Wilson took over from Cheng and spent time going through the tortures of creation. Be thankful that some of these skill systems were trashed. Even having them in front of my eyes didn't guarantee any understanding at all. Wilson even through in the Horadric Cube skill system which was only a small joke at the dev team's expense.
The skill system is being designed to be simple to understand, as compelling in the late game as it is in the early game, supportive of up to six active skills and allows for a large number of build possibilities. To accomplish this, devs want simplified advancement that brings back some of the old favorites from D1. Remember the books that dropped? While those won't be making a comeback, randomly dropped skills will be there to allow players to enhance their skills in truly unique ways.
There are two sets of skills: Active and Passive. Active skills are those used...well, when actively battling monsters. Passive skills change the nature of those active skills in cool ways. Additionally, there are skill runes that will further differentiate the way skills are used and how they are deployed. Customization is way over the top in this respect and VERY cool.
To add a little depth to the rune system, here are some of the things you'll find:
- Runes drop randomly
- Runes can be used by any class
- Runes can improve skills simply by dropping them onto a skill to change its properties, etc. This encourages experimentation.
- Runes are NOT locked in! They can be removed and replaced.
We saw some great examples of the rune system and how it alters the way skills deploy. For instance, Teleport is a great skill for hopping away from danger. Add a Striking Rune and suddenly there is a wave of lightning left in the caster's wake that damages nearby monsters.
The Witch Doctor's Skull of Flame skill sends a flaming skill into a single opponent. With the addition of a Multistrike rune allows it to bounce and the further it's thrown, the bigger the bounce. On impact, it leaves a burning circle that continues to burn anyone within the circle and anyone stupid enough to walk through it. Hey...no insult to zombies but we all know how brainless they are, right?
Electrocute in its normal state does exactly what its name implies. With a Multistrike rune, it behaves more like chain lightning and with a Lethality rune, it literally blows things up.
The most exciting announcement, however, was RESPEC! Yes, you heard it right: Mess up your character's advancement, find a useless skill or just want to try something new, you'll be able to respec your character. This is a HUGE and WELCOME announcement......this from the girl who actually wasted way too many points in the Amazon's Decoy spell. :(