Don’t Be Lonely: Diablo III’s Followers

By Jim Rossignol on May 13th, 2011 at 8:15 am.

LASER LASER
Dungeon crawling can be a lonesome business. Sometimes you get a cat or a donkey to carry loot for you, but they’re not much for conversation. What you need is a man with a crossbow, or a girl with magic hands, or something. Gadzooks! That’s precisely the innovation that little-known Californian studio “Blizzard” will be adding to their forthcoming hand-and-therefore-slash title, Diablo III. They’ve even release a video to illustrate how the system might work. Gosh, it’s amazing what plucky little studios can pull off when they just try. Check out their efforts below.

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95 Comments »

  1. Metonymy says:

    These guys better suck in nightmare and beyond. I dont want the game balanced around everyone having a tank that can be healed or otherwise sustained.

    Perhaps the player could choose to augment one ability, beyond just the specials shown, that allows it to perform well enough in Hell. Ie, you can choose a hell-viable attack, hell-viable health, or hell-viable CC, but only one of these three.

    • mwoody says:

      It certainly worked in Diablo 2, so I’m not worried. Indeed, on my current character – yes, the game has drawn me back for my annual fix once again – I rely on his DPS when enemies are immune to lightning (trapsin). Hell, I’d be more excited to get a new weapon for him than my main character, and that’s fine, because he’s really just an extension.

    • Mirdini says:

      If you read the FAQ on the page for the system (on the Diablo III site) there’s a specific question that says:

      “How will the game be balanced around the followers?
      The followers won’t be a massive part of game balance. They’re there to make the single-player, normal difficulty experience feel more cooperative and to aid in enhancing the story. These factors lose some importance in multiplayer and in the higher difficulty settings of the game, and as such, the followers won’t be as relevant there.”
      (I realize the page probably wasn’t up when Meto made his comment)

  2. stahlwerk says:

    Impressive testament that the indie scene is still ripe with innovation.
    So I can (un)dress my followers to the point of ridiculousness and they’ll still obediently kill-steal my enemies, but what happens when they die? And in the game?

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      hmm, not 100% if I am getting the right message from your comment, but I feel that I should say something, afaik it has been confirmed that everyone gets unique loot, so you can only see stuff you can pick up, meaning other players can’t steal your shit, and also, having an extra lady with magic hands is nice to have :), but If you really were against it, I’m sure reverting back to Diablo 2 tactics and killing them off asap will still be acceptable, and many people will still do it(Including me, Probably.. actually last game of D2 I made a mistake with my skills tree, and erm, my mercenary ended up more powerful than me ..)

  3. sonofsanta says:

    So DII:LoD’s mercenaries, but with a greater selection of hats?

    (not watched the video fully tho, at work)

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      -___- you ninja’d me.. Although yeah that was my first thought, but they look quite a bit more useful.

    • RiptoR says:

      If I’m not mistaken, your pet can heal you in Torchlight (or was it in WildTangent’s FATE series?). One of my characters had a pet that would heal my character every 30 seconds or so. Not fully, but enough to get through most battles on the hardest difficulty.

      In FATE I even had a piece of heirloom (a necklace), passed on through about 10 characters, that had gotten so powerful through enchantments that enemies literally killed themselves when hitting me because the necklace reflected 350% damage while healing my character whenever I got hit.

      I could just round up all enemies of a dungeon level in one room and sit back and watch them commit mass suicide… Needless to say, I retired that character very quickly…

  4. Longrat says:

    Indie gaming has definitely come a long way.

  5. kommissarnicko says:

    Hand-and-therefore-slash sounds pretty erotic, honestly.

    • Josh W says:

      To me it sounds more like a game based around aiming before you piss.

    • Nick says:

      Yeah, it depends what definition of slash springs to mind the soonest.

      Slang for piss is what came to my mind too, also reminding me of the amusing name of one of Blaze’s special moves in Streets of Rage 2/3 – Verticle Slash.

    • Rii says:

      I would have to disagree with Mr. Rossignol that a slash is the inevitable consequence of a hack. These are quite distinct methods of bloodletting.

