David Kim – Lead Systems Designer
Let’s talk a little bit about the three classes.
The Sorceress is the master of magic she is your fragile caster class that deals high magical damage from a distance. So as you can see (from the gameplay footage) there is a good mix of returning skills as well as brand new skills. One of my favourites is this conduit skill, whenever you use it you’re invulnerable, you’ll deal damage and you can teleport as much as you want during the duration. I also want to talk about the chill mechanic in Diablo 4. Whenever the Sorceress uses cold magic to attack enemies she applies chill to the targets hit making their movement speed slower and slower and if you apply enough chill the enemies get frozen completely. So let’s check it out in this video where she is using her Frost Bolt and Blizzard skills to chill and then freeze the enemy.
The Barbarian is one of the main classes that everyone thinks of when they think of Diablo and of course he’s back. If you feel like constantly jumping around and charging around the battle field while dealing heavy melee physical attacks of course this will be the class of your choice. This is the Barbarian that you know and love but also he has some brand new things about him as well. One of these things is the Arsenal System which allows the Barbarian to equip four weapons, 2 two-handed weapons and 2 one-handed weapons allowing him to use more item affixes than any other class in the game and also he can equip more legendaries than any other class in Diablo 4.
The Druid is the shapeshifting class and can rapidly shapeshift into his human, werewolf and werebear forms at a moments need. As you can see (from the gameplay footage) whenever you use a werewolf skill you instantly transform into that form and whenever you use a werebear form you instantly transform into that form. When you use Earth and Strorm spells you instantly transform into the Druid form. so one of the reason I think this is so cool is because you can tie specific mechanics to the moment you transform. For example, one of the talents says something like “whenever you shapeshift into werebear form you gain damage reduction for a few seconds. So not only can you pick the specific bonuses you want you also control the exact timing of when you activate these bonuses.
Skills and Talents
The Skill system and Talent trees system are two different systems that every class in Diablo 4 will be utilising. The goals for these are to have an increased sense of power progression during level up as well as great player choice and customisation.
The skill point system is very straight forward. As you level up you’ll be gaining one or more skill points for you to spend and you can use it in two ways. First is unlocking brand new skills that you didn’t have access to before and second is ranking up existing skills to make them more powerful and unlock new choices within that skill. Another way to get skill points in the game is to find the skill point tome items and then you can use those items to have access to more skill points.
For the Talent Tree, each tree is unique to that class. You work your way from top to bottom making yourself more powerful as you go down the tree and not only that you will be able to make specific play-style choices to your liking so you’ll have that full customisation option. At the bottom of the tree are the strongest talents in the game. This is one of six that the Sorceress can choose from. It’s a fairly simple one but we have a lot of choices ranging from simple to more complicated play-styles. This one increases the lightning damage against enemies within melee range so naturally this will combo very well with a spell like Charged Bolt and you can because it is a returning skill in Diablo 4.
Let’s take a look at the flow of how you go about spending points and unlocking new tiers. This time I am going down the cold tree and let’s take a look at one of the options at the bottom. So with Endless Winter instead of “chills leading to freeze” you gain a massive damage bonus instead so you can imagine if I’m not going for that freeze play-style I can choose something like this to get a different benefit instead.
One last thing I want to mention about classes is there are even more details about skills as well as talents in the demo so be sure to check that out.
Sharing the Open World
Angela Del Priore – Lead UI Designer
One of the biggest differences in Diablo 4 is this idea of a shared and continuous world. What does that mean in a Diablo game? So, to start with the shared world concept doesn’t affect dungeons, dungeons continue to be private from start to finish supporting you and up to three other players which is our maximum party size.
And what about the campaign then? Because the campagin storyline is of course going to send you all around the continent into these private dungeons but also to parts of the overworld. So you might think that your campaign moments in the overworld are now going to be shared with a bunch of random people but campaign areas will also start as private meaning accessible to only you and your party until you’ve completed the campaign objective for that location. It’s only after that point that it becomes shared like the rest of the open world.
So when we talk about shared open worlds we mean you’ll see players outside your party and you’ll see types of open world activities. Activities like the public events we showcased in the demo ranging anywhere from the more common drowned attacking the coastline all the way up to a huge pestilence demon clawing its way out of a farm The open world would have things like collectibles, lore books, caches, materials for crafting as well as dedicated spaces carved out for very specific activities like open world PvP or one of the many other open world systems that we are still iterating on and will talk about more at a future date.
