Diablo Immortal Devs Spill Details on the Tempest Class, Its Inspirations, and Much More

Diablo Immortal is set to release its 8th class on May 23, and following the Blood Knight from last year, the team at Blizzard is gearing up for a storm.

In the lead-up to Diablo Immortal‘s huge update, we got the chance to talk to Lead Systems Designer John Yoo and Lead Game Producer Emil Salim about the new Tempest class, its inspirations, gameplay details, and much more.

Some parts of this Diablo Immortal interview have been slightly edited for brevity and readability.

Diablo Immortal Interview

Q: What inspired the creation of Tempest class and how does it bring a fresh perspective to Diablo Immortal’s gameplay?

John: Initially, we just kind of took a look at the landscape of all the classes that we had, trying to figure out what holes were missing, and we just kind of brainstormed about different directions that we could take. From there, the idea of this battle-based character came out.

Emil: Pretty early on, I remember some of the decisions we made were that the Tempest was going to be very movement-based, and it’s a very agile class. Also, the Tempest can control water and wind. Those are some of the key aspects of the class, and that’s where the art team started.

To accentuate the water and wind elements, we took inspiration from Celtic patterns and art nouveau because they have a lot of curvy lines that further accentuate the theme of water and wind, as well as their movement. The color palettes of the Tempest came pretty early too, and we decided to go with a cooler color palette that is distinctly different from other classes within Diablo Immortal. Usually, our color palettes tend to be more on the warmer side, more like reds, browns, or yellows. For the Tempest, the main colors are teal and white, again to deal with water and wind.

John: In terms of gameplay, the Tempest is focused on being very quick and agile, a sort of hybrid between a caster and a melee character who uses water and wind to effectively make them like a magic assassin, so the gameplay is very unique. They dash in and out of combat and have both melee and range attacks, but they also have summons, and we had to rethink how to manage their summons because these typically don’t work well with classes that are based around movement.

tempest key art pair

Q: Instead of bringing classes from other Diablo games, why did you decide to create a new class?

John: It’s always on a case-by-case basis, and it depends upon numerous factors. The success of The Blood Knight felt like players gravitate towards these brand new classes that they’ve never seen. They also do a great job of expanding the story in a different way compared to existing classes.

But that doesn’t mean that we will only be doing new classes. It’s definitely challenging and it comes with different problems that we have to solve, but we think that there’s definitely a lot of value in both directions.

Emil: We tried to find the niche area in terms of gameplay styles and ask, what haven’t we already done in Diablo? That’s kind of what led us to say, “OK, maybe we should probably do something new,” and then that eventually became the Tempest.

John: If we have certain classes that already mimic other classes, we may be more hesitant to go in that direction for the very next one until we’ve exhausted all the other ones first.

Q: How tough was it to balance the Tempest class, seeing as this new class will be joining at a point in the game where players already have powerful characters and a certain established meta?

John: There is the district challenge that comes with trying to balance a new class for both PVE and PVP. For PVE, it’s a lot simpler because we control that environment and all the aspects of the enemies.

Early on, we wanted the Tempest to be a very quick class. We wanted to try something different where their passive was that their ability to ride on the wave was always on, but in testing, we quickly found that that was just really powerful and something that we couldn’t do.

PvP is something that we have to be very delicate about in terms of balance. We have to ensure that we’re not upsetting the balance because it is supposed to be an extremely fair environment.

Once it goes live, we have to listen to the feedback from the players because they are the people who are playing the game, they’re spending so many hours providing feedback that they’re our best resource for information and data. We try to figure out how to do our best within the time that we have in order to get it as balanced as possible, and we’re hoping that it comes out great, but knowing that we will also have to make changes based upon what the players are telling us.

Tempest Login Art 1

Q: Can you tell us more about the Tempest’s playstyle and what sets it apart from other classes?

Emil: Visually, one of the key differences that sets the Tempest apart from everybody else is the main weapon that they use. They’re dual-wielding, they hold these swords where the blades can separate from their hilts, and they turn into water whips.

