“Super awesome” is how Diablo III’s lead designer Jay Wilson describes the game, and while he may be super biased about that, we couldn’t help but agree as we watched the gameplay trailer showing a barbarian plow his way through masses of undead creatures in Tristram Cathedral. New Classes The Barbarian is just one of the five classes that will be available in this much-awaited sequel to Blizzard’s popular action RPG franchise, and one of the two that have been announced so far, the other one being the Witch Doctor. While he wasn’t ready to talk about the three yet-undisclosed classes in the game, Jay was quite willing to talk about the philosophy behind their creation. “One of the things that people ask all the time is whether we are bringing back the Necromancer. The short answer to that is ‘No’. The reason behind this lies in our overall philosophy, which is to only bring a (Diablo) class back if we thought we could improve upon it. The Necromancer is so well designed that once you put all the elements together, there’s nothing left to improve. We could put a bunch of junk on top of that, but that doesn’t generally make a class better. More is usually what people want but that rarely makes things better. It only makes things convoluted.” If it’s so good, why not just bring it back? Jay says, ”With the first release of Diablo III, we really want the classes to stand on their own as being uniquely Diablo III. We don’t want it to be a rehash of the old Diablo games. We want it to be a totally new experience.” Having said that, he hastens to explain that this does not necessarily mean that the Necromancer or any other favorite class will never again appear in future expansions. “If there is a really big outcry for a particular class, then we are certainly willing to listen to the fanbase and we’ll go ahead and give them that,” he added. So how different IS the Witch Doctor? The Witch Doctor is more of a “direct attack” character than the Necromancer. Although he can call “pet” creatures, he doesn’t rely on them as much to keep his enemies at bay because he has other spells in his arsenal, like Mind Control for example. In fact, the class can actually be played as a pure caster class rather than a pet class. This difference is the foundation for creating all the new classes being introduced in Diablo III. They want to make them unique enough that it doesn’t close the door to bringing back the original classes. Multiplayer Focus As with its predecessors, Diablo III will be playable in both single-player and multiplayer mode. Unlike other RPGs, classes in this game are more about different playing styles than roles in a party, ie. you don’t have the traditional healer/ tank/damage roles. Being a hack-and-slash type of game, all classes are damage dealers although each one accomplishes his goals through different means. From the developers’ point of view, the only difference between playing alone and playing with your friends is that the latter is more fun. As Jay puts it, “When you’re playing the game by yourself, we consider it a cooperative game with one person in it.” They don’t want to create a scenario where the player would have to go and find friends in order to get through the content. What they do want is to create an environment that adjusts itself to the number of players in the group. The more players there are, the tougher the monsters will be. They are also looking into adding content like puzzles that require several players to solve, although that’s proving to be quite a challenge given the dynamic group size. Multiplayer cooperative gameplay will be made possible by signing on to battle.net’s servers. While it will be possible to play the (single player) game completely offline without logging into battle.net, you will not be able to play that same character online so any progress you make on it will not be carried over if and when you decide to play with other people. Unlike Diablo II, where the default mode was single player offline, Diablo III will default to online multiplayer mode, just to encourage people to login to the battle.net servers and ensure that their characters’ progression and loot are kept safe. Development Progress Development started on Diablo III in 2005 but it has since then undergone some major redesign. Currently, most of Act 1 is complete in terms of art and design, and the team has mostly moved on to Act 2. Four of the five classes are operational and at various levels of playability. The game is now “mostly” in production mode, which means the art style has been firmed up, they have a game play that they all like and enjoy, and they have moved on to building things or building tools which allow them to build things better. Although much progress has been made, it is too early to pin down a release date and so all we can do is keep our ears to the ground and promise to keep you posted as soon as we hear the faintest rumblings in the distance. All credits go to IGN vault.