I’m sure many of you are curious about the other players part right? How many people are you going to be sharing this open world with? The number can actually be variable by location meaning we might make a place less or more populated depending on what’s going on there. Our guiding principle on this topic is the feeling we are trying to achieve and we did try to get this in the demo if you had a chance to play it but it’s that Sanctuary should feel like a bleak and dangerous place and while you’re out in the overworld on occasion you might run into one or two other players but most of the time you’re going to be alone. The exceptions to this would be something like the world boss event that is a huge understaking and we want to allow more players into that space so they can tackle that challenge together. Then there are towns for the opposite reason. Towns are safe spaces, they make natural gathering spots for grouping up your party, trading or just chatting.
With all of these ways to encounter other players we want to make sure it’s easy to play with them too. So I’m going to use one our lead game designers, Jessie, as a way to illustrate what an experience might look like. Jessie would start his campaign and throughout it he might jump into someone else’s to help them out or he might invite someone to his to show them something cool or just for company and there should be no friction there. We take the party-leader’s state in the campaign area, share it with the rest of the party and everyone will be able to contribute regardless of where they are in their own campaigns. We didn’t want people to feel like they were stuck in their own story modes just because they were in a slightly difference step from someone they actually wanted to play with.
We have clans so Jessie would probably form a clan, make a cool clan banner, organise different clan activities because that’s the kind of thing he does in real life. He’d probably use our in-game voice chat to talk to his clan mates while he’s out doing side quests or maybe he switches it to party voice chat because he grouped up with someone he was doing a public event with and now they’re going to PP together. He might have been doing this all on a console, on the couch with his friend because, as you probably heard, alongside PC we are developing for console and will be supporting 2-person couch co-op on consoles.
But what if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like grouping up with people to get your stuff done, like me? You could be a really good friend of mine, you could be my spouse. I probably don’t want to party up with you and it’s nothing personal I just like to do things at my own personal pace so you can imagine it’s a pretty big barrier for me when a multiplayer game gates content or progression behind a grouping requirement which makes me really happy that say that Diablo 4 does not go in that direction. All of the best items, content progression will be available to all players regardless of whether they play solo or with a group.
So, for me, the campaign is really obvious. I love that fact that our campaign areas are going to be private, I’m going to play through that entire thing solo and I might join a clan, probably not participate in clan activities. I’d be more likely to engage with the clan bank system because I love crafting but crafting gets boring when you run out of reasons to make items so being able to donate items to my clan-mates really appeals to me. I would opt to use text chat, or emotes over voice chat and I would still go in the overworld for things like gathering more crafting materials, probably avoid the PvP areas and try to target specific events with rewards that I need but once I’m all geared up I’m just going to go straight into pushing those end game dungeon because that’s where I get my private quiet space back.
While Diablo 4 does open up Sanctuary to a lot of new shared systems, and hopefully more connected meaningful experiences, the level to which you engage in those connected experiences is still up to you. You could choose to play though the entire game solo from campaign all the way to end game and that would be just as viable and successful a way to approach the game as someone who might choose to group up for a large majority of it.
Zaven Haroutunian – Lead Dungeon Designer
Dungeons are a foundational part of that Diablo series and they’re a critical part of that legacy and randomly generate dungeons are a critical part of that. Sanctuary is a large and diverse place and we are filling it with lots of dungeons for you to explore, slay and loot your way through. We want dungeons to be dark, dangerous, unpredictable places in the world. Even the holiest of places can fall to corruptions like the Zakarum monastery. Since they are randomly generated that means that until you venture down that dark corridor you’re not really sure what you’re going to find. It could be treasure, it could be death and this is that tension between risk and reward that really defines that really defines that dungeon-crawling experience in Diablo 4 where anything can happen.
Dungeons are not just randomly generated buildings, they are randomised exteriors environments as well. These exterior environments are randomly generated just like the interiors are so we can have like Whispering Woods as an example. We want dungeons to feel like real explorable places in the world.
