Sitting pretty close to front row, AusGamers had an in-depth first look at the new Demon Hunter class revealed for Diablo III today at BlizzCon, with a guest panel comprising the following developers from the D3 team:
- Jay Wilson
- Christian Lichner
- Paul Warzecha
- Leonard Boyarski
- Wyatt Cheng
- Kevin Martins
- Julian Love
"Why the demon hunter? Why did we choose this class," asked team leader Jay Wilson. And the answers were fairly obvious. The Demon Hunter is a very cool character, not quite righteous, and not quite zealot - she sits on the border; something of an anti-hero to the rest of the crowd. Willing to get the job done at any means, she’ll gladly dabble in the black arts; areas most would surely avoid for fear of corruption, but as a hunter of demons, there are no boundaries for her, as Wyatt Cheng put it “[the] demon hunter goes to sleep dreaming about killing demons".
The first-look trailer showed the sexy slayer of hellspawn sporting some pretty neat armour, while her face remained cloaked in shadows by a cowl. Her eyes glowed an eerie white though, and as she exploded into an orgy of demon-killing, she revealed her ranged weapon of choice as being two cross-bows. She danced around the place, avoiding demons left and right, while slaughtering them without a second thought, and style. Pure and utter style. But what we saw was a cinematic - what about gameplay? What makes the Demon Hunter the Demon Hunter?
Well according to Wilson, the initial reason they came to the class is because she fills out a semi-required archetype. Secondly, being an “obsessed anti-hero” just fit the Diablo universe - they really liked the whole “bounty hunter vibe” and given she offers a conventional ranged class with gadgets and traps with the added bonus of a bit of shadow magic, they couldn’t say no.
Diablo III art director, Christian Lichtner, also told us that “we [Blizzard] knew early on she was going to be a Ranger", revealing some pretty sweet early concept art (with the the class as a male - let it be known that there’s a male and female version of each class). Though he also revealed that while they were stoked with the character, the more they played with demon aspect the more they began to lose sight of their original goal (in fact they initially even thought of having the class as a turned demon, hunting other demons, but that changed to her being half demon).
“[The Hunter] started reading more and more like an assassin, more melee and less ranged, so we decided we needed to take a step back," he explained. "[But] we really wanted to make a class that was on the darker side, and we also knew we wanted to make it more mysterious"
So after taking said step back, they made her into a more medieval character to harken back to Diablo II, keeping the demon-side of her in the form of a demon arm, but even then they felt that people instinctively wanted to use the arm for melee, despite the focus being that she’s a ranger, thus the arm was removed, as was the ‘half demon’ concept, which was replaced with her glowing eyes to tell you that, while she’s definitely human, she’s clearly done something with the dark arts she shouldn’t have thought this in itself is a string reflection of her drive to slay demons; a true representation of her character.
From an aesthetic stand-point, the team looked at making her sexy, and she has poses that immediately relay her character in a single glance, and as 3D character modelist, Paul Warzecha said, “it was the first time in development that you immediately got it - she's pissed”.
So the focus went from an almost demon to a sexy, pissed off ranger who is “kicking ass in high-heels” and the only character in the game capable of duel wielding (her two pistol crossbows). But what makes up the character from a lore sense? Blizzard, of course, take their lore very seriously, and the Demon Hunter proved no different as lead world designer Leonard Boyarsky revealed.
“She realises the true stake,” he said of her role in the game. “She’s in it for one thing and one thing only - killing demons.” According to Boyarsky, the Demon Hunter is written as a mysterious character - the sort of person who could come from any walk of life because they “aren’t born, they’re made”. They go around recruiting other demon hunters; survivors of demon massacres who can be shaped into lethal killing machines, driven by a “thirst for revenge”. They don’t have a homeland per se, because they’re nomadic which adds to the mystery behind them. They wanted to make a character - a human character - demons would be afraid of; a “stalker of demons”, no different to a lot of anime tales, such as Berserk or even Inu Yasha, for those in the know.
Of course, any demon hunter out there is going to need a host of kick ass tools to complete their trade, and so it was Wyatt Cheng who explained to us the arsenal our sexy anti-hero will come equipped with. My favourite, and first out of the bag was the Bola Shot - a ranged weapon that wraps itself around an enemy’s head and explodes, obviously exploding its head. She also comes with the Spike Trap, which is a ranged, proximity trap wrapped in shadow, also accompanied by grenades. Cheng pointed out that because the game is true 3D with a full physics system, grenades could be bounced off any surface, making for some pretty tactical gameplay on the Hunter’s part. The Multishot, which is another carry-over from Diablo II sees the Hunter firing a weapon with a massive spread, which is good for crowd control when you’re overrun by the baddies - it makes an awesome mess.
As far as her skills go, she has a shadow vault, as part of acrobatic skill coupled with her obvious dabbling in the dark arts. It allows her to move swiftly across the map, seemingly unharmed by things like fire as she does so. But that was all we say in regards to skills; although obviously there’s a lot more to come.
We have even more Diablo III goodness coming, including a full breakdown of new skills, a revamped UI, Traits, Charms, Runes and more as well as a meaty interview with both Leonard Boyarsky and lead level designer, Dave Adams. Don’t go away!
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