The art assets, as expected from a top production from Blizzard, are of high-quality. There looks to be a lot of dynamic lighting and shading used in the game. One thing I’ve noticed is that there seems to be a lot of smoothing done on the textures, making everything a bit blurry. There is also a hardly noticeable bloom effect.
The color palette is a bit more restrained compared to other Blizzard games, such as World of Warcraft. There have been many comparisons made to the style of items and armor to Blizzard’s mmo game, but the color is much more subdued.
However, the art direction Blizzard seems to have taken with the series is a pretty big departure from the grim, almost goth style of older games. This has, unsurprisingly, caused a backlash from hardcore fans who disagree with the new visual style. There is even a petition online with over 30,000 signatures demanding a return to the older art style of Diablo games. A fan rendering of what they’d like is available here.
Personally, I feel fans’ opinions are unsubstantiated at this early stage - Blizzard was showing off an early area of the game, and there will be plenty of chances for later parts of the game to grow “dark”. Furthermore, it may be Blizzard’s intent to show off a relatively “good” world in the beginning of the game, only to let it slowly deteriorate into older games’ art style.
Classes and Genders
Blizzard showed off two classes in the trailer - the Barbarian and the Witch Doctor. The Barbarian was a class from the Diablo 2 expansion set Lord of Destruction, and his more iconic abilities return - whirlwind, leap, and shout. He also has a new ranged attack - a shockwave that travels along the ground.
The Witch Doctor is a new class. His abilities include sowing fear and confusion among enemies, a medium range attack using locusts, and the ability to control undead (a la the Necromancer from Diablo 2) allowing him to resurrect dogs and walls of undead. He can also detonate the dogs at will, causing damaging explosions.
It is also known that every class will have male and female versions, providing a limited degree of aesthetic customization to players.
Combat looks to follow the vein of the older games, that is, pretty simple point and click mechanics against enemies with rudimentary AI that rushes the player.
Combat looks to be more arcade and action-oriented. The new addition of potion drops (instead of letting players carry potions and use them at their whim) will let the game dictate the pace and flow of battles, now that players will no have to constantly visit the inventory to drink potions to keep their health up.
Diablo 3 is looking to build upon Diablo 2’s use of enemies that have interesting secondary characteristics, making it important for the player to use certain skills or to target certain types of enemies first. In the preview, we see skeletons with shields that need to be disarmed, cultists that summon powerful demons, and so on.
Overall there appears to be steps taken towards accessibility for the new Diablo game.
Skills can now be assigned to the mouse and selected with the mouse wheel, freeing players from using the keyboard (if they so choose) and they can now play with just the mouse.
The tetrislike shuffling in inventories has been removed in the new game and replaced with simple slots.
Multiplayer has been much more streamlined. The game now accounts for players to jump in and out of online games easily and seamlessly.
It looks to be that Blizzard hopes to attract casual players by lowering barriers of accessibility.
Some last items of note gleaned from the trailer:
The game uses a lightweight physics engine. So far all we’ve seen are walls crumbling, but the development team should hopefully design stages that make good use of physics.
Fixed overworld. Dungeons have always been randomly generated, but in a first for the series, there will be a static overworld linking different dungeons together.
Skills have ranks, like 4/5 next to them in the skills menu. This will probably be similar to World of Warcraft’s system to allow skills of varying strengths and effects.
Weapons have a damage per second calculation next to them. In the previous games, hardcore players had to go find guides online to find what weapons would do the most damage. Now Blizzard is providing the information up front.
This post is part of the series: Diablo III Reviews & Previews
Check this article series for the trailer, preview and full scale review of Diablo III.