While we haven't had any news to work with since the Followers System announcement, Force has gone ahead and posted a new video of his Purgatory series, covering the news from the last couple of weeks. There has been a decent amount of material to go over thus far in the month of May, so if you need to quickly catch up (video is 5:22), this is the way to do it. This recent video covers the following topics:
Blizzard has just released their sixteenth batch of screenshots (see here if you missed the fifteenth) for hitting the 925k 'Like' mark. Once again, we've got the high resolution versions at our disposal here on DiabloFans.
The first (and only) image is a concept drawing of the Skeleton King, King Leoric.
Click the images to bask in the glory of the high resolution versions that you likely won't see anywhere else! 25,000 more likes to go until the 950k mark where we can get some more images, and 3 more milestones until we hit the 1 million 'Like' goal. Go visit facebook.com/Diablo and 'Like' the page to speed the war effort!
As we all know, the Followers System was released just yesterday. However, there has already been a lot of chatter amongst the community concerning the system being single player only and the fact that the Followers will really only be viable in the Normal difficulty. As you can see, those restrictions pose some problems. It almost discourages the social experience by forcing players to play alone in order to take advantage of the Followers System, and then leaves us out to dry once we complete Normal.
Official Blizzard Quote:
Followers were originally going to be available during co-op, and actually are right now because of a bug in the current build we're playing. And it's crazy. If you're unfortunate enough to also have a witch doctor, it's insanity. Eight characters running around plus all of the potential pets. It's complete chaos. That's the biggest reason they aren't going to be available outside of single player.
Not wanting the game to be chaotic is completely understandable and is likely one of the contributing factors behind why they initially decreased the maximum party size from eight players [in D2] to four this time around. Going back and doubling the party size would be the last thing they want to do if things truly do become chaotic. However, this begs the question, how will the game feel with a full party of Witch Doctors'? If adding four more potential "summons" turns the game into chaos, how apocalyptic will the game feel with a full set of summons from each of the four WD's? Regardless, if we do want to take advantage of these Followers, we won't be able to with a full party anyway.
Official Blizzard Quote:
It encourages co-op by giving people that are going to be playing the game alone from the start many of the thoughts and process that go into playing with another person. Seeing someone else on screen. Thinking about their items and skills. Hearing them talk. That all sounds silly from a lot of our perspectives, because, we all play co-op and who needs a primer? Well, a lot of people, and that's where this encourages co-op. More people playing co-op means more people in a mindset of an online community, and that has many far reaching benefits for all players.
It seems to me like we have to drop the Mercenary line of thinking from D2 in order to understand this decision. Essentially, Bashiok makes it sound like Followers aren't really supposed to be Mercenaries, but they are supposed to act as party members that replace other real players for those users who refuse to play multiplayer. When you look at the system in that perspective, it makes this functionality great, as it adds some form of cooperation for those who would rather play by themselves, and could even persuade said user to jump online and play with other users, for some real co-op play. This is simply because once you complete Normal by yourself, or rather with the [fake player] Follower, the Follower will become useless.
Official Blizzard Quote:
Followers will not stay alive easily past Normal, and if they're not alive you aren't going to be getting their bonuses. I'm sure people will try to game this, and ideally they will fail. If not we will ensure followers are not part of the end-game MF equation. They are not intended to be, and we will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure they cannot be.
Now you'll be yearning for that co-op play and your only choice will be to jump on Battle.net and find some peers to game with. Blizzard is doing some real funky reverse psychology to promote the social experience, but in the end, they are still promoting the social experience.
'lo all you awesome DiabloFans who enjoy these podcasts, here's the ninth episode of our DiabloCast. This week was all about the upcoming Beta and the Followers System. Keep in mind, all of our speculation on the Followers System was done solely through the leaked video and before the actual announcement. We'll be covering the Followers System again in next weeks episode. If you missed the eighth episode, you can check it out here. Otherwise, the eighth episode covered the following topics:
Yesterday we were privileged to a "sneak peek" of the new Followers system that will be used in Diablo III. Unfortunately, this leaked video left us with only the basic construct of the system and left room for plenty of speculation. Well, today comes with a slew of interviews from Jay Wilson and Leonard Boyarsky. They go into some detail about just how the system is working and how we will interact with these newly added characters.
First, some nitty gritty about the characters themselves. We learned yesterday that the three Followers are the Enchantress, Scoundrel, and Templar, but just who are these characters? Each one will have their own unique story and personality to add to the game. As you play through the main story arc, you will run across these characters in need of some form of assistance. After helping them through their own journey, they will lend their abilities to you. As they venture with you, you will explore their backstories. They will make note of particular instances or comment on something that is going on. They will help tell the story to the player while they are out fighting demons instead of having to sit and read some books.
