Diablo III: Rise of the Necromancer Q&A (May 3)

Will there be any armor pieces that are not set based? Do you have any items that will be added to the beta in that regard?

Travis: There are absolutely armor pieces that aren’t part of a set. I want to say two for each slot, but don’t quote me. I don’t remember off hand. There is a lot of armor pieces that aren’t set related, and then there is all sorts of jewelry, rings, weapons, off-hands, all of those that are non-set related; and you guys can cloth them next Tuesday. So you let us know how cool they are, or not. I think a lot of them are awesome.


Blood-based skills are creating weird behavior, especially with the blood set. Vitality is deprioritized and players are trying to remove it from gear. The set doubling health feels pointless because it halves the potency of your regeneration skills while doubling the cost. Are there any plans to address this?

Travis: They absolutely are. This is one of the things we are talking a lot about this week that came up as a result of the PTR. You guys found some awesome builds. So theme of the blood set really was meant to be, you double your health pool, which does double your cost, so your cost is bigger, but at the same time you are like massively increasing your healing; and since all of the necromancer’s blood skills are percent of health themed, it means that the bigger your health pool, the more HP effective health you get everytime you are using a health skill. The thing that has been done recently was again the passive we talk about previously, Blood is Power, was being used in a way that wasn’t super great to effectively let people get to a 100% uptime immunity; which meant that the fact that their health bar was tiny wasn’t really a problem, because you can’t take damage other than spending your health. No big deal, and if you can’t take damage then you want that bar to be really tiny, because it takes one tick to regen, and you are 100%, which is enough health to pay for a few more spells.

We are changing Blood is Power. It is just too good. It is still going to be themed around what it is themed now. It is just going to be done in a way that isn’t completely out of control. Additionally, like I said, we are fixing the issue where the Bone Armor rune of invulnerability can refresh while it is still active; and as of today, we also decided to tweak some things for the Blood Set that makes it so that your healing mechanics don’t drain the stacks as quickly. They are just better, you get more healing out of the stacks. So the idea is that the players have a lot of control over how high their stacks get, and if they get too high, or they don’t feel comfortable with like 80% of your health bar per spell cast, you can spend a little time healing, which would then bring the stacks down, and you kind of have this ebb and flow where you are deciding how much health you want to spend on your skills.

The end result of all that hopefully is that when you can’t be immune 100% of the time, you do not want to have 5 health, because if anything hits you, you die; and if that happens, your [sp] is going to fail because you are going to die a lot, and it is just not the right thing to do. We definitely want the theme of the Blood set to be about like having tons of health, healing for a whole lot, spending a lot of that health. We will continue to make adjustments over the rest of the beta, to try and bring it to that place.



Land of the Dead, Army of the Dead, and Simulacrum seem like really long cooldowns for very little impact. Even in the Reanimation Set, I am not using the Army of the Dead very much. What are your overall feelings concerning these skills?

Travis: I use to get a lot of this feedback too, and to be fair, the first times that people have given that feedback, I was just like… well, it is a 2-minute skill, I don’t even know how long a cooldown it has got to be, to be worth using in Diablo; and of the most recent beta patch, part of that a few weeks ago, I have actually done a pass on all of the 2-minute skills; because I had just picked the wrong tuning point. I made a mistake. Like Oh yea, the [sp] is this strong, and then teh things I was comparing them to were like 25-second cooldowns; and I just my brain blanked, I guess, that day; but things like Army of the Dead now do substantially more damage. I think the base on Army of the Dead is like 1400% which then sets and items make stronger.

Land of the Dead, we like doubled the duration on from 5 seconds to 10 seconds. It is kinda hard to act on that feedback, because when we get that kind of feedback it is like yea… they didn’t literally killed everything on the screen when they pushed it, however there are also things like Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac, or CBR stacking, there are other item interactions and set interactions (like the Pet Set), that dramatically reduces the cooldown of Army of the Dead, and we wanted to leave ourselves room to grow into those to the point where Army of the Dead is really good if you are using a Pet Set, and in fact, some of the items we just made like more than double how good Army of the Dead is going to be for example if you are doing that kind of build. The goal is that you build into this things. That you feel really impactful. You should feel really powerful, but they are going to get better with items and Legendaries, and Sets. So that was always kinda the goal.



What has been the most challenging part about bringing the Necromancer class to Diablo III?

