A team of Diablo 3 devs hit the main stage at Blizzcon to talk about Diablo 3's difficulty modes. The differences between Normal, Nightmare, Hell and Inferno difficulties are important for anyone looking to get near the level 60 cap, but it's surprising just how different enemies and loot will be on higher difficulties. In fact, Blizzard revealed that 70% of the game's loot won't even appear in Normal mode.
The devs said that the reason for this is that there are a number of resistance bonuses and defensive attributes that aren't needed on the much easier Normal difficulty tier, so instead of confusing players with unnecesary stats, they stripped those weapons out altogether.
One of the main complaints about the beta, and one of the most noticeable things for those of us in the office who have tried it, is that it's incredibly easy. Blizzard said that this is intentional. "Hardcore games for everyone is what Blizzard does," said Jay Wilson. "We're making the early game for casual players so we can turn them into hardcore players."
As a result, the first act is designed as a tutorial. Enemies are slower, less responsive, less likely to mob you all at once, and they won't have access to their full suite of powers for the duration of Normal mode. Complete the game and move into Nightmare mode, and you'll start seeing rare monsters and champions.
These advanced enemies will have extra randomised abilities, including area of effect attacks, more ranged skills and area denial abilities designed to split up your team. On Hell and Inferno difficulties these creatures will get up to four extra special abilities, turning them into miniature bosses. Killing them will give you a chance to collect some of the best loot in the game.
Item drops improve with each difficulty mode, of course, but once you reach Inferno mode, top level items are divided into increasingly devastating tiers. Blizzard say that Inferno difficulty is designed to always provide a challenge, even to those who have hit the level cap. It will be possible to run it solo, though, and in the wake of beta feedback, Blizzard are upscaling the Followers system. Previously, Followers were only useful in Normal mode, now they'll be able to fight alongside you in the hottest corners of Inferno difficulty.
The panel also discussed their approach to character building in Diablo 3, saying that the game " has something like 2.8 trillion builds. "