It is well-known that Diablo offers a sea of customization options, and almost all of those have changed with the third addition to the series.
The first thing that comes to mind is that Attributes got a complete revamp along with the removal of freely assigning your points. Also, the skill system changed from Skill Books in Diablo I to a Skill Tree in Diablo II, to eventually end up as the 7 slot tiered pool structure currently used in Diablo III. More info about the new skill system can be found here. The Charms" class="wiki-link">Charms"/> Charms that were introduced in Diablo II have been given their own space in the form of The Talisman" class="wiki-link">The Talisman"/> The Talisman.
The final and perhaps the most effective way to be different from everyone else did however stay pretty much the same. I am of course talking about equipment. Although there is one thing that did change about equipment, something that you could call a second level of customization: socketable items.
"As a token of my appreciation, I will craft sockets into an item of your choosing..." - LarzukSockets" class="wiki-link">Sockets"/> Sockets were first introduced in Diablo II. Their function was simple and very basic. A Normal" class="wiki-link">Normal"/> Normal or Superior" class="wiki-link">Superior"/> Superior item could drop with one to six sockets, depending on difficulty level and item size. Each socket could house one socketable item, which at the time was limited to Gems" class="wiki-link">Gems"/> Gems. Finally there were also a few Horadric Cube" class="wiki-link">Horadric Cube"/> Horadric Cube recipes that could add sockets to Normal" class="wiki-link">Normal"/> Normal, Superior" class="wiki-link">Superior"/> Superior, Magic" class="wiki-link">Magic"/> Magic and Rare" class="wiki-link">Rare"/> Rare items.
Blizzard" class="wiki-link">Blizzard"/> Blizzard added two things in the LoD expansion: a Cube recipe for removing socketed items and the quest Siege on Harrogath" class="wiki-link">Siege on Harrogath"/> Siege on Harrogath. After completing the quest you could visit Larzuk" class="wiki-link">Larzuk"/> Larzuk who would then add a socket to an item of choice. This reward was different from the Cube recipe in the way that it could add sockets to Set" class="wiki-link">Set"/> Set, Unique" class="wiki-link">Unique"/> Unique and Crafted" class="wiki-link">Crafted"/> Crafted items as well, up to a maximum of one socket.
Something new in Diablo III is the addition of the Blacksmith" class="wiki-link">Blacksmith"/> Blacksmith Artisan, along with a bunch of his services. One of those services is that he will socket your items for gold, so it works a bit like the old Horadric Cube Recipes except for one difference: he can add sockets to Legendary" class="wiki-link">Legendary"/> Legendary (Unique) and Set items as well.
Looking back, Gems" class="wiki-link">Gems"/> Gems were the first and only socketable items prior to Diablo II LoD" class="wiki-link">Diablo II LoD"/> Diablo II LoD. Each Gem gave a different bonus depending on if it was socketed in a Weapon, Shield or Armor/Helm. There were seven Gem types" class="wiki-link">Gem types"/> Gem types: Amethyst, Diamond, Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire, Topaz and Skull. Take a quick look at the color of a particular Gem and you could often guess what effect it had on your items. The red Ruby for example gave Health, Fire Damage and Fire Resistance.
Chipped Sapphire - Cold/Mana
Each gem also had five grades" class="wiki-link">five grades"/> five grades: Chipped, Flawed, Regular, Flawless and Perfect. Gems up to Flawless could be found as drops, so to get the final Perfect Gems you had to rely on upgrading" class="wiki-link">upgrading"/> upgrading three lower grade Gems to a single Gem of a higher grade using the Horadric Cube. Alternatively you could touch a Gem Shrine" class="wiki-link">Gem Shrine"/> Gem Shrine which would upgrade a random Gem from your inventory, or drop a Chipped Gem if there were no upgradeable Gems in your inventory.
A popular way to collect Gems was to destroy Mephisto's Soulstone at The Hellforge" class="wiki-link">The Hellforge"/> The Hellforge. This would cause four Gems to drop as a quest reward. They were always one Regular, two Flawless and one Perfect. Maxing out your gear with the best Perfect Gems was therefore not the hardest thing if you continuously repeated this quest with new characters.
Blizzard" class="wiki-link">Blizzard"/> Blizzard made some radical changes to the Gems in Diablo III. They removed the Skull Gem and expanded the amount of Gem grades" class="wiki-link">Gem grades"/> Gem grades to fourteen, up from 5 in Diablo II. Another big difference is that not nearly all Gem grades will drop anymore, only the first five. What this means is that you need to find a total of 19683 grade five Gems to get one grade fourteen Gem.
Even getting a single grade fourteen Gem could turn out to be comparable to reaching level 99 in Diablo II. In other words: it might take a very long time and be more of an achievement than a requirement. Of course this is still subject to change as the exact amount required to get a grade fourteen Gem can be adjusted according to Blizzard's design goals.
Similar to adding sockets, the two actions that were previously done by using the Horadric Cube, combining Gems and removing Gems, are now services offered by The Jeweler" class="wiki-link">The Jeweler"/> The Jeweler Artisan.
33 different Runes" class="wiki-link">Runes"/> Runes were introduced in Diablo II: Lord of Destruction to expand the socket system beyond the simple Gems. Their basic function was the same as for the Gems: you socketed an item with a Rune to get a bonus effect. However, the difference was that certain combinations of runes formed Runewords.
