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BlizzCon Overview

Richard Cox Posted:
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BlizzCon Overview, Page Two

MMORPG.com Community Manager Richard Cox attended BlizzCon over the weekend and today presents us with this overview of the event including announcements from all of your favorite Blizzard games.

There was also a bit of talk about raiding. Basically from the sounds of it, they want to make it less confusing and more fun overall; less emphasis on consumables and buffs, more on skill. They're also looking at ways to make things easier for dual spec classes.

The PvP panel primarily talked about the arenas and battleground, as well as Wintergrasp, coming in the expansion. The arenas definitely sound cool, and different from anything currently in the game. There was also a little talk of changes coming down the pipe not related to the expansion. Though, it is pretty easy to see what brought these changes on... The ability to queue up for scenarios from anywhere in the game has been hugely popular in WAR, and it seems Blizzard has noticed, as in the future you'll be able to queue up for battlegrounds from anywhere. They're also strongly considering the ability to gain experience in battlegrounds, much like you do in scenarios in WAR, in the future. There were a couple other panels that I missed because they overlapped with other things I attended, or I was standing in insanely long lines at the time. But overall from what I've read and heard from other people I knew there who attended them, nothing really new was talked about, so not much missed.

StarCraft 2:

Well, this is an easy one to cover the news of the convention on. There was really only one big announcement, and if you're anything like me you won't like it. StarCraft 2 is now a trilogy of games. That's right, three separate products, three separate SKUs, three separate price tags, spread over a three year window. Each race's campaign is being fleshed out to "full game length." While a small part of me is a little happy about this news, it is a VERY small part. Sure, 26-30 missions per campaign instead of 10-12 sounds great. But paying $50 (plus tax, and this figure is pure speculation on my part as no price point was announced) three times just so I can play all 3 campaigns does NOT, in ANY way, make me even remotely happy. And it really hurts people like me more than anyone. I don't play RTSes for the multiplayer, which for the record, if you do; you'll be fine as all three products will ship with all three races fully implemented for multiplayer skirmishes. I play them for the story, for the campaign. And I really feel sorry for the hardcore Protoss fans; their campaign is dead last, so welcome to your 3+ year wait.

Diablo 3:

Several bits of big news on the D3 front. First and foremost is easily the announcement of the Wizard as the third class in the game. So now we have a main tank, a glass cannon and umm... a freak. There was also a bit of rumoring going around the convention about them monetizing Battle Net in some manner, but no details were released, other than confirmation that D3 would not be a subscription based game like WoW.

The Diablo 3 class and skills panel talked mostly about the Wizard class, but also touched on the Barbarian and Witch Doctor a bit. They discussed how they came up with the current skill system in Diablo 3, while reiterating many, many times that it was in no way a final product and still very subject to change. They showed a slide show ticking off all of the discarded failed ideas for skill systems, including several radial systems, stuff involving beads and wheels and even two versions of the 'Horadric Skill Cube' which the crowd went crazy about. Their goals when creating the skill system for D3 were to keep it simple, compelling at both early and end game, allow for a lot of character customization and differentiation and support around six active skills. One thing they really wanted to do was get back to the system from the first Diablo where skills were dropped from mobs as books, or at least something along the lines of that system. They wanted Diablo 3's system to incorporate both randomly dropped skills, and ways to enhance skills through looted items.

The second part of that is achieved through the rune system. When exploring the D3 world you'll come across runes in your loot quite often. Those runes can be attached to a skill to alter not only its functionality, but also its appearance. Some of the examples they gave were with the Wizard's teleport and electrocute spells and the Witch Doctor's flaming skull spell. They showed the base teleport spell, which functions the same as it always has, just jumps you to a different area on the screen. Then they added a striking rune to the spell which caused the Wizard to do damage to mobs in the area where she appeared. And then they added a multi-strike rune to it which caused the wizard to teleport around the screen hitting multiple enemies kinda like Nightcrawler does in the Marvel Alliance games. With the flaming skull spell, when they added the multi-strike rune to it, it caused the skull to bounce damaging multiple enemies in a path, the farther you threw it, the more bounces it took. They also added a power rune to it which caused the skill to leave areas of fire on the ground that would damage any enemies that wandered into them. They also showed the Wizard's electrocute spell, which works kinda like chain lightning in the previous game. By adding multi-strike to it, it caused the lightning to bounce to more enemies. They also showed it with a lethality rune which caused any enemy hit to explode doing radial damage. Overall I think the system looks to be very well done and interesting, definitely leading to some high levels of customization and differentiation.

There will also be a respec ability of some form in Diablo 3, so if you don't like how your character is progressing, you can always wipe it clean and reassign the points. The details of how it would exactly work weren't available since it's not implemented into the game yet. The gems you use to upgrade your socketed weapons and armor from previous games are back, functioning pretty much exactly as before and even looking pretty much identical. The inventory works a lot like it did before, it just isn't grid based this time. You have X number of slots for items, regardless of their size. You also have 4 bag slots where you can add bags of varying sizes to increase the number of slots in your main inventory, kinda like the bank system in WoW, but free.

I played through the entire demo segment on all three available classes. Of the three I definitely preferred the Wizard. I will admit though that that isn't entirely fair. The Wizard was the only one of the three with the rune system implemented. Also when I was playing through as the Barbarian, my mouse was acting up, making targeting a huge pain in the rump. All that being said though, I absolutely loved the Wizard's disintegrate spell, as well as electrocute, which is just a beefed up version of the old chain lightning spell. Disintegrate was just way too much fun to use though. Basically you fire a line of fire out from you, the longer you hold it on a mob, the more damage it does to them as they 'heat up'. You can also swing the mouse around and move it from mob to mob, keeping it going, until you run out of mana of course.

Monster deaths provide a lot of varied entertainment in Diablo 3. You have your basic deaths, then your 'epic' deaths, usually for the bosses and mini-bosses. Certain mobs also have their own special ways to die, like the Grotesque that explodes and sends worms/lampreys all over to attack you. Then on top of that there are critical kills, for when you manage to kill a mob with a critical hit, these tend to be especially gruesome and gory; think HUGE blood spatter. AND finally there are skill kills; certain skills kill the mobs differently. For example an acid attack will melt the mob leaving only a puddle, or cold based skills freeze and shatter them.

All in all, it was a great time and a great show. Definitely a big thanks to Blizzard for having me out and I can't wait for the next one.

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RJCox

Richard Cox