The Ten Commandments of Diablo III: Redux

Also available for : PC, PS3

<LINK REL="stylesheet" HREF="" TYPE="text/css">Welcome to <b>The Ten Commandments of Diablo III: Redux &#x2013; Jay Wilson Tribute Edition</b>. What does that mean? It means we ran a <a target="_blank" href=""="_blank">'Ten Commandments of Diablo III' feature</a> back in September 2011, naively thinking we had a pretty good handle on all things Diablo III. And then those adorable boffins at Blizzard kept tinkering! And by 'tinkering' we mean 'changing major systems and mechanics'. Anyway, the original article is a little out of date, so I figured I'd check the stone tablets again (set in stone my ass!) and publish an updated version with all the latest info. Without further ado, here are the ten most fundamental things you need to know about Diablo III, take two.<br/><br/><DIV CLASS="IGNE_header">Five Warriors Shall Rise to Save Sanctuary...</DIV>The Diablo games are famous for playing host to character class options that offer truly diverse styles of play. These are not games that can just be played through once. They demand to be played multiple times, as each class feels so different. Of course, even within each class there are countless builds players can utilise, and it's that wealth of choice at the most fundamental level that makes the Diablo series so rewarding and addictive.<br/><br/>Diablo III's five strong class line-up is shaping up incredibly well, and each is being designed to be truly bespoke. In previous games, each class utilised mana for powering various skills and spells. In Diablo III, each class has its own system. The Barbarian, for instance, utilises fury. Fury is generated by dishing out damage (even to inanimate objects like barrels, so be sure to wail on any to hand before going into combat), as well as taking damage, but it also ebbs away, so must be used as it accumulates. This means you're always looking for your next set of kills. Barb players will choose a mix of fury-generating and fury-spending abilities so they can make the most of this system.<br/><br/><img src="" /><br/><b>Slaughter, scoop up loot.</b><br/><br/><br/><br/>The Wizard, on the other hand, uses arcane power. His (or her) skills are broken down into three categories: signature, offensive and utility. Signature attacks are free to cast, while the latter two either cost arcane power to use or have a cooldown period, or both. Arcane power is a fast regenerating resource, so fuelling spells is no huge problem; managing cooldowns is the real key.<br/><br/>The Demon Hunter has two resources: hatred and discipline. Hatred regenerates relatively quickly and is primarily used for attacks, while discipline regenerates slowly and is mostly used for crowd control. Like all classes, the Demon Hunter's skills are divided into three categories. In this case, hatred generators, hatred spenders and discipline. <br/><br/>The Monk uses spirit, and this resource is earned through spirit-generating skills. Unlike the Barbarian's fury, spirit doesn't ebb away, and that's where the Monk's large selection of bad-ass spirit spending skills come into the picture. These are a great mix of attacks, crowd control and healing/protection. Speaking of the latter, the Monk also has a category of skills called mantras, and these give players the option to increase dodge chance, reflect melee damage, increase health regen or do additional damage, respectively. Only one can be active at a time, but players can boost the power of the mantra for three seconds by activating it again, which is actually really useful.<br/><br/>Last but not least, is the Witch Doctor, which is the only class that still uses mana. It regenerates quite quickly, and as you'd expect, his (or her) mana pool grows as he gains levels. Good thing, because the Witch Doctor's higher level skills generally require a lot more mana to activate than lower level abilities. Cooldowns also increase dramatically. The Witch Doctor's skills are divided into three categories: physical realm (zombies, spiders, fire bats), spirit realm (haunting and confusing enemies) and command (fighting alongside zombie dogs &#x2013; which you can then blow up, fetish armies and so on).<br/><br/>The various systems reflect the significant differences in how each class approaches combat, and each has more than twenty unique skills to mix and match. Unlike the last game, players are also able to choose a male or female character for each class. No matter what the choice, this game is fast-paced and brutal. The incredible animations, potent sound effects and sweet environmental destruction all add to a palpable feeling of power surging through your character. The fact that killing multiple enemies or destroying multiple objects in quick succession can net the player bonus experience points only adds to the sense of urgency and the feeling that you're nothing less than a force of nature.