Interview with Blizzard on Diablo 4: Rogue and how PvP works in the open world

During the BlizzConline conference, we learned a lot of new information about Blizzard projects. This is a huge interview on Diablo Immortal, a return to the 90s with the Blizzard Arcade Collection, and a new character-a hybrid Rogue for Diablo IV. Blizzard and Eurogamer talked about it and other aspects of the fourth part. AppTime edition offers a translation of this interview.

Why did you bring the Rogue back to Diablo IV?Luis Barriga (Development Manager): We decided that the Rogue would be a good addition to the Barbarian, Mage, and Druid. It combines the skills of two classes: archer and rogue, so it feels comfortable in ranged and melee combat. We also decided to add a similar class, because it was already in the first Diablo (archer). In the second Diablo, it was a great mercenary with a plot. At the same time, players are free to adjust the appearance of the Robber to their needs.

John Muller (art director): The basis for the Robber was the Horns from the first Diablo. Therefore, fans of the series know what to expect Only it will be a lawless bandit and thug in the dark and more realistic setting of Diablo IV.

Why did you decide to make the Diablo IV setting more grim?John Muller: If Diablo III took in a beautiful and hand-drawn style, then Diablo II was more realistic. Now we decided to find a middle ground between them. It is worth noting that we do not strive to create the most realistic graphics. It is more like a painting from the Middle Ages or the Renaissance. There is often a glimpse of the plot of angels, demons and people. That was the inspiration for us.

Luis Barriga: When Diablo came out, there were a lot of fantasy RPGs on the market. Our franchise was characterized by roughness, gloom, angels and demons instead of some elves. So we went back to the roots. In general, we tried to take the best of all the parts of Diablo and it so happened that the first two parts inspired fear on the players.

John Muller: This "picturesque gloom" makes you want to explore every corner of Sanctuary. It's very dark in the dungeons, and on the surface it feels like you're exploring a medieval world. Not without caves. Do not assume that players will wander in the dark: although in Diablo IV there is a great emphasis on the difference in colors, they are not too saturated. For an example, you can turn to the outstanding artists of Western Europe before the beginning of the XVIII century: they adhered to realism and came out very beautifully, artistically.

You haven't shown the open world in Diablo IV for a long time. What has changed in a year?Luis Barriga: Yes, there are changes. In 2019, we spoke with our superiors about our vision of an open world. We wanted players to meet there; they can trade or fight. Let's talk about PvP in the open world. There are zones in the game that Mephisto cursed long ago. They will tell NPCs about them, like: "Don't go there. My friend went and didn't come back." Since the game will be the daughter of the Lord of Hate, these zones will become active. Diablo II fans will understand the mechanics of enmity between players. Imagine: almost all over Sanctuary, you meet players and shake their hands. There are no laws of decency in such PvP zones. And even if you are not a particular fan of fights with real players, some tasks will have to be done there. You can cooperate with a friend, but the voice of Hatred will whisper in your ear: "He took a lot of loot, we must punish him." We love to have fun with this mechanic on the test servers.

John Muller: I don't particularly like fighting players, but PvP merchants give delicious rewards. So I go to these zones and fight the bosses, but I can't let go of the thought: "What if a player comes right up and kills me?"

Luis Barriga: In Diablo IV, you can repent of killing other players. This is done in the city in front of the priest. He will release the sins and then the "hostile flag"will be removed from your character. But if you're just waiting to attack an unsuspecting traveler, then we've added a cool "Vessel of Hate" mechanic. The bottom line is this: if you kill a lot of players and do not repent of what you did, then you will be marked on the map. Your victims will have two options: bypass you or form a militia and go against you.

John Muller: Yes, such a player will have a lot of shards for killing in PvP!

Luis Barriga: Exactly. If you farm the monsters for a while, the player can collect 100 or 200 shards. And if he has an overflowing "Vessel of Hatred", then the number of fragments can reach several thousand. Such a player becomes an indispensable target for others.

How does the Rogue manifest herself in PvP?John Muller: It is ideal for such areas. The Shadow Realm specialization will help her attack her prey.