Julian: No question, corpses. Corpses was the most challenging thing by far. So we have never really intended or planned on having a corpse gameplay mechanic in Diablo III from the start, and so we had to find a way to sort of shoehorn that in into the Diablo III experience. One of the big problems that I think is kinda obvious is that we made a decision early on that when monsters die we wanted them to fly around, and in some ways we had to get rid of that in order to bring corpses back. So there was the problem of… wow, wait a minute, we need something reliably to stick around. There were server performance issues with having a bunch of new items on the screen, we got challenges in terms of console because you got 4-player co-op… hey, man… you just used my corpse. What’s up with that?

Not all problems can be solved with couch co-op justice. So those were big problems there, and then the biggest one probably of all was rig and expectations around the corpses themselves in that when it was very important at one point for you to single out an individual corpse, that the corpse had to be the loudest thing visually onscreen, and that was bad for a game that already has visual loudness issues. So all of those things were really big hurdles that we had to gradually take on one at a time, and get to the place that we are right now, which is that we feel like it works really well, and doesn’t feel like a thing that we shoehorned into the game.

We talked more about Revive as a challenge, but it isn’t really a challenge. We never think about how many monsters we have got into the game, but internally, it is like 1,100+, from a data-standpoint. Not necessarily visually. So we had to literally pour over every single one of those. That is a different kind of challenge, but it is one that is easily defeated by a lot of people.



Will Revive be able to raise a fallen ally in a party? Even if it is temporary.

Travis: No. (laughs) We had a long time ago, hey what if casting Reviving in non-Hardcore? What if casting Revive on your buddy’s tombstone, which is like auto-revive them. It is cool. We might still do it, if we find have time leftover, but we have just been so focused on getting so much of this stuff done. Maybe. It would be cool, but…


For the purposes of Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac, do Skeleton Mages and Command Skeleton count as resource spending attacks?

Travis: To my knowledge, yes. If they do not, it is a bug, and please report it. We are going to fix it.


The Bone Armor-focused Set looks really interesting, but are you worried about its performance in fights against less than 10 enemies? Considering this seems meant to function as the Necro’s tanking set.

Travis: It is one of the sets that has survivability built into it. The reason you are asking, if you find yourself where you die, your fight a Rift Guardian, you have to rebuild your stacks one at a time, it definitely sucks. That said, I think it is ok to have strengths and weakness for different sets. I think you have to play more cautiously, or adapt the way you are playing as a consequence of the fact, that this one does have a little more ramped uptime than the other set. That is probably fine. We may change it, but at the moment we have no intentions of changing it.


Are you going to implement the Iron Golem from Diablo II?

Julian: We are not going to implement the Iron Golem from Diablo II. It is a little unfortunate, right? Because it is a really clear fantasy, it is really cool, the iron interaction is kinda interesting and tantalizing. It’s something that you want to mess with, but it is also quite a big challenge to figure out how that was really going to work, having players walk around constantly looking at items that they could turn into golems, and taking them away from gameplay wasn’t exactly a win. So from a fantasy standpoint, it was really interesting, and there is something there, but it just wasn’t something that fit into Diablo III gameplay in the way that we would like, so we chased other fantasies.


Did you consider to create Skeleton Mages as permanent active passive pets?

Julian: Yea. We did. In fact, we did that. Remember, when we showed it at BlizzCon, all we did was our very first version of Command Skeletons. Actually had 3 Mages. It was like 7 melee, and 3 Mage; but ultimately, we found a better opportunity for Skeleton Mage by pulling them out, and making them their own skill. This created different kind of playstyle opportunity. It is nice to have a pet that you have to manage. In fact, the early days, we had a lot of feedback of… hey, I want to have the skill that let me manage my army, and build and maintain it, and we didn’t really have that. All we had was a golem, and command skeleton, which were permanent pets. So introducing this for Skeleton Mages, gave us that kind of more active management feel for the players who want it.


Why is their hair white?

Julian: (whispers: artists! laughs) Well, it turns out this is a super hardcore legitimate reason for this, that is explained by lore; and I am not going to answer it today, because that is going to be answered in the future by some other media that we are going to release. So if I tell you today, it would be a huge spoiler. So you will have to wait for that one.


Do you plan to fix the number tracker for the pets? Sometimes Skeletal Mages and Revived minions’s icons are not showing on the UI.

Travis: Usually we have a tracker for Skeleton Mages. You should have a tracker for your Revive. Part of the reason you might not have seen it on a Revive sometimes is that, again, the Revive skill is still being finished; but yea, definitely. You should have: this is how many skeleton mages, this is how many Revives. That is information I need that is onscreen. If it is not there soon, we will make it there before we are done.