  6. Flint says:

    Looks like they have their own individual skill trees, meaning the game’s packed with even more addictive character upgrading. Cunning.

  7. Baboonanza says:

    Who wouldn’t want a girl with magic hands?

  8. Antsy says:

    What is this? Some kind of Torchlight Clone?

    I dunno. I’m not convinced this kind of gameplay will prove popular. As an indie game it will of course be available for £1.50 at some point on Steam this Christmas. Sorry ‘Holiday Season’.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Also, it seems less “meaty” than torchlight.
      What torchlight did great, in my opinion, was the fact that since the beginning your hits *feel* strong. The screen shakes, enemies are pushed back, then it feels like casting a special abitily or a magic.

      That’s what made me buy it in the 10 minutes following the launch of the demo. It felt satisfying.
      If I’m going to kill hordes of enemies, I want it to “feel” satisfying, powerful.

      It seems to be lacking so far in this Diablo 3 thing.

    • Pie21 says:

      But one thing I liked about Torchlight was all the bright colours and cartoony graphics. I think that’s why it did so well, and Diablo Three seems to have copied that visual style.

    • Seb says:

      Interesting point re. the “bright colours”. It seems to me that the art style these Blizzard guys are going for here seems entirely too bright for the setting. You’d expect something called “Diablo” to be rather darkish in mood, no?

      Anyway, I understand resources are limited for the smaller indie studios, so I’m happy to assist and offer some pro-bono art direction. As it happens I have some experience in the field and I’ve used Photoshop on a few personal projects of mine (you can find my stuff on DeviantArt, if interested).

      So here’s the deal, Blizzard: I’m going to grab a few screenshots from your media page and apply some of my personal Photoshop magic (curves, levels, maybe a couple filters — it’s rather complicated, so I won’t get into it here). I’ll post them back here and send them to you guys directly. Just reference them when you adjust the theme of your game and you’ll be set.

      You’re welcome.

  9. Kdansky says:

    I see beams crossing and not merging and/or backfiring. That must be a bug.

  10. Bandreas says:

    A really, really lousy trailer. Do I need a companion when I plow through the darkest dephts man has ever seen? NO! I have a fucking huge axe, and thats all the companionship I’ll ever need. And if they ever do any significant damage/part taking in a battle – well then the game itself is pretty useless isnt it? Im not gonna use one atleast.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      UMAD BRO?

      Seriously, just like Diablo 2′s mercenaries, if you don’t like having someone(useless) stealing your exp, then I’m sure you don’t have to have one, so why complain?

    • ScubaMonster says:

      The Act 2 mercenaries were pretty good because of their auras.

  11. Spinks says:

    I’d rather have a cat or a miniature giant space hamster :P These companions don’t really look very interesting compared with what other companies are doing. They’re just D2 companions with a bit more collectible gear.

  12. sebmojo says:

    It’s a clever copy, but it’s really just Torchlight with fancier graphics and a reskinned cat/dog. Indies like Buzzard should stick to innovation, that’s where their strength is when competing with more established brands.

    • iniudan says:

      Blizzard has merged with Activision since 2008, I wouldn’t call them indie anymore. =p

      But the Blizzard entertainment studio itself, do enjoy more freedom then other subsidiary under the eye of Bobby Kotick and his Nazgûl.

  13. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    So, like a mercenary that doesn’t suck, and you don’t want to kill off A.S.A.P?

    Just release the damn game already Blizz.

    PS: Looks awesome! XD XD Cannot wait!!!one!!!11

  14. SpaceAkers says:

    Diablo 3 looks neat.

    I would like to play it.

  15. Hakkesshu says:

    Can I just say that I really don’t like the way the monsters flash when you hit them? Hard to sound like one of those “OH NO colour” people, but it really sticks out to me for some reason.. It just makes the game look really fucking cheap.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      Hmm, I was going to blast off some unwarranted remark, but I rewatched the video, and honestly can say I only notice it when I concentrate/look for it, granted it is only Beta, and also, there may be a graphics option to switch it off, hard to say on an unreleased game I guess.

