Category Archives: Arena

Jay Wilson’s PVP Update Blog Post

Well, the PVP blog we’ve been waiting for has been posted and it was definitely not what we were hoping it would be (this seems to be trend with PVP). Jay teased us tweeting that the PVP blog post would be up “shortly” then soon changed his tune stating it would be delayed. I really wonder if the post he thought he was originally going to write was what has now been published, or if things really escalated that quick to warrant this response. Whatever the case, here is the blog post in its entirety.

Diablo III PvP Update

“Hey everyone,

The development team has been working really hard on the features, content, and systems for PvP in Diablo III and I wanted to take some time to give an update on where we’re at.

Of course, our goal has been to release our Team Deathmatch mode as soon as possible, but we don’t want to put anything out there before it’s ready. Right now, Team Deathmatch isn’t yet where we want it to be, so I want to provide some insight into where we are at in the development process.

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The State of PvP

Our original intent with PvP for Diablo III was to provide more formal support for the dueling community that existed in Diablo II. We wanted to give players some kind of structure that would not only make it easier for you to duel with one another, but also allow you to have duels that were team-based. This is how our Team Deathmatch mode emerged, and it’s been instrumental in making a lot of improvements to Diablo III. But in continuing to develop this mode, playtest it, and put it in front of other developers within the company, we’ve found that it falls short of our expectations for a high-quality Blizzard experience.

Putting people into an arena and letting them hurl fireballs and swing crazy-ass swords at one another always has an element of fun to it.  I imagine it’s no surprise to anyone reading this blog that people like battling each other in video games, so if you had the chance to play our Team Deathmatch at one of the BlizzCons where we featured it you might not understand why we’d say that we don’t feel the current mode is good enough.

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Well, Here’s Why…

For us it comes to a few issues, one of which is depth.  Simply fighting each other with no other objectives or choices to make gets old relatively quickly.  We’ve brought a lot of people in to try out Team Deathmatch and, while some found it entertaining, most of our testers didn’t feel like it was something they’d want to do beyond a few hours. Without more varied objectives, or very lucrative rewards, few saw our current iteration as something they’d want spend a lot of time in.

Another is class balance. Like Diablo II, Diablo III was designed to be a PvE-first kind of game, where we never compromised on player abilities in the name of future PvP balance.  We want to be able to carry over as many of the crazy runes, items, and skills as possible, with their crazy effects, and alter them as little as possible. In a casual PvP mode, something equivalent to a WoW Battleground, this would be fine, but Team Deathmatch felt very hardcore, and it put a laser focus on class balance in a way that we didn’t think would be good for the game as a whole.

Certainly, we’ve gotten a lot of benefits from the development of Team Deathmatch, especially in the areas of controls and combat model tuning, but at this point we don’t believe it’s the experience we feel it needs to be in order to ship, so we will be shelving it for now and exploring other options.

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What’s Next

So, our core problem is that our Team Deathmatch mode doesn’t feel like a great addition to Diablo III. It’s not up to the quality that Blizzard gamers expect or that we feel you deserve, and it doesn’t really fit with our goals for the rest of the game. The question now is what are we going to do about it?

First and foremost, if our original goal was to support dueling, then we’re not achieving that goal very well if we don’t actually give players a way to duel in-game. You’ve been asking us for dueling for a while, so we’re going to add it to the game soon. Dueling is currently scheduled to release with patch 1.0.7, which is set to hit sometime after the new year. (We’ll be providing details about that feature very soon, so stay tuned.)

But as I mentioned before, we are going back to the drawing board on a new replacement for Team Deathmatch, something that feels more appropriate for Diablo III.  And as we stated previously, regardless of when we release it, it’ll be a free addition to the game. Team Deathmatch provided us with the foundation that we needed and served us well. Hell, it may even still be added in some form in the future. For now, though, we’re going to first be looking at new modes that play up to the strengths of the character classes, focus on objectives beyond just defeating other players, and possibly even integrate PvE elements and rewards.

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Keepin’ It Real

We wanted to be upfront and honest with the community about where this particular project is at. It’s certainly not ideal, and I know some of you got to play Team Deathmatch at BlizzCon and are probably thinking, “It seemed good enough! Just give us that.” I also know how I feel whenever a game or game feature I’m looking forward to is delayed, but, as with all things Blizzard, we want to be sure that the features we add to Diablo III are actually worth it and will make the game better, and PvP is no exception.

While we don’t have any further information to share right now about our plans for additional PvP modes, we really look forward to posting more about dueling in the next few days.

–Jay”

PVP Update: No PVP at Release

We recently received some PVP-specific news from Jay Wilson, but it wasn’t at all what we were hoping to hear. Here is the entirety of what Jay had to say:

“As we’re counting down the days until we’re ready to announce a release date for Diablo III, we’ve come to realize that the PvP game and systems aren’t yet living up to our standards. Today, we wanted to let you know that we’ve made the difficult decision to hold back the PvP Arena system and release it in a patch following the game’s launch. After a lot of consideration and discussion, we ultimately felt that delaying the whole game purely for PvP would just be punishing to everyone who’s waiting to enjoy the campaign and core solo/co-op content, all of which is just about complete.

While we work on making sure PvP lives up to its full potential, we hope you’ll find some consolation in the fact that soon, you’ll be having a blast leveling characters, finding items, learning the classes, and perfecting builds…and that when the Arenas do arrive, you’ll be all the better prepared for battle.

