No Stats, Level 60 Cap, and Rewards
Looking at this thread I'm glad the messaging we've been getting out has resonated with the majority of you. I'm not sure it can be explained any more than it has been. If anyone is unconvinced I'm not sure just repeating myself will convince them, but I have to give it a shot. Just to sort of go over the main points as I see them...
Concentrated Coolness - This is a Blizzard design mantra and is sought with a lower level cap. By having fewer levels we can ensure each one feels more significant. In Diablo II you had 99 levels. Each one was a small step in player power, and when it came down to it, once you hit 80 or so you had already out leveled the content enough to make it easily farmable.
Achievements - Whether you choose to recognize them or not, achievements provide a far better, visible, and even tangible reward to time invested than inconsequential gains on a road to 99. Diablo II had an achievement, and it was level 99. It was an achievement because it offered no real power benefit but was reached to show off time investment. In Diablo III we have hundreds of achievements
Content - Leveling to 60 should take you to the end of Hell difficulty. This is a nice progression as when you finish 'progressing' and move into the 'farming' phase, you're at level cap. We don't feel there's any benefit to allowing players to out level the content, and in fact directly goes against the intent of Inferno always being difficult.
Difficulty - With fewer levels and a finite cap we're assured players will reach if they finish Hell, we can actually tune the game to be difficult at all times (important for Inferno) since we don't allow you to out level the most difficult content.
As for no stat points: www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVTVMqtmxPU
Oops! Correct link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuKvxab1kBk
Can you explain "Tangible Reward" when it comes to an achievement? That goes against the idea of the achievement system. It isn't supposed to give you anything other than bragging rights.
We don't have plans to ever attach the achievement systems in our games to player power or progression. We absolutely have tangible rewards though, like titles, mounts and pets in World of Warcraft, portraits in StarCraft II, and at least banner customization options in Diablo III, if not more.
A more philosophical question. Was the D3 team ever tempted to get rid of levels entirely? Go back to the Mega Man style of getting skills (beating bosses)? You can't wear X gear or use Y rune until you have Z achievement (beating act bosses)?
I've never been aware of a design or proposal to remove levels. They're fairly meaningful, recognizable, powerful to a feeling of progression, and I would personally argue a bullet point on the definition of the RPG genre.
Would a feature like those 'angel wings' (collectors edition) be considered one of those? For example, an achievement might get you devil wings or hooves (burning footprints).
We're not going to give the CE wings out through other means, but sure we very well may attach different cosmetic rewards to achievements.