We were given the opportunity to take part in a group Q&A with Lead Game Designer Joe Shely and Senior Producer Tiffany Wat. Bellow is some notes we took from the Q&A for everyone see a little more into the developer's thought processes on the current development of Diablo IV.
Diablo 4 Community Q&A with Lead Game Designer Joe Shely & Senior Producer Tiffany Wat
While Blizzard has made it clear that the game is very, very early in development, Joe and Tiffany were very open with their answers and were excited to share as much as they could about Diablo IV.
Story and Game Modes
- Hell is going to be an important part of the game and it will underlay all of Sanctuary, but the specifics of how we travel to Hell and Hell’s mechanics are still very early in development.
- Duriel is back! That was in fact Duriel in the gameplay footage. But what does that mean for the other Lesser and Prime Evils? We were told to watch the Lore & World panel tomorrow.
- With regards to zones having specific levels or how difficulty is handled: Scaling is an important feature to the team to allow exploration and players of varying levels to play with one another. The world zones will scale to the level of the party leader. But while scaling is important to have monsters increase in power with you, feeling the power level increase of getting awesome new items is equally important. The team is very aware of the fine balance between difficulty scaling and the player reward from finding new items.
- There will be a Hardcode mode
- Diablo 3 had a very wide playerbase and for many of those players this was their first Diablo game and for them, Diablo 3 is what it means to be a Diablo game. For many players Diablo 2 is what a Diablo game means. The devs are aware of all these different opinions on the game and hope to offer playstyles and content that will be fulfilling for everyone. There will be varied content for casual players and difficult content for those looking for challenges. Any player should be able to log on for any amount of time and feel as if they accomplished something or progressed in some way.
- How leveling ties into the game and how important max level is is still being worked on, but you’ll likely see the whole world well before max level.
- Crossplay between consoles is something the team is aware of and they’re currently exploring options, but can’t give any answers at this time.
- They will offer controller support for PC, but currently have no plans for keyboard support on console.
- 2 player local co-op will be supported on console.
- Diablo IV is being designed as a massive immersive world with partying and group in mind, so there are no plans for an offline only mode, but there will be options for those who only want to play solo or only play with friends.
Trading and Crafting
- The developers are still early in developing trading systems, but the current philosophy is that crafting mats and consumables will always be tradeable. Powerful items will likely be bound on trade, meaning that can be traded, but only once. The most powerful items however will not be tradeable and likely stay bind on pickup. They want the primary source of items and power be from playing the game itself, so there are no current plans for auction houses, but there will be limited trading available through clan banks.
- Clans will be in the game and they will include clan banks to help with trading, but no other details were given.
- Loot drops will be individual to the character like Diablo III currently is, but if you drop an item on the ground, everyone will be able to see it.
- Crafting will be important to the game and they want to make it so you may go off course from completing quests to go grab a rare crafting material, but it’s still early in development and didn’t have more details at the moment.
Skills, Classes, and Gameplay
- Skills will be bound to classes, you may have an item or two that procs another class’ skill, but still no plans for another enigma.
- They’ve no plans for cross class skill interactions or combos, but they liked the idea.
- The developers have been designing the monsters and skills so that they mesh well and interact with one another.
- Movement skills will be more moderate than they were in Diablo III, the world is huge and the game will include mounts for traveling distances. You can highlight points of interest or quest in the world map to get a path indicator to help guide you towards those areas.
- There will be a new system called “Stagger” for bosses. Whenever you use a crowd control skill on bosses it won’t cc the boss but will add to it’s stagger meter. Once a boss’ stagger meter is full they will be stunned to offer a brief reprieve for the players but with additional unique effects on each boss. One of the demo bosses had a long range sweep attack with it’s massive claws, but once staggered the claws break and their range is greatly reduced.
- When World Events start they will notify everyone in the world and give its location on the world map for all players. If you can get to the events, you can participate.
- Currently no max player counts yet, they’re still testing out what feels good.
- The developers have lots of ideas for endgame systems and they want to offer a wide variety of things to do. We’ll get a preview of ‘Keyed Dungeons’ during tomorrow’s Systems & Features Panel.
- Sanctuary has hundreds of dungeons and you’ll be able to get ‘keys’ that unlock max level versions of those dungeons with special modifiers on them and better loot.
Items and Character Customization
- Magic and Rare items are designed as stepping stones to help players familiarize themselves with gearing and itemization as they level. Sets are designed for fresh characters that reached max level and to act as a guide to how items interact and buff skills with very set play styles. Legendaries are designed as the next step past sets where you have free reign on developing item loadouts to suit your play style. There will be tons of options as they’re designing hundreds of Legendary items and they all affect your skills. Some will add damage, some will change functionality and all are designed to give the player another level of customization for their character. There are apparently more tiers of items played, but whether they’re just better legendaries or actually different types of items is unclear.
- Character customization has many avenues. In addition too items and runes there are skill and talent choices. While leveling or when ‘skill tomes’ you gain skill points that you can use to increase your skill ranks, unlocking new skills or empowering others. Skill point choices are permanent, but you will eventually be able to unlock and max all skill ranks. Talents are more playstyle choices and have effects on your skills, but will be respecable in the game.
- Runes will have prefix and suffix types that when combined together have bonus effects. Gems will also exist and can be used in runewords as well.
- The demo has pre-created characters but there will be a fully customization engine for creating your character. Face type, hair, skin color, eyes, scars, tattoos, and more will be available. They want it to have as many options as the WoW character creator.
Miscellaneous Tidbits and Monetization
- Potions are an ever evolving system as they develop the game. Nothing really to share yet, but they don’t like how waiting 30-sec for your potion feels.
- Treasure goblins will return. The developers like the gameplay elements they add where chasing a goblins may put you into dangerous situations.
- Diablo IV has been developed from the ground up with PvP in mind. Diablo III had issues with balancing the game around PvP, but with Diablo IV PvP is factored into every development choice. The game will PvP.
- Diablo IV is using a brand new custom built engine that uses physical based rendering. The engine allows for things like transitional skill animations where one skill will flawless blend into the next. There will be dynamic weather and day/night cycles in the game. Certain skills like the Druid’s Cataclysm can change the weather.
- No support for UI mods are planned, but players familiar with Diablo III will be happy to know that elective mode style skill selection is the default. Freedom of choice is very important.
- The developers play a lot of other games and game development is a lot of interpreting what others do. They get a lot of ideas from other games.
- Monetization. Despite the early development the team has pretty much settled on a base game supported by expansions as the business model for Diablo IV.