<br/><br/><img src="" /><br/>It's a little hard to tell, but in this screenshot the Barbarian is<i>killing the sh*t out of everything.</i> To be fair, that's<i>every</i> Barbarian screenshot.<br/><br/><br/><br/><DIV CLASS="IGNE_header">...Erm, Actually There Shall Be Three More</DIV>Diablo II let players hire a mercenary to watch their back while out killing monsters, but they weren't really characters. Sure, they had names and different abilities and could be equipped with gear, but they weren't the chattiest travelling companions. Diablo III will change all that, introducing three 'followers' that will serve the same purpose as mercenaries, but have their own very defined backgrounds and personalities. There's the <a target="_blank" href=""="_blank">Enchantress Eirena</a>, the <a target="_blank" href=""="_blank">Scoundrel Lyndon</a> and the <a target="_blank" href=""="_blank">Templar Kormac</a>, and they'll all play a significant role in the game and in the story. The Enchantress is a sorceress who can help draw fire, the Scoundrel wields a crossbow and can blind enemies, making them easier to take down or buying the player some time, and the heavily-armoured Templar uses a combination of spear and the ability to slow enemies.<br/><br/><img src="" /><br/>A sparkler is a dangerous weapon in the right hands.<br/><br/><br/><br/>In a gameplay sense, players can kit them out with a weapon/shield, two rings, an amulet and a unique class item, but the biggest change from the hireling system of old is that you can customise their skills. Two new skill options are unlocked every five levels up to and including level 20. Players can choose which skill at each tier the follower uses, so by level 20 you'll be able to choose four skills from a possible eight. Thus, they can be moulded to complement or augment your abilities and truly support you in the field. Kormac's level 20 choice, for instance, is between Inspire, which increases the player's resource regeneration, and Guardian, which enables him to charge the enemy when the player's health is low, "dealing massive damage and stunning all nearby targets."<br/><br/>The companions will also give you background information and help further the story, reducing the need for straight-up exposition back in town or during cutscenes. And if they die, well, they'll be out of commission for a while, then rejoin you out in the wilderness.<br/><br/><img src="" /><br/>Each more bad-ass than the last. How does Blizzard do it?<br/><br/><br/><br/><DIV CLASS="IGNE_header">Thy Skill System Shall Be Unrecognisable</DIV>Perhaps the most fundamental change Blizzard has made for Diablo III is to the skill system. In Diablo II, each time players levelled up they were given a skill point to spend on one of their skill trees and five attribute points to distribute across strength, energy, dexterity and vitality as they saw fit. This gave players a great deal of scope to create really interesting class builds, but it also meant that players could easily waste points or build painfully average characters if they didn't know what they were doing.<br/><br/>No more. Players no longer put points into anything. Players no longer even choose which skills to unlock. Instead, a new skill is unlocked automatically at most levels on the road to 30. (In fact, every class aside from the Demon Hunter has two skills unlocked at level two, giving players a very early taste of the choices they'll have to make.) How do you level up the skills if you can't put points into them? Well, they all level up as you do, and from our experience in the beta the feeling of your attacks growing in power is being really nicely handled. The basic philosophy behind the change is to avoid locking the player in. They should be free to evaluate all the skills and build their play style based on experience, not on predicting what they think will be useful. <br/><br/>You'll still have to make hard choices, but these will be in what skills you choose to actually have at your fingertips. You start the game with only two hotkeys for active skills, then another slot opens up at level six, then twelve, then eighteen, then twenty four. Thus, hitting those milestones drastically changes how many options you have to hand and how complex and varied your combat strategy can be. <br/><br/>Interestingly, Blizzard only ditched the skill points system during its own internal alpha, so the game's mechanics were