Who Was There: The Diablo III panel was lorded over by four of the lead developers on the game: lead world designer Leonard Boyarsky, technical game designer Wyatt Cheng, lead technical artist Julian Love, and lead designer Jay Wilson.
What They Talked About: While the headline announcement to come out of Blizzard Entertainment's opening ceremony for BlizzCon 2009 this morning was the announcement of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, the publisher didn't forget about its Diablo III fans. Having previously revealed the barbarian, witch doctor, and wizard, Blizzard today announced that the fourth playable class will be the monk.
As part of a "Heroes and Monsters" panel session for the game, Diablo III leads Wilson, Love, Cheng, and Boyarsky went into greater depth on why the team settled upon the monk and what will differentiate him from the other classes in the game.
According to Wilson, the monk was inspired by the traditional pen-and-paper role-playing archetype, with the goal of creating a fast, melee-oriented fighter that, in contrast to the barbarian, was also less physically durable. Interestingly, Wilson also noted that the monk was inspired by arcade fighters, primarily by way of the combo system that the class will employ.
Going into deeper detail on the combo system, Cheng first outlined three of the monk's skills. The first, Way of the Hundred Fists, has three components--a dash, a multiple strike, and an area-of-effect attack. Crippling Wave is a debuff ability, and it first slows an enemy's movements, then reduces the monster's damage, and finally refreshes both effects while extending the detrimental attacks to all nearby enemies. Exploding Palm, which Cheng described as the monk's signature skill, allows for two damage strikes and then a damage-over-time attack.
Because it's Diablo, these components are cycled through with three successive mouse clicks. Notably, players will be able to combine these abilities, such that the first click would be for Way of the Hundred Fists, the second click would activate the second component of Crippling Wave, and the third click would land the final component of Exploding Palm.
Love then addressed the look of the monk, who the panel said will draw inspiration from both Asian cultures and Eastern Orthodox religious orders. Since the monk is essentially a warrior of the church, the team felt it was important to give him what they called a "holy color palette," which incorporates a lot of coruscated silvers and golds. The monk's graphical effects also display his runic knowledge, with various holy symbols appearing as he attacks.
Quote: "We're going to have to keep that one a secret until next year."--Jay Wilson, in response to a question regarding Diablo II's amazon class.
Takeaway: The monk class should serve as an interesting counter to the barbarian, which emphasizes more brute strength over precision. Indeed, Blizzard noted that the monk class will be more challenging initially due to his relative weakness. However, in later levels, the class should pack a significant punch.