After making some Diablo III announcements earlier today at BlizzCon, Blizzard shared even more information during a 20-year anniversary panel tonight.
Most significantly, the Necromancer, who returns from Diablo II, was discussed in more detail. This included a breakdown of what differentiates the Necromancer from the Witch Doctor. Aside from the nature of what you’re summoning–things like skeletons rather than zombies–these pets will also have active components. Whereas the Witch Doctor’s summons are typically passive (you summon them and then forget about them), you can, for instance, activate a Necromancer skeleton skill to cause them to attack another target.
Resources are different, too: the Witch Doctor uses mana, but the Necromancer uses something called essence, as well as corpses left behind by deceased enemies. The Corpse Explosion skill comes back, letting you blow up as many as 10 bodies at a time. Bone Spear also returns, shooting a piercing attack out in a straight line. Decrepify is a returning curse, slowing enemies and reducing their damage, helping you to group them together.
A new skill called Siphon Blood channels on a single enemy and lets you recover health and essence. Blood Rush is another new one, letting you teleport to another location (by “throwing off” the character’s skin and transporting their blood to a targeted spot).
Golems are back, one of which is the Blood Golem. Best of all, you can summon a massive wave of skeletons with Army of the Dead, causing them to rush a location and explode for damage.
The Necromancer comes not in an expansion pack, but a character pack called The Rise of the Necromancer. It also adds two character slots, two stash tabs for those playing on PC, and “cosmetic goodies.” More details will be announced in 2017, ahead of a launch in the second half of the year.
Separately, a patch coming in 2017 will add the Armory, which sounds like a godsend for players. It essentially acts as a way of managing loadouts: it spares you the hassle of making the numerous changes necessary to switch between different builds. You’re able to save up to five loadouts for each character, storing its skills, passives, items, and Kanai’s Cube powers. By clicking a button, you can instantly switch between loadouts; the game handles everything, including moving gems, which will no longer cost money to unsocket.
Paragon points are not saved as part of this. That’s because you’re constantly earning points, and these would invariably be outdated when switching from one loadout to the next.
Blizzard didn’t share a specific release date for the Armory update, only saying it will arrive in 2017. It will be available on consoles in addition to PC, though it will have a different look on those platforms. You can see how each version looks in the gallery above.
Finally, the company shared some more information about the Diablo I-themed mode announced today. The original idea to commemorate the anniversary was to simply add the classic music, which would play during Adventure mode. That expanded repeatedly, ultimately culminating in the retro-style Darkening of Tristram.
This won’t be available at all times; instead, it’ll be a yearly event that’s available during January on PC, Xbox One, and PS4. You enter through a portal in The Old Ruins area, at which point Blizzard says everything “gets crappy,” with pixelated visuals, minimal animations, and tinny audio. You can see a glimpse of this in some of the images below, although seeing it in motion is what really sells it as a retro experience.
Special rewards and loot will be offered through this event, including portraits, banner, sigils, pets (such a Butcher one), and the game’s first helmet-slot Legendary gem. This is based on a cinematic from the original game; it puts the Red Soul Shard on your head, causing you to occasionally release a ring of fire near you.
Finally, Blizzard teased that other new content is on the way, including new zones for Adventure mode, something called Challenge Rifts, and support for seasons on consoles. All of this will be detailed during Diablo’s next BlizzCon panel, which takes place at 4 PM PT on Saturday, November 5.