Jay Wilson just posted a good-sized today article on the Diablo 3 Community Site, Systems Changes. Apparently, they have been testing out a lot of changes to many of the core systems in the game behind the scenes. I encourage anyone interested in Diablo 3 to read the whole thing, but I will list a short summary of the changes here for easy reference.
Scrolls of Identification are removed. Magical items still drop unidentified, but all classes/players can inherently identify items with a 5 second action (or similar). This ability is probably disabled in combat, so most players would do this back in town.
The fifth quick slot button is now potions-only. Previously, it could be used for anything, but Jay Wilson says players need at least one slot dedicated to a potion. They are not sure if they will move this in the interface or not as they are still finalizing this idea.
The Mystic artisan is removed. Jay says the Mystic “enhance item” ability overlapped with the sockets and gems system. They want to bring her back somehow since they did all the art and voicework but need to come up with some unique function she can fill.
The Cauldron of Jordan and Nephalem Cube are removed. They went back on their decision of removing Town Portals. Town Portal is back and inherent to all classes/players (no need to hold scrolls). Since players can easily get back to town now, there is no need for these two items that acted like mobile NPCs (for selling and salvaging items).
Along with that last change, the Blacksmith artisan now gains the ability to salvage items into crafting materials. My only problem with this is that the Blacksmith feels overused now. He has 5 functions now compared to the Jeweler’s 2 functions. It almost seems like the Blacksmith should be split into two artisans. Maybe the Mystic could perform some of these.
Common (white) items are no longer salvageable. They had a philosophy before of making sure all items were valuable in some way, but when they looked back at Diablo 2 there were typically a lot of junk items. They liked the whole loot piñata feel where tons of items drop but only a few are useful.
Three of the core attributes are being replaced with more Diablo 2-style attributes. Attack, Precision and Defense are now replaced with Strength, Dexterity, and Intellect. Each of these are basically equivalent to the Attack skill but now only effect specific classes. Strength is for Barbarians, Dexterity is for Demon Hunters and Monks; and Intellect is for Witch Doctors and Wizards.
Not only are there quite a few changes, they are changes to a lot of the core systems in the game. I guess this explains why the game was delayed. According to Bashiok, these changes have already been tested internally and almost all of them will be there in the next beta patch. Hopefully, this means there are no more delays.
I personally am liking the sound of these changes. Diablo 3 over the years seemed to lose its Diablo feel. They changed so much about the gameplay that it was really a different game entirely. A good addition to the hack ‘n slash genre, but not a Diablo game. These changes make it seem like a real sequel to Diablo 2. I really hope it lives up to the legacy.