From now until March 31, players who digitally prepurchase Diablo III: Reaper of Souls™ from theBattle.net Shop or redeem a retail game key in Battle.net Account Management can instantly claim their resplendent Wings of Valor! This epic pre-order bonus will be automatically sent to your existing Diablo III heroes—as well as any new heroes you create—as soon as your Reaper of Souls digital purchase completes or retail game key is redeemed.
If you’ve already digitally prepurchased Reaper of Souls, your Wings of Valor are waiting for you! To claim your spectacular spoils, log into the game on any one of your heroes and look for a small mail icon in the lower left of the screen. Click the mail icon to open the delivery window, select the Wings of Valor, and then click “Claim.” The wings will appear in your hero’s inventory and can be equipped immediately by right-clicking on the item’s icon.
As a reminder, if you pre-order Reaper of Souls at a retail store—either a physical Standard Edition or physical Collector’s Edition—be sure to redeem your Reaper of Souls game key via your Battle.net account on or before 11:59 p.m. PST on March 31, 2014. If you redeem your game key after that date, your pre-order loot (including Valla the Demon Hunter) will be consumed by the fires of the Burning Hells and lost forever. While you have six days from the expansion launch on March 25 to when you must enter your code, to be safe, you should secure your preorder today and be ready to input your game key on launch day.
Blizzard has released another teaser for the upcoming Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Expansion!
The last vestiges of an endless battle echo across the decimated terrain of an ancient crossroads. Once the epicenter of the Eternal Conflict, the war-torn fields that stretch before you now are eerily silent, save for the occasional scuffle of straggling soldiers and primordial scavengers that have made the best of this inhospitable expanse.
An abandoned fortress looms chillingly in the distance. Previously an outpost that stood as the last bastion of the Light before the Gates of the Burning Hells, it now houses a threat unlike any before.
Welcome to Pandemonium.
The Epitome of Endless Strife
Pandemonium is the scar of creation’s birth, where angels and demons once fought fervently over control of the Worldstone. An ancient artifact with the power to shape reality, ownership of the Worldstone changed hands for eons—the High Heavens and Burning Hells trading blows, creating worlds, and then watching their inherently flawed creations wither away over and over again.
Those who are familiar with the events of the Sin War know that the renegade angel Inarius, along with the daughter of Mephisto, Lilith, stole away with the Worldstone, creating the world we now know as Sanctuary. With the artifact well hidden in this refuge, the battles in Pandemonium slowed over time and, eventually, ground to a halt.
Players will soon have the opportunity to revisit the estranged combat zone, but those who have previously walked the halls of Pandemonium Fortress will find it an entirely new experience. The battlefields have never before been traversed by Sanctuary’s heroes, and though Pandemonium Fortress was once the base of operations in Act IV of Diablo II, the nephalem arriving now will find it much less hospitable.
Originally constructed by Tyrael to house and protect the Worldstone, one of the unique properties of the Pandemonium Fortress is that the structure takes on the appearance of those who control it. Though it’s been conquered and reclaimed through the ages, without the ultimate prize that once lay within, the interest from both angels and demons in holding this keep has severely waned. However, such disinterest does prime the location for hiding away another artifact with the power to tip the scales in the Eternal Conflict forever.
Re-Imagining the Battlefield
Pandemonium has long been a locale our designers and writers have wished to explore to the fullest, and the previous excursion in Diablo II barely scratched the surface of what this realm has to offer. The concept of a nexus between the High Heavens and Burning Hells is a compelling one, but capturing the desired other-worldly feel without extending so far into the unknown as to be alien was a great challenge.
As Pandemonium was barely touched upon, there was a lot of room to draw outside inspiration. Everyone on the design and development team as well as any player who played Diablo II has an idea of what Pandemonium could be, and the idea of infinite possibilities remained strong among these concepts. This meant the best bet for fulfilling the fantasy of this location was to take all those ideas, mesh them together, and boil the resulting amalgamation down into a unified vision that makes you stop in your tracks and say, “Yes. That’s Pandemonium.”
Of course, it was important to make sure this zone felt like nothing else ever explored in Sanctuary, since it’s a place that the nephalem should find unfamiliar. It’s a place where angels and demons have battled for eternity and so presented the question of what that would look like. What kind of inhabitants would remain in this land? Scavengers that live off the battlefield remnants, forgotten angels and demons that continue to fight forever, and unique creatures like the Realm Walker, an ancient beast burdened with the portal to an eternal prison, all resulted from these explorations in design.