We also build our dungeon system from the ground up with this idea that we call seamless exploration and this means no more loading screens to go to the second floor, third floor, tenth floor, whatever. It all happens seamlessly in the game and with seamless exploration we can even blend these randomly generated tile sets together. You can go from a randomly generated cave and walk straight into a randomly generated forest. This means dungeons can become sprawling interconnected places to explore and discover where you’re reactions in one part of the dungeon can actually affect what happens in the other part.
As you’re crawling your way through these profane halls or stepping cautiously through a misty wood what are you going to do in these dungeons, what am I going to find. We have two major content systems to talk about today one is random events and the other dungeon objectives.
So, Random Events are back! Random events are a core part of that dungeon crawling feeling in Diablo 4. One major change compared to past games is that they are no longer restricted to a specific place in the world. This is one of our new events The Altar of Bishibosh. This event can also show up in the Whispering Wood and it’s in Garan Hold in the demo. This allows dungeons to have a much broader range of possible events. Every time you play you can actually find a different kind of event in it and those events can actually follow monsters around just like elites can and makes it way more broad range of things to do. So we have random dungeons and we have random events but for us it’s also really important that dungeons have this sense of identity, they have something that helps set them all apart from each other.
The other thing we’re adding is dungeon objectives. So the dungeon and its objective are designed together as two parts of a cohesive whole. Objectives are completed by doing specific things in the dungeon like killing a sea witch. Progressing the objective also increases the danger and the rewards found inside that dungeon. As an example, this is the Domhainne Tunnels playable in the demo today. The objective here is to slay enemies. We’ve seen that before. But in Domhainne as you make progress in that effort the enemy responds. They send powerful elites to hunt you down and kill you no matter where you are, no matter what you’re doing in that dungeon. Yes, even during a random event. Yes, even during a boss fight and since every dungeon has it’s own custom objective we can have varied gameplay across dungeons as a whole. We are still exploring multiple dungeon systems and features but we do have one more thing to talk about today.
End Game Dungeons
What do we look for in a Diablo end game dungeon? What would we be excited to play? We started thinking about this. Okay, varied content, that’s critical. I don’t want to just be doing one thing over and over again at end game. Making powerful unique builds is a core part of Diablo and we need content that helps encourage that level of strategic depth. Player agency is super important. Random dungeons are awesome I love them but I don’t want to feel that I’m just reacting to what the game is giving me. I don’t want to feel like I’m on rails. So how are we doing this?
We are adding a new type of item called a Dungeon Key. How do they work? When a key drops in the world it drops for a very specific dungeon in the world. Using this key will upgrade that into an end game dunegon. The key also has a specific difficulty rank, the higher the difficulty, the higher the quality of drops that you get within that dungeon. Dungeon keys can roll specific dungeon affixes. Now this is an entirely new feature. These are modifiers that increase the difficulty and complexity of the dungeons found throughout the game. They apply the affix to either the players, the enemies, the environment, any or all three of these. So with a system like this you could image an affix says something like “all enemies are invisible unless they are in combat” or something like that. Every time you walk into a room you’re not sure what you’re going to find. You could also have another affix that says “there are double bosses in this dungeon” and how having both of those affixes on the same key can have a very different outcome when you’re playing any of the dungeons in the game.
Let’s look at an example. This is Garan Hold, it has Lightning Pulse, let’s see what that looks like in the game. So Lightning Pulse adds this cool pillar of lightning energy in stone that hunts down the closest player and deals damage to them. You can’t kill it, you can’t stun it, you can not stop it until that dungeon objective is complete but this is still Garan Hold. The same dungeon we have playable in the demo today. It still has the same objective, you still have the same enemies and you still have the same randomised content within it. This is how we get all three of our goals. We get varied content, we get varied gameplay. Any regular dungeon can become an end game dungeon by finding a dungeon key for it. The plan is to have hundreds of dungeons in the game. We get strategic depth. The key provides a lot of information for you to plan a specific build around. You can customise your loadout, you skills, your talents, your items to tackler that specific dungeon.
We also get player agency. You can decide whether you want to use a key and upgrade a dungeon or you want to salvage it for crafting and the plan is to drop lots of keys so you guys have exact control over which dungeons are you end game dungeons.
