Diablo III Second Year Retrospective
The year of 'Reaper of Souls', the Loot 2.0 Patch, and the console release
Diablo III recently celebrated the second anniversary of release. We have put together a retrospective to look back at the Diablo III changes and news throughout the past year. The year started with a trickle of news, and turned into a deluge of events for the second year of Diablo III.
See the Diablo III Patches guide for extra details on the Diablo III patches and hotfixes over the last year.Going back a year, the Diablo III PC patch 1.0.8a was released on May 14, 2013, one day before the first anniversary. That was the last client update Diablo III would receive for 9 months, until Patch 2.0.1 arrived on February 25, 2014. While there were times in 2013 when it appeared that little was happening, it was actually a busy year for the Diablo III team. Looking back from this vantage point, we can see the work involved: creating the massive Loot 2.0 Patch, releasing Diablo III on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles, and of course the development and release of the Reaper of Souls Expansion. Let's walk back through the year, and review the twists and turns in the progress of the Diablo franchise.
- May 15, 2013 - Candid Chats with Wyatt Cheng and Travis Day - As part of the First Year Anniversary Celebration, Diablo III developers Wyatt Cheng and Travis Day had lengthy chats with the Twitch.tv streamer ArchonTheWizard, talking about game design philosophy and answering questions about Diablo III topics. Looking back at those discussions, it is easy to see the seeds of what grew into the Loot 2.0 patch and Reaper of Souls. The ideas of overhauling the loot system and reducing the power of the Auction House, were later turned into reality. There were even early discussions about Ladders and Seasons, which will soon be realized as part of Patch 2.1.0.
- June 5, 2013 - Josh Mosqueira Becomes Diablo III Game Director - After some months of the position being open, Josh Mosqueira was announced as the new game director for Diablo III, taking over from Jay Wilson. Mosqueira released a statement of introduction, providing background on himself and a grand vision for the future of the game.
- June 6, 2013 - Diablo III Release for PS3 and Xbox 360 Announced for September 3, 2013 - The earlier initial announcement for the console version of Diablo III was just about the game on the PlayStation consoles. When the release date was announced, it included the surprise bonus of release on the Xbox 360 as well as the PlayStation 3. The Diablo III Console Preorder Bonus and Exclusive Items brought the first set of additions specifically for the console version. The console edition provided a take on Diablo III honed specifically for use with a controller, and designed around the gameplay of people playing together in front of a single screen.
- June 19, 2013 - June 2013 Interview of Josh Mosqueira, Travis Day, and Kevin Martens - Here at Diablo Somepage, we were honored to have the chance to interview a group of the Diablo III developers. The 'Items 2.0' Revamp in D3 Won't Happen Before BlizzCon news pointed to just how much effort and time was going to be needed before the item overhaul would be ready. A discussion of items becoming soulbound was another glimpse at how the design was progressing, that evolved into the change of Legendary items in patch 2.0 dropping as Account Bound.
- June 30, 2013 - No Content Patch for Summer 2013 - The lengthy development process was confirmed further with the news that the developers were not working on an immediate content patch during the summer of 2013. We were part of a fansite mixer held at Blizzard's headquarters in Irvine, California on Friday, June 28. The expectation was set that new Diablo III content would not arrive until further down the road. The fansite members were unable to visit the main Diablo development area; although we didn't know it at the time, it was filled with work on the then-unannounced Reaper of Souls expansion. We also had the chance to enjoy a PlayStation 3 Diablo III Hands-on Preview, for a different but thoroughly entertaining approach to Diablo III.
- July 9, 2013 - Wyatt Cheng Diablo III GDC Talk - A video was made available of the talk by Wyatt Cheng at the 2013 Game Developer's Conference. The hour-long presentation provided a review of many steps along the way for the Diablo III developers, as they iterated on the D3 game systems. It remains a fascinating look at the development in the very early days of Diablo III.
- July 19, 2013 - Diablo III Developer Podcast Interview - The developers continued with community chats and other interactions to explain the progress of the Loot 2.0 patch. There were interviews with Diablo III fan sites, and comments such as Wyatt Cheng on Health Globes, Life and Healing in a reddit thread.
Read on for the rest of the Diablo III news over the past year, continuing with the announcement of the Reaper of Souls expansion!
- August 21, 2013 - Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Expansion Unveiled - The first Diablo III expansion was announced to great fanfare in a press event during gamescom 2013. The big features of the expansion were detailed there, including the Crusader class, the content of Act V, and the free-form Adventure Mode. The event also delved into changes that were part of the Loot 2.0 patch, such as the Paragon 2.0 overhaul.