originally going to be more traditional. The Diablo III team has also made several changes to the way it works in the field. The first time we played the beta we were free to change skills at any time, meaning players could quickly swap between several load-outs with no penalty. This, obviously, reduces the importance of unlocking hotkeys and doesn't really force players to choose. The team then implemented a shrine in town, which was the only location at which players could swap skills. Thus, players were heavily restricted, having to venture back to town even if they just wanted to test out a new skill. In the latest patch, however, Blizzard has found a happy middle ground. Players can swap anywhere, but a cooldown system applies. The new skill can't be used straight away, nor can the player swap again for a period of time. It's a neat solution that we think will work well.<br/><br/><img src="" /><br/>Make friends and influence people.<br/><br/><br/><br/>Of course, that's only one part of the skill system. In addition to having access to six active skills, players will eventually also be able to enable three passive skills. There's a huge selection of these to choose from, and they'll modify your character in some pretty cool ways. The Witch Doctor might choose one that increases the health of his pets. The Barbarian might increase the rate at which he builds fury. The Wizard might want to turn some of the damage she deals into health, or simply to have her health regenerate. You get the idea.<br/><br/>Most exciting of all, however, is the ability to modify active skills with <a target="_blank" href="" target="_blank">skill runes</a>, which can change them in ways both subtle and significant. Once upon a time runes would drop in the world, and players could then equip them, but now they unlock automatically as players level up, much like the skills themselves. The first skill rune is unlocked at level six and the system as a whole helps flesh out the game's reward system - players will unlock a skill or a rune at every level from six to sixty. Very cool. <a target="_blank" href="" target="_blank">You can read more about skill runes here.</a><br/><br/><pagebreak><LINK REL="stylesheet" HREF="" TYPE="text/css"><DIV CLASS="IGNE_header">Co-op Shall Be Drop-in, Drop-out</DIV>It's been ten years since Lord of Destruction, and online gaming has changed a great deal. Ten years ago was functional but bare bones, and there were all sorts of hoops to be jumped through to play and interact online. Diablo III is going to be a completely different experience, with drop-in drop-out co-op for up to four players, and seamless transitions between single player games and multiplayer. Adding players to your friends list is painless, and friends can be found through their email address or their <a target="_blank" href=""="_blank">BattleTag</a> &#x2013; the recently announced system that creates a single identity across all Blizzard's titles. The game dynamically scales the difficulty depending on how many players are involved too. <br/><br/>Needless to say, it's going to be a blast playing the game with friends, and we've had an awesome time doing just that in the beta. Over the last few months Blizzard has really been tweaking the way it steps up the difficulty when players go into co-op, and the result is that co-op is now a bit more of a challenge, and definitely more fun. As the beta has progressed, enemies have become more varied, custom events happen more often, and the game as a whole is getting tighter. Working together is going to be a big part of the fun and challenge in co-op; taking on enemies strategically, finding complementary abilities, etc. Everyone gets their own loot too, so there's no fighting over the spoils of war.<br/><br/>Blizzard is actively encouraging players to try co-op, too. The game's achievement system is divided into the following categories: general, campaign, co-op, challenges and crafting. If you want them all, you'll need to play co-op. While we're on the subject of achievements, they also unlock custom graphical elements for the player's banner &#x2013; which appears in-game in a few different places, and the player is also able to choose three to highlight. If you've got the 'Naked Hardcore Run*' achievement, for instance, you might want to show off what a total freak you are. (*Not necessarily an achievement.)<br/><br/>As an aside, Diablo III will also have PVP, but Blizzard has said that this won't be geared around hardcore, competitive play. Instead, it's designed to fun and accessible.