DJTyrant attended the Diablo III Beta Press Event on behalf of Blizzplanet, and now shares with fans all his experiences while playing the Diablo III beta at Blizzard Entertainment’s Headquarters in Irvine, CA.
DJTyrant: “Blizzard ushered those of the press into the theather and showed us a brief two minute clip of a rough 2D animated version of the opening cinematic. There was sound and voices included, but the 3D animation either wasn’t complete, or in a form that they were ready to share with us and we also couldn’t record it. Blizzard then brought Chris Metzen up and talked about the lore of Diablo 3 and caught us up on what happened with D1 and D2. The direction of the story will be around Deckard Cain, 20 years later and he put together a journal that prophesies that the fight isn’t over against evil.
The story starts in a new Tristram which is still rebuilding 20 years after the events of Diablo 2. Fire is falling from the sky and the risen dead are rising from the grave, which brings the players into the game, asking the question of what the fire is, is this the beginning of the end?
Leah, who we’ve seen quite a bit in the trailers so far, is then brought into the story who is the adopted niece of Deckard Cain. She has spent her life searching through old ruins and burial grounds. Her role in the story is to fill in the gap between what Deckard Cain knows and the players don’t. Blizzard explained that she fulfills the need for an everyday man knowledge from Deckard Cain through someone the players can identify with.
Discussion about the combat system and gameplay systems proceeded forward from this point as a lot has changed since the last time Blizzard has publicly talked about the game. There was a lot of discussion at last BlizzCon about how the talent/spell system had gone through many iterations, now it has been completely tuned down to a much simpler system where you pick the spells you want, and you can equip 6 active skills, with two being selectable at the start with new slots being unlocked at 6, 12, 18, 24 for a total of six active skills. Also added are passive skills unlocked at levels 10, 20, and 30 for three total. Every level a new skill is unlocked and with the active skills you can swap out at any time.
The rune system was also discussed, and will be used to create different builds for each class with the lack of a talent tree system now. The example that Jay used was the battle mage, or melee wizard, (in this case the Wizard class). Items are dropped in the world that modify skills and abilities.
And then the discussion about the new Battle.net features, which can be detailed here:
Battle.net & Auction House Features
Blizzard dropped a bombshell in the press event announcing an auction house and online-only gameplay for Diablo 3. The big news of the in-game auction house is that it will be regional, and feature in some regions, the ability to buy and sell items for real world money, yes you heard that right Diablo 3 items for REAL WORLD MONEY. Blizzard will facilitate the transactions in-game.
The key to the new auction house is that Blizzard is facilitating a need for the players to buy and sell items with real world money, which was prevalent in Diablo 2. The currency auction house will be supported in as many countries as they can get it up and running in.
To get people involved with the real money auction house they are offering a set number of auction posting free per week. It will be run through the in-game client and you will be able to sell items, gold, and components through the AH, with the possibility of selling characters at some point in the future. Auction listings above and beyond that will be a flat rate per item listed whether or not the item sells, helping make sure items that players list items that would be useful or beneficial.
The players will be able to cash out in two ways, through a Blizzard eWallet, that will directly put the money into your battle.net account which can be used for any number of items on the store (even WoW time). You will also be able to cash it out to a bank account through a 3rd party service, with details being withheld at this time as to a specific service that that may be.
Other key points:
- Auto bidding and instant buyout
- Smart search by class
- Shared Stash (between characters)
- Secure Item Transfers
- Facilitate player trades – not a Blizzard Store
- Players will be anonymous during trades
- Will also have a gold auction house and in-game trading
- Hardcore characters will not be able to use the real money auction house
As far as Battle.net goes for gameplay:
Always connected to friends, persistent friends list. Always connected to the game, online only, persistent characters, and no local characters (prevent modification).
Play together, stay together.
- Public Game Finder
- PvP Matchmaking
- Quick Join Friends – advertises game to friends list, drop-in to friends games
- Dynamic Co-op – feel very fluid between 1p, to co-op, any point you can open game to friends, etc, dynamically adjusts difficulty.
With more details about Diablo 3 out in the open now there will be tons of discussion about these new features and gameplay decisions Blizzard has made.
Witch Doctor Preview
All classes were playable in the D3 beta build we played at Blizzard HQ, so I decided to check out the Witch Doctor. Probably one of the most versatile of the classes it can be played in a variety of ways. You can play as a very caster oriented class, or as a very heavy pet oriented class.