Luis Barriga: I want to note that if you are not interested in PvP at all, then no one forces you to participate in it. You don't have to fight with others to reach the final boss. In general, in the open world of Diablo IV, there are other elements that are more suitable for PvE fans. One of them is the camps. You see, the actions of the fourth part take place after Diablo III. Because of this, many churches, lighthouses and fortresses are deserted; ghosts and demons live there. Each such location has its own backstory. If you explore the world and kill all the monsters there, you can create a friendly camp. Merchants, questgivers, and other NPCs will flock there to point out the entrance to the new dungeon. There you can meet other players who came for the sake of the dealer of unique items.

I think it was similar in World of Warcraft. Have you been inspired by any MMO's?Luis Barriga: A lot of MMO's grew out of Diablo II. Show me any similar game and I'll tell you what the developers took from the second Diablo. Some ideas have moved on to World of Warcraft. We also borrowed some ideas for Diablo IV, but let's be honest: in a post-apocalyptic setting, it's strange to see huge crowds of players fighting for the spawn point of rare mobs; or if there are so many more gamers than NPCs that the questgivers think, "I need to choose 10 out of 20 heroes for my task."

Therefore, our task is to let the player know that he is alone. Perhaps before entering the dungeon, he will see two heroes. At such a moment, you will want to run up to them, ask for advice or directions. That is, meeting with other players is a thin ray of light in the dark world of demons. If you go to the dungeon with a group, then there will be no one else there; you have to rely on your strength.

John Muller: Yes, meetings with players in Diablo IV should be rare, otherwise you will be robbed of loot. Every time you meet a gamer, you have to ask yourself, "Who is this? What is he doing here?" Perhaps you can group with him and complete one quest. The same can not be said about the world events, where you have to fight with huge monsters. At such moments, you see players with different fighting styles, leveling and equipment.

What is the maximum number of players in the world events?Luis Barriga: Look, there can be a maximum of four people in a group. For world events, there is no exact figure. If players want to invite someone to fight a huge demon, they can do it. Often 12 heroes are enough, but the numbers may vary from group to group.

How does the complexity of the world events adjust to different players?Luis Barriga: For balance, we use math. For example, if the player is still weak and he is not in the group, then the world boss will not be able to kill; in this case, the system does not adapt to the player. But if there are eight or ten people in a group, then the system works and the difficulty of the boss is adjusted to this group.

It is worth noting that although such tests are difficult, they do not need as much tactics as in MMO raids. We just want to make it clear that one player is not enough for this. Even the camera moves away. Of course, you need to avoid boss attacks, but there will be no situations like: "Okay, our group died for the 12th time. Let's try again."

The plot in Diablo IV is non-linear, players can perform acts in any order. How did you do it?Luis Barriga: Every act has a beginning and an end. Fans of large RPGs will understand such an open world. Some zones can be executed in any order. But in the end, the puzzle comes together and everything falls into place. This means that the player has come to the end of the act.

John Muller: In practice, the gameplay looks like this: you do a few additional tasks, a little plot, and then go to do something else altogether. The player constantly rotates in this open world, such is its nature. I think this scheme is quite fresh: you are not tied to the zones and you do not need to perform a boring storyline.

In Diablo III, damage is estimated in the billions. Will you fix the situation in Diablo IV?Luis Barriga: At the start of the third Diablo, there were no such numbers. In Diablo IV, players should be able to feel their character leveling up, but we'll keep the damage numbers under control. We try to avoid artificially reducing the damage two months after the release. Our task is to make pumping from the first to the maximum level noticeable, but so that the damage does not fly into the stratosphere. One of the strategies: nerf the actual items before the start of the new season. Anyway, this is Diablo, but let's hope that immediately after the release we will not face this problem.

Each location has unique monsters and they even cooperate. What does this look like in practice?Luis Barriga: In the Diablo series, players encountered shamans. They are not a threat in themselves, but if one of the monsters died, they will want to resurrect it. Also, some monsters can only be found in certain locations. For example, drowned people are unlikely to be found in the desert. But there are a lot of them in the coastal zone. It turns out that individual monsters begin to be associated with a specific territory.

John Mueller: If I've been given a contract to kill drowned people and I've been playing Diablo IV for days, it's easy to find them even without a map. Initially, everything seems so strange and new, but over time, locations with monsters remain in the memory. That is, if demons occupy a certain zone, it is done for a reason.