Joe Shely – Lead Game Designer
So this is my very close friend, the Fallen Lunatic. I know he’s my close friend because he always wants to be really close to me. The Fallen Lunatic is a really interesting case because he’s part of the Fallen family. This idea of families is really important to Diablo 4. In the case of the Fallen, the Lunatic runs forward and tries to explode. The Fallen Grunts try to surround the player while their Shaman friends hang out in the back throwing fire balls and resurrecting slain Grunts.
Let’s take a look at another example of families in Diablo. The Skeleton family. The great thing about the Skeleton family is that like the Fallen the members of the family can work together to do something greater than they could do by themselves. Of course you’ve got skeletons with swords, shields. The shield skeletons can stun you whilst two-handed axe skeletons bring down their axes on your head. You’ve got crossbow skeletons who are firing from the middle distance and in Diablo 4 you’ve got my personal favourite the Skeletal Ballista. This is an amalgamation of skeletons that have come together to hold up this giant bow that can fire from multiple screens away.
We talk about how important legacy is to Diablo 4, this is a great example. the inspiration for the Skeletal Ballista came from Diablo 2 where you could walk out of a doorway and be surrounded by skeletons and then be getting shot from off screen by ranged skeletons. It creates this choice moment. Do I stay and engage with the skeletons I’m fighting and try to dodge these arrows or do I go deeper in the danger and lay the smack-down on those Skeletal Ballistas? In Diablo 4 that gameplay is back.
Of course the Skeletal Ballista is not the most dangerous thing you’ll face in Diablo 4, there are also Elite monsters. If you played Diablo 3 there are some monster powers or affixes that are making a return like Mortar or Frozen but in Diablo 4 there is a new category of affixes that we call Enhancing Affixes. These affixes take the monster base powers and improve on them. In the case of the Skeletal Ballista he might have the multi-shot affix so he’s firing three ballistic shots instead of the usual one. The cool thing about Enhancing Affixes is that when we apply that same multi-shot affix to something like a Fallen Shaman he can resurrect multi Grunts or Brutes instead of the usual one.
There are lots of bosses in Diablo 4 and if we go back to that previous shot of the Skeletons you might see that Tomb Lord standing proud in the middle. The Tomb Lord is a master of necromantic magic and bone and he can resurrect his minions, he can create walls of bone and shatter them and he can spin his magic into a storm of bone that can blind you.
But in Diablo 4 you have additional combat options to fight back. One of these is the new Evade ability. Every class can do a short distance dash that gets your immediately out of danger and allows you to strike back very quickly and get back into the action. It’s perfect for getting out of something like this Bone Storm. Also many class skills in Diablo 4 grant the Unstoppable status. This status allows you break out of any control-impairing effects so if you’re stunned, blinded or slowed you can break out of it and grant immunity for the duration of the effect. In the case of our Barbarian friend who just doesn’t want to deal with this Bone Storm any more he can Rallying Cry, becoming Unstoppable and granting his allies Unstoppable as well and immediately dish out more pain onto the Tomb Lord.
Now, you’ve had a chance to play the Demo, you may have seen the demon Ashava. This is our first world boss in the Diablo series and it is so big that we had to pull the camera out just to frame the action and show every engaged with it. Ashava is a huge undertaking and looking at some of the stats already that have come in I see that a lot of people have fallen to Ashava.
The really cool thing about the bosses in Diablo 4, and Ashava is a great example of this, is our new stagger systems. This means that you can bring your control effects into fights against bosses, like your stuns, your freezes and chills. When you apply them to bosses it builds up your stagger bar, when it’s filled the boss becomes staggered. What this means is that for each boss we design we build some unique behaviour so when you stagger Ashava you can break of its arm blades (above) and this changes the whole fight because the giant sweeping attacks it performs are greatly reduced in their range and areas in the battleground that were dangerous become safer. In fact if you stagger Ashava multiple times you can break off both arm blades and this changes the remainder of the fight.
David Kim – Lead Systems Designer
Normal items are the weakest items and the mythic items are the strongest items that we’re proposing for Diablo 4. Let’s take a deeper look at each of these categories. The first three categories are Normal, Magic and Rare. If you played Diablo games in the past you’ll notice that you have more item affixes the higher the quality. Our main goal for item affixes is to increase the number of play style choices and options for players when they’re picking item affixes. Of course we’ll have a good mix of returning affixes as well as brand new ones for example attack speed, critical strike chance, critical strike damage, damage against far away enemies, cooldown reduction, damage resistances, damage bonuses to specific element. What I want to talk about his affixes on top of that is one of the affixes says +1 rank to Master of Arms on the Rare Amulet so that is giving me +1 rank to one of my Talents points. What that’s going to allow me to do is, as I put my talent points and pick a play style I’m not going to have enough choices to go down every single tree but with items I can break some of these rules by getting access to talents I couldn’t normally couldn’t access before or I can use them to go past my maximum talent points. We want to add as many of these affixes to items as possible in Diablo 4.
