Blizzard is still messing around with core systems in Diablo 3, saying that "no one will remember if it's late, only if it's great."
Diablo 3 has been in the works since just about forever and with the recent green light from South Korea's Game Rating Board, effectively clearing the game for simultaneous international release, we should be seeing it on store shelves any day now, right? Wrong. In a status update posted today, Blizzard's Jay Wilson said the studio is still "continuing to iterate on some of the core game systems."
"We're changing some of the systems we've gotten the most feedback on both internally and from the beta test, including crafting, items, core attributes, and inventory," he explained. "In addition we're working on major changes to the skill and rune systems that we're not ready to talk about, but I promise you we can't possibly ship without a finished skill and rune system."
Among the changes are the elimination of identification scrolls, a fixture of the first two games. In Diablo 3, however, players will be their very own Deckard Cain, with the ability to identify new items entirely on their own. "You'll simply right click it, a short cast timer will occur as your character examines the item, and it will become identified," Wilson said. "We love the double-discovery of finding a present and then unwrapping it, but we don't think it requires a physical item you have to find and keep in your bags to get the same effect."
The fifth quick-slot button is being relocated and made into a dedicated potion button, which will help keep players aware of their potion situation, and the Mystic artisan is being removed because she wasn't adding anything of value to the customization system. The Cauldron of Jordan and the Nephalem Cube have also been cut, while the Stone of Recall, which was originally intended to take the place of the old Town Portal, has been renamed to - you guessed it - Town Portal and is now directly integrated into the skill bar.
Character attributes are being changed to Strength, Dexterity, Intellect and Vitality, which is pretty huge business, while the Attack, Defense and Precision attributes are being dropped. Armor will take the place of Defense, +Physical Resist will take the place of Armor and +Chance to Crit will substitute for Precision. The inventory interface has also been "streamlined."
"There's a lot of work left to be done," Wilson continued. "We're also working on a number of other large systems changes -- specifically with the skill and rune systems. We're not quite ready to share what those are just yet, but we look forward to being able to do so in the near future."
The upside to this obsessive attention to detail is that Blizzard games are almost invariably excellent. Seriously, when was the last time a Blizzard game sucked? But the downside, in this case, is disappointment for anyone expecting a relatively near-future launch, or even just a release date, following the South Korean rating. Sounds to me like Diablo 3 is going to be in the shop for a good while yet.