mercenaries (because almost every build preferred an Act 2 Mercenary" class="wiki-link">Act 2 Mercenary"/> Act 2 Mercenary Hireling), are returning in Diablo III as - Followers Followers. They work similarly to how they did in Diablo II, as a sort of secondary character that can be equipped and aid you in combat. However, this time they are more focused on a specific task and not as interchangeable. If you want a tank there is a specific Follower for that, etc. There is also another type of Hirelings, namely NPCs that will join you at times during quest or other events. They are mostly intended as cannon fodder or are there to be a part of a storyline, they can not help you as much as your Follower.

    In Diablo II you could only decide one of the skills your Hireling was going to use, the rest were predetermined. The number of skills to choose from ranged from two (Act 1 Rogues" class="wiki-link">Act 1 Rogues"/> Act 1 Rogues) to six (Act 2 Mercenary" class="wiki-link">Act 2 Mercenary"/> Act 2 Mercenary). Instead of choosing a predetermined setup you will get to choose from a pool of twelve skills in Diablo III. The pool is divided into four tiers that are unlocked at level 5, 10, 15 and 20, and you are allowed to pick one skill per tier.

    Click for a larger version
    Previously when a Hireling died it had to be resurrected for gold by an NPC in town. This often made Hirelings more of an annoyance than a helpful comrade. Because of their lack of clever AI you could find yourself paying for a resurrection every 5-10 minutes, a cost that was far too expensive for a lot of players. This system is replaced by a more forgiving system in Diablo III. When they die they merely become unconscious for a while, or until you channel on them.

    Another major difference is that you don't replace a Follower by choosing to use another one. The rest will remain in town for your return while also gaining the same experience as the one that is currently following your character. They will even gain experience if none of the Followers are in use, so you don't lose anything by not using a Follower for a while. Still they are completely optional and are not required to beat the game.

    Their inventory system is very basic. There is room for a weapon, a shield, an amulet, two rings, and a class specific item that is unlocked at level 25. It is not too different from Diablo II where there was a helm slot and an armor slot instead of the jewelry slots, and no class specific item slots.

    It is also important to note that unlike in Diablo II, Followers can only be used when playing solo. If someone joins your game the Follower will head back to your caravan, and similarly it will come back if you are alone after someone leaves. They are also not designed to be very useful beyond Normal.

    For a more detailed description of Followers, their identities and mechanics, ScyberDragon compiled all the details in this thread. In case you also want to see the Followers in action, here is the announcement video:

    That's it for this Chronicle. I hope you enjoyed this look at the aspects of enemies and combat, and how they have evolved from the simplicity of the previous games. If you missed the previous Chronicle and want a look at Sanctuary as it is seen in the game, here is a link to it. With nothing more to say... Bye!
  • #2
    Good read!

    I can't wait to see the Demon Hunter's resource system, I guess they'll show it when they release all the resource systems on the official site.

    I wonder if we will at least be able to use Followers on Nightmare and Hell as distractions, in case we get pinned down somewhere. If one is playing as the Demon Hunter or the Wizard, I gather they could come in handy.
    Rísta - ráða
    Fá - freista
    Biðja - blóta
    Senda - sóa

  • #3
    Nice article :)

  • #4
    great article. I think you highlighted some key aspects to how D2 has evolved and will be amazing in D3.

    Find any Diablo news? Contact me or anyone else on the News team  

  • #5
    Wow. Amazing article. Nicely structured, well articulated, lots of facts and good comparisons. Very good job writing it, but tell me, how long did it take you from the first research to writing the last letter?
    Periculum has spoken.

    Thank you Caniroth for the awesome Signature
  • #6
    Quote from Periculum

    Wow. Amazing article. Nicely structured, well articulated, lots of facts and good comparisons. Very good job writing it, but tell me, how long did it take you from the first research to writing the last letter?


    I wrote it in 3 sessions, each being about 1.5-3 hours depending on how much info I had to search for. The video took about 2 hours (damn I suck at video editing). Links, images and minor changes here and there took about 2 hours. The final structuring took somewhere around 2 hours (before that it was plain text and fewer images). Then Followers were announced and I spent about an hour including that information.

