Diablo III Countdown: Runes in Action
By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor), OnRPG Journalist
If you missed any of the previous articles check out the Diablo 3 review section.
In this article I shall be introducing you to a new system that has been announced a while ago, this system is quite unique in the MMO world and will have an impact on every aspect of gameplay in Diablo III. This system allows players to customize their character in some of the most fantastic ways ever thought up by an MMO developer.
At BlizzCon in 2008 the lead designer of Diablo III, Jay Wilson, revealed the Skill Rune system of skill modification which surprised a lot of people. These Runestones used in the Rune system are random drops which mean that every monster will most likely drop these handy Runestones. These Runestones have a significant impact on skills and the system encourages experimentation with the effects of these nifty stones.
YouTube Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1mQmy8ZMuY
There are many ways to customize your character to your liking; it is arguably the most important factor you can customize when building your character. This is quite a statement considering you will be able to customize charms, traits, enhancements, gems, armor, weapons, dyes, and skill ordering!
Runestones are stones that will affect skills differently; adding a specific Runestone to a skill may enhance its damage or add any other effect. There are currently five Runestone types: Crimson, Indigo, Obsidian, Golden and Alabaster. These uniquely colored Runestones have different ranks of power; the higher the rank of a Runestone the better the resulting skill. For instance, adding on hit stun-effects may make you more viable in PvP or more capable of chaining together long trains of mobs for aoe carnage. Due to the readily available nature of these gems, experimentation is encouraged so every player can find a set that matches their personal play style! In this video you can see some of the effects the Runestone give to some class skills.
YouTube Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jewDFyHfvTE
Currently there are more than twenty skills per class, and a player can choose to access up to seven of those skills at any one time. The skills primarily allow characters to perform special attacks and cast spells that deal significantly more damage with bonus side effects when compared to standard attacks. Not only will some skills amplify damage but they can also activate defensive abilities, supportive abilities, summoning minions and set traps. A good number of skills also include movement bonuses and teleportation to ensure that players aren’t stuck choosing between two attacks that virtually do the same thing with different numeric values. The Runestones compound the uniqueness of every skill to make PvP in this game more dynamic than anything of its kind.
Now I still have my questions about some of the effects that the Runestones system could be giving. Diablo 3 will have PvP (Player versus Player) and I still have my thoughts about the Rune system in PvP, for example if you have a ranged spell and you use a Runestone on that spell that will give you an extra stun effect how much will this affect the game? This of course depends how much time the effect will trigger in a minute and if there is any sort of item that makes you immune to stuns, but will it be balanced? I assume the classes all have different skills and spells to stun their target and I wonder if the extra Runestone system is fair in PvP. Knowing Blizzard this system will be most likely tweaked a lot to create balance and stability but likely a large part of the lifetime of the game will be filled with competitive players chasing after the latest FotM.
When I first heard about the Rune system when it was revealed I got quite curious how much this changes the key element of the game and how much power it gives to a class. I haven’t seen this feature in any other game before so Blizzard is in uncharted territory on how to properly balance it. However, from a PvE standpoint this is a godsend towards MMO replayability. I personally cannot wait to try out the Rune System and hunt for better Runestones and test out more builds for my characters.