Hello everybody, I know this is a few days post BlizzCon, but its the thought that counts, right? Anyways, the Warlords of Draenor demo from BlizzCon has been covered elsewhere; so this won’t be quite like the other descriptions of it. Instead I’ll be focusing on some neat tidbits I found, as well as some potential theories to the expansion’s plotline. Take the jump downwards to find out more!
I arrived to the New York Comic Con in Manhattan about 10:45am before the scheduled book signing at the Insight Editions booth (#1564). The place was packed with thousands of fans and I wasn’t even inside the Javits Center yet. I bypassed most of the horde of people outside the building by walking along the street to the farthest entry point (which is closer to the Exhibition Hall). Still took me about 15 minutes to get inside just to enter into yet another traffic jam of people walking the aisles. Not so easy with a Rollator Walker.
Insight Editions Booth # 1564
I got to meet Joseph Lacroix (DC Comics Diablo: Sword of Justice artist) and Doug Alexander (Senior Art Editor in Creative Development at Blizzard Entertainment) at the Insight Editions booth and both signed my copy of Diablo III: Book of Tyrael. I was delighted. It was so cool when I wrote Blizzplanet.com on the book and showed it to Joseph. He went like: “Ohh! Blizzplanet!” He explained Doug about the fansite.
I informed him that Arthur “Handclaw” Lorenz recently interviewed him at GamesCom 2013 on behalf of Blizzplanet, and he remembered him. It was awesome to meet these guys and handshake.
Insight Editions marketing director Mark Anderson and sales & marketing manager Chris Parnell will ship a few Blizzard licensed products to me in upcoming days to giveaway here at Blizzplanet. So keep an eye for these announcements on the front page and the Blizzplanet social networks. It might be a few Diablo III: Book of Tyrael and/or the World of Warcraft® Alliance Hardcover Ruled Journal and World of Warcraft Horde Journal.
Simon & Schuster, Inc. Booth # 1828
The Simon & Schuster booth had Blizzard lead publishing and New York Times best selling author Micky Neilson as a guest to sign books for Blizzard Entertainment fans. Simon & Schuster gave away 50 copies of World of Warcraft: Vol’jin: Shadows of the Horde and 50 copies of Diablo III: The Order for free to those who came to the book signing event.
There was a long line of fans waiting to get their books signed. The line went all around the corner.
I talked briefly with Micky Neilson at the end of the book signing. I asked him whether someone would step forward to take the role of the avatar of Justice now that Tyrael answered the call of the Crystal Arch to take the mantle of Wisdom.
Whoa? Tyrael “answered the call”? Yea — read the Diablo III: Book of Tyrael. That wasn’t something specified in-game.
Whether someone would answer the call to fill the shoes of the avatar of Justice in the future or not is unknown. It is something that has been discussed internally, but they haven’t yet come to a decision. I argued there is still Justice to be met with Adria betraying Tyrael, Leah and all of mankind. Of course, what Malthael is orchestrating demands justice too.
On another note, there is a Diablo short story or novella in progress to be released somewhere around 2014. It is based on a character mentioned in the “Figures of Interest” section of Diablo III: Book of Tyrael.
The character is named Morbed (a former thief) who roams the lands of Sanctuary helping adventurers. The description in the book is open to interpretation. Maybe players might find him in the Reaper of Souls expansion. Don’t take my word on that.
The video below shows the book signing by Micky Neilson — HD1080 available. Let the playlist run to load both videos. The sound is a bit chaotic. I cleaned a bit of it, but you can still hear it. There was a nearby booth with really amped-up music in the background on top of the thousands of people talking in the distance.
Blizzard Entertainment won’t have a Publishing Panel this year, but there’s still a significant presence at the New York Comic Con.
Thursday, October 10
There will be a giveaway of 50 copies of Starcraft II: Flashpoint by Christie Golden and 150 World of Warcraft bookmarks at the Simon & Schuster booth #1828
Saturday, October 12
Insight Editions — Saturday 11:00am at booth 1564 — Micky Neilson, Doug A. Gregory and Joseph Lacroix will sign copies of Diablo III: Book of Tyrael.
