Getting this out there right now, I'm am super stoked for Diablo III. So being able to get the skivvy on all the juicy bits during their gameplay discussion panel at Blizzcon was a real treat for me. They discussed a lot of changes that they have made to the beta, as well as their design philosophy on the direction they went with the game.
First, some of the things they've added to the beta for those lucky souls that are on there right now. For starters, everyone that is in the beta that went to Blizzcon automatically got an achievement just for going. Which is a nice perk. However, they've also mentioned that these achievements are for more than just tracking what you've accomplished. Getting a number of achievements can unlock more customization options for your banner, the item that is used by other players to be summoned to your location. Therefore, getting a lot of achievements will allow you to create a banner that your comrades can easily recognize.
In the realm of PvP, Team Deathmatch has been added to the game. In this mode, two teams essentially go in and beat the crap out of each other for ten minutes. The team with the most kills in these 4v4 skirmishes wins the match. Easy enough to follow, and a bit more accessible for general audiences that just want to be able to give their comrades a beatdown.
The Auction House has also been adjusted a bit for easier convenience. Two new search modes have been added, smart and advanced. Smart search automatically finds items that are related to your class and equipment trends. For example, if you find yourself stacking more crit, then it'll bring up items that have crit on it. Advanced, meanwhile, is your standard feature that allows you to be more specific for whatever it is you're looking for.
As far as future updates are concerned, they have a couple things planned. One in particular is focused on skill swapping. Their current plan is to prevent players from swapping abilities on the field, keeping it to in towns. Internal testing hasn't really been fond of it so far, and an alternative they will likely go with is out-of-combat swapping, to prevent players from switching moves midfight. The other change is regarding followers. Originally they were only useful during Normal difficulty level, however, after much feedback from the players, they will now be viable all the way to endgame.
Of particular notice was their philosophy regarding the difficulty level of the game, and the claims that Diablo III is actually easier than its predecessor. For starters, they showed a clip of what Diablo II's difficulty was like, where a character was standing in the middle of one of the starter zones surrounded by beasties, none of which were paying any attention to her. I guess the point they were trying to prove is that it's hard to compare the two in terms of difficulty.
What they did divulge was that the game is designed to be challenging, however, on a different level. There will be four difficulty levels, Normal, Nightmare, Hell, and the hardest difficulty, Inferno. The reasoning behind this level of spread is that, while Normal difficulty is designed to be easy, the hardcore crowd will likely not be staying on it for very long. They will most definitely be wanting to advance to the harder difficulty modes, where the real challenges will be, and the true adventure begins. Meanwhile, those of casual crowds will be content to be on the Normal difficulty.
And that is largely there philosophy regarding it. ".Hardcore games for everyone is what Blizzard does" And that makes sense. Even back in Diablo II, there were different difficulty levels for different players, and even a Hardcore mode for those with the guts to attempt it. The game will most definitely be approachable to casuals as well, and the challenges will only stack up as they progress higher up the ladder.
The one thing they still didn't unveil was a damn release date. But, be patient. In the meantime, those who have a WoW account as well may want to check out the Battle.net annual pass system they just started up today, where paying for a subscription to the MMORPG can net you a free copy of Diablo III.