On the second day of BlizzCon 2015, we sat down with System Designer Joe Shely and Senior Level Designer Matthew Berger to go over the particulars of Diablo 3's upcoming big patch, 2.4. Starting off, Berger discussed the new zone, the Eternal Woods, featuring roaming yetis. He added that the royal manor of King Leoric would finally be available to players now that the cultists have moved away from the entrance. Shely pointed out there would be some lore present for players to discover in the manor as well. The pair also went over the details of the forested Greyhollow Island. With 7 new events and 16 new monsters, the zone is the basis for a new kind of storytelling focusing on Adventure Mode and how players would have to go through the zone multiple times to experience the entire story. When asked if there would be branching events, Berger hedged his bets and simply reiterated that it was something all-new and that players would have to repeat the zone to complete it. He did add that they were hoping to have it up on PTR this week for players to test out.
Turning to specifics on the new monsters, Shely talked about the new Glowing Death, a wasp trap that aggroes when disturbed. He said that at first, the wasp nest simply exploded in proximity but now it emits fewer wasps but is often in close proximity to other nests so that incautious players might accidentally hit multiple nests and trigger multiple swarms chasing them. A boss character in the zone is the Hive Mother, a monster with a few wasps on her back who are active at first, but more and more activate over the course of a fight. Berger also pointed out that there was so much story in Sanctuary and that it made them happy when they could always add more for players.
We next turned our attention to Seasonal play, with Berger noting that their intention was to have it be three months per Season but to have a month or two downtime between Seasons to allow players to go back to the main game and be in one place with all their friends if they wanted. A new mechanic called Rebirth is coming to allow players to avoid having to restart a beloved character after they died. Players with full character slots can select a character for Rebirth, which will strip them of everything except their achievements, ship gear to their main, and send them off to play in the Seasonal content. At the end of that particular Season, the character regains their usual status in the main game. Anything acquired in Seasons on a Reborn character will transfer back to main gameplay just like regular Seasonal characters. Berger broke a few hearts by stating Seasonal play is not currently slated for console but the rewards will filter to consoles as well, including increasing stash options.
When asked whether there could ever be even one-way transfers between console and PC, Berger stated it wasn't possible simply because console players aren't signing into Battle.net. However, they added that Patch 2.4 was coming to console as well as PC. They declined to say which console was overally preferred in the office, but they had access to devkits for PS4 and Xbox One.
Turning to the 50 new legendaries that will drop with the new Patch, the two discussed how they wanted to have players go through and figure out which ones would work best for them depending on which set they were going for, adding that there were more follower legendaries on tap as well. When asked about PVP in the game, Berger said the best way to get PVP in Diablo is to play Heroes of the Storm.
In a final note, Berger noted that there are set dungeons in 2.4. Once a player completes a 6-piece set, they will go to Leoric's Manor and interact with a book that will give them a clue to find a portal to a bunch of challenges tuned for that particular set. If a player collects all 24 new sets and runs them through their specific challenges, they will receive some amazing green dragon wings.
Shely's final note was the revelation of Empowered Rifts, where players could pay gold to get an extra roll to upgrade your gem at the end of a Greater Rift. He noted that there would be a new recipe involving Kunai's Cube. Based on the rank and color of the gems used in a transmute, it would grant a permanent upgrade to an item and also not take up a gem slot. He also explained that the buff bar would be expanded and updated to include a buff holder so that players could better track their buffs and know which ones were on deck.
In all, it was a meaty interview full of new details about the upcoming patch!