Simon & Schuster — Micky Neilson & Michael Stackpole are signing copies of World of Warcraft: Vol’jin: Shadows of the Horde. Nate Kenyon will sign Diablo III: The Order. The book signing will happen at booth #1828 at 12:30pm — 50 copies of each will be given away for FREE.
Take a look at the Floor Plan I edited to mark the booths.
Insight Editions announced Micky Neilson, Joseph Lacroix and Doug Gregory will sign copies of Diablo III: Book of Tyrael at the New York Comic Con this upcoming October 12th. Visit Insight Editions at Booth 1564. I’ll be there to share photos and video with our visitors.
Insight Editions: We’re very excited to announce that Diablo III: Book of Tyrael (Pub. Date: October 29) will be signed at NYCC on Saturday, October 12th at 11:00 a.m. in our booth! Join Doug A. Gregory from art direction, illustrator Joseph Lacroix, and Blizzard lead story developer Micky Neilson.
One of the most exciting and visceral action role-playing games in recent memory, Diablo® has become a worldwide gaming phenomenon. Diablo III: Book of Tyrael takes fans even further into the universe with a detailed and beautifully crafted artifact that focuses on the renowned champion Tyrael.
As a former archangel of the High Heavens, he ranks among the most important and influential characters in the Diablo franchise. Here, in this illustrated and comprehensive tome, he reveals never-before-known secrets about the history of the world, the dark threats that yet face mankind, and his decision to join the ranks of humanity as a mortal.
Featuring stunning original art throughout, this beautifully illustrated follow-up to Diablo III: Book of Cain will also feature letters from Leah and additional fragments of Cain’s writings, all curated by Tyrael as he weaves together a complex and fascinating story for the members of the Horadrim.
Diablo III: Book of Tyrael also features a fully removable illustration of the Leoric family and other influential characters from Old Tristram, including Deckard Cain, Prince Albrecht, Archbishop Lazarus, King Leoric, Prince Aidan, Queen Asylla, Leah, and Adria. This reversible image demonstrates their normal appearances on one side, along with a representation of their dark fates on the other.
During his attendance to GamesCom 2013 representing Blizzplanet, Handclaw interviewed french artist Joseph Lacroix to ask questions about the DC Comics Diablo: Sword of Justice and the upcoming Diablo III: Book of Tyrael.
Diablo: Sword of Justice is a story about Jacob of Staalbreak a child that became the avatar of Justice in Sanctuary when he donned Tyrael’s sword. At least three characters from this graphic novel are confirmed to reappear in the upcoming Diablo III: Storm of Light by Nate Kenyon.
Danny Perschonok attended the Blizzard panel held at Wyrd Con 2013 in Costa Mesa, CA to record video for our StarCraft II fans. The panel was held by Micky Neilson (Lead Publishing) and Cameron Dayton (former Transmedia Specialist and Senior Story Developer) to discuss the conceptualization, development and logistics behind Project Blackstone.
Project Blackstone: The Great Transmedia Experiment Panel
The ambitious goal of Project Blackstone was to weave a narrative across multiple media, draw traffic to the StarCraft website, raise awareness of StarCraft short stories, and build hype for Blizzard Entertainment’s StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm video game. The experiment was a success on many fronts, and Project Blackstone: the Great Transmedia Experiment will be an opportunity for the creators of Project Blackstone to share their insights, war stories, and opinions on what transmedia really means, and where it’s headed in the future.
The Panelists included the following Blizzard Entertainment story developers:
- Micky Neilson (Publishing Lead, Blizzard Entertainment)
- Matt Burns (Associate Story Developer, Blizzard Entertainment)
- Robert Brooks (Story Developer)
- Justin Parker (Historian, Blizzard Entertainment)
- Cynthia Hall (Creative Development, Blizzard Entertainment)
- Cameron Dayton (Creative Director, E-Line Media)
Note: The 1-hour panel playlist will auto-play. Let all four videos load. 1080HD available.
About Wyrd Con:
Wyrd Con is a live event in Southern California, running from September 12 through September 15, 2013. This unique gathering of storytellers presents an opportunity to participate in Live Action Role Playing, delving into the wild ride of Augmented Reality Gaming, and learning about the cross-platform realm of transmedia.