John: This is a fast-moving class and a lot of those abilities kind of exemplify that. There’s a lot of abilities where you’re able to dash quickly or teleport and switch positions with the Zephyrs. I’d say that the cool thing about this class is that it feels very much like a combo class. There are so many things that you can do to chain abilities in order to obtain the desired effect.

Q: What is the Tempest’s primary attribute?

John: The Tempest is going to be a strength-based class. It could have gone either way because it is sort of a battlemage; it could have gone strength or intelligence, and we did explore trying to meld both of those.

Q: The Tempest has a good mix of skills, like having a summon and being highly mobile. Was this always the case, or did the design change over the course of development?

John: We definitely knew that we wanted the Tempest to be sort of, you know, kind of like a, a a caster melee caster, a combat caster type but what that means definitely has changed. We weren’t thinking that it would have summons, but that was a new and exciting twist that came about. It’s going to be very different from the Necromancer. Their summons feel very different, more like physical essences of yourself, because they can mimic your attacks and you can execute abilities with them.

Emil: Even with the visuals, we did multiple iterations. Really early in production, the Tempest looked really different. It was going to look more like some kind of sea creature or like half-human half-sea creature. More monstrous than what you see today.

John: If we had gone in the direction of making it more dark and less human, more animalistic, the abilities would probably be very different as well.

diablo immortal tempest class screenshot 3

Q: How would simplifying the number of Paragon trees enhance the gameplay experience?

John: The whole goal about this is just to give players more options and more choice. I think the biggest thing about the whole system is that it was just kind of overwhelming going through 15 trees and then continuing to expand on that ends up becoming overwhelming. There’s just so many different options there.

We definitely think it’s a positive change to the game and the system, and something that we think players will really appreciate.

Q: With the ability to choose more skills per Paragon tree, do you have any concerns that this might raise the complexity of the game, or is this the goal?

John: It’s not more complex than what we currently have because it uses a lot of similar abilities. It’s just giving players more choices. Before, players only have the ability to activate one tree, but now, there are multiple trees that they have the ability to spend points on, so they just have more choices available to them

There are a lot of things that we did to try to make things more streamlined and easier to understand.

Q: Can you explain how the Paragon rework will look to change how players will approach builds in the end game?

John: It’s just giving players more options… But I will say, just as a foreshadowing of more things to come, this is just the start of the changes that we’re making to the Paragon system. We have more changes coming up in the future that will expand upon the Paragon system that we think players will get really excited. That new expansion to the Paragon system is really what players in the end game are really going to look forward to.

diablo immortal paragon system changes

Q: How has player feedback influenced the design and integration process of Tempest, and how do you plan to continue incorporating player input post-launch?

Emil: The general philosophy, especially with any game that is in live operations, is always to let our players take the lead. It’s very rare that we come in and just make a decision. More often than not, we always start with the players first. What do the players want at this point? So the players really do take the lead in terms of where the game evolves.

We are always listening to our players.

John: We have a dedicated community team who’s always reaching out and looking, and when they see something that seems important, they’ll reach out and tell us, and then many times it’ll turn into either a bug fixed for future release. It may not look like it because we aren’t actively responding to everything that’s being said, but the really great points always end up coming back to us, and they end up inspiring changes to the game or fixes in one way or another.

Q: The Tempest is a fast-moving class. Would you recommend it to new players?

John: It’s always a challenge trying to build any class for brand-new players, but we at Blizzard always stand by the mantra of trying to make everything easy to get into.

The Tempest, just like all of our other classes are suitable for brand-new players because we try to design with that in mind. We don’t try to overcomplicate things with the initial experience. What we try to do is incorporate elements into all the classes where, if players want to learn more and get more into the details, trying to build out an optimized character does take some time and challenge. In order to get into it as a new player, though, we try to eliminate as many obstacles as possible.

Thank you John and Emil for talking to us about the latest Diablo Immortal update and the very exciting Tempest class!

Diablo Immortal’s Tempest Class is scheduled to launch on May 23.

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