With the revelation of the male Demon Hunter, we finally know the look of every character option. Now that we have this information, who do you like the most? Choose your favorite character and feel free to discuss your choice in the topic below. It should be noted that there are no gameplay differences between the male and female versions of each class.
For ease of comparison, there are pictures of each character below, along with a short description of each character. More in depth information on the skills and traits of each class can be found in the wiki links before each description.
Barbarian: A melee battler who relies on heavy armor and brute force to avenge the destruction of the Worldstone and sacred Mount Arreat. Even though the Barbarian is returning from Diablo II, many skills have been added for Diablo III, such as Ground Stomp and Hammer of the Ancients, which are mixed in with more familiar skills including Whirlwind and Leap Attack. Despite many changes, the overall playstyle of the Barbarian in Diablo III should be similar to the previous incarnation. Barbarians utilize Fury, which builds up when dealing and recieving damage, as their resource. Some of the Barbarian's skills cost no Fury, and others, such as War Cry, build up Fury for early on in combat.
Demon Hunter: Quick ranged attackers who thirst for vengeance against the monsters who destroyed their towns and families. A Demon Hunter relies on quick movement through Vault to create distance between themselves and advancing demons, while also utilizing traps to create chokepoints and ranged attacks to slow and damage enemies. The Demon Hunter features returning Amazon skills, currently limited to Multishot, although more Amazon skills could be introduced in some form. The Demon Hunter's resource system is currently under development, but it appears as though they may use two different pools. Hatred is a quickly regenerating resource used for low cost and burst damage skills, while Discipline is a slowly regenerating resource used for more strategic skills and gadgets.
Monk: Fast, combo-based melee fighters who spend much of his life honing their bodies to be an instrument of their one thousand and one gods. The Monk features a combination of holy and martial arts skills, along the lines of Seven Sided Strike, while also adopting the Paladin's auras. Not much is known about these auras other than the fact that they are part of the Monk's skillset, and short descriptions can be found in the wiki link above. The Monk also features some hybrid healing and attacking skills, which could prove invaluable if there is a lack of Health Globes in a tough situation. Monks use Spirit as their resource, which builds up when the Monk uses any of their three step combo skills and is consumed when using signature moves similar to Breath of Heaven or Wave of Light.
Witch Doctor: A voodoo spellcaster who hails from the Tribe of the Five Hills of the Torajan jungles in southern Sanctuary. Witch Doctors can use a variety of mid ranged spells such as Firebomb or Locust Swarm along with their pet Zombie Dogs or Gargantuans. The Witch Doctor also has a wide range of summon-based attack spells along the lines of Plague of Toads and Wall of Zombies, which summon minions for a short period of time to deal damage. Witch Doctors use Mana as their resource, which functions the same as in Diablo II.
Wizard: Supremely confident masters of the magical arts working towards personal gain and reputation. The Wizard is a long ranged attacker that has a wide range of skills based around Arcane, Lightning, Cold and Fire damage. The Wizard features versions of many different Sorceress skills, such as Meteor, Hydra and Teleport. The Wizard also has control over a few ray based skills, namely Ray of Frost and Disintegrate which can be used to devestating effect. Wizards also seem to have a few melee based and armor skills; Diamond Skin and Spectral Blades among others, which opens up the possibility of Battle Mages who get up close and personal with the minions of the Burning Hells. Wizards use Arcane Power as their resource, which is fast regenerating and capped at 100 but is otherwise similar to Mana.
Last month, Blizzard launched a mini-site dedicated to celebrating their 20th anniversary. Today's update included a brand new video overviewing the 20 years of their existence via a series of interviews on company's the key employees. Anyone that is a Blizzard fan will be completely inspired by this video, I guarantee it.
Official Blizzard Quote:
Did you know that Blizzard Entertainment was originally founded under a completely different name? What is the significance of Jawassic Park in the context of Blizzard Entertainment's art culture? Whatever happened to Orcs in Space? These and many, many more questions are answered in the full-length video we've just released on the Blizzard 20th Anniversary site. Clocking in at almost an hour, this video features candid commentary from the people who have spent the last two decades creating the games that helped make Blizzard Entertainment the company it is today.