Since 2010, Wyrd Con has proven to be a fun and educational gathering. This unique convention is now at a point where the initial vision can be realized with your support. The realm of interactive storytelling is a powerful way to expand the knowledge of the day-to-day world and the understanding that our world view is only limited by our imagination.
Wyrd Con has brought together three communities that usually exist independently of each other. Not unlike the three witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Wyrd Con calls in the Three Powers of Interactive Storytelling: Live Action Role Playing (LARP); Augmented Reality Gaming (ARG) and Transmedia. With a few magic words spoken, we watch as it boils and bubbles into an experience that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Wyrd Con is four days and three nights of total immersion into the depths of your imagination. Take on your greatest fantasies, experience different social roles, learn to be a powerful leader, and realize what it means to follow your heart. How you choose to mix these together is your decision, and that is the power of Wyrd Con.
GamesCom 2013 interview – Josh Mosqueira talks about Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, Return of Pandemonium Fortress & Necromancers
Blizzard Entertainment scheduled Blizzplanet, Millenium.org, InDiablo and GamersOrigin to sit together with Josh Mosqueira to interview him about Diablo III: Reaper of Souls.
- The Crusader was originally going to be a Darker Paladin, but later the class took a life of its own into something different.
- Bloodmarch is an area outside Westmarch where the Black Soulstone was meant to be buried.
- The Pandemonium Fortress — where the Worldstone had rested for milennia — will be revisited in this expansion.
- The Necromancers are not too happy with Malthael the Archangel of
WisdomDeath upsetting the balance by raising the dead.
- No new Follower/Companion, but they have extra lore background, new features, and side-quests.
- The developers see how well the Hellfire Ring (obtained through the Infernal machine event) has been received by the players, and they are currently experimenting with account-bound items to extend that experience.
BlizzCon New Class Speculation
The developers didn’t want to spoil too much about the Necromancers topic (asked by Handclaw); but it is obvious there is more than meet the eye. One of the developers mentioned the Necromancers are all about balance, and what Malthael is doing at Westmarch definitely affects the balance.
In an MTV interview with Jay Wilson a few years ago (August 5, 2008), he mentioned the Necromancer:
Wilson: I wouldn’t be opposed to looking at old classes. We are trying to design [the Witch Doctor] class so that if we did bring back the Necromancer, there’s room for him. We’re looking out ahead of time at what our expansions are going to be, so we’ve got to keep room open for some of those other classes down the road.”
It might be possible to see Necromancer NPC or a Necromancer class. The Crusader might or not be the only class for this expansion. They just want to keep some big surprises for BlizzCon. Another possibility is that the ripples of damage upon the balance wrought by Malthael might be like a kick on the wasp’s nest for the Necromancer. Maybe the second expansion will place the Necromancers in a bigger role than before considering the Diablo: The Sin War and Diablo: Kingdom of Shadow Lore.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we could see Zayl the Necromancer and Kara Nightshadow (Diablo: Legacy of Blood) — both from Richard A. Knaak’s novels. Note: Legacy of Blood and Kingdom of Shadow are reprinted in the Diablo Archive (752 pages).
UPDATE: A fan linked to this article, and got a blue response:
Vaeflare: If you’re keen to see what the Necromancer has been up to since the events of Diablo III, you’ll be pleased to know that you’ll have the opportunity to meet up with him once more in Reaper of Souls!
Also as Josh Mosqueira stated the interview with King Konger and elsewhere, we do not currently have any plans to add another class to the expansion. We feel the Crusader class is a truly epic, and fitting addition to Reaper of Souls, and we’re excited to share more about it with you in the months ahead. — source
Grimiku: Vaeflare confirmed it earlier, but there is no harm in saying again. You’ll get a chance to meet a familiar necromancer npc, but the only additional playable class in Reaper of Souls is the Crusader. We’ll have more information to share about the Crusader in the coming months, but this armored, battle-worn, veteran will be a mighty addition to hero roster of Diablo III. — source
GamesCom 2013 Interview
In this GamesCom 2013 interview, the developers also talk about Nephalem Runs and Loot 2.0. Bare with us — GamesCom is the biggest gaming convention in the world. The recording is noisy. You might need to adjust the sound volume.
