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[ Welcome to our Blizzcon 2013 coverage, sponsored by Megarom Games. You can see all the coverage in one place by clicking here. ]

We sit in on the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls panel, which provides a detailed look at what’s coming in this Diablo III expansion, including details on the environments, monsters, game modes, features and more.

The panel includes: Zaven Haroutunian, Level Designer – Tim Linn, Lead Interior Environment Artist – Julian Love, Lead Technical Artist – Kevin Martens, Lead Designer – Jesse McCree, Senior Level Designer – Josh Mosqueira, Game Director – Joe Shely, Senior Game Designer – Stephen Wong, Senior Gameplay Programmer

Reaper of Souls is all about “larger than life heroes” facing off against the Angel of Death. And an “Endgame for Everyone”. The team wants to add many options to how you play Diablo III.

ADVENTURE MODE

chrome 2013-11-08 18-40-20-44Kevin Martens talks about Adventure Mode, which aims to solve the issue of replaying the campaign over four times just to reach 60. The motto is “go anywhere slay anything”. Adventure Mode is a brand new game mode that lets you play when you want, and doesn’t require you to go through linearly. It’s a great place to level up your character. You can go to any Act, and any waypoint within that act. It helps showcase all the content on offer in Diablo III.

This mode is focused around Bounties, and Nephalim Rifts.

Bounties

Bounties are random quests that are given to you at the start of the game, they take place in all five acts, and take advantage of all the content in the original D3 and the expansion. All the bosses, events, side-dungeons. At the start of an Adventure Mode game, you get 25 bounties. Each grants you a reward, and they come in different types.

For example, Kill A Boss. This is a straightforward one: go to a specific location, and kill a specific boss. Another type of Bounty is Complete An Event. This involves going to a location and doing a very specific event, that used to be one of the events that had a random chance of appearing during a regular playthrough. Kill A Unique requires you to go kill a special named monster out in the world. The last type of Bounty is Clear A Dungeon, D3’s version of “Den of Evil”. You enter a specific dungeon, and clear it out. This will take you to a lot of side-dungeons off the beaten path.

Some of the rewards for Bounties, gold and experience aside, are great items and things like Rift Keystones. These open the new Nephalim Rifts.

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Nephalim Rifts

The Rifts put monsters and tilesets, random weather and lightning, together in new combinations not seen before. They break all the rules, and create unique, randomly generated dungeons. Monster density can get crazy, different on every floor, and the layouts are new. There will be one to ten level layouts, and each transition can be a different dungeon tileset. One level might be a big exterior zone, the next one down the Crypt, etc. Because these are self-contained dungeons, they may give you self-contained buffs, like AoE lightning that one-shot enemies.

Every Nephalim Rift has a boss, spawned in the dungeon with you, so you have to deal with the regular monsters in addition to the boss. These are newly designed bosses that use existing visuals.

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NEW MONSTERS

The new Act brings with it lots of of new monsters, designed to match their environment. Westmarch has many new threats, like Maidens that cut off the heads of nearby enemies, and Punishers that pummel you. Another new monster is the Boggit, which act much like the Fallen from Act 1. The Boggit is usually accompanied by the Boggin Trapper, and the Boggin Brute. These three interact with each other, creating unique tactical situations. The Trappers try to slow you, while the Brutes throw the smaller Boggits at you.

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Another new monster is the Scarab, tiny little creatures that you can walk through but they start adding up very quickly, until there are hundreds around you. These use new technology that allows lots of monsters with less lag. In a game like Diablo, “monsters live to die”. So when Blizzard focuses on what they need to do, they have to be behaviors that are memorable, understandable, and sometimes make you feel a little differently about that monster. The AI for monsters is being adjusted as well. Before, Archers would turn around and walk away from you when they wanted to put distance between you and them. With the expansion, they can back up without changing direction, focusing on you, respecting you as a threat more.

The new Terror Bat can pick up Boggits, give them a bite, and transform then into Brutes, which then summon more Boggits, which get turned into more Brutes by Terror Bats… this creates a vicious circle that makes things get out of hand really fast. In truth, so far this sounds like Blizzard is respecting Diablo players again, giving them real issues to deal with in the heat of battle.

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Another new monster is the Realm Walker that has a portal on his back. He spawns monsters from his back, through the portal. If you kill him, you can enter the portal on his back and go to the realm those monsters came from. Another new monster is the Trapper Tower, a structure that has a bunch of Boggit Trappers in it throwing things at you. When you destroy the tower, the Boggits are killed by their own traps.

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The Westmarch Hound is amusing, a giant bulldog looking creature that chomps you up and chews on you, leaving you covered in slobber. If it kills you, it actually lifts its leg and pees on your dead body.

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PANDEMONIUM

This is a new zone. It’s the eternal battlefield where angels and demons have battled for all eternity. It’s beyond human understanding, inhabited by unbelievable creatures. Pandemonium is the end zone, the final place you reach and if you fail there, it’s the end of humanity. It’s Malthael’s lair, who seems unstoppable as the Angel of Death.

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FULLY RANDOMIZED EXTERIORS

One of the disappointments of Diablo III was the lack of truly randomized environments. The Act 1 through 3 maps were mostly pre-built, with some random slots that could be swapped out. Pandemonium will be fully randomized, as shown in these images below:

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 RANDOM SCREENSHOTS

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