Beginning with the Templar, named Kormac, he is a stoic character with righteousness on his side. His order is actually trying to retrieve scrolls and books that Lazarus had taken before the story of Diablo I. Betrayed by a corrupt member, you will find Kormac locked up in a dungeon. After you free him and slay the corrupt order member, the Templar will offer his services of protection to you. Kormac has a varying play style that will be valuable no matter what class you are playing. If you need a tank character, he will be able to fill this role very well. However, if you are already a melee oriented character, the Templar can offer healing and other supportive abilities.
After finding and rescuing Kormac, the next Follower you will run into is Lyndon the Scoundrel. Lyndon is a dark humor type character with a questionable sense of morality. Once belonging to a thieves guild, Lyndon was disgraced and thrown out of the guild. Perhaps motivated for more personal gain, he will join you for opportunities to obtain better riches and items. Lyndon is a sort of throw back to the Diablo I Rogue. His focus will be on ranged attacks with the use of a bow or crossbow. However, if a ranged damage dealer is not something you are interested in, he also has a variety of other skills that are more focused on his Scoundrel title like helping you get more gold.
The last Follower you will run into, about a third of the way into the story, is the Enchantress Eirena. Her story is a bit more shady and will unravel as the story continues. All we know when we meet her is that she is following a Prophet who has the ability to control people. In the midst of a fight, she is trying to protect some people and needs your help to save them. After doing so, she will follow you on your heroic journey. Offering magic-based ranged attacks, Eirena will be able to cast from afar to deal damage. However, thanks to her skills gained from the Prophet, she can also offer you services in helping control your foes for you to kill.
Moving past their stories, we go into the mechanics of how this system will work. First and foremost, it is important to note that the Followers system will only be available to those playing in a game by themselves. If another player joins the game, the Follower will head back to your caravan. However, if you find yourself alone again in this fight, the Follower will come right back to aid you. This was done to help players who want to play by themselves but decrease the clutter if multiple people are in one game. Along with this, despite having all three Followers at your disposal, you may only use the services of one at a time. But do not worry, all three will gain experience regardless if they are being used or not. This will allow you to use them when you want to and not because you have to in order to level them up. You can also switch them out whenever you want to aid you best in different scenarios. If a follower "dies," you will not have to go back to town resurrect them. This is how it was originally planned but Blizzard felt like it took too much time away from fighting and caused players to not even use them. Instead, the characters will be knocked out temporarily. After about 15-20 seconds, they will regain consciousness and rejoin the fight. If this is too much time for you, you can channel on them and help revive them sooner. To help keep them fighting longer, they will also gain the effect from any health globe you pick up.
Each Follower comes with their own unique skill set to choose from. Every five levels up to 20, you will gain access to a new set with three different choices. You can choose one from that set to help cater to your liking. Along with skills, you will be able to customize your Followers with some gear. One amulet and two rings will be able to be equipped by them to help customize their stats to the play style you have planned for them. Along with this is a weapon slot. Each Follower will have a distinct group of weapon choices that they can equip but there will still be some variety. Perhaps a heavy damage dealer is what you want for your Templar, so you give him a two-handed weapon. But if you are looking for a tank, then you can give them a sword and shield. The last item slot, which can be seen in the inventory screenshots, is for a class specific item. The only one we know for sure is the Templar's tomes. Speculation for the other two may be a satchel or quiver for the Scoundrel and perhaps some off-hand orb for the Enchantress. These unique items will only be for each particular Follower. These characters were purposely left with a limit to their customization and stats to help lighten the load of these characters. Blizzard did not want players to feel like they were leveling a second character. Instead, you are able to help design this person who will fight along with you when needed.
Moving on to the last part, the way the Followers function in a game is very important. Their are no direct controls for your Followers. Meaning, you cannot tell them to attack a particular unit or to heal you whenever. Instead, this will all be handled by the advanced AI system that has improved since the previous game. Player control is more based on the skills you give them. An example that was given of the AI is the Enchantress' energy bomb skill. A massive AoE, the Enchantress will use this skill when the player is low on health to help clear out some demons and hopefully get some health orbs. Healing and other support skills will be used similarly to best help your character in the fight. Now, there are a lot of people who are afraid that these Followers can be used to do all the killing for you while you just stand and wait; this will not be the case. This is handled in two ways. First, monster AI is improved. Back in Diablo II, you could just stand back as all of the demons would attack your hireling. Now, monsters will not just target the player closest to them. Certain monsters are programmed to go after the person in the back first while others will go after the biggest threat at the moment. Players will constantly have to be on their toes this time when fighting hordes of enemies. If this is not enough for you, then each Follower can be managed to not steal kills from you and instead just help you kill them more easily. If you do not want to spec you Follower with damage skills, then you can focus on more crowd control skills so you can still do all of the killing, or even choose more passive bonuses like extra magic or gold find. Either way, they have designed these Followers to not be a necessity to the game but will just aid you if you would like. Keep in mind, that they will also still level with you even if they are not being used so if you decide you want to use them later, you will not have to go back to re-level them.
If you would like to read any of the interviews that were conducted, you can check out the links below. You can also check out the official Diablo3 site page.