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Diablo III: Character Customization

November 03 2010

Diablo III: Character Customization
by Lodur

BlizzCon 2010 brought with it many new bits of news for Diablo III. Ever since it was announced, we have been hearing about the various changes being made to the Diablo system to improve and differentiate D3 from it’s predecessors. The biggest thing about the game is the customizability of your character. In D2, you picked a class, and each class had a few skill paths they could take, but it was very restrictive. In Diablo III however, you have an almost obscene amount of control over the flow of your character.

Traits - Sometimes being kick-ass needs some more kick ass piled on top

The trait system is one of the ways that players can customize their characters. Traits allow players to change core skills to reflect very different play styles. There are roughly 30 traits for each core skill and most of them will have the option of spending up to five points into that trait, increasing that trait’s effect.

The best example I can give for this is that of the Barbarian. The Diablo panels showed off the “Strong Barbarian” where the player was wielding a huge two handed maul and utterly crushing foes in large, slow, sweeping arcs and powerful overhand attacks. Directly after showing the “Strong” aspect of the class they next showed the “Frenzy Barbarian”. This version had two one handed weapons and attacked everything in sight very quickly and relentlessly, but did less damage per attack when compared to the “strong” version.  There are traits that allow your character to take on a more defensive role or increase DPS. That is just one example of many, but you get the idea. I also think that it adds an interesting element of strategy as well. Certain group compositions could lead to some very interesting boss fights.

Right now players are awarded one trait point per every two levels, but this is likely going to change. The developers have stated that they do not like how this feels for the flow of the game.

Plenty of charm!

Anyone remember carrying around a ton of charms and trinkets in Diablo II? I do. I remember putting a ton of them in to my Horadric Cube just so I had the proper resists for the various boss fights, or augments for my abilities. Blizzard apparently remembers this as well. During the D3 panel, developers talked about the use of charms, and the need to free up inventory space. To this effect they are adding a whole charm management system to handle everything you might want to carry. The system is dubbed Talisman. It will expand to fit new charms you pick up as well as when you level. From the talks, it sounds very similar to the keychain found in World of Warcraft. Now this is a very very good thing. In Diablo, there are often times when you are dungeoneering and bag space is at a premium. This helps make sure you can get the most out of your available inventory space, without having to sacrifice access to charms.

Ah, now you’ve done gone and runed it!

Runes are items that can be used to augment or change various spells in Diablo III. They come in five types -  Crimson, Indigo, Obsidian, Golden, Alabaster and can be ranked 1 through 7. Each rune should be loosely based around your skills and whatever color you chose. As you stack ranks, the runes will have an increased effect on your skill or spell.

At BlizzCon the devs showed us the effect of runes on the Wizard’s Missile spell. The spell starts off with only one missile for the skill, but by rank 7 of the runed skill, a veritable barrage of missiles is available to tear apart monsters, looking like a beefed up Arcane Barrage from World of Warcraft. They also showcased the Witch Doctor’s abilities in combination with runes. What if your locust swarm became a stampede of elephants? What about turning your rain of toads into various shades of elemental toads, or better yet a giant burning toad that eats your enemies and poops out the loot? Yeah runes can do that. Pretty awesome right?

There is an insane level of customization now in Diablo. To quote Blizzard developers there are a “shitton of options”. I’m sure you’re asking how diverse this diversification is. With traits, skills and runes there are a total of 96,886,969,344 possible combinations. Best part about that? That isn’t total for all the classes. That is the amount of possibilities PER class. Can you say goodbye cookie cutter builds? I knew you could.

Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?

Another new addition is the PvP arena system. At BlizzCon 2010, Blizzard announced that, at least part of, the player-versus-player experience in Diablo III will take place in an arena environment. In Diablo II, players could enter a room, and declare hostility towards another player as long as they were in the safe zone for the current chapter. They could then start to hunt down other players in the hopes of killing them and taking their ears. The new system borrows from the wildly successful arena system found in World of Warcraft, and from my hands on with it, it works quite well.

At the time of BlizzCon 2010, only three of the five classes were available for use in the arena. The Barbarian, the Witch Doctor and the Wizard. All pre-made characters were powered up with runes and skills. The only problem I had with it was that the classes are not exactly balanced with PvP in mind. For our hands on, the arena was square-shaped and full of various visual obstructions for cover. In the middle of the round, four health orbs will spawn in the center providing the only healing available to players. I found this interesting because unlike WoW, there are no healing classes, so in the arena it will take extreme coordination and communication to win the day. It is really easy to see how, once classes are balanced, this could become a new, competitive E-Sport very much like SC2 and Warcraft Arena. Crowd Control, or CC, is present and each of the classes has an ability that will break roots and stuns. The ability is on a long cooldown though, and very much like the PvP trinket in WoW.

On the topic of balance, as of the end of BlizzCon 2010, the Wizard pretty much owns any arena situation they are involved in. They have abilities to CC, slow opponents, summon minions to fight with you and drop massive area of effect at range. While at the convention I saw a single Wizard take down 3 opponents. I’m hoping that this will all get balanced out, because I did have a lot of fun with the arena, and would love to play it more when the game is shipped.

While at the convention, there was no limit to the number of rounds your team could play in the arena. I think at launch however it will follow a standard format to determine winners, like a best of X series. The only question I have is how much gear, runes and skills will factor into it. The characters we were able to use for the arena at the convention were pre-mades with no customization available. Considering, though, that there are almost 97 billion combinations of skills and runes for each class, as well as having to factor in gear, one must wonder how it will all be balanced out. I know I for one will be watching developments for this closely, as I’m extremely curious how they are going to make this work properly and balance it along with the non PvP game elements.

Filed under: NewsFeaturesPCActionRPG

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