- August 24, 2013 - Loot 2.0 Patch Detailed - Info on the Loot 2.0 Patch was filled in, with a release shortly before the expansion. At that time, Patch 2.0 was expected to include "Paragon 2.0, Loot 2.0, Loot Runs, and Nephalem Trials". Following development in the following months, the Loot Runs and Nephalem Trials became what we know today as Bounties and Nephalem Rifts. They are both part of Adventure Mode, a feature in Reaper of Souls.
- August 25, 2013 - Reaper of Souls Beta in 2013 - At the announcement for Reaper of Souls, the beta was already in sight. In an interview with the Korean site Players Cut, Diablo III game director Josh Mosqueira stated that he hoped the expansion's beta would start in 2013. The beta did indeed roll out during 2013, as the Friends and Family beta started on November 19.
- September 3, 2013 - Diablo III Released on PS3 and Xbox 360 - Blizzard returned to consoles after many years of absence, with the release of Diablo III on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The console edition brought a redesigned control scheme, fully local play that does not require an internet connection, and a terrific "couch mode" where 4 players all play locally together on the same TV screen.
- September 17, 2013 - Auction House Closure Announced - The direction of Diablo III was shifted in a dramatic fashion when it was announced that the Auction Houses would be shutting down on March 18, 2014. The overarching gameplay of Diablo III to that point had involved using the Auction House to obtain equipment that would be nearly impossible to find otherwise. The removal of the Auction House tied into gameplay changes that were provided in Patch 2.0 and the expansion.
- October 7, 2013 - Diablo and Tyrael as Funko Pop Figures - Diablo usually goes for dark and Gothic styling, but not always! Both Diablo and Tyrael became tiny Funky Pop Vinyl figures, in a strikingly cute fashion. They were joined by iconic characters from Blizzard's other franchises, such as Illidan and Arthas from World of Warcraft.
- October 24, 2013 - Item Customization by the Mystic - The Mystic artisan added in Reaper of Souls was explored in detail. She provided a way for Diablo III characters to customize the power of their items, and the cosmetic look of each piece in their ensemble.
- November 6, 2013 - Diablo III Sales Break 14 Million - In the Q3 2013 quarterly report, Blizzard Activision announced that the sales of Diablo III had surpassed 14 million copies. That included the 12+ million copies sold of the original PC game, and sales from the console edition that was released that quarter.
- November 8, 2013 - BlizzCon 2013 Celebrates Blizzard's Games - The celebration of all things Blizzard was in fine form in 2013, from the opening ceremony through a myriad of panels, events, and developer discussions. The Diablo team were busy with panels that previewed Reaper of Souls, delved into the Story and Lore, expounded on the Gameplay Systems and Crusader, and provided a Diablo Q&A.
A wealth of information about the expansion was provided during BlizzCon 2013, including the Reaper of Souls FAQ and Videos, details about Adventure Mode, and gameplay of Diablo III on the PS4 playable on the show floor.
- November 9, 2013 - BlizzCon 2013 Fansites Q&A With Developers - BlizzCon is a great time for Blizzard's developers to interact directly with the fans who play their games, and provide interviews about game development. Here at Diablo Somepage, we were thrilled to attend BlizzCon 2013 as a fansite, and took part in a wide-ranging interview with Josh Mosqueira, Christian Lichtner, and Julia Humphreys. Wyatt Cheng was also busy chatting with Diablo III fans; he spent hours in the Community Booth talking about big game changes like Nephalem Valor Being Removed in Reaper of Souls. We also had the pleasure of conducting an interview with Mr. Cheng, touching on many different Diablo III topics.
- November 9, 2013 - Damage Reduction Iteration for Crusaders - We posed a question in multiple developer interviews at BlizzCon 2013: Will the Crusader class have an innate damage reduction like the 30% reduction provided for the Monk and Barbarian? Josh Mosqueira wasn't sure off-hand, but had some thoughts on the factors that would go into the decision. Wyatt Cheng stated that it was being evaluated, and that maybe the Crusaders just needed a 10-15% damage reduction, because of the defensive bonus of consistently using a shield. Community manager Lylirra checked with senior game designer Andrew Chambers to clarify the issue. Mr. Chambers stated that Crusaders would not have an innate damage reduction, and that was how the class arrived at the expansion's release.
The release is not the end of development for a Blizzard game; there is always room for iteration, especially for a major new addition like the Crusader class. After seeing how Crusaders fared in the live game, the developers decided that the class did indeed need a damage reduction. Patch 2.0.4 gave the class a damage reduction of 15%. That still wasn't enough, and one month later Patch 2.0.5 brought the full damage reduction of 30%, along with the development statement: Crusaders should be the toughest class in the game and currently they are not. We've increased the 15% damage reduction to 30% to match that of the Monk and Barbarian. This is a classic example of the ongoing balance adjustments that are made in patches and hotfixes, to help each class in Diablo III play in a fun and balanced fashion.
