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.

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  • Let me start by saying I love/adore the Diablo series. I have spent many, many hours/day’s/years playing this game and crafting my character to be the best it could be. I remember the excitement and anticipation at hearing the D2 was arriving in shops and racing down to get me a copy! I had that same excitement at hearing about D3 the salivation in my mouth was almost overwhelming! I have D3 on pre-order from May 2010! I want this game! But the more I read about it I find a disappointment rising in me. This sounds less and less like what D3 should be and more and more a money making exercise. I sounds like the people programing D3 have taken the wheel and broken it to try to make it “better”. I question if these people have not been around the Diablo franchise for very long or maybe they just haven’t played the previous Diablo titles and based their programing on rumor and innuendo! Or maybe they have just played to much WOW and think Diablo 3 is an addon to that? It’s difficult to say. I will buy the game because I pre-ordered it and hence already paid for it – two years ago! But if I had my time over again and waited until now to buy it, I think I would be having second thoughts and leave off buying D3 until a month after release to see/hear what it was like before laying down my cold hard.      

  • I don’t know but after watching your video the default mode became pretty clear to me. It’s by no means an ideal interface but I can work with it. I’m not even sure I would turn on Elective Mode, at least not until I unlock all categories.

    Elective Mode did look confusing though. I hope Blizzard are working on a revamp of this interface.

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