Why the Crusader, and where did the inspiration for the Crusader come from?
For a few reasons. We had an idea of having a sort of very heavy armored character, so we explored that for a while and we thought of the angle of make it a sort of a dark paladin sort of class and that idea took a life of its own and we went very far with it, and it became something really different at this point. So, way we describe it is a warmachine-made man, what if a modern armored division tank was an evil warrior? So we came up with this idea of a mid-ranged melee character, he wears heavy armor, he crushes his enemies, he has a big heavy flail and he has a shield which is as much a weapon as it is a defense mechanism. In addition he has a lot of holy wrath based damage, that he does, so he has some ranged abilities, too. So it‘s a neat mix of ranged and melee and he has become very different from the paladin at this point. He has become the Crusader.
We already know that you are going to patch Loot 2.0 before the expansion gets released. Are you considering to add any other features like the Paragon 2.0, and such before the expansion is ready?
Yea, we are considering all of the features, and tinker out which is more appropriate. Anything that is broadly systemic like that tends to be added in the game anyway. There is no reason for us not to give it up free. Probably a lot of more stuff will be free before the expansion goes live.
Will there be any new companions or any new content for the Templar or the Scoundrel?
There is a lot of new content for the old companions. We didn’t add a new companion. We have this idea that more is not better. Better is better. It’s how we say it. We figured we did not do enough to make the existing companions deep — we had a lot of grand plans for them in the first game; We are giving them a lot of more stories, they are actually getting side-quests — in Act V as well. So they are getting richer back stories. You get to meet, for example, the Scoundrel’s brother.
That’s new. No one knows about that yet. That’s our official leak for today’s interview.
Can you explain Nephalem Trials?
The idea for the Nephalem Trials takes a lot of inspiration from the Jar of Souls event from Act I. We wondered how to create this kind of micro-challenges to help us survey the pace of gameplay, the idea is that when you explore the world you come across a Nephalem portal, you jump into one of these Nephalem Trials. There are many different variations — one of the classic ones — you end up fighting waves and waves of enemies and you have a time limit. Depending how well, how many monsters you kill within the time limit you will be rewarded with a number of resplendant chests. So it’s a cool way to add a challenge to the game and add some variety.
Storywise, players met some of the Nephalem spirits that have been left behind in the world of Sanctuary, in the first game. At certain point, all humans were Nephalem. All humans had powers. The first generations of humans ever born had that. Eventually, they lost their powers, and as they were losing it, the leaders left behind guardian spirits for if in the future the Nephalem arose again, they could get guidance. These are the spirits that help you run these trials.
The new expansion adds a new Act with a new story, How much gameplay time takes to play through the whole story?
We haven’t finished the Act yet. We are not done making it yet. So it’s hard to say exactly how long it is, but I think more than ever, the game doesn’t end when you kill Malthael and defeat him. The replayability has been quitely expanded. Loot Runs is the first time we are talking about here at GamesCom.
Loot Runs is just one of the systems by the way, and the way that it works is extensively random dungeons. We take every single tile that is in the game, including all the new exterior ones are now randomized in Act V. We combined those in about 15-minute long dungeons at multiple levels with a variety of monsters.
With this monsters you need to work together, you need to change your tactics, very dense populated. Random boss fights and random loot. We take the promise of Diablo’s randomness, make that within a 15-minute chunks to add more end-game gameplay.
Almost all items we saw in this expansions are account-bound. Is this because of enchanting or is there another reason for that?
That’s something that we are experimenting with. The Hellfire Ring is something we believe responded really well. So we are seeing how to extend that system. We hope to hear some feedback from players here at GamesCom.
You get better items, but it’s your better items.
What variation of environments are we going to see in the expansion — we have seen some like Westmarch, Bloodmarch — what can we expect?
We were just sorta teasing some of the zones, but we can’t mention them. So I’ll cover the Bloodmarch.
The Bloodmarsh is an area outside of the city of Westmarch. It’s a very cool area, it’s one of our more fun and dangerous looking zones we have in the game.
Actually you see some of it in the opening cinematic, where the Black Soulstone is buried. Where Archangel Malthael comes and steal it from Tyrael. It’s underneath the Bloodmarch, and it does exist in the game right now.