Diablo II's seventh ladder season started on new terms with the release of the publicly-tested patch 1.13. Bashiok made an initiative to see how long players wanted the new season and the ones to follow to last. Now, months shy of the winning full year, the results are in question:
Official Blizzard Quote:
One year won by a wide margin for length of time between resets. That's what we're planning to do unless everyone wants to change their mind. I'm willing to hold another poll, or, alternatively just say we cut it down the middle and do a reset every nine months.
After restating what the ladder resets actually do for players, the game, and the in-game economy, Bashiok opened a new poll to see what players are feeling roughly half a year after season seven began:
So, let us know, do you agree with the poll results from last time? Should it allow for as much time as possible to enjoy the ladder and last a year? Should it be the previous six months? Or be somewhere inbetween and reset every 9 months?
Get involved in all the action in the official poll here!
With the growing popularity of modding support for RPG games, such as the rising Torchlight series by Runic Games and the Elder Scrolls series, we can see that there is a vested interest by players of today in creating their own challenges, and by game developers in providing the tools to do so. Legacy Diablo modders have created some innovative things, but as we look forward to Diablo III in a game generation where anything is possible, we wonder why Blizzard hasn't jumped on the user-created content bandwagon.
Through interviews with numerous prodigious legacy Diablo modders and scarce snippets from Blizzard, we will delve in to a trove of opinion, fact, and speculation.
Modding has a long history with the Diablo series. Entire modding communities have popped up around the web (see the Phrozen Keep) devoted solely to this formidable practice. In Diablo I, we saw an entire expansion added by third-party company Sierra (Diablo I: Hellfire), and post- patch 1.10, Diablo II's modding community virtually blossomed. However, both games still lacked any form of modding toolkit as seen with newer mod-friendly games.
Of course, with Diablo III coming as a very modern game, the lack of a modding toolkit in a user-created content age is something of a pitfall. Laz (whom we interviewed last year: Overhaul Diablo II with Median XL), developer of the popular Median XL mod for Diablo II, believes that "[...]there is no real reason to fight to the death with an inflexible game engine when you have Starcraft II's world editor." And other fantasy ARPG's with editors, to boot.
The lack of an editor isn't the only thing making mod developers angsty. The lack of multiplayer LAN suport in Diablo III has been a source of consternation for some. We asked Soulmancer (whom we interviewed last month: Unlock Diablo II with Hell Unleashed), creator of Diablo II mod Hell Unleashed, how he believes this may affect the future of modding with the Diablo series, and his response wasn't particularly bright: "Diablo at its core is a multiplayer game and if mods in Diablo III are going to be strictly limited to single player it is doubtful you'll see much motivation from developers and players to create high quality and in depth mods."
Soulmancer isn't the only mod developer to recognize this challenge. Laz of Median XL shared his sentiments, noting that "the lack of any (legal) multiplayer options whatsoever in a multiplayer oriented game may prove to be fatal for the popularity of any mods that struggle to the surface [for Diablo III]."
While Blizzard did consider making an editor available to the masses, more recent considerations led them in a different direction. Various Blizzard representatives have stated that modding isn't necessarily something they want to discourage, but something they have decided not to support. In an article on ShackNews, Jay Wilson even admitted that many game designers got their start in modding games over the years.
Later, in an interview at the 2009 Blizzcon, Leonard Boyarsky graced the subject when he was interviewed by Joystiq:
Official Blizzard Quote:
We talked about it early on and we considered it but the way we put together our maps and the fact that it's random ... it's very artistic-centric. And, on top of that, the fact that it's so random it's like, would people just change the random number generator? You know what I mean? [laughs] We don't hand-build our dungeons anyways, but the way we build our maps kind of makes that prohibitive. But we're always looking at what the end users might want so we did look at including a map editor and we just said that it's never been a big part of Diablo.