When the PvP patch is ultimately ready, it will add multiple Arena maps with themed locations and layouts, PvP-centric achievements, and a matchmaking system that will help you and your team get into fairly matched games quickly and easily. We’ll also be adding a personal progression system that will reward you for successfully bashing in the other team’s skulls.

We know a lot of you are looking forward to PvP, and we’ll be focusing our post-launch efforts on making sure the Arenas are as brutal, bloody, fast-paced, and awesome as we know they can be. In the meantime, we’re in the process of putting the finishing touches on what we think is a truly epic campaign and co-op experience for launch.

We’ll have a lot more info to share on the PvP system in the future, and we look forward to the moment we can get the game into your hands.”

I can’t say I was entirely surprised to read this announcement since there hasn’t been any external PVP testing besides the Blizzcon demo. Not to mention, there have also been massive changes to many of the skills and runes (as well as the overall system) in the last couple of patches. And as Jay pointed out, this isn’t all bad news.

I have no doubt that the campaign and storyline are going to be amazing (part of the reason that they limited the beta to only the first part of act 1, avoiding spoilers). However, with PVP content being patched in sometime after release we can now use that time to enjoy the PVE content we’ll have available to us at launch. This also means that we’ll have more time to get our characters battle ready for the arena patch- helping ensure that we’ve got our ideal class leveled/geared up and rocking a great build.

Another interesting thing that Jay brings up is the “personal progression system”. We’ve heard a bit about these rewards previously but never much more than mentions of the possibility of PVP-specific titles, ranks, points (towards advancement in the system), banner decor, cosmetic options, and the potential of the reemergence of severed ears. Hopefully Jay’s reference to sharing more info in the future will come sooner rather than later.

Blizzcon 2011 Arena PVP Recap

If there is one thing we can say about the arena PVP at Blizzcon 2011, it was fast-paced, frantic fun. And while Blizzard has been very clear that they don’t intend on supporting it at the e-sport level, it seems to be winning over hordes of players with every iteration.

All five of the classes were available in the Blizzcon demo, however, the highly anticipated customization was benched in order to prevent the already lengthy lines from becoming stagnant queues of die hard fans on the verge of rioting. Instead, the max level characters were given preset skills, runes, and items (though the items were stat-less placeholders, except for the rings which gave you all the stats to simulate gear at level 60). The preset abilities did a pretty good job of showcasing many amazing skills (and rune combinations), as well as changing our collective minds on some class roles.

Here is our breakdown of the performance of each class:

Barbarian: If you are within melee distance of a Fury-filled Barbarian, you’re probably already dead. With the amazing burst potential of Wrath of the Berserker and Hammer of the Ancients, many players felt themselves crumble in only a few hits. That kind of awe-inspiring damage coupled with Ignore Pain allowing them to live through just about any barrage thrown their way demanded a tactical encounter or you would be waiting to respawn before you knew what hit you. However, it was possible to escape their ferocity even though they had Leap Attack and Ancient Spear at their disposal- much to their dismay.

Demon Hunter: Easily the least played class at Blizzcon, the Demon Hunter lacked enough damage output to make it attractive to the masses as you generally had to have Shadow Power and Rapid Fire up to get killing blows. However, what it lacked in damage it more than made up for in survivability and support. With Evasive Fire, Vault, and Smoke Screen, killing a Demon Hunter was rare. Additionally, a well placed Caltrops often allowed you or your teammates to escape the grasp of your opponents.

Monk: Behind the Demon Hunter, the Monk was the second least represented class in the demo. Due to the somewhat awkwardness of Deadly Reach, generating Spirit could sometimes be difficult- limiting your options significantly. However, once you adjusted to the mechanics, Monks could handle their own rather well. With Mantra of Conviction and Seven Sided Strike, you could put out some impressive damage and prevent escapees with a stunning Lashing Tail Kick or Dashing Strike. Additionally, with the Crimson-runed Serenity, you could heal yourself significantly while being immune to damage and control impairing effects. While I would say the Monk was in the middle of the pack, the potential of the class was definitely apparent.

Witch Doctor: The WD really shone in this build. Surprising everyone with the damage output of Poison Dart and Soul Harvest, it was clear that even without pets you had to be careful around the Doctor. Additionally, landing a killing blow on them wasn’t easy due to what was probably the best survivability skill in the demo: Spirit Walk. To round out their repertoire was Grasp of the Dead providing great support with snares and Hex, a crowd control spell that allowed you and your team to gib an opponent before the little piggy could squeal. The strongest all-around character, the Witch Doctor is certainly a feared enemy for its synergy and solo abilities.

Wizard: A class that has always been strong in PVP, the Wizard was clearly the most feared character in the arena- especially when transformed into an Archon. With crazy amounts of damage from Magic Missle and Arcane Torrent (or Disintegrate in Archon form) and the ability to freeze entire teams with a damage-increasing Frost Nova, the Wizard was often at the top of the scoreboards. And because no Wizard build would be complete without Teleport, it was there as well acting as both an offensive and defensive spell. However, their true defensive cooldown was Diamond Skin- absorbing a large amount of incoming damage. Because of their very strong build/skills, many people often found themselves instinctively running from the Wizard in hopes of living a few seconds longer- oftentimes in vain.

To watch videos of some of the arena action, check out our Youtube channel.