BlizzCon 2014 – Round-Up

BlizzCon 2014 – Round-Up

BlizzCon 2014 has come and gone, leaving behind a flurry of news and excitement! Whether you've followed along from home with the Virtual Ticket or sprinted between panels and game demos, it's possible you may have missed a detail or two from show. Not to worry, we're here to keep you informed with recaps, interviews, and news features.

In addition to our own panel recaps, we'll be compiling media and fan site coverage from BlizzCon 2014 right here for your convenience! Check back regularly throughout the week for updates as they become available. Find something we missed? Then let us know in the comments and we'll add it to the list!

Table of Contents:

Day 1: Diablo III — What's Next

The Reaper of Souls development team took the stage to share some insight on upcoming content, balance changes, and of course new loot headed your way in the near future!

Mischief Managed: New Treasure Goblins!

After expressing our utmost gratitude for your continued support throughout the launch of Reaper of Souls and the Ultimate Evil Edition, game director Josh Mosqueira introduced the newest members of the Treasure Goblin family.

The Blood Thief, the Odious Collector, and the Gem Hoarder are all variations of your typical Treasure Goblin. Each drops a different type of loot: Blood Shards, Crafting materials and recipes, and Gems respectively! These little guys will be arriving in Patch 2.1.2, and who knows? They might not be alone…

More to Explore: Nephalem Rifts Revisited

Next, senior game designer Jonny Ebbert touched on our design intent behind Nephalem Rifts, using randomization as a tool to create an experience that's infinitely replayable. We're revisiting several existing zones from Acts I and II and adding new map tiles to accomplish this goal.


These changes will apply to the Oasis, Spider Caves, and Leoric's Jail maps and will be implemented for both Nephalem and Greater Rifts in Patch 2.1.2. We’ll be doing the same for Stinging Winds, the Tristram Fields, and the Festering Woods in a future patch too!

Diamonds in the Rough: New Legendary Gems!

Legendary Gems are a big game changer. We really love how they allow you shift stat priorities and add build variation, but recognize that there are still some holes missing in the utility they can provide. We're developing two new Legendary gems for Patch 2.1.2 that are oriented around Defense and Healing to help fill those gaps.

Greater Rift Improvements

Greater Rifts are a recent addition, and we've learned a lot since adding them. There are a ton of changes coming in the next patch to address some of our (and your) biggest concerns. Expect balance changes to Pylons, monster distribution levels, Rift Guardian randomness, and the addition of a Resurrection at Corpse option for non-Hardcore players, complete with incrementing death timer.

All of these changes will be coming soon to the PTR!

New Item Tier: Ancient Items

Lead designer Kevin Martens introduced a brand new feature: Ancient Items. Ancient Items are an entirely new tier of Legendary item, juiced up and able to roll up to 30% higher stats. Every Legendary in the game has a chance to roll as an Ancient Legendary, and they can only be acquired in Torment I and above. The higher your Torment level, the greater your chance of finding an Ancient item!


Twisted Nature: Explore the Ruins of Sescheron

In addition to previewing Patch 2.1.2, we shared some concepts for content coming in a later patch. The Ruins of Sescheron will be a new Adventure Mode-only zone with new enemies, traps, and bounties for players to explore. 

This former Barbarian city is inspired by the opening cinematic of Diablo II: Lord of Destruction and you'll be able to roam these ruins in new bounties, Nephalem Rifts, and Greater Rifts. 

The enemies your heroes will find in the harsh lands of Sescheron embody the theme of "twisted nature." They tend to hunt in swarms and can pose quite a threat if not managed quickly. Check out the Naja Beetle, Glowing Death, and Frost Maggot below!

Not to be outdone, the Ruins of Sescheron will also feature the Rat King...a truly hideous creature accompanied by an equally hideous contingent of (you guessed it) rats. Glorious!

Season 2 Coming Soon:

In addition to these content reveals, senior technical game designer Wyatt Cheng also explained that Season 1 was a big learning experience, and we’ve got a lot of plans to improve on Season 2 as a result. From Conquests to new Legendaries and rewards, there was plenty to cover on Season 2 alone, so we’ve gone into greater detail over in our preview blog here.