I tried a mix of two to see how viable it was and chose poison dart and poison toads. Poison dart is a ranged attack that poisons the target, and poison toads are released three at a time and randomly move around to explode on three targets. This allowed for a lot of ranged control and helped keep me safe in most fights without too much trouble. Both spells were extremely mana efficient, but I’m not sure if this was due to the nature of the beta, or how it is designed to be in the final product.
Other builds/styles of play that I tooled around with involved using the summon zombie dogs which are three permanent pets that fight for you, and using a grip spell that was an AoE spell that holds enemies in place (which works well in sync with poison frogs).
Overall the class was really fun to play and very dynamic. I see quite a number of different builds and ways to play the class.”
Melee class, uses rage
Leap, generate rage usable ~10 seconds
Ground Stop, enemy stun
Ancient Spear, pulls enemies close into melee range
Wrath of the Berserkers, gets giant, and gets tons of bonuses;
Pet Class, voodoo, creepy crawly pets (spiders, snakes, toads, zombies, etc.) mind control (when fighting WD don’t know what’s real or not), mana
Firebats, flamethrower with bats!
Soul Harvest, for every enemy nearby, gets stacking buff that increases damage
Big Bad Voodoo, fetish shaman any pets or allies get attack speed increase
Hex, a shaman who turns monsters into chickens
Fetish Army, little fetish dudes that will fight for you last ~20 seconds
Gargantuan, big tough brawler pet, really tough
Mage archetype class, prodigy, wizards in Diablo universe used deragatory term that they shouldn’t be delving in stuff they shouldn’t be.
Arcane Power, fast regenerating resource, has cooldown abilities
Electrocute – can jump between targets, even non-enemy targets, main stay spell
Diamond Skin – Allows her to conjure diamonds and take heavy damage for a short period
Stop Time – slow enemies and projectiles within bubble, allows for control
Meteor – Takes a few seconds to impact, but massive AoE damage
Disintegrate – powerful sweeping ability
Archon – transforms and completely new abilities, enhanced version of disintigrate, etc. When you kill an enemy ups the duration of archon
Spirit, defensive focused resource, base attacks generate spirit, precious resources, attacks have three stages to feel dynamic, can mix up abilities
Deadly Reach, hit enemies right before they reach you, control position
Exploding Palm, third hit is $$ applies a DoT, and if it kills them they explode + do damage to area
Mantras, ability unique to monk, buff extends to her and allies, big dodge bonus
Tempest , can’t get surrounded, slows enemies in path
Inner Sanctuary, monsters can’t pass through and creates choke points, etc. Allows for high control.
Seven sides strike, big spirit spender, invulnerable for short period of time does massive damage to groups of enemies.
Conventional ranges class, bows, crossbows, shadow magic, gadgets and traps.
Sentry, puts up a crossbow turret
Spike Trap, slices enemies up
Smoke Screen, invisible for a few seconds, gets out of combat
Mark for Death, mark enemy to get pwned
Check out Blizzplanet’s 2011 Diablo III Press Event Coverage for more.
A brief moment so I can clean up my tears. After several years checking Amazon, and some book publishers on a daily basis for any new products, especially Diablo products, one has finally pop up on radar range.
The last Diablo products, other than calendars, which have been published were the Diablo Archive (collecting several past novels) and Diablo: The Sin War Trilogy by Richard A. Knaak.
Today a new Diablo product is listed in Amazon. It’s not a novel, but because of the existence of this product we might speculate the gates for upcoming Diablo novels is now open, with approval from Blizzard to start flooding bookstores by 2012+.
Insight Editions, the publisher of The Cinematic Art of World of Warcraft: The Wrath of the Lich King, has announced the upcoming Diablo III: Book of Cain. This hardcover contains 144 pages and hits bookstores on November 15, 2011. Care to speculate a Q4 release date for Diablo III?
Blizzard executives and developers have shared their wish to ship in Q4 2011, without an official commitment to do so noting they won’t sacrifice game quality for a set date and it will ship when it’s done.
In Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo® and Diablo II, the recurring character of Deckard Cain delivered quests, accompanied the brave adventurer, and, as the last of the Horadrim, provided a link to the greater history of the world of Sanctuary. Ever mysterious during these appearances, Cain hinted at a larger story, providing snippets of it in his notebook. Diablo III: Book of Cain is Cain’s formal record of this greater tale—a dissertation on the lore of the Diablo universe, told by one who has witnessed and participated in some of the epic events that make up the eternal conflict between the High Heavens and the Burning Hells.
