Rob & wudijo had an exclusive opportunity to sit down with the Developers to talk all things Diablo IV and there are exciting details that we gathered. We selected the most interesting news for you and grouped them by topic.
Wudi talked to:
- Rod Fergusson (Diablo Franchise Manager)
- Joe Shely (Game Director)
Rob talked to:
- Angela Del Priore (Lead Game Designer)
- Zaven Haroutunian (Lead Game Designer)
- Q: What's the feature you are most excited to have in the game?
- Rod: "From a player perspective one of the things I'm really excited about is the ability to extract and replace affixes. The notion that 'oh, I don't want this affix on my boots so I'm going to extract it and put it on my helmet'. [...] The ability to control your build [...]. No Diablo game before had that level of control over the legendary powers you're using."
- Q: How do you envision the trading process between players?
- Angela: "For launch we want to go with a simple approach: Support the in-game trade channel and allow players to trade that way. There are also some small tools that we added for controller to more easily be able to say 'I'm asking for this for some amount of gold' so that it's a little bit easier for them to link the item add the value to send it into chat. For launch, we're not supporting beyond that."
Balance between Group Play & Solo Play
- Q: What's the design intent between group and solo play efficiency?
- Zaven: "It'll kind of vary from content type to content type which is also the case in the previous games [...] A great example is World Bosses. The way the system is set up is you basically be auto-grouped with a bunch of other people whenever you try to play those, but Dungeons are solo-able entirely [...]. More people are always an efficiency boost of some kind, but we don't actually have any systems in place that key off of time to completion, so the efficiency boost doesn't directly correlate into a game reward or anything like that [...]. You can play alone in content types that do support that and you're not required to play with anybody! Players will usually figure out ways to synergize between themselves and become more efficient because you can coordinate."
Player vs Player
- Q: What's the intent for the PvP mode in Diablo 4, is it more an activity players do on the side or is this also meant to be something that Blizzard might balance skills around and maybe even going forward to be or evolve into some kind of competitive mode like we see in for example arena style PvP in World of Warcraft?
- Angela: "[...] we made all the PvP rewards basically prestige or cosmetic intentionally because we don't have plans to make this a balanced Player versus Player experience right now."
- Zaven: "[...] we added a PvE component to PvP, so when you go to Fields of Hatred it is not just a death match to see whose gear is better. It's an actual gameplay mode that has a place if you're so inclined in power progression. It's not PvP specific rewards, all the PvP specific rewards are cosmetic, but there is a PvE component to it so as you're going through the Fields of Hatred you're killing stuff they can just drop what they would normally drop elsewhere. The underlying thing here is if you're a person who enjoys PvP and you want to play PvP you don't have to do that at the cost of not having regular PvE progression!"
Open World Design
- Q: What's the feature you are most excited to have in the game?
- Joe: "One of the things I've always wished for in past versions of Diablo is that when I'm deciding what I'm going to do next that this is going to take place in the world. [...] The lobby for our game is essentially Kyovashad or Cerrigar or one of those other places [...] Even if you're going into an experience that you're just doing by yourself like a Dungeon you are still able to be immersed in the experience with other people alongside you [...] and it just comes across that much more strongly when you're doing that action from the middle of a living city."
- Q: What was the feedback that surprised you the most throughout all your testing phases so far?
- Joe: "Certainly it's taken some time to get the way events show up in a good way. We want to make sure that players who are running around the world get to see events but we also want to not have situations where I just did an event and another appears. We still don't have that quite right but we're pretty close. That took us a lot of iteration."
- Rod: "When people do open worlds for the first time, you learn quickly that complete and absolute freedom is not entirely what people are looking for because they end up either hyper-focusing on something or constantly distracted [...]. This is how the Renown system came along. We give them some direction like 'hey, here's a thing you can do' [...] instead of saying 'there's all this stuff out there, go find it' and you're like 'I don't know what to do next'.
- The Renown System really gives you another reason to go and take advantage of the overworld and you go and interact with the Dungeons, Strongholds [...] and all the things you unlock carry forward to your other characters. [...] So the next time you fire up a new class you already have like 7 skill points ready to go because of the Renown on your other character [...] that feels really really good."
Open World Instances
- Q: Does the campaign start off in the shared Open World and how is the balance between Open World and instanced content?
- Zaven: "Big parts of the game start off private just for you and then as you complete parts of the campaign those flip and become shared.
