Remember back when you were playing Diablo II and the expansion came out and Runes became the coolest thing you'd ever seen in your life? No? You never got into the whole making of rune-words thing? What about after they upgraded it in one of the patches? That's the beauty of an online game like Diablo, if they make something happen in the game then want to upgrade it, all they have to do is send you an upgrade over the air. That said, the newer Runestone system revealed today by Blizzard stands much more of an excellent chance at capturing our deamon-hating hearts than the original system did!
In this new system, and indeed in the greater gameplay that the third installment in the Diablo saga offers, extensive character customization will take place. They've learned from the success of World of Warcraft it seems and are applying such new ability-growing to the Diablo universe. In addition to the highlighted item today, runestones, there will be five ive character classes, including charms, traits, enhancements, gems, armor, weapons, dyes, and skills. Runestones here come in five different types:
Each of these stones will be able to be added to skills to enhance them. A character, if you don't know already at this point, is able to have access to seven "skills" at any one time, these skills can activate anything from spells to minions to traps, running fast to having the ability to upping your defense. With runes you'll be able to not only customize they way they function, but also the way they look. Like gems of the past, each rune will add a specific type of effect: crimson will add to damage, alabaster adds to stun (that's all we know thus far.)
Each runestone also has a different rank of power. The higher the rank, the moor dramatic the skill enhancement.
Undoubtedly the most powerful skill a Barbarian has in his arsenal, the whirlwind is exactly what you'll be aiming for from the start of your skill building. It was true in Diablo II and we can't possibly fathom anything being more powerful in Diablo III, but you never know! Enhancements to this skill via runestones are thus:
Crimson - Shoots bits of rock and gravel in every direction, dealing area effect damage.
Indigo - Barbarian spawns smaller whirlwinds which deal direct damage.
Obsidian - Provides the barbarian with immunity to immobilizing effects.
Golden - Reduced Fury cost.
Alabaster - Critical strikes confuse enemies, forcing them to attack their allies for a short time.
Sweeping Wind Enhancements
A monk is able to do a combo skill called Sweeping Wind. This skill is very similar to whirlwind in that it creates a circle of damage around the character - the difference here is that what's happening is more magic, a vortex of effects increasing in damage and radius each time you use the sweep. Enhancements to this skill via rhinestones are thus:
Crimson - A flurry of blades increases Sweeping Wind's damage.
Indigo - Expands the area of effect and strikes enemies with additional fire-based attacks.
Obsidian - A persistent whirlwind surrounds the monk, dealing damage to any foes that come into contact.
Golden - Increases Spirit regeneration.
Alabaster - A powerful sandstorm billows with the monk's attacks, damaging enemies and knocking them back.
Ray of Frost Enhancements
A blasting effect to be used by a wizard that freezes enemies and damaging them lightly. Enhancements to this skill via rhinestones are thus:
Crimson - Beam increases in damage the longer it remains in use, to a cap.
Indigo - Wizard is surrounded by a swirling vortex of sleet, damaging any foes that come into contact.
Obsidian - Decreases beam damage, but increases reduction in target movement and attack speed.
Golden - Arcane Power cost reduced.
Alabaster - Enemies slain by Ray of Frost have a chance to leave an area of ice on the ground where they die, damaging other enemies if they move through it.
Cluster Arrow Enhancements
Cluster Arrow obviously requires that you use a bow and arrow to fire at enemies, this skill reserved for the demon hunter. Similar to what we've seen in the past with the Amazon character, this is a cluster bomb that explodes on impact and immediately releases smaller bombs exploding soon afterward. Enhancements to this skill via rhinestones are thus:
Crimson - Increases the damage of the explosion at the point of impact.
Indigo - Fires enemy-seeking missiles instead of grenades.
Obsidian - The Cluster Arrow is launched high into the air and rains down grenades.
Golden - Instead of grenades, the skill spawns shadow creatures that attack nearby enemies and leech life to the demon hunter.
Alabaster - Adds a stun effect to the grenade explosions.
Acid Cloud Enhancements
This is easily the most disgusting of all skills, the witch doctor having control over magic which summons an acid-spewing spirit, laying down death from above on your enemies. Enhancements to this skill via rhinestones are thus:
Crimson - Causes immediate damage instead of a damage over time effect.
Indigo - Increases area-of-effect radius.
Obsidian - Spawns slimes that attack nearby enemies.
Golden - Afflicts enemies with a disease effect that deals damage over time.
Alabaster - The witch doctor belches forth a directional pool of acid.
All very terrifying! Are you going to BlizzCon 2011? Let us know how it goes!
[via Blizzard Entertainment]