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Arttemis avatar 4:13 PM on 08.20.2008  (server time)
Diablo III: Two Less Talked-About Changes

[First off, I've been sitting on this blog for a while now and thought I'd might as well flesh it out for publishing in true community-contributing fashion, particularly since Dtoid was kind enough to give me something! (Woot!!!)]
[Also, I call these two features "less talked-about" because most of the discussion I hear about this game revolves around the new art style, potential Battle.Net subscription costs, and new kickass class skills.]

Diablo III's lead designer Jay Wilson spoke to IGN a while ago for a two-page interview speaking about two topics - potion and inventory management. Both are inherently relevant to gameplay and seem interesting enough to post my opinions on their interesting deviations from previous games.


Wilson had this to say about the current state of potions in Diablo II,

"A lot of people, I think, would say that's a hallmark of the Diablo series, the potion system. We looked at it and said, 'No, that just makes the game worse, [...] It doesn't make it play like a better action game, it just kind of gives the player infinite health. It's actually a fairly poor recovery mechanic because it forces the designers to design monsters that have to deal with a player that has infinite health"

The introduction of health orbs was showcased in the announcement footage and more recent trailers, but that only accounts for half of the plan to remove focus on those delicious bottles of HP and mana.

"The goal is to have players use skills where previously they would have used a potion, [...] If I've got to deal with an enemy, I'm going to go in, stun a whole bunch of guys, and circumnavigate them to reach a health orb. Or I'm going to stun them and take out a bunch of guys with the hope that I'm going to get a health orb, and if I don't, I'll use some other kind of mechanic to deal with that threat."

Using strategy against mobs - Anyone adept in playing a 'Tiger Strike/Dragon Tail' Assassin from D2:LoD would already be familiar with this tactic after using Cobra Strike to completely refill health and mana when combined with powerful finishing moves. I welcome a balance in powers between players and enemies so that it encourages one to be self-sufficient and not rely on an infinite amount of potions.

Strategic Gameplay:
Pretentious Hype-o-Meter Rating: 15/15 Potions

+ : Adding strategic gameplay elements to Diablo sounds perfect!


The next alteration Wilson addressed was the change in how inventory management will be handled.

As it stands now, D2 players are forced to deal with incredibly small amounts of space to store incredibly large amounts of shit. There are indeed some antiquated mechanics that should be addressed - such as: limited storage sizes, obtrusive charms, and how to manage consumables.

On this side: Small chested (lawlpun!) ___________________________________ On this side: Me lucky charms!

The new solution to be found in D3 pits all items as equal 1-slot entities.

"The one really great thing that most people wouldn't argue with was the grid-based system allowed for very large icons which made the items feel better. So one of the things we don't like about the current inventory is the icons are smaller than we'd like them to be, so we're working on sizing up the icons themselves to be very large, much larger than say World of Warcraft [...] What we don't want is the grid-based Tetris sort of system."

I've always thought this would be a fine solution to implement in the storage stash. Players would no longer have to create countless mules or risk transferring gear if there could be an account-wide storage chest that holds dozens of items, all condensed to a single block.

Keys don't take up as much space as guns or rifles!

Unlike Resident Evil's item management systems, Diablo characters don't have to lug around their currently used gear in their inventory - it's stored on the characters' bodies. Actual inventory space is used to hold consumables (potions, scrolls, and tomes), the "cube", and gear that's deemed good enough to sell or trade. With the advent of charms, this leads to belts overflowing with potions into the inventory to suck up remaining space, leaving characters' inventories barely enough room to hold vendor trash or worthy gear.

Personally, I love the pseudo-realism found in managing different sized gear. If Blizzard had addressed the issue of space directly, they could have created consumable-specific pouches to alleviate space, as well as increase bag size/amount, and kept the mechanics similar but now effective. The one-slot solution just saddens me a bit.

Universal 1-Slot Inventories:
Pretentious Hype-o-Meter Rating: 5/15 Potions

+ : Storage space is far less of an issue.
- : An iconic gameplay element is replaced with a WoW-esque feature instead of directly addressing the actual antiquated issues.
[Note: 5/15 urine-colored thawing potions because I think the changes especially stink]

In actuality, Blizzard could completely remove the inventory system from D3 and it would still be my most anticipated title, period. I'm ready to be addicted to another Diablo game!



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