    • skyturnedred says:

      I don’t need flashes to tell me I hit something, the blood on ground is enough.

    • BloodPukeSalvation says:

      TLDR; Yea, flashes suck, but so other aspects, just as hard.

      Im one of those “OH NO colour” people but i wont discuss that here. i will, however, agree with what you said. the more i watch these videos of the games progress the more it feels like a generic korean mmo (as well as WOW zoomed out, but i wont discuss that here).

      the flashes are part of it as are the spells/attacks. where are the absolutely killer diablo 2 spell and attack tracers/effects? why am i only seeing random streaks of a certain color (DAMNIT!!! ITS SO HARD TO NOT GO THERE!).

      honestly though… this reminds me of gauntlet legends… while a good game for its time this is BLIZZARD and this is the DIABLO franchise… way to really just shit on a fantastic product so the fanbois guzzle it down. oh wait… this is BLIZZARD afterall.

      so they claim their next unannounced title will be a new IP right? that just means its not gonna have Starcraft or Diablo or Warcraft in the title… but ill put money on it that it will look like any one of those games i just listed… they discovered the perfect balance between cute and that pseudo/perceived evil-look. problem is that i dont like cute, not in my Diablo at least, and there was very little “cartoonish-evil”, if not

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      @Bloodpukesalvation,

      What? Are you particularly dense? or just high? The ‘colour’ argument is a non-point, and also, afaik, all Blizzard games have their own distinct style of drawing, for characters and terrains, What I mean, is that they all look like they could belong in the same universe. It is a design decision, alright? Not happy with it? Don’t play it, simple as that. If you play Diablo 2 now, you will actually notice that it is not that different.

      Ok, and also, your confirmation of being one of those “OH NO COLOUR!!@#@” people, is also testament that you will never be completely happy, no matter what the devs do.

      Please can we stop filling up these articles with “I Dislike Game X for Y Reasons”.

      /Rant end.

    • Stompywitch says:

      way to really just shit on a fantastic product so the fanbois guzzle it down. oh wait… this is BLIZZARD afterall.

      What? That makes absolutely no sense.

      If they wanted to do a game for all the fanboys, that would have been easy , and they could probably have had it out some time last decade – new sprites for the D2 engine, some new loot, new classes, done.

      They’re trying to do something better than that.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      I don’t care about the color really, I just hope there are some truly dark places in the game. Diablo 2′s caves and such had a lot of darkness in them, as they should. I want to feel like I’m crawling around in a dungeon. Dungeon’s aren’t bright. I’m merely referring to lighting, not colors.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      @Corrupt_Tiki:

      “all Blizzard games have their own distinct style of drawing, for characters and terrains, What I mean, is that they all look like they could belong in the same universe”

      What are you talking about? Diablo looked nothing like Warcraft or Starcraft. Maybe you could compare the terrain in Starcraft 1 to Diablo 2. Maybe. But by and large Diablo looks nothing like those games.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Diablo looked nothing like Warcraft or Starcraft.

      And there’s a very good reason for that: Blizzard North is not Blizzard.

      Blizzard making Diablo 3 is exactly the same as any other company buying some IP they didn’t create and making their own sequel. There’s nobody from Diablo 1-2 involved; mentioning Blizzard in the same breath as those games in quite unfair to the Schaefers, Bill Roper, David Brevik, and the rest of Blizzard North.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      @Scuba,

      Yeah, it came out wrong, but what I meant, is that I can sort of draw some similarities between the art styles of the three different universes. But in saying this, that could be said about most other games set in a fantasy sort of setting.

      idk how to really explain it better than that, I could draw you some sketches, or maybe it’s just my head is broken =*(

    • Antsy says:

      I think it looks sumptuous. SUMPTUOUS.

    • Thants says:

      Honestly, Diablo 2 is a lot more colourful than people remember.

  16. Qark says:

    B….but I want Templar to be a player class…

  17. Ralphomon says:

    I’m never without a lady with magic hands.

    Oh dear, that sounds like I should have followed it up with “… if you know what I mean” and many suggestive nudges and winks.

