Blizzard has just released a video of the Follower system from their new top down action RPG Diablo 3. Those who played Diablo 2 will be a bit familiar with the system, as the Followers from D3 are basically the new and improved version of a hireling from D2. According to an interview from NowGamer with Diablo 3 game director Jay Wilson, Blizzard wanted to build the Followers up to new heights.
"We specifically wanted to change them from the notion of a faceless, nameless person that you hire to a distinct character who has a strong personality, strong views of the world, a unique class and chooses to follow you not because you pay them, but because they look at you as a great hero that they want to be around and help," said Wilson. And it looks like they did just that. The video introducing the Follower mechanics shows off the three types of Followers and the vast amount of customization available to them. Customization stems not only to their looks but also to their skills.
There are three distinct types of Followers that you can level up and customize based on your play style: Kormac the Templar, Lyndon the Scoundrel, and Eirena the Enchantress. Each Follower can be equipped with rings, amulets, weapons and a unique item. For example, a Templar has a holy tome while an enchantress gets something else to use.
Read on to find out everything you want to know about the new Follower system in Diablo 3. Trust me when I say it's very cool.
Followers won't be able to equip nearly as many items as players can according to Wilson, and the most important thing will be their weapon. The weapons aren't exclusive to the Followers, so you'll have to decide if you want your character or your Follower to have weapons, but usually they won't be using the same type of weapon your character will be so it won't be too much of an issue. Wilson uses the example of a player choosing the Barbarian class who uses two-handed weapons like axes and Lyndon as his Follower who would use a crossbow and daggers, so the two wouldn't conflict too much.
The Followers will all appear at a specific point in the game one at a time and you have to earn their trust through loyalty quests; think Mass Effect 2. Wilson mentions that if you do the Followers personal quest but you don't want him to follow you, you can send him to town where he'll always be available for you to play with. There is no penalty for choosing one Follower versus another; it's all about how you like to play. Plus, if you decide that you want to fly solo you can opt to not have a Follower at all.
The player will have to choose one ability out of three for their Follower at five level intervals up to level 20. This way players can more easily customize the Followers to suit their individual playstyles. Players won't upgrade the Followers individual skills, just abilities. This way they're not too complicated and gamers won't feel like they're controlling a second player. "Some players want to really maximize the amount of damage that they do so they can focus on abilities that increase the damage their Followers do. Some really prefer the Follower to take more of a support role, they don’t like the notion of the Follower stealing kills from them or stealing some of their glory – in those cases you can make a Follower who tends to be more in the background and provides you with buffs or heals or possibly debuff enemies with things like slows and other kinds of debilitating attacks," said Wilson.
One of the most fascinating things about the Followers in the mentality behind them. According to Wilson Diablo 3 is going to be very fast paced, so with the Followers Blizzard is forcing the story on the players. They will comment on the world, comment on their actions, and interact with other players, without ever slowing down the action that the people love.
But how exactly will the Followers work in combat? Player won't be able to actively control them like they would a pet; instead they have a complex AI that drives them. How players contribute to Followers is the abilities, weapons, and items that the players give them. Also, unlike hirelings in D2 where it was a pain to heal them, any health or mana pots that players consume will also heal their Follower if they're nearby for the full benefit (yes!!).
So remember all of the dozens of potions that you'd acquire in Diablo 2 and never use? Now you can set your Follower up as a tank and down potions like it's no one's business to keep your ally up at all times.
But what happens if your Follower dies? "If a Follower dies, one of the other things we didn’t want to happen was: “oh, my Follower’s dead I’ve now got to go back to town”. It basically makes you want to not use a Follower, because you fell penalised for using them. We wanted to get away completely from the notion a Follower is someone you hire and pay money to – we didn’t like that notion. We liked the idea people just want to follow the player because he’s a hero, and people follow heroes," said Wilson. How they combated this is by allowing your dead Follower to recover on their own after a while but players can accelerate his downtime by focusing on the Follower and pulling him back up into the fight (but whatever killed it will probably still be lurking nearby, so it's risky).
Stepping away from the story mode, Followers won't be available to players in player vs. player activities like the brand new arena mode or during cooperative play. "We found that having four players and four Followers on-screen all at once was pretty chaotic and hard to tell what’s going on. We logic’d out that a player is better than a Follower, they’re better companionship and they’re certainly more effective than a Follower." said Wilson. If another player leaves then your Follower will come back.
In the end it seems as though your Follower will be just that: a friend and companion that will boost your Hero through combat and confidence. They will be a light and interesting thing to look after while playing, and add another layer of depth in what's shaping up to be one of the most complex games in the next few years. I, for one, cannot wait to mess around with this mechanic to see how much of an upgrade they are over the hireling system.
Diablo 3 will be heading in to closed beta later this year and is currently scheduled for a PC release sometime next year. For even more information from Jay Wilson on the Follower system you can check out his full interview from NowGamer.
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