The more information that comes out about Diablo 3, the more I worry what the final game will be like. Over on the Battlenet forums, one of the devs posted on the current death mechanic. Not many details, but enough to cause concern.

The first thing that caught my eye was the remark: “Leaving the safety of a town should not be a decision you take lightly.” Oh? Is there another decision to make? “Gee, it looks scary out there. I’ll just stay here where it’s safe”. Or maybe, “Gee, I think I just won’t play; it’s too dangerous”.

C’mon, going out and killing critters is what the game is all about. Natually, you prepare as best you can. But you’d better decide to leave, or there won’t be much of a game. What was he thinking?

So what happens if your character bites the dust? Well, they have a “checkpoint” system. The game does an autosave from time to time, and also at the end of each dungeon floor (I guess he meant “level”). Should you end up dead, you’re respawned back at the last checkpoint.

You get back some health (how much isn’t mentioned), and the rest regens slowly. No other penalties are set at the moment, such as losing gold and/or experience. Also not mentioned is whether any monsters are respawned as well. We would hope not.

The idea here is to “keep you in the action”. How much action you can stay in while “slowly regenning health” may be another matter. Do they expect you stand around sucking your thumb until you heal up? Because from the post, it seems as though easy access to towns via town portal may not be available.

If they take out that spell, it will certainly be a very big mistake. Their idea is to create “tension”. Presumably they’re going to do this by making it harder to get back to a safe location. That isn’t tension. That is stupidity.

I think the problem here is that the designers are looking too much at those who play on Battlenet. This is the hardcore bunch. They’ve been doing it a long time.

These guys play on Hell difficulty and do it for the drops. They have incredible equipment and close to godlike abilities. And there really isn’t that much challenge left in the game. Not everyone plays that way.

So now the designers going to make the game “tougher”, “more tense”, for this group of players. We can see this in the new “health globe” system, where most healing comes from globes dropped by dead enemies. These heal you instantly. Potions are still there, but likely work much more slowly now.

The death system in Diablo 2 may be annoying for some. Running back from town to your corpse, or quitting so the body is brought back to town for you, certainly isn’t fun.

However, it makes death something to be avoided. Something to be feared. That, by itself, adds tension to the game. This new system of “checkpoint respawn” doesn’t add much tension that I can see.

Not unless they decide to add in some sort of penalty, such as a gold or experience debit. Otherwise, what they have is more like Bioshock than Diablo. It’s Death. So what?

D3 death mechanic on the Battlenet forum