<br/><br/><DIV CLASS="IGNE_header">Thou Shalt Not Mourn Corpse Runs and Collecting Town Portal Scrolls</DIV>Diablo II was a punishing and quirky game in many ways, with a lot of tricks for players to learn before it all clicked. For instance, in Diablo II dying could be a pretty big deal. Dying didn't just restart you back at a checkpoint or take you back to town. Nope, dying meant your corpse would stay where you breathed your last, along with all your gear. You'd appear back in town, but if you wanted your stuff you had to venture out and retrieve your corpse &#x2013; or quit the game and reload, which carried its own penalties: especially on higher difficulty levels. Thus, if you died surrounded by enemies, retrieving your corpse meant fighting through that swarm to get to it. And without the weapons, armour, rings, amulets and other gear you had on you, that often meant getting enough new gear to survive the run. Just so you could retrieve the good stuff.<br/><br/>This unforgiving system meant players relied heavily on health potions and town portals. Having a good stock of the former was mandatory to stay alive as long as possible, while setting up a town portal to instantly transport back to town when the fight became hopeless was also a core tactic &#x2013; especially during boss battles.<br/><br/>How things have changed for Diablo III. Corpse runs are no more. If you die in a dungeon, you'll be sent back to the last checkpoint you passed, but &#x2013; based on how it plays in the beta &#x2013; all the enemies you'd killed up until you died stay dead. Thus, you're not re-doing sections, just being taken back out of harm's way so you can decide whether you want to wade back into the fray immediately, or level up/upgrade your gear before attempting the area that killed you again.<br/><br/><img src="" /><br/>I don't care how the skills work, as long as my attacks look like that.<br/><br/><br/><br/>This change comes hand in hand with a re-think of the town portal concept. The team still wants you to be able to quickly get back to town if you need to, and you'll still use a town portal to get there, but instead of collecting scrolls it's just an option that can be selected on the interface, and instead of instantly creating a portal, it takes time to cast, so you can't do it in the midst of a fight, thus making it a lot harder to slip away from a difficult battle. <br/><br/>While we're on the subject of scrolls, players also no longer collect scrolls of identify to reveal the magical properties of loot they pick up. These properties must still be revealed, but it's simply a right click option in the inventory.<br/><br/>Blizzard has also completely changed the way health works. There's far less of an emphasis on health potions now. Instead, enemies drop health orbs when defeated, creating an interesting dynamic where the best way to heal yourself is by fighting &#x2013; and fighting well. Health potions still come into play, but there's a cooldown on them now, so players can't spam them the way they once could.<br/><br/><DIV CLASS="IGNE_header">Thy Inventory Shall Be More Manageable</DIV>Not only did Diablo II players use town portal scrolls to quickly get out of trouble, they also used them regularly to head back to town and clear out their inventory. For Diablo III, Blizzard toyed with the idea of allowing players to sell and salvage their items out in the field (the ability to do so was in the beta for quite a while), but ultimately decided to force the player to come back to town to clear their inventory. In my mind this is a good thing. You quickly learnt not to pick up every piece of loot that dropped in Diablo II, and instead just nabbed the higher level stuff, and this system means it will be the same here. If you could sell and salvage in the field players would simply pick everything up and spend half their time on the inventory screen clearing it out. No good. This system encourages players to be a little more selective in what they pick up, but it's still simple enough to get back to town to sell or salvage items.<br/><br/><img src="" /><br/>Eirena, Lyndon and Kormac - the original odd triple.<br/><br/><br/><br/>Diablo fans will also be stoked to hear that the stash - where players store all their valuables in town - has been overhauled. Players had very little space to work with in Diablo II, often having to sell off weapons, amulets and gems that they'd like to hold onto simply because they were out of room. In Diablo III, players can simply buy more room. A player's stash will eventually have a bunch of tabs on the side, all of which open into decent-sized storage compartments. That's great in and of itself, but cooler still is the fact that each player now has a single global stash, accessible to every one of your characters. That means if you pick up a weapon that would be awesome for your Barbarian while playing as your Wizard, you can just drop it into your stash and pick it up as the Barb later. And the tabs system will allow you to keep things organised by class. Boo-ya!