    But anyway, kudos to… Blizzard, was it?

  18. Rii says:

    This video actually leaked out from Blizzard’s Korean branch and was (probably) not intended for release.

    Indeed, over at the official forums Bashiok is basically telling everyone to STFU about it right now: http://forums.battle.net/thread.html?topicId=27808130696&pageNo=1&sid=3000#16

    Most likely explanation at this point is that this is an old video that was never released because the concept was scrapped or extensively modified from that shown.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      The presence of the demon hunter is weird in that regard (as someone in the thread you linked pointed out) if the concept is a year old its odd theres a demon hunter in there.

      Maybe it was an internal video? But why would you make an internal video so nice to look at?

    • Erd says:

      What a dreadful world of tantrums and tin-pot tyrants you’ve linked there.

    • Freud says:

      Tomorrow they will reveal that Blizzard changed the Follower system to a Leech system where the companion pulls too many adds, runs away while you try to put up a fight and when you die comes back to loot while typing “lol kekeke”.

      It’s like the internet without people.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      +1 Freud, that got a lul

    • Rii says:

      @Erd

      I only ventured in to see if Blue had anything to say on the matter, I swear!

    • nimnio says:

      Tomorrow they will reveal that Blizzard changed the Follower system to a Leech system where the companion pulls too many adds, runs away while you try to put up a fight and when you die comes back to loot while typing “lol kekeke”.
      It’s like the internet without people.

      Any computer can pass the Turing test if it’s programmed to act like a dickhat.

    • Fumarole says:

      Any computer can pass the Turing test if it’s programmed to act like a dickhat.

      I think I’ve seen those in TF2.

  19. bonjovi says:

    I’m afraid I will not play this game longer than 2h.
    Diablo was my first rpg on pc. loved everything about it. (maybe except lack of running!)
    d2 was trying to be more colourful and cute but however retained enough darkness to keep me playing, but nowhere near as much as first one.
    I’m afraid d3 will be just too cute.
    hope I’m wrong

    • Xocrates says:

      Okay, you really need an eye exam. The gameplay footage in that video is almost entirely brown with some faded green and red. Overall it’s significantly darker than Diablo 2.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      @Xo, I agree, I seriously think that people just have jaded memories of Diablo 2. I am a pest on the Diablo 3 forums, and was at first part of the “Oh no colour!” crowd, albeit a quiet one. Anyway, I was reading a post where Bashoik was defending the Art teams direction, insisting it has an ‘overall’ darker tone than Diablo 2.

      I then reinstalled Diablo 2, made a new character, and replayer(god must have done this a thousand times!) all the way up to Mephisto, killed him, and well can’t really be bothered with Diablo and hell(My char is too weak =< .. ) and noticed the game was quite a lot brighter than I had previously remembered.

    • adonf says:

      “Diablo was my first rpg on pc.”

      Cool. Mine was Wolfenstein 3D, or maybe Worms.

  20. starclaws says:

    Most of the time these guys are only useful for their player buffs they do or status effects to enemies. Otherwise they are usually a waste of money.

  21. Nim says:

    Not enough rainbows and queer unicorns!

  22. Italia says:

    They bait us with a small implement and try to make us forget how long it’s taking to get the actual game!

  23. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    Apparently there have been some interviews put up about followers. Diablo Fans collected the ones they could find here: http://www.diablofans.com/topic/24946-diablo-3-followers-system-unveiled/

    It does seem the video doesn’t reflect their current state.

  24. Stompywitch says:

    It’s nice to see them chasing FATE pretty hard, but I really want that Lost World of Vikings expansion they mentioned, The Frozen Ale.

  25. ScubaMonster says:

    I’m hoping there are lack of shadows for the models in those gameplay videos because they are turned off. WoW had more shadows than that. It just looks really odd and unnatural for the monsters and players to be running around with no shadows for their models. Especially in areas with a lot of light.

  26. Hensler says:

    Disappointed by the art style, but seeing my beloved Templar at the end redeemed it for me. I’ll just have to wait for the modders to make the companions playable classes.

  27. OpT1mUs says:

    Looks too ugly, and thats coming from non graphics whore.