For Legendary Items and Sets the goal is provide as much player choice and customisation as possible when forming your end game build and in order to do that the most important change in Diablo 4 is to make sure that Legendary Items are on equal or greater power level compared to Set Items in Diablo 4. This way you’ll have that full customisation of picking every single shot which specific legendary power you want to use.
Let’s take a look at a simple example of customising your play style through one specific simple skill as well as items that only modify that skill but we will have a wide range of Legendaries in the game.
This is Teleport, it’s pretty straight-forward, you teleport to the target location. Say you are struggling on defence then you can pick something likes up (Soul Ward Tunic), every time you teleport I gain damage barrier. With this one (Unraveler’s Treads), whenever I teleport I create this rift on the ground, whenever I stand in it I gain Critical Strike chance. This next one (Flickerform) I can use Teleport as much as I want now, it has no cooldown but it’s random and I need mana to use it and this last one (Raiment of Infinite Potential), I can cast damaging lightning nova whenever I teleport. So now I’ve turned my mobility skill into a damaging skill at the cost of it being a little bit random.
I want to stress once more that not all Legendaries will work so specific to one skill, we’ll have a wide range of skills ranging from Legendaries that are generic and good for every type of build, Legendaries that a good for categories of skills and Legendaries such as the one you see here.
Finally, Mythic items are the strongest items in Diablo 4 . They are equip limit 1 but they have 4 legendary powers on them. Here’s an example of a Barbarian Mythic Amulet.
There are Runes and Runewords in Diablo 4. How they work is quite straight forward. You have two different types of runes in the game, condition runes and effect runes. You can take any condition rune combine it with any other effect rune in the game to form a runeword. This example says the condition rune “when you freeze an enemy” and the effect rune is “reduce a random skill cooldown by 15%” and as you can see by the item I have formed my runeword. So here are some more examples of condition runes and effect runes. One thing that is not displayed here that we are currently working on is that we are adding progression to runes as well so look forward to more info on that in the future.
Question & Answer
Tim Ismay – Senior Game Producer
Q: How do I buy Diablo 4.
A: Joe Shely: Of course it’s very early days here but what I can confirm is that we will sell a base game and expansions and I can also confirm we will not sell power.
Q: Customisation of my build? Am I only customising my build through legendaries or are there other options?
A: David Kim: Customisation is one of the biggest goals in Diablo 4 so of course we’ll have more options outside of legendaries. I talked a little bit about the skill point system. As you put points into the specific skills they will unlock brand new things, for example, the Unstoppable that Joe talked about, it doesn’t appear from Rank 1 of that Shout but as you rank it up new parts of the skill are unlocked, brand new components are locked as well as the power going up. On the talent tree side, the hope is that even if two players are going the same sort of build, say we are both going lightning build, we have enough choices within the talent tree system for us to make our adjustments that cater specifically to me and to the other person. Then on the item site, item affixes, we of course want to have even more choices, even more play style choices specifically so we’re going to be looking for opportunities to add as much customisation as possible across the board.
Q: Will I be able to Solo in this game and will it support a full offline mode?
A: Angela Del Priore: We are not going to support and offline mode. As I said before nothing in Diablo 4 is going to require partying up. You can play solo and dungeons are private and campaign quest areas will remain private.
Q: Is there going to be trading.
A: Zaven Haroutunian: Our underlying philosophy here is we think it’s best when you can kill a monster and get loot that way so whatever we do we want to respect that part of Diablo. It’s core to Diablo but with that in mind we also want to allow trading.