    That's about it. It was technically done two weeks ago, sorry for the delay :)
  • #7
    Quote from Ophion

    It was technically done two weeks ago, sorry for the delay :)

    Hehe, no problem, thanks for sharing and especially thanks for spending so much time to it, just for us :D
    Periculum has spoken.

    Thank you Caniroth for the awesome Signature
  • #8
    Great read :)
  • #9
    Great read :) Thank you!

    I am re-watching some God Of War 3 playthroughs. Though it is a different game, setting and feel it makes me realize how far games have come in terms of Boss Fights. GOW is all about being over the top where as Diablo's heroes feel more grounded to their limits of strength and scope but it would be nice to see boss fights go beyond simple mechanics of adds creating the challenge. Hopefully Diablo 3 will have some dynamic feeling battles instead of it being just a more polished version of D1 and D2.
  • #10
    Bravo :) Great article~ I'm so curious as to what other "Smart" creatures will be in D3.. I'm sure there's plenty more than we've seen :xD:.
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Follow. . . . . . . . . .Like. . . . . . . . . .Watch. . . . . . . . .Chat

    “We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” - Albert Einstein
  • #11
    Sometimes I wonder how much of these games the authors have even played.
  • #12
    Good read...... Who thinks the Demon hunters resource is Stamina? I think it sounds crazy.......So ...just!
    "Give a man a skill tree, and he will become a Fire Sorc. Give a man 6 skills to choose from, pulling from all three trees, and he becomes a Fire Sorc that likes to shoot lightning to manage the bigger crowds."

  • #13
    I thoroughly enjoyed it, thank you :)
    I'm interested in seeing what other mechanics the major bosses will have. Could be really interesting
    Buuut, on that note, i do also hope the mechanics that have to be aplied to kill the boss, wont be mandatory, so you can still kill the boss, albeit whith a bit more difficulty.
    better to reign in Hell than serve in Heav'n
  • #14
    I wish they would just allow mercenaries in multiplayer. People argue that they have to balance the game for having one, so if you opt out of using one you're SOL. But this isn't true, they would just have to increase the difficulty of the monsters as if the merc was another player (or half player since they rarely are as tough as a real player's character) just like they do in diablo 2 when a new player enters your game.
  • #15
    Good read.

    I'm gonna be a nerd and point out this sentence
    The second and third systems were very similar to each other and were both introduced in Diablo II.

    the third system was actually introduced in diablo 1.
    Still a great article. i Appreciate it.

    Edit: Never mind i see now that you meant the whole monsters attributes etc were randomly generated.
  • #16
    Yes, I meant the randomly generated Uniques. I added the part about non-randomized Super Uniques (which obviously existed in D1) just before I posted this and I forgot to change that part.

    I wish they would just allow mercenaries in multiplayer. People argue that they have to balance the game for having one, so if you opt out of using one you're SOL.

    I can see three reasons for why they aren't allowed in multiplayer.

    1. They contribute to the mess of bodies running around on the screen. A lot of things (player cap, skill effects, etc) have been reduced so we will actually be able to see what is going on. This is another example of that.

    2. Giving gear to a Follower might be good for when you need someone to complement your solo character (Templar for tanking when you play as a Wizard, for example), but with a party you don't need that assistance.

    3. Followers are also there to promote co-operative play, and to teach players how to work together with a partner. They introduce people to the co-operative multiplayer that will eventually replace them.

    Buuut, on that note, i do also hope the mechanics that have to be aplied to kill the boss, wont be mandatory, so you can still kill the boss, albeit whith a bit more difficulty.

    Undoubtedly :) With enough of a power advantage you shouldn't have to "follow the rules of the boss". The Siege Breaker is a great example of a boss with a lot of powerful attacks that you probably want to avoid if you are fragile, but if you are strong enough to take the blows then why waste time avoiding them?
  • #17
    Awesome read!
  • #18
    Great article, thanks!
  • #19
    Hmm followers seem like a lot of work to only be used in normal that doesn't go to say I wontbe using them if I'm bymy self
  • To post a comment, please or register a new account.
Posts Quoted:
Clear All Quotes