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Dev Interview: Necromancer & Diablo I Anniversary Event

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We've interviewed Wyatt Cheng, Senior Technical Designer and Rob Foote, Senior Game Producer of Diablo and asked questions about the Necromancer and the Diablo I anniversary event.

Will Necromancer be gated by payment or F2P?

The Rise of the Necromancer pack will be payed. You will get two stash tabs, two character slots and cool cosmetics.

Witch Doctor is really similar to the Necromancer, will there be a WD rework to make them different from the Necromancer or will they be left as is?

The way how WD was designed leaves a lot of space for the Necromancer. While the Witch Doctor has a jungly vibe, tribal tones, creepy crawlies with snakes and spiders and bats, the Necromancer is going to be focused on the skeletons, he is a field commander of the dead and the introduction of a golem. We're stressing the themes of blood which are unique to the Necromancer.

One of the skills Command Skeleton helps to emphasize being the "Commander of Dead". A Rift Guardian Spawns, you click a button to command your skeletons to attack and they converge on that single target and you feel like you're your skeleton minions what to do.

So the Necromancer focuses on order whereas the WD is more wild and stuff running around?

They throw spiders and the spiders run in different directions

Are there any plans to revisit other classes from Diablo II and bring them to Diablo III in the future or this is a one time thing?

I don't have any announcements at this time, but the amount of work we put into the Necromancer is substantial. The last class we did was the Crusader, which was part of the expansion. Often when we're brainstorming new ideas, the entire team will work together to throw out ideas and once the Necromancer got tossed out as an idea it was a near unanimous agreement, like yes we should chase it. We thought, the class is one of the most ambitious thing you can take on in Diablo III. There's over 20 skills.

There are so many things that go into making a class, if you think about a Diablo class it's not just "six skills and you're done". It's over 20 skills we have to design, 5 runes for every single skill, every class has at least 16 passives and that's just the beginning. After that we'll have to come up with legendaries that help us to break the skills and allow new combinations or augment what's already there. Then we design sets. 

When the Rise of the Necromancer goes live, the Necromancer won't have all four sets. None of the classes started with four sets. One of the reasons is classes take on a life of their own after they are released. We want to design the third and fourth sets in conjunction with the community, hearing what people would like to see. There's a lot to class design and on top of all to that we're adding full voice recording and voice acting in all regions and languages for story mode as well.

Will there be any new changes to sets of the current classes or will the patch be more focused on the Necromancer?

We've been working a lot on existing class sets and I don't think there are any super major reworks, but we'd like to revisit some of the play styles for some sets, by adding a complementary legendary for example adding a little something to the Zunimasa WD set. I can also say that for the Crusader, we'd like to have a look at Armor of Akkhan and we posted a blog about that last week. So, I don't think we are looking at something as big as the Necromancers. Nothing major is planned.

Switching between sets is challenging and what's happening in 2017 is we're introducing the Armory (an in-game equipment manager) that will allow to save a build and with the push of a button you'll be able to swap back and forth between two sets and not just items. It's going to change your skills, gems, passives, Kanai's Cube powers a really quality of life improvement and you will be able to save 5 loadouts per character.

D3_EquipmentManagerArmory_TF_00.pngD3_EquipmentManagerArmory_TF_02.png

Does "Rise of the Necromancer" pose a new a model that you feel Diablo should move towards?

We have no announcements to make about future content. The team has been working so hard on the Necromancer as well as the anniversary event patch and two new zones are coming as well. The two new zones aren't part of the Rise of the Necromancer pack. Everyone will get them for free. We've got the Shrouded More and the Temple of the Firstborne and for people who decided they don't want the Necromancer pack, you still get the content.

2017 is a big year for Diablo. It's the 20th anniversary for Diablo on December 31 and that kind of helped us making this anniversary patch. Frank talked about it in the opening ceremony (retrovision). We're really putting a real visual filter on the game, when you enter this area and you will be able to fight through 16 levels and basically it will feel very similar to the Diablo I experience, you'll fight original bosses. Diablo obviously at the end and it's going to PTR next week.

Will it have scalable difficulty?

It pulls in the difficulty of the game. We had to draw a line of like how much of it is Diablo I and how much it is Diablo III. At the end of the day, it's a recreation in the D3 engine and one of the thing that we felt was important was that you're using your character. It feels like they were transported to a Diablo I world so we adopted the difficulties system of Diablo III and of course, items are Diablo III as well, the dungeons, monsters, music, sound effects those are all a tribute to Diablo I.

Other subtle things that make you feel nostalgic is your character will snap as you move.

When designing the Necromancer, are you looking to maintain the feel of the Necromancer, especially in his sets and legendaries?  Are you sticking to the "core of the Necromancer" or are you reinventing him for Diablo III?

I would say it's a little bit of both. We're not looking to recreate the Necromancer one-for-one, but reimagine what the Necro would be like if it were properly in Diablo III. While we are bringing forth a few skills like Corpse Explosion and Bone Spear, we're also adding new ones like Blood Rush, which is a mobility skill that allows you to teleport (similar to Wizard), you shed your skin and your blood travels through the air and reconstitutes at your destination. When we look at the Necromancer, it's not Xul from Heroes of the Storm or the same Necromancer from Diablo Ii, but they are the Priests of Rathma.

What's the story behind the new zones? Are they tied to the D3 story or aren't they going to push the story forwards?

The Shrouded More is an outdoor zone and it's not part of the campaign, but there are elements of a story. It's part of the world like Ruins of Sescheron. they are not like a giant campaign around it, but it'll be available. The Shrouded More leads to Temple of the Firstborne and lorewise, the Temple is one of the oldest area in the Sanctuary, but there's not more I'd like to reveal about that today.

With the Diablo I remake are there going to be aspects of the game brought in like negative effect (shrines)?

A lot of the Diablo I recreation is focused on the mood, visuals, music, the gameplay under the hood is D3 gameplay, you'll be using your D3 skills and you'll be using D3 items. We'll have a few transmogs that are anniversary celebratory as well as items, like a Goldly Plate of the Whale.

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For participating in the entire event there's a new Legendary gem reward which sockets in your Head slot. It will be Diablo III's first Legendary head gem.

Will it be similar to Gem of Ease? 

It's not supposed to be an end-game greater rift pushing gem. It's more thematic, it's the soulstone that in Diablo I Aidan crushed into his head. So the idea of this tribute dungeon is that you can take this gem and so it builds up energy and periodically releases it and has a level up effect. When you level up or Paragon level up, it augments what's going to happen (aside from the usual breaking up cosmetics), but it's really fun (it won't be used for GR pushing).

The event will happen during January and recurring in future every January as part of the celebration.

Do boss mechanics stick more to Diablo I boss mechanics?

It's not 100% Diablo I and it's not 100% Diablo III. It's just a recreation in the D3 engine. We tried to match the spirit of what the Butcher fight was like in Diablo I. And the visuals are different for the boss.

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Are there any plans to add more cow-themed gear?

There's no cow level.

Are there any other plans to focus on Diablo II in future years?

I think the reason why we picked Diablo I as the anniversary it's because it started it all. It started as a quick-to-design anniversary, but the team grew more passionate about it.

The legendary gems and Kanai's Cube are game-changing effect, will you be adding something similar in the future?

Nothing specific comes to mind. We have a lots of features, the two new zones, the Necromancer the anniversary event.

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