At BlizzCon we announced that we had taken that player feedback and were indeed working to make the single-player followers (templar, scoundrel, and enchantress) viable in the later difficulty levels.
We want to share some of the details surrounding this change and what it will mean for the single-player experience.
A lot of us wanted to see followers become viable throughout the game too, and agree they really add something to the experience as a whole. One of our main driving forces in making this decision was the benefits of the co-op experience, and the disadvantage of playing alone in the Nightmare, Hell, and Inferno difficulties. Followers won’t follow you into co-op games because you’ll already have the superior firepower of your friends to help you, but playing alone you’re going to want to take advantage of their benefits. We’ve made the later difficulties of the game brutally difficult, and we realize that for those attempting to tackle these later difficulties alone, they’re really going to actually want some additional support in the form of the followers.
Some players didn’t like their experience with mercenaries in Diablo II. We took feedback regarding mercenaries very seriously when designing Diablo III followers, and they differ from mercenaries in a few key ways that we think set them apart and resolve many issues. First of all, there is no resurrection or cost to your followers’ deaths, which makes their upkeep far less intrusive. When a follower takes enough damage to “die”, they simply take a knee, catch their breath, and after a few moments are back in the fight. That downtime could potentially have an effect on your own survival, but it’s unlikely to create a situation where you’re worrying about them or constantly working to keep them alive. We don’t want to turn what could be a fun benefit into a punishment by making players pay for their followers’ poor combat choices.
Secondly, when you die, so does your follower. These aren’t characters that can hope to compete or continue on without you. While some players prefer to be the lone wolf taking on the forces of evil, our intent isn’t to dilute the hero aspects by adding more wolves to your wolf pack. We want followers to be an extension of your bad-assery, not a liability. The followers could almost be considered automated buffs/damage skills, but of course with quite a bit more flavour and customization options.
We still have some tweaking to do with the followers, including their skills and end-game balancing. We continue to discover cool little ways to improve how each follower performs and the complements the different heroes. Our intent is to ensure players who take followers along find them to be helpful additions to their single-player experiences.
In the meantime, we’re interested to hear what you think of followers at end game and what your intent will be. Will you ever play alone, considering the benefits of co-op (personal loot drops, increased killing speed)? If you do play single player will you bring a follower? Or do you intend to challenge yourself by not bringing one?