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Blizzard Entertainment was on hand at Gamescom 2011 in Cologne, Germany, to give gamers hands-on time with the much-anticipated online fantasy role-playing game. Diablo III lead designer Josh Mosqueira was also there to unveil new details about the game, which is expected to be released early next year.
Think you’re really good at Diablo? Blizzard is ramping up the difficulty of the new game. In addition to Normal, Nightmare and Hell difficulty levels, the game will feature a new difficulty mode, Inferno, that’s designed for players who want a real challenge. In order to graduate to this level, gamers will need to complete Hell and reach level 60.
The advantage is that greater rewards will be waiting for anyone who makes it through Inferno. But there will also be far greater challenges: Every monster will start at level 61 in Inferno mode, which means they’ll do more damage and become more difficult to kill. All of their attributes will be powered up to make the gameplay experience completely unique.
Once players progress beyond the game’s basic difficulty setting, each difficulty level in Diablo III will offer new armor and weapons. Blizzard is taking a page from World of Warcraft’s armor tier sets with Diablo III, offering players upgrades for both a new visual look as well as enhanced offensive and defensive gameplay capabilities.
Mosqueira also talked about the new skills system in Diablo III. Skill points have been removed from the game in favor of new customization options. There are more than 20 skills per class, and players can utilize up to seven of those skills at any one time in the game. Extensive character customization was one of the primary goals for the new game. In addition to skills, gamers will be able to use charms, traits, enhancements, gems, armor and weapons to further enhance their characters. And as the players progress and level up, skills will become more powerful.
Blizzard is also opening things up in the new game’s auction houses. For the first time, Diablo III will allow gamers to buy and sell virtual items within the game world. If they want to take things a step further, gamers will also be able to create characters, as well as find items and then sell them for real money.
“With Diablo III, we’re introducing a powerful auction house system that will provide a safe, fun and easy-to-use way for players to buy and sell the loot they find in the game, such as weapons, armor and runestones,” says Mosqueira. “Two different versions of the auction house will be available: one based on in-game gold, which players acquire through their adventures, and one based on real-world currency.”
The real-world currency method will work through a financial institution with which Blizzard will work to turn those virtual goods into real cash. Real money can also be used to buy virtual goods, but that’s been the norm for online games for quite some time. It’s the in-game eBay that Blizzard will host and take a flat fee from for each transaction, but which players will ultimately run, that brings something new to the online gaming space. Blizzard will not set price limits on items; the auction houses will allow gamers to dictate pricing. That means if someone really wants that new sword, they can pay anything they want to ensure that they get it.
Diablo III is shaping up to be the epic game experience for which players have been waiting a decade. The game looked amazing running on the high-end PCs on the Gamescom convention floor. Fans will soon be able to return to the world of Sanctuary, complete with up to eight-player multiplayer support.
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