The other area you will be exploring is the Pandemonion Fortress. It’s sort of the heart of creation, and that’s going to be a really great counterpoint to the more gothic feeling of Westmarch. The players will really love the journey from Westmarch to the Bloodmarch to the Pandemonium.
It’s a place where the angels and demons have fought over forever.
A lot of people are missing the darker side of Diablo II in Diablo III. Is the expansion going to be darker?
Dark side. I mean, Diablo III opens with a zombie apocalypse. It’s the end of the world, and meteors falling, and the armies of Hell are coming. Explain dark side.
For many years now we have really wanted to do a city tileset. A random city. So it all works with the same Diablo randomness, but still feels like a real city.
We actually tried to do that for a while, in Diablo III’s development, but we put it aside. As soon as we began work on the expansion, that was the first thing we tackled. So apart from the fact that it was a city, we didn’t know whether we wanted to do Westmarch years ago; and Death as the villain, has sort of made it definitely very grim and dark. That was heavy and gothic anyway before Death arrived and invaded it.
It’s a marshal city. It’s founded by the Paladin order when they were on their first grand crusade bringing their Zakarum faith to the west with fire and a sword.
It was founded by Rakkis. The soldiers of Bastion’s Keep are actually from the city of Westmarch. So we knew that we wanted to do Westmarch for a while, and not in response to anything in particular from Diablo III.
It’s not a reaction, but more than anything else an opportunity for us. When we started thinking about the expansion, they wanted Westmarch, another wanted the Crusader. When the team came across the idea of really focusing on Malthael the Angel of Death kinda rocked everything together and really allowed us to deliver — not just a gothic setting — but sub-apocalyptic and anti-apocalyptic that’s happening. It helps put everything together. The complete package.
The whole expansion is not the same color scheme. It’s not the same heavy gothic feel either. We just mentioned two of the other zones, and variety is a very important part of the game. It’s about replayability.
For us gothic doesn’t necessarily mean just round, black and gray. Gothic is more about the feel.
Are you going to make improvements to the Battle.net?
We are working on a lot of improvements. We didn’t announced any one yet. We are still working on them, and want to know a little more about — be sure — before we can talk about them, but there is a number of improvements to Battle.net and social services coming.
Given the theme of the new expansion, with Malthael being the Angel of Death, will we meet any Necromancer? … because it sounds like it would fit quite a little.
I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but … (at unison) MAYBE! **MAYBE!!!***
Obviously, bad things are happening. There’s a lot of death, and I think the necromancers are drawn to death.
Necromancers are about balance. If the army of death are taking over the world, that’s not balance anymore; and they need to do something about it.
Regarding the cinematic, Tyrael is hiding the Black Soulstone with the Horadrim. Are we going to know more about the Horadrim?
Yea, before the expansion ships, you are going to know more about the Horadrim. Tyrael has refound the Horadrim order. So they are a new Horadrim. The character that you meet at the beginning of the demo, he is a new Horadrim character that we spent a lot of time getting to know as well. So the Horadrim has been reborn. Cain passed that mantle down to Leah, and then we all know what happened with her. So, that didn’t work. Right? — the Kevin Marten yells: “SPOILERS!!!”
Josh Mosqueira says: “I didn’t specifically say what happened to Leah.”
Kevin Martens responds: “Oh shit!”
Josh Mosqueira finishes: “She’s not taking over the Horadrim. Let’s just say that.”
Note: That was a bit confusing. Are they considering Leah’s fate at the end of Diablo III a spoiler, or are they fooling around because Leah is coming back from the … death. Coughs … Malthael is rising the dead. Or because the Necromancers bring her back? Hard to decipher their code-talk.
Special thanks to Arthur Lorenz aka Handclaw (Blizzplanet contributor) who interviewed the Diablo III team at GamesCom, and thanks to the Blizzard US/EU PR teams.
The defeat of Diablo, Lord of Terror, should have given rise to an age of hope. Instead, it has drawn out a shadowy being of immense power, whose malevolent purpose is yet to be revealed. Reaper of Souls™, the upcoming expansion to Blizzard Entertainment’s epic action-RPG Diablo® III, opens a dark and terrifying new chapter in the ongoing conflict over the mortal realm of Sanctuary.
