Will Diablo 3 PVP Become an eSport After All?

A recent interview on an episode of The Losers Bracket featured Sundance DiGiovanni , the co-founder and CEO of Major League Gaming. During the lengthy interview, some questions were asked regarding Diablo 3 and the answers were quite… exciting.

Sundance hinted at some very big news but was careful not to give much away. When specifically asked about what future titles MLG is planning to work with, DiGiovanni avoided directly answering the question. Instead, he stated that “there’s stuff in the works” and that a company based out of Anaheim “might be working with us. So, uh, you can piece that together. I can’t really comment.”

He also clarified that a recent tweet referencing going to Anaheim after E3 (which takes place in Los Angeles from June 5-7) did have something to do with an event at the Anaheim Convention Center with the unspecified company (Blizzard) and the unnamed new MLG title- implying Diablo 3.

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Nephalem Valor Buff Info

Bashiok just put up a forum post containing the current thoughts and info on the Nephalem Valor buff. Here is what he had to say:

“We’re working hard on balancing and testing Diablo III, and one of the major components is making sure that the end game experience is fun and exciting. We’d like to share a few of our goals for end game:

  • We have an enormous number of skill build combinations, and we want a lot of those skill builds to be viable and interesting
  • While there are millions of skill builds available to players, we don’t want players swapping skills regularly to beat specific encounters as they come up
  • We don’t want repeatedly running specific three-minute chunks of the game to be the most efficient way to acquire gear for your character
  • While a three-minute run shouldn’t be the most efficient, we also don’t want you to feel like it’s a two-hour commitment every time you sit down to play
  • Bosses should still feel worth killing

Nephalem Valor is one of the major new systems in Diablo III and it kicks in at level 60. Keep in mind that this is still in testing and we’re still working out the details. Here’s how it currently works internally: Rare and Champion packs already have great loot on them. By killing a Rare or Champion pack, not only do you get their loot, but you’ll also receive a buff granting you increased magic find and gold find. However, if you change a skill, skill rune, passive, or leave the game, the buff disappears. As an extra reward, if you kill a boss while this buff is active, you’ll receive extra loot drops from that boss. 

The exact amount of magic find and gold find provided by the buff is still being reviewed, as is the amount of extra loot you get from a boss while the buff is active. We’re also playing around with whether or not the buff stacks, what the duration should be, and whether or not it should persist through death. We want to make sure the buff is strong enough to make staying in your current game more rewarding than creating a new game. At the same time, if the buff is too strong, it risks making shorter play sessions feel not worthwhile.

We expect this system will encourage players to stick with a skill build of their choice, select an area of the game they enjoy, and sweep it for rare and champion packs on their way to a boss, finishing off a run with a boss that’ll be worth killing. If you wanted a shorter play session you could be done at that point, but if you have more time, the path of least resistance would ideally be to stay in the same game and make your way towards the next boss.”

Judging by Bashiok’s comments, we should be seeing another update before the game goes live with more specific info. However, this is the type of buff that I’d expect to be balanced in a post-launch patch as well (once people learn how to get the most out of it).

Beta Patch 15 – Full Patch Notes

Beta patch 15 was deployed a couple days ago but seems to have been creating some issues (and this comes on the heels of beta patch 14 that was released only a week 1/2 earlier). This prompted the servers to be down for almost 48 hours. The issues appear to be mostly resolved and the servers are holding steady so we can get back to testing. Here is what the most recent patch did:

General

    • All characters have been wiped. Please note that this wipe will also affect gold, items, auctions, achievements, followers, and artisans.
    • Battle.net Authenticators have been enabled for the Diablo III beta test. If a Battle.net Authenticator is attached to your Battle.net account, you will be required to enter an authentication key to log in.
    • The gold auction house for Hardcore characters is now available for testing
    • A new quest selection feature has been added
      • Accessed from the main character screen, this feature will allow players to select which stage of a completed or in-progress quest they wish to start at when resuming a game
    • The costs of the first and second Shared Stash tabs have been increased
      • First tab cost increased from 50,000 gold to 100,000 gold
      • Second tab cost increased from 150,000 gold to 200,000 gold
  • The levels at which character skills and skill runes unlock have been adjusted for most classes
  • Treasure Goblins now drop slightly better loot and less junk (slay them all!)

Classes

Monk

  • Active Skills
    • Dashing Strike
      • Now converts to Basic Attack if you are out of Spirit

Witch Doctor

    • General
      • Mana costs for all skills have been adjusted
    • Active Skills
      • Firebats
        • Weapon damage increased from 100% to 150%
      • Haunt
        • Weapon damage increased from 360% to 575%
      • Poison Dart
        • Damage Over Time (DoT) reduced from 50% to 40% weapon damage
    • Soul Harvest
      • Now displays how many targets are affected on the ability’s stack count

Followers

Templar

    • General
      • The non-hired version of the Templar has had its damage reduced and will now deal approximately the same amount of damage as the hired version
  • Skills
    • Intervene
      • Radius decreased from 10 to 6

Monsters

  • The monster affix “Thorns” has been renamed to “Reflects Damage”
  • Jondar Poison damage has been increased

Bug Fixes

For a full list of documented game and service bugs, please review the Known Issues sticky located in the Beta Bug Report forum.

  • Players should no longer receive error messages regarding the Starter Edition of Diablo III
  • Buying extra Stash space in Normal mode no longer expands your Stash space in Hardcode mode
  • Hardcore characters will now be correctly placed into a separate queue from Normal characters when using Public Games to queue for quests
  • The names of a player’s RealID and BattleTag friends should no longer appear as [] when chatting with them

(source)

Diablo 3 Release Date Finally Announced!

The community site was just updated with the news we’ve all been waiting for. Finally, an official release date has been declared! Here is the full announcement:

Diablo III Launching May 15 – Digital Pre-Sales NOW OPEN

The End of Days approaches…. Diablo III will be unleashed from the Burning Hells on May 15, 2012, and you can be ready to play the minute the servers go live by pre-purchasing the game digitally on Battle.net today.

Beginning May 15, players around the world will be able to return to Tristram to discover the dark secrets of a fallen star and begin their quest to save Sanctuary from the impending demonic invasion. To secure your place as a barbarian, monk, demon hunter, witch doctor, or wizard right now, simply log in to your Battle.net account, and then purchase and download* Diablo III, and you’ll be ready to play when the game launches.

World of Warcraft players interested in getting Diablo III for free can still get in on the World of Warcraft Annual Pass, but the promotion will be ending at 12:01 a.m. PDT on May 1, 2012. When you sign up for the Annual Pass and make a 1-year commitment to World of Warcraft, you’ll receive a free digital copy of Diablo III, an exclusive World of Warcraft in-game mount (Tyrael’s Charger), as well as access to the upcoming World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria beta test. Learn more at the Annual Pass signup page.

For more details on the May 15 release of Diablo III, be sure to hit the official press release, or head to our new Diablo III game page to learn more about the game and pre-purchase your digital copy.

*When you pre-purchase Diablo III, you will be able to download an encrypted version of the game that will be unlocked upon release on May 15.

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.