- [...] generally the philosophy for the Shared World is if you are killing some Goatmen and I walk by they shouldn't automatically start hurting you more. [...] There are different systems in play to make sure that just because somebody physically appears doesn't mean they start doing more damage to you. The expectation is when you're inside an instanced space there's kind of a social contract there: Hey we're going to do that together! So there's an expectation that you're coordinating more!"
- Q: Can you give us any details on how players are getting phased with other people?
- Joe: "The game itself fills areas to a particular number of players. [...] We're still tuning exact numbers but I can talk about the goals: There are areas that are more socially focused like towns that contain more players and areas that are more for adventuring contain fewer players. We want to hit this sweet spot of adventuring through a world feeling both desolate and also feeling like the actions you're taking specifically matter. So if you've come across a merchant and they need help fighting off Goatmen there are not already 5 other people fighting those same Goatmen there, that really undermines that feeling of the world [...]. But we also want there to be opportunities to encounter an event and see another person there and jump in [...] We want to make sure that the way that players are encountering each other in the world feels good and consistent."
- Q: Have you taken steps to prevent abuse of this system such as bringing too many or no people at all into a zone, e.g. by parking AFK chars/extra accounts there?
- Joe: "Yes, there are caps for the number of people that can be in any instance. When we have an event that we think players could be incentivized in a way that's potentially exploitable such as Treasure Goblins or World Bosses there are additional controls on that [...] and the way that we spawn monsters in the game is resistant to a bunch of people standing around being AFK."
API & Web Character Profiles
- Q: Will there be an API and/or web-based character profiles similar to Diablo 3 Battle.net profiles?
- Angela: "It's not something we'll be supporting at launch unfortunately, but it is something that we have planned post-launch. Our web team that has all the tools that they have for our current games [...] so we expect that we will be creating web profiles and getting to use the same system that you currently see that are publicly accessible."
- Q: Can you give us any details on the server structure?
- Joe: "You're not making a decision about what server or what region you're playing on. You're simply going into the game and you're seeing other people around." (note: this means the game is NOT region-locked like other Blizzard titles!)
Campaign & Seasons
- Q: Do you have to play the campaign every season?
- Joe: "Once you've completed the Campaign on an account, you will be able to use the "Skip Campaign" checkbox."
- Q: What are your plans for seasonal updates beyond the typical expected new items & seasonal theme. Will you introduce new zones, new skills, what can we expect?
- Joe: "I can't share any specifics about what will be in individual seasons at this point [...]. The high-level thing to take away from seasons is: They're going to be really big and touch lots of systems and things like monster types, areas to explore are potential possibilities [...]. We want to really have the game be changing seasonally and feel really new every time there's a new season in a way that far exceeds what we've done before. We have very ambitious plans for this."
- Rod: "One of the ambitions is that you feel the season right away or at least early. You know, in D3, it can occasionally be like 'okay, let me get to level 70, let me get to a certain amount of Paragon, okay now I get to feel the seasonal theme or I can do the seasonal activity' and this is really meant to be meant like 'I can feel it right out of the gate and you don't have to play a long time'. [...] We're not putting hard constraints on, we want to see where seasons can go and where they develop in terms of having things and features and how much else we do in enriching them [...] with the theme, the people and the time we have. [...]
- We don't see this as a 'one-and-done'. D4 is really about building a foundation and this is how we look at the launch. [...] We want to make sure this foundation is in place so that we can add interesting seasons and expansions, so that we can take the game different places [...] because we are going to support it for years to come in a way that other Diablo games haven't been supported in the past. It's definitely a bigger team than I think has ever worked on a Diablo game before. [...] That's the big thing we want people to take away: Whatever we put in the box, whatever we are going to launch with is the start of the journey, that's not the end of it. [...] We're building this base on which to build even more cool stuff."
Developer Live Stream
We can't wait to hear more details about Diablo IV on the Developer Live Stream on December 15th at 11 am PST featuring game director Joe Shely and associate game director Joseph Piepiora on the official Diablo Twitch and YouTube channels as they dive into details around Diablo IV’s production and the new Codex of Power system. Below you also find wudi's video he made about his interview that covers some of the details of this post and more.
We were very excited for this opportunity and eagerly await the release of the game. We'll prepare you with all the information you need to succeed in Diablo IV. Stay tuned for more news!