Sonntag, 26. April 2015

Diablo 3 Expansion 2: Skovos and a new Druid-based Hybrid Class?


The Diablo 3 Content Patch 2.2 is out, and Season 3 will be running at least 4 months according to Senior Technical Game Designer Wyatt Cheng. This puts us at August 2015, when the world's largest computer games fair, gamescom, takes place in Cologne, Germany. Last week Blizzard announced that they will be returning for gamescom from August 5-9, where you’ll be able to play their latest titles, including Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft. The absence of Diablo 3 in the list of hands-on demoed games led to wild speculations that there may be no Diablo news at all, but don't despair, dear readers, the exact opposite is rather the case here, and I'll tell you why!

The premiere of Reaper of Souls (RoS) dates back to August 21, 2013, when the first expansion was revealed during a press conference in Cologne, Germany, at gamescom 2013. We saw the marvelous opening cinematic, learned that the crusader is the next class, and we were told what the main features are, with more details to follow in fall at BlizzCon 2013. So, two years have passed since then, and you can be 99% sure that the same procdure will be the case for the Diablo 3 expansion 2. The early ending of Season 2 and the length of Season 3 are further hints that the devs want these four remaining months to prepare for the announcement. It's also no secret that the itemization of RoS has peaked with patch 2.2 and that the demand for news about future, expansion-size content is imminent.

Story & Features of the Diablo 3 Expansion 2

In my March blog I've made first educated guesses, mixed with some personal wishes, what the next expansion might have in store for us Diablo fans. Today I want to talk about another striking bit of information that's been on the Internet for a couple of years now, and which may or may not be future game content.

Skovos Isles

During the 2nd Diablo 3 Anniversary Livestream we learned that the Skovos Isles and the Golden City of Ureh were originally in the game but were cut due to their inability to "fit in". While there's only one official artwork for Ureh on the Internet, Skovos a.k.a. the Amazon Islands was internally fleshed out including a whole bunch of pictures by the Blizzard concept artists Peter Lee a.k.a. "Drawgoon" and Christian Lorenz Scheurer. Christian Scheurer also provided the dark, gothic vision of Westmarch which eventually made it into the first Diablo 3 expansion. Of special note is furthermore his Xiansai artwork, which may point to another expansion in Sanctuary's northern hemisphere.

Can you say that Skovos has been fleshed out?

The Skovos Isles are a group of islands located in the Twin Seas. They consist of four main islands (Philios, Skovos, Lycander, Skartara) and are the home of the Askari, a matriarchal society. The isles possess a gorgeous, Aegean-looking ocean, clear, Roman/Greek-style temples and architecture, and a dense rainforest, the hunting grounds of the Askari. Don't be fooled by the brightness, though, because Skovos has issues in common with Venice - it's a sinking city as you can see by the text descriptions in one of the concepts, which creates the potential for sunken and partially-submerged dungeon levels. The contrast between the majestic, brightly-lit Mediterranean setting and the gloomy, rotting ruins for sure promises a lot of fun for exploring adventurers.

What happened to the Horadrim sent to the Skovos Isles?

Skovos receives mention in Act 5, as Tyrael and Lorath Nahr discuss that a Horadrim expedition sent to the isles has not returned (see the picture above).

Smells like Mephisto's Spirit - A potential Durance of Hate v2.0 entrance?

The Next Class: A Druidic Amazon Elementalist?

The Druid is a class that became playable in Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction (LoD); however, the devs made it clear several times that they don't want to copy previous heroes unaltered. The barbarian and the wizard are the only exceptions so far, but every other class got a special "twist": The crusader and monk both have paladin "DNA", the witch doctor derives from the necromancer, and the demon hunter is a bow-amazon/trap-assassin hybrid.

Blizzard concept artist David Ko posted some Diablo 3 druid images -
Note that they are obviously able to use bows and spears

David Ko, a concept artist for Diablo 3, posted some druid artworks in his portfolio (see the pictures above). The left image suggests a barbarian kindred (as in LoD), but I'm inclined to believe that this was simply a personal deviation when the Diablo 3 barbarian was developed. That said, the usage of bows and spears may actually be planned as feature of a potential druid follower.

These watery temple concepts by Peter Lee may be related to the
deities of the Askari pantheon

How might a non-barbarian, shapeshifting hybrid class from Skovos look like, and what's the lore behind it? There are numerous possibilities how the devs could expand on the original LoD druid concept, and I'll therefore briefly address just some of them:
  • While we were busy fighting Malthael in RoS, Evil befell Skovos (quote Tyrael (ingame): "I haven't heard back from the Horadrim we sent to the Skovos Isles." - Lorath's answer: "Skovos is a dangerous land.")
  • Possible scenario for the Shapeshifting part: A werewolf curse spreads among the Askari, turning the inhabitants of Skovos against each other. In this case the devs could simply follow the well-known World of WarCraft worgen lore: Many Askari take up the druidic arts (with the help of the druids of Scosglen) as a way to cope with their transformation, to help control their new animalistic side or even to learn more about themselves and their new powers.
  • The Bowazon & Javazon/Spearazon part: The super-natural expertise in wielding bows, javelins and spears is second nature to the Amazons, the warriors of the Askari. In regards to magic, amazons can wield prime and holy magic, so that some of them take upon the path of the healer, a worthy path due to the toxicity of many native plant species in their homeland.
  • The Elementalist & Healer part: According to the lore, amazons are able to instill their shots with the elemental powers of their deities, e.g. Karcheus' freezing wind or Hefaetrus' destructive power of fire. The curse that befell Skovos, however, brought with it a powerful side effect: Afflicted amazons can, after intense training, not only take on the form of fierce beasts (werewolf, werebear), but also that of large elementals (elemental body, similar to Asendance of WoW shaman) or large plant creatures (healer body, similar to Tree of Life of WoW druids).
  • Alternatively, there may be no werewolf curse at all, and the Askari have simply developed a higher art of shapeshifting that combines druidism and shamanism. The Shirvallah shapeshift form (of the WoW druid) would be a perfect fit for the Askari high civilization.

So, the new class is - in the broadest sense - an amazon/druid/shaman hybrid, which in my opinion would be a very appealing "twist" on the classical druid as we know it from Diablo 2 or World of WarCraft. Additionally, the brightly-lit Mediterranean setting and the dense rainforest of the Skovos Isles would be a welcome visual counterpoint to the dark, gothic Westmarch in RoS. What do you think, sounds good? ^^

Amazon, druid & elementalist combined = The dream hybrid?

- Nobbie, the Lord of Construction

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2 Kommentare:

  1. If they bring back Necromancer I'll be very very happy.

  2. Book of Tyrael: Oracle. Not a druid, but a subclass to Amazons. No mention of gender. However there is gap for shapeshifting and a nature-based class. I would say hybrid between a Necro, Amazon and Druid. Have the control of nature, stones, wood, roots. Elixirs and a shapeshifting pet, not you. / Enkeria