The Diablo IV Team on Doubling Down on Choices for Every Class

Diablo IV’s Game Director Joe Shely and Diablo General Manager Rod Fergusson on how they’re doubling down on unique class identities and giving players a wealth of options, without piling on complexity.

Foreign So we started with a couple of classes And we had some really cool ideas for For class mechanics that would be Specific to those classes And it proved to be very compelling not Just in terms of the gameplay of the Class but also you know if you're Playing a barbarian and then maybe You're you're grouped up with a Sorceress and the Sorceress is using her Class mechanic it really you look at That and you're like oh well that There's lots of really interesting Gameplay there that I could check out You know in the future maybe on a future Season or or something like that and so We really wanted the classes to shine in Their own ways and differentiate from Each other and then also it goes back to That aspect of choice like when we when We look at the class mechanics we try to Design them in ways that increase the Number of meaningful choices and ways That you can customize your character so If you look at the Necromancer for Example right the Book of the Dead Allows for players who you know the Necromancer is a core of Heart of Diablo As a franchise right it's uh this this Really cool Summoner class that ends up Being really fundamental to gameplay you Can approach monsters in a totally Different way with all of your minions

Like getting in the way of projectiles Tanking monsters you've got this really Cool fantasy of being this sort of General of the dead but there are lots Of different ways that people have Played necromancers and the franchise Right you've got people who enjoyed Playing necromancers in Diablo 2 where They're kind of overseeing the Battlefield and their minions are are Doing all of the the combat you've got This is a more action-packed deck of Answer of Diablo 3 where you're like Really manip you're really sort of Commanding your minions more directly And you've got players as well who want To play this sort of dark Caster fantasy But aren't necessarily attached to the Army aspect of it even though that's the A big draw of The Necromancer and corpse Explosion is cool just in general Absolutely yeah and who doesn't want to Explode corpses right So when you look at the the class Mechanics we designed Book of the Dead To allow players to customize their Necromancer to speak to that class Fantasy so you can do things like Sacrifice your minions you can adjust Which ones like I really want to have a Golem but I don't want to have skeletons I want to have skeletons but not a God I'm gonna have the biggest army I can And there are trade-offs and interesting

Choices that can be made all through Them and it's interesting that it's like To me it's around adding depth without Trying to add too much complexity you Know you look at the Sorceress one where The enchantment system it's incredibly Powerful to have the ability for Different skills Fire based on what You're doing whether it's like you're Bringing down a blizzard every 10 Seconds or your certain lightning is Coming out of you or those sorts of Things but they're kind of in a way a Passive ability I don't have to trigger It it's triggering based on either a Condition or based on time and similar To The necromancers Book of the Dead is Allowing you to customize and configure Your army it's not adding complexity Necessarily to oh I have to worry about How I control differently and so it Makes things richer and more Customizable because now even if I'm a Fire sorceress and you're a fire Sorceress the fact that what we put into Our chance laws can make it very Different and how we play and how we Build on upon that and gives me gives us Access to like a couple more skills Which normally you'd be limited by your Skill bar and so that notion of that Each class has a way to go deeper into To the class fantasy and do it in a way

That doesn't mean like oh now I have six More buttons I have to press or whatever Like it keeps it deep and interesting And custom without overwhelming you The skill trees have evolved uh Dramatically over the course of Development I would say we're on number Four many iterations and a lot of it has Come you know one of our our strategies Here has been to like really share as Much as we can with the fans as often as We can so we've gone out with uh and Talked about like here's where our skill Trees are in our you know in very like Our blog updates and like when we go to Show show off the game Um and we've gotten lots of feedback Feedback like There are I want to have more choices or You know I want to have lots of other Options and so out of that have come Like a number of revisions to the skill Tree both for Um making it clear how you can progress Through it making it work for new Players and ways to increase the depth And that's where we get into the Paragon System you know which comes online as You get as you level up and get into the Higher levels and we've really tried to Hit that A sweet spot where we're providing all Of the opportunity for Choice While not overwhelming players who you

