|Dev: Blizzard Entertainment|
|Pub: Blizzard Entertainment|
|Release: May 15, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Violence|
by Robert VerBruggen
It's not every year that we get a new Diablo game—in fact, it's been more than a decade since Diablo II and its expansion. So action-RPG fans are understandably stoked that Diablo III is only about a month away. Here's what to expect when you return to Sanctuary to scour dungeons for loot, hack and slash through enemies, develop a character, and manage your inventory on May 15.
In the game world, twenty years have passed since the events of Diablo II, and two Lesser Evils who survived the previous assault—Azmodan and Belial—pose a serious threat to Sanctuary. A falling star destroys a cathedral, setting off what is apparently the End of Days; the dead are rising, and it's time for you to make them dead again. Also, thanks to the events of the Diablo II expansion Lord of Destruction, the world's geography has shifted, a development that allows the world to feel new and familiar at the same time.
Diablo III isn't merely coming out in 2012 because, after many years, Blizzard finally decided to get to work on a new game. It's coming out in 2012 because Blizzard has been working nonstop for a decade to create the perfect follow-up. This won't be an HD remake of Diablo II. While the new title should feel like the Diablo you know and love, virtually everything about it will feature substantial adjustments.
The character system is almost entirely different from what came before. You'll choose from five different classes: witch doctors specialize in summons and curses; barbarians are masters of brute force; wizards are experts in magic; monks excel at martial arts; and demon hunters attack with crossbows and bows. Each class has a resource they need in order to execute attacks, and characters need to do different things to make their resource regenerate.
As you level up your character, you'll unlock new skills to use—but when you choose a skill, it's not permanent. You can swap skills in and out at will, and in addition, you'll find runes that you can use to modify your skills. If you master a large skill set, you can make every battle a completely different experience.
Further, the combat—which in the past has often consisted of finding an attack you like and sticking with it—should see a lot more variety this time around. In addition to standard attacks, each character will have "breakout abilities" they can use occasionally, as well as "escape abilities" they can use to get away from problematic situations.
While the campaign will have a basic arc that doesn't change, the particulars of each playthrough should vary dramatically, giving Diablo III an unimaginable replay value. There will be class-specific quests, and much about the game will be random. Some of the dungeon layouts will be generated anew each time you play, you'll encounter different instances when visiting certain areas of the world, and some quests are randomly generated as well. Future updates of the game may "sprinkle in" additional random content. In fact, the developers have cited the element of randomness as one of the most intriguing—and for them, difficult to manage—elements of Diablo III.
Blizzard's Battle.net servers will host multiplayer, of course, but at launch, all that will be included is drop-in/drop-out co-op for up to four players. PvP battles will be coming, but not until a future patch.
There will be smaller changes as well. While the famous Diablo inventory-management system will return, you'll be able to trade your loot in auction houses that run on both real-world and in-game currency. Enemies drop health, eliminating the need for a potion bar. You can simply touch gold to pick it up. If you're masochistic, there's a hardcore mode in which characters are gone for good when they die. And most interestingly, there's reportedly a console version of the game in the works.
Diablo III—already the result of a huge investment on Blizzard's part—will be only the beginning of a long process. Future updates and patches, in addition to adding more random content and PvP matches, will include massive expansions. You can expect to spend as much time in Sanctuary as you want to, encountering new things all the time.
With any game that hasn't been released, there's always the possibility that it won't live up to expectations. But with Diablo, the expectations are sky-high, and the developers have spent an immense amount of time and energy to ensure their product is spectacular. No matter what happens, the launch of Diablo III will be fascinating to watch. We hope—and expect—that the game will be fascinating to play as well.
Date: April 5, 2012