<br/><br/><pagebreak><LINK REL="stylesheet" HREF="" TYPE="text/css"><DIV CLASS="IGNE_header">Crafting Shall be a Vital Part of Thy Game</DIV>Players looking to clear their inventory in Diablo III face a couple of different options. Magical gear (denoted by a blue or yellow background in your inventory) can be salvaged by the blacksmith, and broken down into component parts that can then be used for crafting. Other gear can simply be sold to vendors. Then again, you could always post your items for sale in one of the game's auction houses.<br/><br/>Where once there were going to be three artisans in the player's caravan &#x2013; the blacksmith, mystic and jeweler, the mystic has now been taken out of the game, presumably to keep things streamlined. The blacksmith crafts and repairs weapons and armour, while the jeweler will let players add sockets to equipment, as well as remove gems from sockets, letting you re-use them! This is a big deal and further evidence of how determined Blizzard is not to lock the player into speculative choices. The jeweler also functions like Diablo II's Horadric Cube, letting players combine lower-quality gems into a superior cut. Whether the jeweler will also take on the mystic's role (crafting runes, charms, scrolls and potions) is unclear. That passage on the stone tablets is a little difficult to read... *cough*<br/><br/><img src="" /><br/>Die and you won't have to retrieve your corpse from beneath this guy's feet.<br/><br/><br/><br/>Players can spend gold to level up their artisans, and doing so will result in their store fronts becoming more elaborate, and the range of items they can produce increasing. Players can also find recipes in the world that can teach an artisan how to create new items. In fact, many rare recipes can only be found as loot drops in the wild, and conversely, gear that artisans craft for the player won't drop when out monster-killing. Thus, mixing and matching between gear from loot drops and gear from artisans will be a good tactic to ensure you have the best equipment.<br/><br/>The artisans are also a reflection of just how much more user-friendly gems and other socket-able items are going to be in Diablo III. Not only can you add sockets to equipment, but you can remove gems when you're ready to toss a piece of gear. Sweet. You can get a <a target="_blank" href=""="_blank">heap more detail on the blacksmith here</a> and <a target="_blank" href=""="_blank">find out more about the jeweler here</a>.<br/><br/><DIV CLASS="IGNE_header">Randomness Shall Rule Thy World </DIV>Diablo as a series is built on a foundation of randomness. The world is randomly generated, the enemies you face in it are randomly spawned, the items that drop when you kill them are randomly created, and so on. There are plenty of rules governing the random elements, of course, but there's no doubt that the randomness in the game contributes greatly to its addictiveness &#x2013; especially when it comes to loot. Loot drops in Diablo are like spinning a roulette wheel, except your chances of winning are pretty damn good. Sure, it might be hard to get exactly what you want, but you're regularly picking up stuff that's either an incremental improvement on what you have, or a pleasant surprise that may have attributes you hadn't considered before.<br/><br/><img src="" /><br/>Several monsters earlier today, shortly before they exploded.<br/><br/><br/><br/>Diablo III continues the tradition, and randomness is factored into everything. Even the crafting system has randomness baked right in. Say you get the blacksmith to craft a weapon for you. You'll have a pretty good idea ahead of time how strong that weapon will be, and whether it will suit you, but the crafting process will also imbue that weapon with two random properties, and you won't know what they are until you've spent the resources. And if you get another made, those properties will be different. Again, this game is all about spinning an awesome roulette wheel that will help you dispense death in ever more insane ways. Bless.<br/><br/><DIV CLASS="IGNE_header">There Shall Be Auction Houses</DIV>Things change, but they also stay the same. Ten years ago if players wanted to trade items in Diablo II they had to meet up in the game world and drop the gear at their feet. There was a level of trust involved in such transactions, and once real money got factored in &#x2013; via the black market sale of items &#x2013; well, it was all pretty sketchy.