Designed as an “in-world” artifact from the Diablo universe, Diablo III: Book of Cain includes Cain’s revealing meditations, as well as dozens of sketches and color artworks depicting the angelic and demonic beings who wage constant war with one another.
For players of the eagerly anticipated Diablo III, this mysterious tome will provide a deeper understanding of the franchise and its storyline.
Pre-order Diablo III: Book of Cain now.
Note: Marketing of the games and the novel tie-ins seems to be very predictable. Even if the official release date of a Blizzard Entertainment video game has not been announced, one can draw a conclusion based on the announced release date of novel tie-ins. These release dates are listed by bookstores far in advance (pre-orders). Some of the novel release dates end up in bookstores a month before the game ships, some novels do so a month after the game ships. Based on the release date of Diablo III: Book of Cain (November 15), one can extrapolate Diablo III might ship in the range of October, November, or December 2011 (more or less). World of Warcraft: Arthas being the exception. Examples below:
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm — (December 7, 2010)
- World of Warcraft: The Shattering (October 19, 2010)
- World of Warcraft: Stormrage (November 30, 2010)
World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King — (November 13, 2008)
- World of Warcraft: Arthas, Rise of the Lich King (April 21, 2009)
World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade — (January 16, 2007) Note: Burning Crusade suffered a delay from its original December 2006 release date
- World of Warcraft: Rise of the Horde (December 26, 2006)
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty — (July 27, 2010) Note: StarCraft II development was announced in Seoul, South Korea on May 19, 2007
- StarCraft: The Dark Templar Trilogy, Firstborn (May 22, 2007)
- StarCraft II: Heaven’s Devils (April 6, 2010)
StarCraft: Ghost (last known release date before postponement: April 2006)
- StarCraft: Ghost Nova (according to my interview with Keith R.A. DeCandido the novel was meant to ship simultaneously with the game)
Update: Added Diablo III: Book of Cain to our Blizzard Products 2011 Release Dates List and the Diablo Books Store.
It’s official. During the Activision Blizzard Q1 2011 Financial Results conference call held today at 1:30pm PDT (4:30pm EST), Blizzard Entertainment CEO Mike Morhaime officially announced Diablo III beta testing will commence this upcoming Q3 2011. It was not specified if it’s a fiscal Q3, or otherwise. One could extrapolate Diablo III Beta might start in early July, after the Diablo II anniversary, which coincides with the Diablo III official announcement held in Paris at the 2008 Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals. Here is the quote from Blizzard Entertainment CEO Mike Morhaime during today’s Activision Blizzard Q1 2011 Financial Results conference call:
Morhaime: “On the Diablo III front, I’m pleased to report that we began internal company live testing last week. The game is looking great, and we are currently targeting a Q3 Launch for external beta testing. The development team is working hard to try and launch Diablo III this year. But I want to be clear that we do not have an official release date or window yet. As always we won’t compromise the quality of the game in order to hit a window.”
Note: Check back later today and tomorrow for the full transcript and recording sample.
Morhaime: Blizzard Entertainment has come up with the most successful year ever in 2010 shipping two record-breaking games in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. As we drive deeper into 2011, we are looking to build off that momentum by providing even more epic experiences to our players; and we are also working hard on our exciting pipeline of new games.
On our financial side, we got $357 million dollars in revenue and $170 million dollars in operating income. We’re pleased with the growth in the Blizzard community over the past year, and expect to grow further with the upcoming launch of Diablo III.
Looking at the World of Warcraft side of business, we were pleased to see record sales on the Cataclysm launch in Unites States and Europe which helps drive global subscribership. During the first quarter of 2011, as players have eagerly consumed the new content, we have seen subscribership return to pre-launch levels in the last.
We finished the quarter with 11.4 million subscribers worldwide. Moving forward our objective is to continue delivering new content to players in all regions to further energize our community. Our partners at NetEase are continuing to drive toward launching World of Warcraft: cataclysm later this year, which should reinvigorate that community with some new exciting content.
For all our other regions, we recently launched the first content update for Cataclysm. This update includes new dungeons, special rewards for guilds, and a feature to help players find a guild to join. Player feedback has been positive and as a result we have seen an increase in player engagement and higher daily concurrency.