Ultimately, Pandemonium needed to epitomize the idea of “The Eternal Conflict.” This was, and remains in some ways, the center for the war itself. As the literal crossroads between the domains of all beings, every feature needed to be carefully placed and considered to create the kind of chaotic balance that could not be found anywhere else.
Pushing Boundaries – Encompassing Eternity
External zones are always the most challenging, but Pandemonium takes this to an entirely new level. Both the battlefields and the Fortress itself needed to encompass the feelings of being ancient and infinite without losing players in a way that would distract from gameplay. In particular, our designers carefully avoided the perception of being displaced or wandering in outer space. The challenge was in ensuring a sense of grandeur that could house colossal enemies, evoke the excitement of the unexplored, and still sell the basic idea of plumbing the depths of a massive, ancient fortress.
This sort of dungeon delving is hardly new to the Diablo franchise, let alone in Act V. Pandemonium Fortress needed to be different from the Ruins of Corvus in the Blood Marsh or Bastion’s Keep at the edge of Arreat Crater. Instead of finding an earthly construct, you’ll find this eerie keep maintains the notion of a militant garrison while distinctly lacking the trappings of what one would expect from a human site.
Getting into the perfect balance of extra planar and relatable took fare more than the thoughts of an individual. In speaking to Lead Level Designer Dave Adams, he shared some insight on “ideation days,” a process that the design team utilized in exploring this space. “We break up into groups and try and create single scene events that take place on 240 foot by 240 foot tiles. Seeing what each group comes up with and how different those ideas can be is really amazing. We often use this to steer the direction on an area. We had a lot of awesome events that came out of that, and you’ll experience them in the game.”
Knocking at Death’s Door: The Last Stand
The Pandemonium Fortress has become home to the starring villain of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls™. Malthael hopes to end the Eternal Conflict once and for all, regardless of what consequences and costs his actions might have. It is time now, heroes, to stretch beyond the limits of what you once believed possible and stop the Angel of Death from destroying all you know and love.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our First Look series behind the scenes of Act V’s locations. Can no one truly stop Death? Let us know in the comments below what you’re looking most forward to tackling on the Battlefields of Eternity or within Pandemonium Fortress, and we hope you join us in the fight to save Sanctuary on March 25.
Of the plethora of new features coming in Diablo III: Reaper of Souls™, perhaps some of the most eagerly anticipated are the bold new powers that await heroes who journey beyond level 60. Each class will unlock a new skill at level 61, as well five equally awe-inspiring runes as they slaughter their way to 70.
Mastering these abilities will be no easy task and are sure to raise your game to the next level. But which skill are you looking forward to using the most? Submit your vote in the poll below or let us know in the comments.
“The Crusader. Our knight in battle-scarred armor.” – Josh Mosqueira
Although the Crusader may share the same faith as their Zakarum brethren, they are an altogether new breed of holy warrior. Rightfully so, the Crusaders deserve a set of skills all their own, one that reflects their resourcefulness, resilience, and (of course) religious fervor.
But how exactly does that happen in a game like Diablo III?
Brace yourselves, nephalem, and get ready to explore the creative process behind concepting, designing, and implementing the mighty powers of our newest hero.
A Crusader’s Core
Before diving into the development of the Crusader’s skill set, there were some very important details that needed to be mapped out. These details were the class’s core “pillars,” or touchpoints that would serve as the inspiration and outline for the mechanical design of the class moving forward.
To establish these pillars, the designers focused on the fantasy. When it came to the Crusader, one thing was clear right from the beginning: this was a big, badass melee hero who loves being in the middle of the action. Equally powerful was the idea that Crusaders are members of a holy order, possessing ranged abilities (spells) that can annihilate enemies from afar.
With those very basic concepts in mind, three key pillars were chosen:
The Crusader’s power is holy and derived from the Light.
They come from a martial order and therefore are never truly alone.
Crusaders are tanks. They’re not a traditional “tank,” serving simply to absorb damage and redirect attention from other allies. Instead, the Crusaders are more like an actual war time tank (e.g. Panzer, Sherman, Abram), controlling the battlefield and their opponents through sheer force—and, of course, dealing plenty of damage along the way.