Why dance around the concept and implementation of the classic Poison Nova skill with Death Nova and its runes instead of just putting Poison Nova in the game?

Julian: I am going to take the blame for that, but let me explain why that happened. For some classes in the game, which is really a good example, the damage type is the fantasy. So when we talked about fire damage on the Wizard, all the things that she does with fire absolutely integral with the fantasy of being a fire-wielder, and the same thing with frost and lightning. So it made it seem like the damage type and the fantasy are intrinsically linked; but that is not always true.

I will give you an example of how that is not true with the Witch Doctor. When you use Acid Cloud, for instance, we wanted you to melt dudes, because that is what acid does; and if it doesn’t do that, then it doesn’t feel really cool. Well, we didn’t want to introduce a new damage type in the form of acid, because that is kinda bad for itemization that have a billion damage types. So what we did there is… alright, you can still melt dudes, it will still look like acid, but under the hood it is going to be poison. So how does this inform our decision around for doing this with the Necromancer? We didn’t want to bring poison back as a fantasy for the Necromancer.

We didn’t think it was very deep in Diablo II. We didn’t like the idea of putting poison on a blade and stabbing guys one at a time. We didn’t think that gameplay was fun. It really wasn’t all that in-depth in the way it was presented in Diablo II. We also just– I think from an art standpoint, I didn’t really want nuclear green stuff all over the Necromancer, because that nuclear green poison stuff, that is the Witch Doctor. He already does all that. We want to push those classes apart. So instead, the theme we did like were things more like Death and Decay, and blighting is what we really ended up with. So once we decided that we liked blight as a theme, then the next question was what kind of damage type is it, and poison was the nearest thing that fit, and that is how we got there.

So it seems like we are dancing around it, but it is actually just that we are really chasing the fantasy first, and the damage type just second.



Why is the Pestilence Masters’ Shroud the Empowered Bone Spear Set? How does that tie in to the Necromancer’s elements themes?

Travis: The Pestilence Master’s Shroud is a set that is all about Corpse Lance and Bone Spear. Really when we got to that Set, we were looking at it, and we really wanted a set that was all about corpse skills in some fashion, and we also wanted to make sure that there was a set that was targeted to range-caster playstyle. So the fantasy more tie-in for us for like pestilence, plague, corpses… Ok, corpse set.

Also Bone Spear, because corpse skills plus casting is just sort of the vibe that we wanted. That said… because we said so.

Brandy: (laughs)



What are the rewards you get by completing the Necro Set dungeons? How does that tie in with all the other Set dungeons?

Brandy: So the rewards that you get from the Necro Set dungeons are two brand-new pennants for the class. They are not related to the existing achievement for Set dungeons at all. So if you have already completed the full set to get the super awesome wings, that is not changing. You don’t have to go and get the Necro in order to keep that achievement; or you don’t have go get acquire the Necro to complete it (if you haven’t completed it yet). It is just additive. So you have these two new pennants that you can go and collect, if you go and pick up the Necromancer pack.


Nevalistis, Travis, and Julian: How do you plan on playing your Necromancers? Melee or Pets?

Travis: I am totally going to build the same Set build that I was telling you about. I was like… I slapped it all together, and I was like alright, let me try this and this, and OMG, if I curse them, and then I stun them, and then I explode them… holy shit! So I am definitely doing the same Set on launch. Assuming I get it before I get the other sets.

Brandy: For me it would probably be the Plague Set because the moment that I put that set on, and the corpse lances just started firing off I was giggling like a little girl at my desk. It was just … so satisfying. It is a really visceral set. I really enjoyed that. So that is probably where I am going.

Julian: My first class in Diablo II was a Necromancer Pet build. Playing Hardcore right off the gate. I really wanted just to get through the satisfying vibe of the classic Diablo II Necromancer fantasy. So… pets!



Brandy: So that wraps it up for this Q&A. I want to thank you all for tuning in today, and hanging out with us; and for sending us your awesome awesome questions. We got through lots of stuff today. I am actually pretty impressed with all the things we talked about. All the different insights that maybe on things we don’t necessarily get to see from time to time. So thank you guys for taking some time off your busy day. I know that you guys need to run back and hop right back in into the Necro stuff. The more Revives. Thanks for joining me today.

Travis: Thank you guys for tuning in.

Julian: Thanks!

Brandy: And we will see you guys next time. Bye!


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BlizzCon 2019 Panel Transcripts


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