A Runeword gave a Normal" class="wiki-link">Normal"/> Normal or Superior" class="wiki-link">Superior"/> Superior item a set of specific attributes. These attributes ranged from being mediocre to being much more powerful than both Rare" class="wiki-link">Rare"/> Rare and Unique" class="wiki-link">Unique"/> Unique items. Differently from Gems, Runes could not be upgraded in the same way since they did not have grades. Instead each rune could be upgraded to the next one through a similar Horadric Cube recipe.
Runes are naturally much more valuable than Gems because of their ability to form Runewords, but also because they were ridiculously rare. The most common Rune, the El Rune, had a 50% chance to drop at best. But Rune number 33, the Zod Rune, had the unbelievably low drop rate of 0.00003% at best. Legit players could search for years but never find one of the rarest runes.
The Rune combine recipes" class="wiki-link">Rune combine recipes"/> Rune combine recipes were almost like the Gem recipes, but with a few differences. The highest Runes required a gem to be added as well, and the amount of Runes required for each combine dropped to two for the highest Runes. This way of combining was the only way for most players to ever get their hands on the highest runes.
In addition to Gems, LoD also added a Rune drop to The Hellforge" class="wiki-link">The Hellforge"/> The Hellforge quest reward. The Rune that could drop ranged from Rune 15 to 25 in Hell, so together with the ability to upgrade you got a relatively quick way to reach those Runes that otherwise could take months to find. There was also a second quest that gave the Runes Ral, Ort and Tal as the reward. The Rescue on Mount Arreat" class="wiki-link">Rescue on Mount Arreat"/> Rescue on Mount Arreat quest to be specific.
You can tell how Blizzard" class="wiki-link">Blizzard"/> Blizzard has chosen a route between the Diablo II Gems and Runes for the Gems in Diablo III. They must be upgraded a lot of times, like Runes, but they have types and grades, like Gems.
It is hard to even compare the Diablo II Runes to the Diablo III version" class="wiki-link">Diablo III version"/> Diablo III version because they share nothing in common except for the name. Runes in Diablo III are not even socketed into equipment, they are placed into skills. Like Diablo II Gems, there are five different Runes, each with seven ranks. Socketing a skill with a Rune will change the way it functions, sometimes fundamentally, and increasing the rank of that Rune will increase its effect. A The amount of possible build variations are simply staggering when you not only get to choose between skills, but also between one of five Rune variations for that skill.
- Regular - Summons a fire-spitting hydra
- Crimson - The projectile changes to a cone of frost
- Indigo - The projectile changes to lightning balls that never miss
- Obsidian - The projectile changes to acid with splash damage
- Golden - Summons a giant Hydra that creates fire walls
- Alabaster - The projectile changes to an AoE arcane projectile
Similarly to the Diablo II Runes there will be a lot of variation in Rune drop rates from the lowest to the highest rank. However Blizzard did point out that having the very best Runes will be more for perfection than something you have to do to stay competitive. This is especially important when you take PvP into consideration where everything must be relatively balanced compared to PvE. It would be hard for new people to be competitive if a Rune of a higher rank made you automatically win. This is a big change from Diablo II where top Runewords like Breath of the Dying were essential in many builds, especially if you wanted to be competitive in PvP.
The Artisan that is related to Runes is The Mystic" class="wiki-link">The Mystic"/> The Mystic. Unfortunately there is not much known about The Mystic except that she will create Runes in some way.
The third and final socketable item type was also added in LoD and was called Jewel" class="wiki-link">Jewel"/> Jewel. They were not quite like the Gems and Runes, instead you could say that they were weaker versions of Rings" class="wiki-link">Rings"/> Rings that could be socketed into items. They could be Magic, Rare and even Unique, with 1-4 random magical attributes. The attributes were indicated through Suffixes and Prefixes, and just like for the regular items it was required that you identified" class="wiki-link">identified"/> identified a Jewel before you could use it.
The way Jewels were presented in Diablo II.
Surprisingly there is one one simple Cube recipe related to the Jewel, for re-rolling it.
There were also no quests that gave a Jewel as a reward, so you could say that there was not really anything to them beyond simple socketing. On the other hand their value as separate socketed items is much higher than that of Gems and Runes because they are so much more powerful.
There are currently no Jewels in Diablo III, Gems are the only socketable items, but Bashiok informed us that there is a potential for others to be added in the future.
So far Diablo III is leaving us with a socketable layout similar to vanilla DII. Gems are the only items that can be placed inside items. This can be considered a step back from the three socketables available in Lord of Destruction, but it can also be seen as a stable basic feature for Blizzard to expand with more options in future expansions. Skill Runes were moved from your items and into your skills, and with that transition their fundamental purpose was changed completely. The concept of socketing for further customization is now at the very core of build creation. Sockets used to be very optional and even unnecessary for most people, but take a quick look at the effect of a Skill Rune and you can tell that Diablo III is going to throw that right out of the window. Socketing now has a central role in both character creation and development through Runes, and plays a very important part in giving players a long term goal through Gems (and to some extent Runes as well).
To sum things up I would say that Blizzard has done some radical changes to revamp the socketing system. I see nothing of the tiny objects that gave your items a little powerboost back in Diablo II. Instead I see one system that will allow people to further develop their characters for months, and one that will end up redefining the way we think about skills. It is one hell of a makeover Blizzard is giving the Diablo genre, and I have to say that I can not be more pleased with what they have shown us so far.
I hope you enjoyed reading my first Chronicle (sort of). The first in a series of articles dedicated to covering the major aspects of what together makes a Diablo game, and how they have evolved over the last 15 years. Anyway, thank's for reading! See you next time!