    And what happened to the art style, templar looks like they copy pasted paladin from wow, it doesn’t even match it’s own artwork. For shame.

    • Rii says:

      Have you considered looking at all the other footage that’s been released of the game?

      It looks great to my eyes (although not in that video) but I admit that even as someone who pours scorn upon the ‘too colourful’ and ‘looks like WoW’ crowds, the appearance of the Templar gave me a slight turn. Fortunately we know from experience that Blizzard does endless iterations on these things.

    • Zyrusticae says:

      A man after my own heart.
      After Titan Quest, Sacred 2, and other graphically intense rogue-alikes I am finding Diablo 3′s insistence on having pre-2k5-level graphics completely insane.
      I mean, really, this is the same company that produced Starcraft II, a game with some of the best visuals in a PC game released in the year 2010. What gives?

    • Thants says:

      I don’t understand, this looks much nicer than Titan Quest or Sacred 2.

  28. Rii says:

    From everything I’ve seen D3 is at least SC2′s visual equal, and for the most part looks superior to it.

    Also I think some folks are forgetting just how much SC2′s visuals evolved over the course of its development. In fact I distinctly recall the same criticisms of SC2 pretty much right up until release.

    • Zyrusticae says:

      Really? I… cannot comprehend how you could possibly have come to that conclusion.
      Starcraft II has dynamic lighting and shadowing, normal mapping, even ambient occlusion in the between-mission scenes, and it can have unit counts in the high hundreds (even breaking 1000 in the case of 8-player matches).
      Diablo 3 has none of these things, despite the fact that it always has a much smaller number of entities on-screen at any one point in time and a closer-zoomed view.
      Starcraft 2 started with all those things. Normal mapping wasn’t added later on, deferred rendering wasn’t added later on, these were all in from the beginning. Unless Blizzard does a massive overhaul of the rendering pipeline in the middle of development (seriously unlikely), it’s not going to get much better.
      The comparison is even less in Diablo 3′s favor if you look at Titan Quest, released in 2006, which has every graphical feature Starcraft II has.

    • Thants says:

      That seems like missing the forest for the trees. I don’t know exactly what technical features this engine doesn’t have, but it certainly looks better than Titan Quest.

    • Zyrusticae says:

      It does NOT look better than Titan Quest, save for the animations.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGPGcFDo6jo#t=283s

      Note the higher-resolution textures, the presence of *proper material shading*, of dynamic lighting and shadowing. ESPECIALLY the lighting and shadowing.

      Diablo 3′s lighting is so horribly fake-looking it drives me nuts. I don’t know how anyone can accept that from a game releasing in 2011 or 2012.

  29. PaulMorel says:

    JUST RELEASE THE DAMN THING ALREADY!

    About three years ago, when I bought the computer before my current computer, I said to myself: “Self, now you can max out the settings on TF2. Oh, and Diablo III will look great too!” Stupid, stupid me.

    Anyway, I wonder what sort of microtransactions and/or subscription fees they’ve built into this thing. That stuff doesn’t bother me, but with the success of WoW, I can’t see Blizzard making a game that doesn’t result in some sort of continuous monetization … these sidekicks look like just the sort of thing that should be available for a small fee. I wonder how many people are going to freak out when these microtransactions are announced?

    • Thants says:

      That stuff doesn’t bother me, but with the success of WoW, I can’t see Blizzard making a game that doesn’t result in some sort of continuous monetization

      Well, they didn’t do that with Starcraft 2.

  30. Jason Moyer says:

    This video contains content from Blizzard, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.

    Seems like a strange way to promote a game.

  31. Rii says:

    Ok, the official page is up:

    http://us.blizzard.com/diablo3/world/systems/followers.xml

    I was pretty ambivalent about them beforehand, but now I’m on-board. The clincher: “we want people to choose their follower as often based on personality as they do based on which abilities they like the most — if people do that then we’ll feel like we were successful in building them.”

    So they’re essentially character/world-building assets intended for more casual single-players. Works for me.

  32. mda says:

    omg diablo 3 <3:D

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