The development team has been working really hard on the features, content, and systems for PvP in Diablo III and I wanted to take some time to give an update on where we're at.
Of course, our goal has been to release our Team Deathmatch mode as soon as possible, but we don't want to put anything out there before it's ready. Right now, Team Deathmatch isn't yet where we want it to be, so I want to provide some insight into where we are at in the development process.
The State of PvP
Our original intent with PvP for Diablo III was to provide more formal support for the dueling community that existed in Diablo II. We wanted to give players some kind of structure that would not only make it easier for you to duel with one another, but also allow you to have duels that were team-based. This is how our Team Deathmatch mode emerged, and it's been instrumental in making a lot of improvements to Diablo III. But in continuing to develop this mode, playtest it, and put it in front of other developers within the company, we've found that it falls short of our expectations for a high-quality Blizzard experience.
Putting people into an arena and letting them hurl fireballs and swing crazy-ass swords at one another always has an element of fun to it. I imagine it's no surprise to anyone reading this blog that people like battling each other in video games, so if you had the chance to play our Team Deathmatch at one of the BlizzCons where we featured it you might not understand why we'd say that we don’t feel the current mode is good enough.
Well, Here's Why…
For us it comes to a few issues, one of which is depth. Simply fighting each other with no other objectives or choices to make gets old relatively quickly. We've brought a lot of people in to try out Team Deathmatch and, while some found it entertaining, most of our testers didn't feel like it was something they'd want to do beyond a few hours. Without more varied objectives, or very lucrative rewards, few saw our current iteration as something they'd want spend a lot of time in.
Another is class balance. Like Diablo II, Diablo III was designed to be a PvE-first kind of game, where we never compromised on player abilities in the name of future PvP balance. We want to be able to carry over as many of the crazy runes, items, and skills as possible, with their crazy effects, and alter them as little as possible. In a casual PvP mode, something equivalent to a WoW Battleground, this would be fine, but Team Deathmatch felt very hardcore, and it put a laser focus on class balance in a way that we didn’t think would be good for the game as a whole.
Certainly, we've gotten a lot of benefits from the development of Team Deathmatch, especially in the areas of controls and combat model tuning, but at this point we don't believe it's the experience we feel it needs to be in order to ship, so we will be shelving it for now and exploring other options.
So, our core problem is that our Team Deathmatch mode doesn't feel like a great addition to Diablo III. It's not up to the quality that Blizzard gamers expect or that we feel you deserve, and it doesn't really fit with our goals for the rest of the game. The question now is what are we going to do about it?
First and foremost, if our original goal was to support dueling, then we're not achieving that goal very well if we don’t actually give players a way to duel in-game. You’ve been asking us for dueling for a while, so we're going to add it to the game soon. Dueling is currently scheduled to release with patch 1.0.7, which is set to hit sometime after the new year. (We'll be providing details about that feature very soon, so stay tuned.)
But as I mentioned before, we are going back to the drawing board on a new replacement for Team Deathmatch, something that feels more appropriate for Diablo III. And as we stated previously, regardless of when we release it, it'll be a free addition to the game. Team Deathmatch provided us with the foundation that we needed and served us well. Hell, it may even still be added in some form in the future. For now, though, we're going to first be looking at new modes that play up to the strengths of the character classes, focus on objectives beyond just defeating other players, and possibly even integrate PvE elements and rewards.
Keepin' It Real
We wanted to be upfront and honest with the community about where this particular project is at. It's certainly not ideal, and I know some of you got to play Team Deathmatch at BlizzCon and are probably thinking, "It seemed good enough! Just give us that." I also know how I feel whenever a game or game feature I'm looking forward to is delayed, but, as with all things Blizzard, we want to be sure that the features we add to Diablo III are actually worth it and will make the game better, and PvP is no exception.
While we don't have any further information to share right now about our plans for additional PvP modes, we really look forward to posting more about dueling in the next few days.