- November 19, 2013 - 'Reaper of Souls' Friends and Family Beta Starts - Less than two weeks after BlizzCon wrapped up, a limited beta started for the Reaper of Souls expansion. We took multiple looks at the new Legendary items that were introduced in the beta, as part of the shift to the Loot 2.0 design.
- December 3, 2013 - Crushing Blow Removed in Beta - The expansion and patch 2.0 brought many additions, but certain areas of the game were pared back. There were item affixes tested in beta such as Crushing Blow, that were not able to be properly balanced, and so were dropped entirely. The long-standing stat Magic Find was reduced in power, so it would not dramatically affect Legendary item drop rates.
- December 12, 2013 - 'Reaper of Souls' Closed Beta Begins - The limited beta testing for Reaper of Souls grew in December into the Closed Beta, which substantially expanded the testing pool. Alongside the testing for the expansion content, the Public Test Realm opened for patch 2.0.1, which allowed any Diablo III player to try out those major changes.
- December 19, 2013 - Reaper of Souls Release Date Announced - The expansion release date was locked in for March 25, 2014. Players could choose between three editions of the expansion: the Standard Edition, the Digital Deluxe Edition, and the limited quantity Collector's Edition from retail outlets.
- December 2013 to February 2014 - Hotfixes and Patches for Beta and PTR - There were consistent updates to the Public Test Realm for Patch 2.0.1 and the Reaper of Souls Expansion beta. Big patches for the testing realms brought changes to all the classes, and updates to nearly every system in the game. Multiple patches tested experience changes for leveling speed, in character levels and Paragon Levels. Here at Diablo Somepage, we estimated the change from the old Paragon system to the new Shared Paragon Levels, which has continued with exact tracking of Paragon 2.0 levels.
- February 5, 2014 - New Stash Tab in 'Reaper of Souls' - The expansion provided another perk, with extra stash space. The developers also talked about possible changes to the crafting materials system. The overhaul (which is still under development) would provide space by making crafting components no longer take up item storage in the game.
- February 6, 2014 - Design a Legendary Sword Completed - The Design a Legendary community project started back in October 2013. It involved multiple polls of the Diablo III players to help design a new legendary weapon for the expansion. The weapon became the Mephisto-themed one-handed sword Shard of Hate, with an multifaceted Legendary power. (The unique power for the weapon ended up having multiple bugs, that were hotfixed in Patch 2.0.4.)
- February 15, 2014 - Diablo III Sales Break 15 Million - With continued sales throughout the Christmas 2013 holidays, Diablo III reached total sales of over 15 million copies, as of the end of Q4 2013.
- February 18, 2014 - Diablo III Developer Interviews Before Patch 2.0 - The week before patch 2.0 arrived, the Diablo III developers had a slew of interviews on Twitch chat channels.
- February 24, 2014 - End of 'Reaper of Souls' Beta and Patch 2.0 PTR - The Public Test Realm for patch 2.0.1 and the Closed Beta for the Reaper of Souls expansion wrapped up on Monday, February 24.
- February 25, 2014 - Diablo III Patch 2.0.1 Arrives - The biggest patch in Diablo III history overhauled the game for all players, and laid the groundwork for the Reaper of Souls expansion. The patch brought many changes to skills for all the classes, and overhauled the Paragon and Dynamic Difficulty systems. It also added new Clan and Community social features, the Loot 2.0 item revamp, new events, and so much more!
- March 3, 2014 - Bonus Experience Buff in Diablo III - A 50% experience buff gave players even more reason to get in the game, during the weeks leading up to the Reaper of Souls release. The bonus was doubled to 100% for the final weekend before the expansion arrived.
- March 4, 2014 - Diablo III Patch 2.0.2 - Diablo III Patch 2.0.2 arrived one week after patch 2.0.1 had brought massive changes to the game. It was primarily a bug fix patch, but it also substantially boosted the amount of experience needed for each Paragon Level above 500. The increased experience requirement makes it even more of a feat to reach those lofty levels.
- March 11, 2014 - Diablo III Patch 2.0.3 - One week later patch 2.0.3 arrived, bringing a ton of fixes between the patch and the accompanying hotfixes. Quality of life changes included adjusting the materials and item affixes for all the crafted Legendary and Set pieces, and adding a new item affix, +Max Spirit for Monks.
- March 15, 2014 - Ladder System Teased by Josh Mosqueira - Diablo III game director Josh Mosqueira has a lot of fun interacting with the Diablo community, and teasing upcoming content. He and the rest of the Diablo III systems designers showed a literal approach for researching the idea of ladders in the game.
- March 18, 2014 - Diablo III Auction House Has Closed - As promised, the Auction House was closed down across Diablo III. Players were given until June 24, 2014 to claim their items or gold from the Completed tab in the Auction House. The removal of the Auction House marks a change in the design of Diablo III, away from the trading aspect of the game to a focus on personal loot acquisition.