In addition, we have another major update already in testing that includes new raids and quests content, as well as an exciting new dungeon journal that will make raids and dungeons more approachable for all players.
I also have some news to share in regards to our [?] services. We recently launched several [?] for World of Warcraft players in China, allowing our chinese community access most of the services available to players in other regions.
We also launched a mobile guild chat system. This new feature allows subscribers of our Premium World of Warcraft Remote Service to chat with their guildmates through mobile devices.
Finally, we announced a new premium mount that will be offered in the Blizzard Store in a near future.
Moving on to StarCraft II, the first quarter was an eventful one for this franchise. In addition to releasing new ladder and costume map content for our players, we also launched the game in China. Already, the China region is one of our largest communities for StarCraft II in terms of concurrency, and [effort?] is up to a great start in the region.
We’ve signed with several partners to run StarCraft II Tournaments in China, as well as a Chinese broadcast partner to televise Korean GSL matches in Chinese. As we look to the future of StarCraft II, the development team is also hard at work on the first expansion: Heart of the Swarm. We’ll be showcasing that game to worldwide press later on this month.
On the Diablo III front, I’m pleased to report that we began internal company live testing last week. The game is looking great, and we are currently targeting a Q3 Launch for external beta testing. The development team is working hard to try and launch Diablo III this year. But I want to be clear that we do not have an official release date or window yet. As always we won’t compromise the quality of the game in order to hit a window.
Lastly, I want to talk a little bit about BlizzCon. Tickets will be going on sale later this month, and as in the past we expect it to sold out quickly. We also offer the show via internet stream and DirecTV Pay-Per-View to reach our players who can’t make it out to the show. Last year we had more than 95,000 paid viewers join us via DirecTV or the live internet stream.
As always, we look forward to sharing exciting news with our community at this year’s show.
Thrilled? Excited? So are we. Get your official Diablo III T-shirt to celebrate Diablo III Beta details finally coming your way.
Wanna buff up your Diablo lore in advance? Check out all the Diablo novels:
Awaken, Diablo III fans! As I have repeated diligently over the past few weeks, Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime is to reveal details of the Diablo III Beta on Monday, May 9th at 1:30 pm Pacific Time (4:30 pm Eastern Time) during the Activision Blizzard First Quarter 2011 Financial Results conference call.
On February 9th, during the Q4 2010 Results conference call, Mike Morhaime indicated details of Diablo III beta would surface at the next conference call, which takes place in less than 48-hours from now.
“As for Diablo III, development continues to go well, and we’re very excited about the game. Our most recent public showcase for Diablo III was at the G-Star show in Korea, where demo stations attracted huge lines of players. I’m looking forward to sharing some more news about the game and our upcoming beta on the next call,” said Mike Morhaime on February 9th, 2011. “Finally, I wanted to remind everyone that we just announced our BlizzCon show for 2011, which will be taking place on October 21 and 22 at the Anaheim Convention Center. Our shows keep getting better and better every year, and we are looking forward to meeting with our players and sharing exciting news about Blizzard at the event.”
Speculation on when Diablo III Beta might start has less than 48-hours lifespan. Mike Morhaime is likely to provide an approximate or official date for the launch of Diablo III Beta. Let’s flashback in time to the moment Mike Morhaime revealed an approximate timeframe for the launch of StarCraft II beta. It was during the Activision Blizzard Q4 2009 conference held on February 9, 2010. Mike Morhaime was true to his announcement and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty Beta Testing began on February 17th — just 8 days after his speech.
This was the statement provided by Mike Morhaime concerning the launch of StarCraft II Beta Testing:
“I do have an exciting news regarding Starcraft II. We are slated to be in close beta testing later this month. The beta test will be conducted in a global scale, including thousands of testers in North America, Europe, Korea, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand.
We expect a tremendous response from our players, and we are eager to begin this phase of development as we enter the final stretch before release.”
With bits of past examples echoing through time, one might speculate that Diablo III Beta Testing might begin very soon. Can Diablo III fans expect beta in late May? On June? Find out this coming Monday at 1:30pm PDT / 4:30pm EST.
Blizzplanet will provide a short transcript and some of the slideshows to be provided during the conference call for those unable to tune in the online broadcast.
Thrilled? Excited? So are we. Get your official Diablo III T-shirt to celebrate Diablo III Beta details finally coming your way.
Wanna buff up your Diablo lore in advance? Check out all the Diablo novels: