Hai everyone, here's the sixth episode of our DiabloCast, though this time we were Dragonless. This week we talked a lot about the PvP System, which was great as Force and I are both big PvP fans. If you missed the fifth episode, you can check it out here. Otherwise, the sixth episode covered the following topics:
As most of you probably know, PvP combat has changed drastically in Diablo III. The hostility system we all know from Diablo II has been scrapped in favor of the more controlled Battle Arena. Below is a short summary of the Arena, and for additional information and screenshots, you can visit the Battle Arena wiki link, or check out the PvP page on the Diablo III official site. If you're looking for some videos of the Battle Arena, be sure to check out Force's Diablo III YouTube page or his video and discussion thread here on DiabloFans.
Before the description begins, it should also be noted that PvP will not yield any rewards in the form of gear. Although there does appear to be plans for some kind of ranking system, PvP will only yield bragging rights and cosmetic rewards, nothing more. As such, even if you plan on battling in the Arena more than fighting demons, you will still have to gear your character through PvE in order to be as competitive as possible.
The Arena is the designated PvP area in Diablo III. As a result, it will no longer be possible to engage in PvP combat in the open world of Sanctuary, and instead you will have to queue for and enter an Arena in order to battle other characters. However, this separation of PvP and PvE also means that the Diablo III team can tune certain skills to be more balanced in PvP instead of implementing some form of "PvP stat" similar to World of Warcraft's Resilience. For example, if a skill stuns monsters for six seconds, it will have a lesser effect on a player character in order to avoid a crowd control intensive PvP expirience. However, as Bashiok has explained, that does not mean that all skills will function differently in PvP and PvE. Whenever possible, skills will remain the same in both the Arena and Sanctuary, and similar effects with crowd control will be applied to champion, unique, and boss monsters.
In order to keep the pace of combat in the Arena fast, many skills counter any crowd control effects. For example, if a Barbarian is caught in a Wizard's Slow Time, Whirlwind can be utilized to gain immunity to the slowing effect. As such, the Arena seems to be shaping up to be an interesting balance between counters and crowd control, not to mention a whole lot of damage. If you know that your opponent has used all his counters, that means its a perfect time to slow him down, but if you time it wrong, you might end up just wasting your skill. Considering the incredibly fast pace of the Arena (most matches at BlizzCon 2010 lasted only 30 to 45 seconds), those kinds of mistakes could very well hand a victory to the other team.
Health Globes also play an important role in the Arena. As you can see in the screenshot above, there are four markings where Health Globes appear on a set timer. As a result, learning how often Health Globes appear, which could very well be different in each arena, and acting quickly when they show up will probably be extremely important for anyone who takes PvP seriously. Not only will knowing the timer allow you to get close to the Health Globes' spawn points at the right time, but it will also be important to use any crowd control skills to stop the enemy players from grabbing the globe. Considering the previously mentioned balance between crowd control and counters, things could get even more intense as players learn to force usage of enemy counters so that they are able to slow or stun the enemy just as a Health Globe spawns. If you can learn to play around the Health Globe timer, chances are you will gain a huge tactical advantage over any less practiced teams.
Blizzard has also hinted at the possibility of one-on-one duels and mutually chosen team battles, where two teams choose to fight against each other, and there is a potential for other PvP modes after the game's release, but right now we only know about the Battle Arena. So now that you know all about Diablo III's Battle Arenas, how often do you think you'll engage in PvP combat? Vote in the poll above and feel free to discuss your opinion in the topic below.
Last week's poll was yet another lopsided one, as most people (67%) agreed that the gem leveling process needed to be cut down, but that it should still be a long term goal. However, after this huge gap, there was a close race between people who thought it should be considerably less of a process (12%), and those who thought it should have stayed as it was before the recently announced change (11%). If you would still like to vote in that poll, or just want to talk about gems, feel free to discuss it some more through the above link.