Know are looking at this big map of Skills and and you know asking where to Start right I love Theory crafting like I that's one of the things that draws me These types of games is how do I make a Build how do I set up skills how do I Make things work together and you want a Lot of depth there so that you have a Lot of choice so we're not just making The same build all the time like we're Both fire sourcers and we know exactly What skills we're using and so you want Enough Choice there that you can kind of Customize it make it feel unique to Yourself but not I don't there's games Where you would go into it you go like Oh that's way too complicated just go Look up a website tell me what I have to Put in I'm just I'll print you know the Old days and I'm old enough I used to Print it out and bring it to my thing And go like okay put a node here put a Node there you know and I was just Making somebody else's build because the The way you made a build was so Complicated I couldn't feel like I could Own the theory crafting and and that's I Think a line that we've been walking is Trying to make sure that you have lots Of choices both active and passive Skills that but is still sort of Rockable that you can go and Theory Craft yourself and you can still create Your own build and I think as a player

Like when I first came to the D4 skill Tree I really I felt that notion of that I talked about with the equation of that Progression of D2 is I really feel the D2 skill tree that notion I've inherited You know there's an inheritance there From skill to skill that you can take Certain skills that impact other skills And so you can kind of build on top of Them the way that you used to be able to Do in in D2 and so I think that's really That notion of that the richness of the Progression that was in D2 I feel that Richness in D4 You talked about skills connecting to Other skills and building off of them That's another area where we've gone Through a lot of iteration right to Make those connections clear because you Don't have this the connection where you Know a skill is literally below this Other skill and you must take one point In this and then that you saw in D2 but You have all of these sort of natural Connections between things like the Skill of causes bleeding and the skill Benefits from bleeding and so we've Built this skill tag system we've Authored this ability to search the Skill tags you can highlight nodes that Are related to that and so you can sort Of see how these things are Interconnected and sort of assists the Player and like oh there's some really

Cool interactions here to check out yeah Give me all the skills that have Bleeding in it or it would benefit Bleeding them and then you go oh okay I Didn't I didn't know that one was going To help it Foreign So you can respect point five point you Can directly in the skill tree for gold And that gold cost ramps up at some rate As you level up so as you under like More clearly Define your build and like Get more things that are that are Associated with it and supporting it it Becomes a little bit more expensive to Respect but still doable so those Choices have have meaning and at the Early part of the game it's very very Um uh inexpensive very small gold Casa If you feel like oh like I'm going to Try this skill like oh I didn't like That skill I'm gonna try this skill or Like oh that skill looks exciting let me Try this right and you can go back and Forth really freely and you can also do Uh full of respect uh at any point as Well so you know a lot of as you build Out the skill tree you have things that Unlock based on other nodes that you've Chosen so we spent some time making that As smooth as possible and that's where We ended up in the skill tree itself Like you're you know press one button Just to buy a skill and the other button

To refund that skill so you really are Just in that tree like adjusting where All your points are and you don't have To like jump out and and um go to some Other menu that's one of the things That's really different between D3 and D4 is like D3 once you get to a certain Place you the difference between one Build to another is like I gotta go Change my clothes you know because You're really focused on being set based Or very equipment based so that your Build is kind of defined by your Equipment more than anything else so You're like oh I want to change from Fire to ice let me go change my clothes Real quick right it's not necessarily a Bad thing it's a very clear way of doing It the kind of paper doll model but One of the goals the design goal is not To speak for Joe but like one of the Design goals is really to make the your Build feel inherent to your character And that's one of the things about the The gold cost going up over time is that Basically get you get there's going to Be a point in time where Um I'll make up a number but like say at Level 50. there's going to be a point in Time where you go like oh I'd like to be A different Barbarian But it's too expensive to undo Everything I've done it's actually Better for me to roll another Barbarian

And start a new one and go fresh and we Wanted that that notion that like with Each level you progress down a character You're kind of becoming more and more Attached to it and getting more and more Sort of settled with it so that you're Not just going okay I'm level 65 and now I'm just going to change my clothes and Become a completely different Barbarian You know so Cheap in the beginning so lots of Experimentation do I like fire do I like Ice do I like lightning yes no turn it Off and I also love the fact that you Can get skills through equipment that You can access the skills before maybe You would even be able to from a level Perspective and go oh I picked up this Skill on my sword or my boots and I'm Gonna go try it out and see if I like it Or not so I love that ability to go in And buy a skill and feel no regret and Paying for it to with with in-game gold To get rid of it but then wow I got you Know once you get up there you know You're level 90 you're going like uh I Think I'm just gonna you know I think I'm not going to try to undo spend a Million whatever it's going to be to Undo all these skills so I I love that Sort of sense of I don't know hardening Cement it's like over time you know There's a sense of permanence that Starts to happen the further deeper you

Go into that character Thank you

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