Day 2: Evolving Reaper of Souls

For our second panel, game director Josh Mosquiera got us pumped to talk about items, introducing the philosophies we'd be covering in both the past and future of design for Diablo III. Before getting into the finer details, lead technical artist Julian Love introduced the crowd to our Legendary Workshop.

If you haven't heard about our latest community project and want to hear about the final power we decided on, head over to our Legendary Workshop announcement blog for more information!

Current Philosophy: Epic Heroes, Epic Loot

While our workshop continued on the side, Josh talked about how our current core designs behind items in Diablo III are epic heroes and the promise of epic loot. We accomplish this today through many smaller philosophy points:

  • Less is more.
    • Limit the amount of stuff found but make sure you care about the items acquired.
  • Legendary items should define builds.
    • Encourage build diversity.
    • Create interesting gearing choices. 
  • Rarity equals power.
    • The rarest items in the game should feel the most powerful.
    • Avoid muddling gear choices with an overlap in power range.

These values have gotten us a long way, and Josh, along with lead system designer Kevin Martens and game designer Travis Day, covered different parts of the journey of Diablo III.

We had a lot of good intentions with features like the original Inferno difficulty, the Elite "Out of Time" debuff, highly rewarding destructables, and the Auction House. Of course, as none of these things have remained in game, we know that they didn’t work out in the end.

So where did we go wrong?

Looking Back on Item Design

The original philosophies we had are quite different from the current iteration:

  • Long item reward tail.
    • We originally wanted the pursuit of end game loot to take a very long time.
  • The Quality Tier Overlap Fallacy.
    • The idea that a well-rolled Magic item could be better than a low-end Rare was intriguing, but caused too much confusion for gearing.
  • Randomness is king.
    • The concept was that an item with a less than perfect roll gave you something else to work toward.
    • In practice, it’s just frustrating.

After Diablo III launched, we patched in a lot of fixes to remove or improve features that weren't working. The Monster Power system preserved high difficulty levels while not making them impossible to achieve. Paragon levels were introduced to give players a consistent way to make progress regardless of the random number generator’s whims. Ubers and the Hellfire Machine event gave dedicated players long-term farming goals.


Challenging Assumptions: Console and the Auction House

While our PC team was hard at work, our console team was discovering this new platform was a great place to challenge assumptions. We found we could break the mold by introducing features that were otherwise seen as “not very Diablo,” such as tooltip comparisons. Through experimentation, we discovered our item philosophy is what needed work.


Console's experiments became what we called Loot 1.5. It laid the foundation for Loot 2.0, the complete revamp of itemization that came with the Reaper of Souls expansion. Less, better, and more epic were all key goals. Yet there remained one piece of the puzzle: the Auction House.

It didn't take long to realize that the Auction House discouraged players from acquiring their gear through simply playing the game. Acquiring your gear through menus wasn’t what Diablo was all about, but it was how it was being played. This was the driving force behind removing it, and we haven’t looked back.

Where We Go From Here

Where do we go from here? We've made some great sweeping changes, but there's always more room to learn and grow. We plan on continuing to create gameplay variety and to focus on the fantasy. This means making sure your Demon Hunter feels like vengeance incarnate and your Crusader is that war machine made human. From there, we can "balance to awesome" and make sure that the numbers behind those characters speak to those ideals.


Sneak Peek: New Items and Sets!

So let's get to what you're really here for...previews of the upcoming Legendary items and Sets we've been hard at work on!

Raiment of a Thousand Storms had some significant updates. These were made to not only maintain the fantasy of the Monk's fast and slippery nature, but to make sure the gameplay feels fun and engaging rather than a game of pinball.

We're revising a few existing Legendaries to fill in gaps and improve skills that may have fallen to the wayside due to more powerful gearing options. We’re also introducing entirely new pieces that fulfill a similar cause. Of course, we have plenty of new class sets coming up too!

While we’ve got several sets in the works, only a few are ready to share right now. We want to return to some of the long-requested gameplay styles that the community has been asking for and that we’ve been dying to revisit.


It’s been a great experience to reflect on not only what we’ve learned, but what we’ve accomplished. We’re eager to continue developing Diablo III and to keep bringing you an amazing game that you’ll love to return to throughout the years. 

Fansite & Media Coverage

Can't get enough news? Here's more we've collected from around the web!

Other Blogs & Panel Recaps

Interviews & Hands-On Reviews


Photos & Screenshots