Blizzard has just released their twelfth batch of screenshots (see here if you missed the eleventh) for hitting the 825k 'Like' mark. Once again, we've got the high resolution versions at our disposal here on DiabloFans.
Click the images to bask in the glory of the high resolution versions that you likely won't see anywhere else!
The first image is a concept drawing of an Unburied.
Official Blizzard Quote:
The Unburied. Wherever bodies are dumped together unceremoniously, the unburied may rise. A twisted mass of corpses, soil and rock, bound by foul energies unknown, their image is only half as terrifying as their intent.
The second picture is a screenshot from that same unknown dungeon that we've seen previously, of the female Demon Hunter, using Entangling Shot to take care of some Zombies, Dark Cultists, and some Unburied. It also appears as if she may have thrown some Grenades, leaving that fire explosion.
25,000 more likes to go until the 850k mark where we can get some more images, and 7 more milestones until we hit the 1 million 'Like' goal. Go visit facebook.com/Diablo and 'Like' the page to speed the war effort!
Blizzard plans to announce all game systems before the beta goes live. We already know quite a bit, but Bashiok makes it sound like there's still a decent amount of information regarding in-game systems that has not been revealed. Earlier today, Bashiok commented on how the breakpoint "system" is going to work in D3.
Official Blizzard Quote:
Just for those who aren't aware, Diablo II animations were rendered at 25 frames per second. This is important because it meant that events could only occur on those 25 points in every second. When you start getting into the nitty gritty of faster attack and cast rates, 25 ticks per second to shave off time for actions to occur isn't nearly granular enough to account for a direct comparison between point increases and an actual result of removing a full frame. These are called break points. Essentially your attack rate increase points don't mean anything until you get enough to hit the next break point and remove an animation frame, which would actually result in a real effect on your actions.
I'll make two statements on break points:
Break points were an effect of the Diablo II engine, not a gameplay mechanic specifically designed into the game.
Even modern games run at specific tick rates, and Diablo III is no different. I'll only say it's more than 25.
With that information in mind, I asked how this will differ from Diablo II. A different rate for D3 could potentially mean either more ticks to hit the next breakpoint, or less ticks if there are more breakpoints spread throughout. The answer I received was...
Official Blizzard Quote:
It's all dependent on the curve.
Which makes complete sense, though still leaves this mechanic a little bit of a mystery, because we do not know how much weight each item's stat will give, nor do we know what exactly the curve may be. This mechanic will require a bit more math to figure out than D2's system did, but until we get more information on this, the formula will remain unknown.
Aside from some breakpoint information, Bashiok has recently reiterated how runestones (or runes) work. Essentially, each skill can be considered as the "vanilla" or "classic" version of the skill, which also includes at least one (usually two) rune(s) that does/do not change the core mechanic of the skill. However, all other runes will make some pretty big changes to the dynamics of skills. Some may be wondering, how viable could every potential skill/rune combination be?
Official Blizzard Quote:
Every skill has at least one rune that doesn't change the core mechanic of the skill. Usually two. We definitely think the base skills are viable and will be used, but it's going to be a base skill with a cost reduction rune or basic damage increase rune.
It's tough to really argue some of the concerns being made because it comes down to balance and making sure that a skill isn't worthless in its base form with a cost reduction rune, as compared to the same skill with a rune that changes the mechanic entirely. Ideally they'd be balanced in such a way that both could be options for different builds and play styles and one wouldn't become the 'only' way to rune a skill.
Those are the sometimes eternally elusive goals of game balance. Assuming highest rank runes that's ~550 skills, so I don't think anyone is fooling themselves by thinking the game will ever truly hit a perfect balance in every situation (and in some cases it's maybe better it doesn't), but it's something we're going to strive for.
For those who are wondering what that 550 number means on a per class basis, it boils down to: 550 / 5 runes / 5 classes = 22. This means that there is an average of ~22 skills per class. Now, keep in mind that this is just an approximation. I should also note that this does not include the passive skills, as they were moved to the trait system some time ago.