Oh, the irony.
LAN, a feature whose usage could never really be tracked in prior games with any degree of scientific accuracy, was among one of the earliest things to change in the transition from Diablo II to Diablo III. As early as summer of 2008, the same year of the announcement at the last WWI, Blizzard stated:
Official Blizzard Quote:
We’re not supporting LAN play. We’re basically focusing on making the best multiplayer experience we can, and that’s all through Battle.net. There are tons of features we’re going to be supporting both for cooperative play and competitive play. One of the things we can talk about with the new Battle.net is security. Fixing some of the problems we had with the earlier Diablos — item duping, cheating, and griefing — we’re going to be addressing all of those things with the new Battle.net, as well as some pretty awesome competitive play ideas we’re working with right now. So that’s going to be the biggest advance, especially for previous Diablo players, to see all these we’re planning. It going to be really awesome.
These combined factors are a major hurtle for would-be Diablo III modders, and a major deterrent for legacy modders in adapting to the new game. Many games could be said to have survived for as long as they did due to their modding capabilities. As we look toward another stepping stone in the Diablo saga, we can only hope that it will last as long as Diablo II did.
But will the preclusion of modding tools for Diablo III hurt its longevity? Soulmancer responded that "there is no doubt that the ability to mod does preserve the longevity of games for certain audiences and there are plenty of examples of this, such as Oblivion (which is still popular only due to it's modability.) Some people don't care for mods at all, and some people love 'em, whether it's playing them or creating them."
But not everyone is on the modding toolkit bandwagon. True Mage, creator of Diablo II mod Battle for Elements (whom we interviewed last year: The Battle Beyond Sanctuary: Battle for Elements), went as far as to say, "To be honest, I would even prefer to see absence of modding support in Diablo III, as well. It is always more interesting to explore unknown mechanics than just make a mod and the second reason it will get rid of many cheap cut-corners works proudly named 'mods' for us."
Regardless of how legacy modders viewed the preclusion of a solid game editor in Diablo III, opinions of the plausibility, and even necessity, of modding in Diablo III were as varied as they were sincere.
To get to the root of what created the modding communities for the legacy games, we asked Soulmancer what he believes contributed to the growth of the Diablo modding community. He presented us three considerations:
A dedicated, motivated and knowledgeable community of players and developers as well as the release of the official 1.10 patch were two huge factors in Diablo II's modding evolution over the years. But there was also a multiplayer option: TCP/IP, LAN and Open.net.
While multiplayer is now a vapor in the wind, the first two factors are still just as, if not more, applicable to Diablo III. The wealth of modding knowledge, or perhaps logic, that legacy Diablo modders can bring to the table, combined with the possibility that Diablo III will be open to modding in much the same way as Blizzard's other more modern releases (through things like XML scripting), could make Diablo III's modding future brighter than previously anticipated.
Perhaps the easiest way to see this is by looking to the past. Mod developer Mordor (whom we interviewed last year: Return to Diablo I with "The Hell") brought us back to the days of Diablo I, which was about as mod-unfriendly as it could get, and yet there were still some great mods, even, as mentioned earlier, an entire third-party expansion. Mordor continued to state that "[...]if there are some crazy devoted fans for Diablo III in the world, there will be decent modifications for it, I'm sure. Another thing to remember is that modding is not about simply changing a game to make it different, it's about improving the game, making it better. The better the original game, and the more complete it is, the less work we modders (of my kind) would have to do."
Whether or not Blizzard is open to modders tinkering with their work, and whether or not modders are up to the challenge, may be some source of debate, but in the end, many of these doubts will only be resolved once we finally have the game in ours hands. Long-time developer Onyx at the Phrozen Keep (whom we interviewed last year: Back to Hellfire with Diablo II) had this much to say: "I think we'll find our way through Diablo III's structure, anyway, and I'm optimistic about Diablo III modding, but it's too early to speak."