Our current strategy is this, (but it’s still early days so we really want to hear your feedback on this in particular), that we have three different types of tradeable items. So, there is a bunch of items that can always be traded no matter what, freely, I can give it to Angela, she can give it to Joe and so on and so forth. We can also have a class of items that are tradeable one time. So I have an item I use it for a year and then I decide I don’t want this item any more so I give it to Angela but now she can’t trade it any more, it’s bound to her. We’re also thinking that the highest quality, most powerful things in the game these should be items you can’t trade at all but you have to earn yourself, go do those end-game dungeons, kill monsters etc, get that loot.
So you can see with these very simple gradient of things and options where we do the cut-off of where does something become a one-time trade or a never-trade? We have a lot of flexibility there and we are going to be listening to you guys and getting that feedback so please let us know what you think.
Q: What does PvP do to balance? Are there going to be separate rules for PvP? Will this affect the balance of the PvE experience?
A: David Kim: Many people must have noticed that we have the same sort of skills, same talents, same items in both PvP and PvE so that’s a natural question that you would ask right? But our goal is to have enough choices and options available and what the means I think is the best skills, the best talents and the best items in PvP from the set of skills, items, talents in PvE that are the best. The current plan is to make sure to locate issues as they arise and strategically make the right tuning choices to make balance good in both formats. Every balance problem is so different so we will have to see what the problem is then fix it that way but we will have enough tuning knobs across these three systems to be able to balance properly.
Q: Legendaries, how common are they going to be? Is it going to be like Diablo 3 where they basically fall from the sky?
A: Joe Shely: Legendaries will not rain from the sky. when you are playing through Diablo 4 and you are playing harder and harder content you’re going to be getting better and better items and because of this we don’t think that there is any need, at least currently, to modify the drop rate of Legendaries as you get further and further into end-game.
Q: What is the speed of combat going to be? Is it going to be as fast-paced as it was in Diablo 3? Is it more tactical?
A: Zaven Haroutunian: For those of you who have played Great Rifts in Diablo 3 you might know that there is a timer there and one of the side effects of doing things like that is that it makes you want to rush through, you start to get very specific about what you want to kill and what you want to do. That plan is that since we have all these various dungeons and they all have very different objectives you need to do a different thing complete each of those dungeons. It’s going to mean that the pace of combat and the exact thing you value in every one of those dungeons is going to be very different particularly when you add dungeon affixes. For example, in Domhainne Tunnels it’s kill all monsters and having the Lightning Pulse chase you all through that dungeon there is constant pressure. You have to kill everything to complete the objective. Comparing that to Garan Hold where you have to find the fallen idols you have a bit more leeway so even just that one affix in two different dungeons can yield a very different experience. On top of that we have that short distance Evade that Joe mentioned and what that does is it really helps make a lot of the combat very intentional particularly at higher levels of play so you have to be very careful, very good at timing your combat and your evade skills when you’re doing this stuff.
A David Kim: One thing to add is that more powerful monsters drop more powerful loot so naturally you’re going to want to go and take on these really tough challenges. At the same time we believe that replayability is best when you have a varied play experience like Zaven was talking about. One of the other hooks is that we are going to make sure that players have at least some hooks to be able to play different content in the end-game to help replayability as well.
Q: Item Randomisation. Are we going to have random stats on items or will each item have static stats.
A: Angela Del Priore: Affixes will be randomised values within a range which means you aren’t just comparing attacking and defence on items you could have two items that contain teh same affix effect by they ahve different values. We are planning on supporting modifying customising your affixes we just don’t know what form that will take yet.
Q: How will the game be supported after released? Will there be seasons, major content drops.
A: David Kim: We are going to have seasons in Diablo 4. The main goal for seasons will be to change up the player experience when they play from season to season. We don’t have all the details worked out yet to achieve that goal but I would like to give you a slight example for it. If we look at just the legendary items slice, we are planning to introduce brand new legendary items to seasons, on top of that we want to spotlight subsets of different legendary items from season to season so best builds and what you are exploring can change a little bit. I’m not saying this is the only thing that’s going to change out the player experience, of course we are going to try to hit it at all different angles across the whole game but that is our goal and we will of course we’ll have more information to share in the future on the specifics.
Q: Will we have Hardcore in Diablo 4?
A: Zaven Haroutunian: Of course we’re going to have a Hardcore mode, it wouldn’t be a Diablo game without it. Hardcore was basically invented by the community in Diablo 1 and was officially supported in Diablo 2. We’re going to carry on that legacy, we’re absolutely going to support Hardcore mode in Diablo 4.