Malthael, the fallen Archangel of Wisdom, vanished long ago. In Reaper of Souls, he returns as the Angel of Death and seizes the Black Soulstone, which contains the essence of the Prime Evil. Should this dark power be unleashed upon the world, the results would be catastrophic. Fortunately, a new hero is ready to join the cause and bring Malthael to justice — the Crusader. Clad in massive armor and bearing an impenetrable shield, this new playable class charges into battle wielding a range of cruel and punishing weapons and employing powerful battle magic to strengthen allies and weaken foes. As a nigh unstoppable force of armored destruction, the Crusader adds strength and versatility to any party of adventurers.
For further details about Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, visit http://www.diablo3.com/reaperofsouls.
The Crusader enters the fray, joining ranks with the Barbarian, Witch Doctor, Wizard, Monk, and Demon Hunter
Level cap increased to 70, enabling players to reach new heights of power
Act V continues the story where it left off in Diablo III, taking players from the legendary city of Westmarch to the unhallowed halls of the Pandemonium Fortress
Two new game modes: Loot Runs and Nephalem Trials provide fun and rewarding objective-based challenges
Upgrades to Diablo III’s Paragon progression system add even more end-game character advancement and replayability
Newly designed loot system drops “fewer, but better” items, rewarding players with useful upgrades
Collect rare items of unprecedented power, including game-changing Legendaries
New spells and abilities for each of the game’s five original heroes
A new menagerie of fiendish monsters slavering for the chance to feast upon Sanctuary’s heroes
PUBLISHER: Blizzard Entertainment
DEVELOPER: Blizzard Entertainment
GENRE: Action RPG
RELEASE DATE: To Be Announced
The concept art of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls show new monsters serving Malthael including the Seraph, the Wraith, and the Brute. Among the images you will find a few iterative concept artworks of Malthael, a Horadrim, and a scene titled “Tomb of Rakkis”.
Now this Tomb of Rakkis is definitely interesting in a few ways. Rakkis was the king that brought civilization to Westmarch, and brought the Zakarum religion to the region.
The Diablo III: Book of Cain says the following about Rakkis.
Founded by Rakkis, Westmarch was named in honor of the Zakarum warlord’s great crusade and marks the farthest western point of his conquest.
Rakkis was loved by the peoples of the west and did much to bring civilization to the surrounding lands, including the building of roads and churches and necessary infrastructure for the burgeoning territories there. In time, Rakkis’ heir Korsikk, continued his father’s rule and built Westmarch into a bastion of the Zakarum faith.
Ever wary of attack from the northern barbarians, Korsikk founded the impregnable Bastion’s Keep to safeguard all that his father had thought to build.
In the present day, Westmarch is a kingdom that thrives on commerce and maritime trade. Influence from the Zakarum faith has waned of late, and Westmarch is now a forward-looking civilization. Indeed, one might say that it remains one of the healthiest, most vibrant kingdoms left in our troubled world.
Now the thing is — Malthael, is now known as the Archangel of Death. He has arrived to Westmarch to begin there his purge of Sanctuary — as he sees humanity as the biggest faction of demonspawn. Malthael is bringing the dead back to life to serve as his minions in the purge of Sanctuary.
The concept art of the Tomb of Rakkis evokes an intriguing question. Will players fight a resurrected Rakkis as an enemy dungeon boss?
We have sneak peek screenshots of the Crusader class’ skills and runes.
Scourge: Generates 5 Wrath per attack. Scourge your enemies, surrounding them in threads of hallowed power. The threads cut and bleed enemies they attack to, and will seek out new enemies to latch onto and punish.
Blessed Shield: Cost 25 Wrath. Hurl a celestial shield through the air, smashing it into enemies and ricocheting it between them. Requires Shield.
The Fist of the Heavens doesn’t have a description but one of the screenshots below shows one of its runes, Well of Retribution: Create a well of holy lightning at the target location that will electrocute nearby enemies.
Other secondary skills include: Blessed Hammer, Shield Bash, and Sweep Attack.
- Wrecking Ball
- Against All Odds
- Heavenly Strength
- Holy Cause
- Long Arm of the Law
- Stand Your Ground