The Dog’s Dinner that is the New Diablo 3 Skill Interface

A mess?

For months we’ve been waiting for news on how exactly Blizzard were going to rework the game’s Rune system and on Saturday night Patch 13 dropped with all the new changes.

In this update Blizzard removed Runes as items and made them simply appear at certain levels so you could augment the base skills to make the skills super-duper. This is all just dandy  but the kicker is the new skill interface design. We have to remember that the development team has apparently been reworking the system for quite a while, so when this updated skill interface arrived I have to admit I was pretty shocked at how un-user friendly and annoying the interface is.

In Patch 13 you have to go into the menu options and choose  ’elective mode’ so you can choose where you want put your skills in the action slots, otherwise skills are restricted to certain slots automatically.

Confusing? Sort of. New players will just jump in and start clicking like mad not knowing that they can have better control over their skills and veterans of the series are going to have to fiddle about when changing skills. Now I have no idea what Blizzard were smoking in the office when they came up with this system, which was apparently created so even your grandmother could use it. I would like to see anyone’s grandmother try and head around the new system.

There has been a lot of discussion about the new interface and how it reeks of console design, and there is some merit to the argument, navigating around the new interface would be easier to handle with a controller. However, this is primarily a PC title with a fanbase that is very PC focused, why not cater for that audience 100% and then look at what you can do for the console once the PC version has shipped? We don’t know if this interface has been designed to work on a console and PC, but surely no PC game designer with access to a mouse would come up with this?

While I enjoyed Skyrim, as a PC gamer the interface was long-winded and annoying, sure the game was still fun but there is always that interface irritation factor. Diablo 3 looks to be heading in the same direction, over complicating an important function such as skill selection just seems a little crazy. When Blizzard’s Jay Wilson explained the changes in his patch 13 update, I don’t really think he could get the message across, there were a lot of confused gamers still not quite understanding the changes. Thankfully, Elly over at Diablo: IncGamers created this great video to explain the interface, and I think once you watch this, you’ll see why this change has not been for the better in my opinion.

With Diablo 3 still in development, I do hope the team look at this closely, this has been one of the most annoying changes to a fundamental part of the game so far. There’s no doubt that Blizzard have really polished the game in patch 13, but this interface feels like the designers threw some art on a page and went “that’ll do, we can make this work”. Watch this space to see if they make changes to this new system, I would be surprised if they didn’t.