<br/><br/>Blizzard knows that there's going to be a huge demand to buy and sell items in Diablo III, and that if the company doesn't control those transactions, the black market &#x2013; with all the risks that go along with it &#x2013; will. Thus, the studio is taking it in-house, and building in not one, but two auction houses in Diablo III. One allows people to sell items for gold, the other for real world cash-money. What can be sold? Pretty much everything you can have in your inventory, with the possibility of selling characters down the line too.<br/><br/><img src="" /><br/>The Enchantress... not doing very much. God it's pretty.<br/><br/><br/><br/>Blizzard believes this "merchant economy" will add to the meta game and I entirely agree. The random elements inherent in Diablo's design fit perfectly with the concept - there's a limitless variety of items that will pop up in-game, and thus a limitless variety that will turn up for sale through the auction houses. It's a game on top of the game, and &#x2013; importantly &#x2013; the auction houses aren't in any way detrimental to other people's experiences. Think of it this way: if you want to drop a heap of cash on a high end item, that will only really affect <i>your</i> game. It will make <i>your</i> playthrough easier, so that's a choice you can make. At most it will affect the people you play co-op with, but is it going to destroy the game? No. PVP would be a problem, but Blizzard doesn't want that to be competitive anyway, so it's moot.<br/><br/>Plus, what if I've logged dozens of hours and still haven't found that perfect weapon? Why not sell off some of the high end gear that <i>has</i> dropped for me, but that isn't useful for my class, and buy the item I want?<br/><br/>Personally, I think it's going to be a great addition. If you don't, well, you don't have to engage with it and you won't be affected! It's win-win.<br/><br/><DIV CLASS="IGNE_header">The End of Days Shall Be Nigh</DIV>So we've spent a lot of time talking about classes and features and gameplay mechanics, but what about the story? Well, Diablo III takes place twenty years after the corrupted Worldstone was destroyed at the end of Lord of Destruction, taking most of Mount Arreat (the home of the Barbarians) with it. Since then, Deckard Cain &#x2013; you know, that wizened old guy who sounds like the offspring of Sean Connery and Charlton Heston &#x2013; has been travelling the world gathering lore and &#x2013; bad news, everyone: he's convinced that the last 'Lords of the Burning Hells' are getting ready for a final strike on Sanctuary, and that our days are numbered.<br/><br/>Sanctuary was meant to be a place where the nephalem &#x2013; the offspring of angels and demons - could live in peace, but, well, that went out the window long ago, and as Diablo III begins, fire rains from the sky over the town of New Tristram and the dead are walking the earth. It's time, then, to purge Sanctuary of evil.<br/><br/>Those interested in the lore can <a target="_blank" href="" target="_blank">see a full timeline here</a>, but the key takeaway is that you're part of a conflict that's been raging for aeons, and that you and handful of people can help save humanity from extinction. What does this mean? It means a cool backdrop for incredible combat, a wealth of choice and incredible replay value. <br/><br/><DIV CLASS="IGNE_divider"></DIV><br/><br/>Diablo III is going to be the game that keeps on giving. Each class will be worth spending dozens of hours with, given how unique their skills and styles of play are, while there's also a host of difficulty settings to play through &#x2013; including the new <a target="_blank" href="" target="_blank">Inferno setting for max level players</a> - which change the challenge in important ways. All told, Diablo III is going to be an incredible experience, and honestly, based on Blizzard's track record, you don't need stone tablets to tell you that.</i><br/><br/> <object id="vid_65054eac821ec114ce18b2db9f2af3e5" class="ign-videoplayer" width="480" height="270" data="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"><param name="movie" value=""/><param name="" value="true"/><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"/><param name="bgcolor" value="#000000"/><param name="flashvars" value="url="/><param name="wmode" value="opaque"/></object> <div style="width:480px"><a target="_blank" href=""><center>The latest changes in the beta.</center></a></div><br/><br/>&#169;2012-02-20, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved

My Favorite Games

Log in now to find and add your favorite games!