Hero of the Brainstorm
Armed with these pillars, the system designers moved to the brainstorming phase of design. This phase included a number of different meetings as well as an open invitation to the team’s designers, artists, engineers, programmers, and producers to share their ideas for Crusader skills, too. Everyone on the development team could participate in the ongoing brainstorm and no idea was considered too silly or too simple so long as it related back to the pillars.
Ideas could come in the form of pictures, of a word or sentence, or some swanky combination of both! They could be entirely unique or reference existing imagery from a movie, television show, book, comic, or game. The High Heavens were the limit.
For the original five heroes, the goal of this phase was to generate a variety of different ideas that could then be distilled into three to five iconic skills for each class. With this kind of experience in skill building already established, however, the team decided to skip that particular step for the Crusader. Instead, they split the Crusader’s skill list right down the middle, dedicated half its skills to melee and half to ranged attacks, and immediately started to translate different ideas from the brainstorm into something playable.
Whether it was the image of a powerful warrior swinging a massive weapon and sending his enemies flying every which way like Sauron in Fellowship of the Ring (Sweep Attack), hurling a shield like Captain America and watching it ricochet between demonic skulls (Blessed Shield), or calling down the wrath of the heavens like Zeus himself (Heaven’s Fury), brainstorming played a pivotal role in the creation of the Crusader skills you see today.
Building the Kit
After the brainstorm phase, the team moved into building out the Crusader’s skill kit—or the entire complement of skills and runes that would accompany the class. This process included not only fleshing out the mechanics of the skills (i.e. how they work), but also what each skill would look like visually.
There were a few skills that fell into place immediately.
Fist of the Heavens:
If you played Diablo II, it’s easy to see that there are several parallels between the Paladins of the past and these new Crusaders—and this is due largely to their shared heritage. Keeping that connection in mind, there was one truly iconic skill screaming to be brought forward, and it was Fist of the Heavens.
Fist of the Heavens is actually the first skill in the Crusader kit to be completed, both in terms of the how the skill worked and its supporting art. It’s a great example of a mid-range ability, one that allows the Crusader to stay in the heat of combat while taking out baddies just beyond the reach of his mighty weapons.
In addition to Fist of Heavens, the Crusaders also possess another ability inherited from their Paladin forebears. This one has to do with hammers.
Cue the trimuphant return of Blessed Hammer, the skill well known for summoning a mallet of pure divine force that circles its conjurer, laying waste to all that surrounds him.
But why stop there? With Diablo III’s extensive rune system, it had to be asked what more could be done with this exemplary skill. The Crusader flawlessly wields the power of the Light and it was important to play up this idea of him being a Holy conduit. This lead to the creation of skill runes like Thunderstruck, which charges the hammers with lightning, and Dominion, which allows the hammers to orbit and protect the Crusader as he moves.
The Crusader’s movement skill was next in line, and the team knew it needed to be iconic. This was a simple matter, as a “knight in battle-scarred armor” would be nothing without his horse. And so Steed Charge was born.
With this skill, the Crusader summons a celestial horse, and gallops around the battlefield at a fierce speed, charging into enemies as the player pleases. Aside from providing a considerable buff to movement speed, when equipped with the right runes, Steed Charge can also leave a trail of flames in its wake, heal the Crusader while active, and shackle any opponents who dare cross his path.
Not all the skills in the Crusader’s kit came quite so easily, though.
Heaven’s Fury is a great example of how an initial idea for a skill and its actual implementation can vary. As noted above, the concept for this skill started as the “hand of god” reaching down and smiting the Crusader’s enemies. While that sounded epic on paper, how exactly would it work in terms of gameplay?
In its first implemention, players could direct the path of Heaven’s Fury using a series of right clicks, causing beams of light to rain down destruction on the battlefield in snake-like patterns. This version was pretty cool visually, but it was insanely loud and, in a multiplayer game, had the potential to become wildly annoying.
And so it was scrapped.
Iteration began and the team landed on a version where the beam of light was channeled and would chase the player’s mouse cursor around. This looked epic and felt really powerful, but it was a little rough mechanically. In addition, having a channeled skill for the Crusader just didn’t feel right. In terms of design, the Crusader is a hero that should be constantly running around and hitting things, not standing idle on the battlefield.
And so that was scrapped too.
From here, the designers decided to give Heaven’s Fury its own AI, removing any need for players to manage the beam itself and freeing up their time to go smack something else in the face. This design also played into the initial idea of the skill being a “hand of god,” or some kind of manifestation of the heavens that has its own will.
