If you thought Diablo 3 was polished up and ready for release, think again. Game director Jay Wilson has posted a long list of big changes Blizzard are planning for the beta, some of which involve major overhauls of the character stats system. Wilson recognises the frustration of fans that have been waiting for Diablo 3 for years, but insists that the changes will be worth it.
"We've been called out for messing around with systems too much, that the game is good as-is and we should just release it," he says on the Diablo 3 blog . "I think that's a fair argument to make, but I also think it's incorrect. No one will remember if the game is late, only if it's great."
We've played it and it already feels great, but Blizzard are looking to streamline every game system so that there are no unnecessary stats, NPCs and abilities left. That means they'll be making a few controversial decisions along the way. "we're going to be iterating on designs we've had in place for a long time, making changes to systems you've spent a lot of time theorycrafting, and removing features you may have come to associate with the core of the experience," says Wilson.
Entire character attributes will be disappearing from Diablo 3. Wilson lists them on the Diablo 3 blog. "We're dropping Defense, Attack, and Precision as attributes, Armor is taking over for what Defense used to provide, +Physical Resist will take over for Armor, and +Chance to Crit will fill in for Precision." It's a big change that will "have far reaching requirements to re-itemize and balance the game."
Blizzard hope that the streamlined stats system will let players identify and discard junk items much quicker. Certain stats will be essential to each class making it easier to pick out relevant treasure from the heaps of loot monsters will be dropping.
Scrolls of identify, formerly used to discover the magical properties of special items, will soon be gone forever. You'll now be able to identify loot by right clicking on it. Town portal scrolls will become an ability instead of an item, and devices like the Cauldron of Jordan and the Nephalem Cube will be removed. These are currently used to salvage and sell loot, but with the addition of the Stone of Recall, Blizzard reckon it's easier for players to go back to town to do their item admin.
The Mystic will also be removed. Most of her duties have been passed onto the Blacksmith and the Jeweler. Her job is to enchant items, but the dev team felt that enhancement wasn't interesting enough in its current state. "Enhancement was really just the socket and gem system with a different name, and it would prolong the release of the game even further to go back to the drawing board and differentiate it." Wilson mentions that Blizzard will look into reintroducing the Mystic at a later time.
There's plenty left to do, then, which probably means we'll have to wait a bit longer for Diablo 3. We'll have to wait and see if these changes improve the game, and whether we'll remember the long, long wait for Diablo 3's release.