While we're on the subject of game systems and mechanics, Bashiok also discussed how gems will be dropping in the game. For those curious, gems a few levels over level five will be droppable. Anything above this level will need to be crafted, which eventually becomes a hefty number. However, something that I really want to point out is that he mentions a more robust trading system, which may make these high numbers easier to achieve:
Official Blizzard Quote:
But more importantly we expect a more robust trading system will make it much more feasible to sell off a ton of gems, earn that wealth, and then buy back into gems later when you want - and on the buyer side of that, if you have some gems and just need one more to upgrade, it will be quick and easy to go get one for a reasonable price.
A more robust trading system could mean quite a few things, one of which is a possible auction house. The auction house in WoW works great: I can throw stuff up on the AH, go to sleep, and make myself some money while being logged out. As we heard, gold will be the currency in Diablo III, making an auction house even more viable in-game. However, if this were to happen, I am curious to see how it would be implemented. Keep in mind, we are no longer in an MMO, so this is not just a giant world. Each game has it's own instance. Therefore, an auction house would need to be implemented in the Battle.net interface. However, I have no doubts that there will also be a personal trading system (as there was in Diablo II). So those of you that feel intimidated by the auction house concept have little or no cause for concern.
As I am sure that all of you are waiting for that wonderful day when you open up DiabloFans and read "Beta has started", any news of this date is something we would all love to know. Unfortunately, that date is still unknown. However, Bashiok has given just one more insight to when this day may come. A user of on Battle.net asked about the areas that each Act will cover and what more can we look forward to seeing.
Official Blizzard Quote:
You've actually seen some of the first three Acts already, and we probably won't be revealing too much more than what we've already shown. We really want to try to keep as much a surprise for you when you play through the game the first time as possible. We will be announcing all of the game systems though before beta, so there are a few things left as far as reveals go. While beta will obviously be a lot of fun, should you get the chance to get in and help test, it'll only be a small part of the whole game. Some people want to know everything, but we're really trying to preserve the surprise and wonderment (that we hope will come with exploring Diablo III) as much as possible.
This quote actually gives us a lot of information. First, we already know that Act 1 will be in New Tristram and Tristram Cathedral. Numerous videos and pictures have highlighted this area. Act 2 will include a desert type environment with areas like Caldeum and Alcarnus. The only part we know of Act 3 is Bastion's Keep as it is the only area not tied to the first two Acts. So, even with beta's release, we will not being seeing anything more of the areas, especially where Act 4 will take us.
Moving onto the next subject at hand, Bashiok mentioned that all of the game systems will be announced before beta starts. The only system we know we are waiting to hear about is the trading system that we will use in Diablo III. There is also no information out yet about how Diablo III will use Battle.net 2.0 and what features that will bring. Any other systems they have in store for us remain a mystery at this point. The real question is though, how and when will they be sharing these last bits of info before we get into beta? With an unknown amount of information to share, this unfortunately gives us no real time frame on beta's release.
The last part from the quote gives us a little bit of information on what will be included in beta. According to Bashiok, it definitely will not be the entire game, although most of us already suspected that. It seems as though the beta will be limited to some previously seen dungeons and areas from videos and screen shots that they have already released. Perhaps a run through of Act 1 and part of Act 2 with major spoilers being edited out. This could be possible since the three artisans are supposed to be gained through about this same amount of gameplay. However, it won't be until we all have our hands on this game that we find out just how this epic trilogy ends (until the first expansion pack comes out).
With no real information on when the beta starts yet, stay tuned as we will share any and all information that comes out regarding beta. As of right now, the only event we know something will be talked about in regards to beta will be the May 9th conference call where Mike Morhaime promised to talk about it.
UPDATE: I asked Bashiok if they had plans on how and when they are going to announce these remaining systems.
Official Blizzard Quote:
@ScyberDragon Yes. Very specifically.
It appears as though Blizzard knows exactly what they will be doing up until beta and more importantly, when they plan on starting beta.