- March 19, 2014 - 'Reaper of Souls' Gameplay Trailer Released - The Reaper of Souls promotion machine was in high gear during the week before release. The Crusader class data was added to the official Game Guide, videos were released the level 61 skills for the original classes, and previews of each area in Act V culminated in a look at the Pandemonium Fortress.
- March 24, 2014 - Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Release Party - The Reaper of Souls Expansion went live at 9PM PDT on March 24, 2014. Just a few minutes after the expansion was released, a Twitch livestream provided global access to an interview by Brandy "Nevalistis" Camel. She chatted with Diablo III game director Josh Mosqueira and senior technical game designer Wyatt Cheng. They were excited about the release of the expansion, and also delved into new upcoming features for the game, the Tiered Rifts and Seasons scheduled to arrive in Patch 2.1.
- March 26, 2014 - Diablo III Development Announced For Xbox One - The Xbox One edition of Diablo III was mentioned in interviews with a Diablo III producer, at the Reaper of Souls release party. He stated that the game was being developed for that console alongside the PS4 version, but Blizzard was not ready to officially announce it for release.
- March 28, 2014 - Top Builds and Skills Unveiled for Reaper of Souls - Here at Diablo Somepage, we updated our data tracking to reflect all the new skills and the Crusader class in the expansion. Just a few days after the release of the expansion, the most popular level 61 skill among the top players was the Witch Doctor Piranhas - a position that it still holds today!
- April 3, 2014 - 'Reaper of Souls' Sells Over 2.7 Million Copies in First Week - The Diablo III community was excited for the release of Reaper of Souls, and it sold over 2.7 million copies in the first week of release. Those expansion players defeated Malthael more than 1.5 million times by April 3. As of the end of Q1 2014, the expansion was the top selling PC game in North America and Europe combined.
- April 8, 2014 - Diablo III Patch 2.0.4 - Patch 2.0.4 was the first patch to arrive after the expansion went live. It included a number of skill buffs for the new Crusader class, along with bug fixes, quality of life improvements to the user interface and crafting, and boosts in the quality of drops found in Resplendent Chests.
- April 12, 2014 - Explore the Top Items in Reaper of Souls - We overhauled our Best Legendary and Set Items charts for the expansion, adding the Crusader class and showing more data than before. Over time, the powerful popular rings Ring of Royal Grandeur and Stone of Jordan have become the most popular items, as used by the most played softcore characters.
- April 22, 2014 - BlizzCon Returns on November 7-8, 2014 - BlizzCon 2014 is announced for November 7-8, once again at the Anaheim Convention Center.
- May 12, 2014 - Reaper of Souls Coming to Console August 19 - The Reaper of Souls content is coming to the four major consoles, as part of Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition. While the early information about that console release only mentioned that it would be on the PlayStation 4, it will also be available for the Xbox One and the older PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles.
- May 13, 2014 - Diablo III Patch 2.0.5 - Patch 2.0.5 started as another minor balance and bug fix patch, and grew into a sizable update to the game. (It was updated itself a day later with Patch 2.0.5a, to squash a few bugs.) Continuing a pattern in multiple patches and hotfixes since patch 2.0 landed, there was an increase in Legendary drop rates, this time for gambling with Kadala and throughout the higher Torment difficulty levels. Each class was given skill balance adjustments, most notably in the substantial skill changes for Crusaders.
- May 15, 2014 - Celebrating the Second Year Anniversary of Diablo III - May 15 was the two year anniversary of the release of Diablo III, and the following week of celebrations included giveaways, and sales on Diablo gear. An epic 5-hour Twitch livestream was hosted by community manager Brandy "Nevalistis" Camel, and featured a rotating cast of Diablo III developers, artists, producers, along with members of the Diablo fan community.
- May 21, 2014 - Legendary Drop Rate Buff Stays - The week-long second anniversary celebration for Diablo III also provided big buffs in the game. One of those buffs was a +100% bonus chance to the drop rate for Legendary items. At the end of the celebration, developer Travis Day pleased fans by announcing that the bonus would be staying, as a permanent increase! It is easier than ever to get great gear in the game.
- Patch 2.1 is on the horizon, bringing new gameplay modes of Tiered Rifts and Seasons. They provide a gameplay environment where the developers can try out new ideas, that change with the Seasons.
- The game will be expanding to more platforms with the Ultimate Evil Edition that arrives in August for consoles, and includes new social features like a side-kick Apprentice Mode.
- Beyond that, BlizzCon 2014 looms ahead in November, where we will no doubt hear about the grand ideas and patches that the Diablo team has planned.
See all the latest Diablo III news as it happens, and useful charts and guides for the game! Follow Diablo Somepage on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ for updates.