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.