This is the final version of Heaven’s Fury, which will unlock for all Crusaders at level 30 in Reaper of Souls. As you can see, it still captures that original idea of a Zeus-like bolt from the heavens discussed in the brainstorm, but also delivers a great gameplay experience (which is a paramount in a game like Diablo III).
A Skill Set Is Born
Adding these skills together results in an unyielding veteran of the battlefield. A dauntless warrior that charges fearlessly into combat, crushing foes with fire and steel. A war machine made human. A Crusader.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this inside look at how the class’s skills were created and iterated uon, and that you jump in on March 25th to experience the full arsenal yourself!
A trailer to hype for us fans waiting. 7 days to go until the release of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
Only one week remains until Malthael, the Angel of Death, makes his terrifying return to the mortal realm. One week until you can lay siege to Act V, charge forth as the Crusader, master powerful new skills, and explore the world of Sanctuary like never before. One week! Source
To tide you over until death’s descent, we’ve just unleashed our official gameplay trailer on YouTube. Discover what harrowing challenges and tantalizing rewards await your heroes beyond the gates of Westmarch in the all-new video below.
Are you ready to go anywhere and slay anything? We sure as hell are! Diablo III: Reaper of Souls™arrives on March 25, but remember: death is only the beginning.
Head on over to east.paxsite.com for panel schedules, hotel and travel information, forums, and more. If you have an iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, or Windows 7 smart phone, you can also download the super sexy (and super official) PAX East 2014 app from Guidebook for free.
Join the Crusade:
If you’re attending the event, be sure to join us in the battle for Westmarch at the official Blizzard booth. You’ll have the opportunity to get your hands on our latest Ultimate Evil Edition™ demo, test your RNG luck with some sweet giveaways, and more! This is also your chance to raise hell with the all-new Crusader class wielding Sony’s streamlined DUALSHOCK® 4 wireless controller.
We’ll have demo stations available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EDT in booth #848 of the Expo Hall, so if you’re in the area (and in the mood for some ritual demon slaughter), be sure to stop by and check it out!
Here’s what else you can expect at this year’s PAX East Blizzard booth:
A brand new hands-on demo for Warlords of Draenor featuring updated character models and the intro experience for the upcoming expansion.
A brand-new demo for Heroes of the Storm, featuring new Heroes playable for the first time anywhere outside of Blizzard.
Blizzard developers on-hand to chat about your favorite games.
Blizzard developers will also be giving a presentation at the Albatross Theatre on Friday, April 11 at 10:30 a.m. EDT titled Heroes of the Storm: The Ultimate Blizzard Mashup (streamed live on one of the official PAX Twitch channels for those not in attendance).
And did we mention there will be giveaways, prizes, and more? If not . . . there will be giveaways, prizes, and more!
The Crusader has been added to the official Game Guide.
…but the minions of Hell grow stronger.
Lore seekers and theorycrafters, take note: the Crusader class page and skill calculator are now available in the Diablo III Game Guide! Source
The Crusader Class Page
The Crusader class page is a vast repository of sacred knowledge, containing key details about this unyielding champion of the Light. On the page, you will find a litany of practical information including core class mechanics, character background, unique equipment, a resource overview, an armor progression preview, combat screenshots, artwork, and more.
Updated Skill Calculator
In addition to these high-level highlights, the class page also provides a comprehensive breakdown of Crusader skills and abilities. If you’re looking to challenge Malthael’s armies in Westmarch and beyond, be sure to explore the Active, Passive, and Progression sub-pages to learn more about the divine powers your Crusader can wield. We also encourage you to experiment with new builds using our updated Skill Calculator!
For more information about Crusader lore and history, click here. For a sneak peek at the upcoming Crusader short story, “The End of Her Journey,” click here.
To learn about other recent changes made to the Game Guide, click here.
Gorgeous Art for the upcoming Crusader Class in Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
The brave, though mysterious Crusaders have always been a source of inspiration for those fortunate enough to witness them in combat. From their unmistakable silhouette of shield and flail to their unrelenting fervor on the battlefield, they’ve captured the hearts and quills of many artisans throughout Sanctuary. And throughout our mortal realm as well! Source
In celebration of this blessed champion of the Light, we’ve collected several samples of fan art from all around the globe featuring the newest playable class in Reaper of Souls™. Feast your eyes on these wonderful works below, and be sure to visit the artists’s official pages to show your support!