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Throwing us bones: Now that Diablo IV has been confirmed, in addition to quarterly development updates, we can expect Blizzard to start drip-feeding us information on the game's progress. Indeed, that drizzle of details has already begun.
In a blog post on Tuesday, Blizzard provided insights into some of Diablo IV's system design elements.
Right off the bat, the post addressed some concerns that arose from some who played the demo during BlizzCon. In the demo, players were not allowed to assign skills to the slots that they preferred. In Diablo III, abilities were locked into categories by default but could be unlocked so players could attach any power from any skill tree into any slot.
The demo did not allow this. However, Lead Systems Designer David Kim explained that the user interface seen in the BlizzCon demo is not the final version of the UI. He assures players that D4 will have an elective mode, so that skill assignment is just as open as it was in Diablo 3.
Kim also mentioned that the team has not decided on whether it wants to go with a finite or infinite leveling system. Both options have pros and cons to weigh. On the one hand, a capped experience system offers players a sense of completion when they hit the level cap. On the other hand, an infinite system gives players the option to continue playing with tougher challenges.
"A level cap gives us the ability to grant players a sense of completion," Kim said. "But for players who want to go deeper into the game, a second experience system allows us to capture the fun of achieving those really difficult endgame goals and ranks."
Personally, I see nothing wrong with the more-options-the-better approach. Blizzard should go with an infinite experience system or at least a veteran system like D3's Paragon leveling.
He stressed that the team is open to community feedback because ultimately they are building the game for the players. It was also clear that options are going to have to consider the possibilities for seasonal play.
Diablo IV will introduce "Keyed Dungeons." Keyed Dungeons are endgame challenges similar to the Rifts in D3. However, unlike rifts, these extra difficult areas will let players know what they are in for so they can plan strategies for victory.
"Keyed Dungeons introduce greater challenges as their tiers increase through Dungeon Affixes," Kim explained. "The majority of dungeons are real places in the world, and players will know some information about them, including what types of monsters, events, and layouts to expect. With this information, as well as the specific Dungeon Affixes being displayed on the key, players will be able to strategize their approach before going into the dungeon."
As the title of the blog post, "System Design in Diablo IV (Part I)" suggests, this is not the last we will hear from the development team outside of the quarterly updates. That first behind-the-scenes look into the game's progress is scheduled for February.