So says Blizzard’s official tweeterer, anyway. Sounds as though it’s more about substituting the age-old system with a new one rather than the wholesale removal of it, but a follow-up fan interview (also containing a bunch of questions that very much go into the fine/finer/finest points of the game) with Jay Wilson sheds a little more light. “We’ve decided to remove the tree-type architecture and we are moving into a purely skill-based system. This new system is still in the development stages and if it does not work, we still have plenty of options to fall back on… It differs from the World of Warcraft/Diablo II type hierarchical styles and is more of a skill pool/path than a tree per se.” On top of last month’s reveal that each class would have its own resource rather than all using the rather generic ‘mana’ it’s increasingly clear this isn’t just Diablo II in 3D. It’s Diablo II in 3D with some changes. Yes!
So does that mean that, rather than consigning yourself to a specific build based on what powers you pick early on, you can instead pick any power from any pool so long as you’re high enough level (as Torchlight did, rather pleasingly)? Or that you just get the powers you’re given? Or something else entirely? Buggered if I know. I’m sure it’ll raise a few hackles, though – Blizzard are displaying an almost bloody-minded determination to rile up Diablo fans at the moment. It’s essentially impossible to bring about financial disaster on their game at this point (even, say, revealing that Cooking Mama was in there as a bonus character would probably only heighten interest), so perhaps it’s a reaction to this unassailable position. Or perhaps it’s a sign that they’re taking real risks with the age-old Diablo formula.
Yeah, as if. What it is a sign of is that this will be an impossibly streamlined game, which is very much Blizzard doing what Blizzard do best. More details on the new skill system sometime in 2017.