When the team was choosing which classes to include in the long-awaited sequel for Blizzard's best-selling action-RPG series, they decided to create a brand-new one -- the Witch Doctor. And with only five classes in the game, "Diablo III" just didn't have room for two curse-dealing, pet-wielding classes.
Here's Blizzard's explanation for why the Witch Doctor replaced the Necromancer:
"Our approach for classes in 'Diablo III' is that we don't have a strong desire to bring back classes from the previous game," Wilson told me. "The goal is to try and give people new gameplay and not just re-hash old gameplay. We're not just making a 'Diablo II' with updated 3D graphics."
"The problem was, we looked at the class and didn't think that we could really make him a lot better," he explained. "We could add some new stuff to him but for the most part -- curses, corpse explosion, skeleton pets -- done. That's the class. We wanted to create new gameplay, so we chose to do the Witch Doctor as a different kind of class."
Though the Witch Doctor will have similar abilities to the Necromancer, Wilson didn't want to "have to live by any Necromancer rules." One of the big differences between the two classes is how damage is actually dealt.
"If [the Necromancer] dealt damage, it was through corpses laying around or through his pets," he said. "The Witch Doctor, his pets are a little more transient. If you watch the gameplay video, you really notice his pets come and go like crazy. There's a wall of zombies that go away fairly quickly or pets that just kind of blow up willy-nilly. That was intentional -- to try and make him different than the Necromancer."
However, for those who are really passionate about the Necromancer, there's still hope to see the class in a "Diablo III" expansion. In fact, Wilson thought that expansions might be a great place to bring back any of the old classes not included, particularly since the team itself had passionate debates on the topic -- almost as much as the game's art direction.
"There's a lot of people on our team who aren't happy with our class choices,” he admitted. "But after we've established 'Diablo III' as its own game with its own type of gameplay and experiences, I wouldn't be opposed to looking at old classes. We are trying to design [the Witch Doctor] class so that if we did bring back the Necromancer, there's room for him. We're looking out ahead of time at what our expansions are going to be, so we've got to keep room open for some of those other classes down the road."
Wilson added, "It's one of those things where, unless we put like 30 classes in the game, people are going to be unhappy. But if we put 30 classes in the game, we'd hurt the game. I think that of the classes that we've chosen, there will be something for everyone. I'm not worried that people won't be able to find a class that they like to play."
"Diablo" fans, does Blizzard's explanation appease you? How do you feel about the Witch Doctor replacing the Necromancer?