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Diablo III

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Diablo III
Diablo III Box Illustration.png
Developer Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher Blizzard Entertainment
Designers Jay Wilson (Lead)
Leonard Boyarsky (Lead World)
Kevin Martens (Lead Content)
Composer Russell Brower
Platform Windows, Mac
Release Date May 15, 2012 [1]
Ratings ESRB: M
System Requirements System Requirements
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Diablo III is the latest game in the Diablo series. After years of rumors, the game was officially announced on June 28, 2008 at 12:18pm (CEST) at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational in Paris, France. Diablo III is a dark fantasy/horror-themed action role-playing game by Blizzard, making it the third installment in the Diablo franchise.

Contents

[edit] Plot

The game takes place in Sanctuary. Sanctuary was saved twenty years prior by unnamed heroes in Diablo II. Having survived that onslaught, Tyrael rewarded the heroes by sending them to safety. It is up to a new generation of heroes to face the forces of evil threatening the world.

The Heroes arrive in New Tristram to investigate a fallen star. One of the townspeople, Leah, asks the Heroes to help find her uncle, Deckard Cain, who went missing in the Tristram Cathedral when the falling star struck it. The Heroes rescue Cain and finds that the fallen star is a person. This stranger has no memories except that he lost his sword, which was shattered into three pieces. The Heroes retrieve the pieces, but the witch Maghda captures Cain and the pieces, attempting to force him to repair the sword for herself. However, the Heroes force Maghda to flee, and she kidnaps the stranger instead. Cain, dying from Maghda's torture, uses the last of his strength to repair the sword and instructs the Heroes to return it to the stranger. The Heroes rescue the stranger and return his sword, causing him to regain his memories: he is fallen angel Tyrael. Tyrael reveals that he was disgusted with his fellow angels' unwillingness to protect humanity from the forces of Hell, so he cast aside his divinity to become a mortal, and came to warn Sanctuary about the arrival of the demon lords Belial and Azmodan.

To avenge Cain's death, the Heroes track Maghda to the city of Caldeum, which is controlled by her master, Belial. The Heroes kill Maghda, and rescue Leah's mother, Adria. Adria tells Tyrael and the Heroes that the key to stopping the demons is the Black Soulstone, which can trap the souls of the seven Lords of Hell and destroy them forever. In order to obtain the Black Soulstone, the Heroes resurrect the mad Horadric mage, Zoltun Kulle. Kulle reveals its hiding place and completes the unfinished Soulstone, but is killed by the Heroes after he attempts to steal it. The Heroes kill Belial and trap his soul within the Black Soulstone, freeing Caldeum. As Leah studied in Caldeum's library to find more answers about the Black Soulstone and Azmodan, she received a vision from Azmodan, who told her that he is sending an army from the ruins of Mount Arreat to take the Black Soulstone for himself.

Tyrael, Adria, Leah, and the Heroes journey to Bastion's Keep, the only line of defense between Azmodan's forces and the rest of Sanctuary. With Tyrael, Adria, and Leah staying behind to protect the Black Soulstone, the Heroes push out from the keep and into Mount Arreat. Azmodan is defeated and his soul trapped in the Black Soulstone. However, Adria betrays the group and takes the Black Soulstone with all the demonic souls inside. She reveals that she has been Diablo's agent from the beginning, and that everything she had done up until this point was part of her plan to resurrect him. She also tells the group that Leah's father is Diablo, making her the perfect vessel for his physical form. Using Leah as a sacrifice, Adria resurrected Diablo. However, now having the souls of all the Lords of Hell within him, Diablo became the Prime Evil, the most powerful demon in existence. Diablo then began his assault on the High Heavens, the defending angels being no match for him.

Tyrael and the Heroes follow Diablo to the High Heavens, where the city is under attack. The defending Angels warn the Heroes that Diablo is attempting to reach the Crystal Arch, which is the source of all of the angels' power. If Diablo corrupted the Crystal Arch, his victory over the High Heavens would be complete. The Heroes encounter Diablo at the top of the Crystal Arch and eventually defeat Diablo, destroying his physical form. After the battle, Tyrael decides to rejoin the High Heavens but remain a mortal. Since Diablo was defeated, an Angel of Justice is no longer needed. Instead, he becomes the new aspect of Wisdom, dedicated to building an alliance between angels and humans to confront evil.

[edit] Speculation

In the ending cinematic, Diablo's corpse is seen disintegrating as it is sent falling, but the Black Soulstone is still intact. It is left to wonder if Diablo's essence has merely been confined to it again, and the whereabouts of the Black Soulstone itself is now unknown.

[edit] Gameplay

Diablo III's inventory and HUD retain a feel similar to that found in earlier games in the series, including a viewpoint reminiscent of the isometric view of Diablo III's predecessors. The inventory has sixty slots for items. Armor and weaponry each occupy two slots and all other items each occupy one slot. It can also be expanded to include details about the character's attributes.

Diablo III is similar in style to its predecessor, Diablo II. Blizzard's proprietary engine will use custom in-house physics, a change from the original usage of Havok's physics engine.[1] One of the features of the engine is that players are able to utilize the environment to help in their quest. For example, huge walls can be reduced to rubble to squash monsters. Even monsters use the environment, which was demonstrated by Ghouls scaling the walls to reach the Barbarian. The developers are aiming to make the game run on a wide range of systems, and have stated that DirectX 10 will not be required.

Diablo III's skills window depicting the abilities of the wizard class.

The entire quest system has been revamped. Along with the main storyline quests, there will be character specific quests as well as random adventures - mini quests generated randomly on the map. One of the very first quests in the game could be seen in the gameplay video, the rescuing of Deckard Cain.

Dungeons are still randomized, but the random map generator has undergone an overhaul.

Potions have lesser importance because of Health Globes. Slain monsters may drop a health globe, which when picked up will replenish the character's health similar to the healing potions. When playing multiplayer, nearby allies will also be replenished.

Similar to the characters, the NPCs are also more lively and will have interesting backstories. The gameplay video showed the Barbarian communicating to Deckard Cain in a new interface. The player characters have also been given more interactivity and are able to choose conversation options while conversing with NPCs. The characters have unique voices and will reveal their own back story in conversation. In turn, the player character will speak back to NPCs.

The mode of traveling will be similar to Diablo II. Four Acts are present, each roughly the same length as those featured in its predecessor. Not every act has a central town however. Differences have been made to the Waypoint system, a new checkpoint system having been added to supplement waypoints. Checkpoints allow characters that have died to return to the fray quickly, without going through the hassle of returning from town, as was the case in Diablo II.

Death animations also made an appearance in the Diablo III gameplay trailer. On the last boss fight of the trailer, the Siegebreaker Assault Beast picks up the male barbarian and bites his head off. They ended up not being implemented, but death animations could be done at a future date.[2]

In co-operative play, loot is dropped for individual players; one player cannot see what the other gets. This was done to encourage trading between players in a group and reducing thievery. Co-operative play remains as the core of multiplayer, with a drop-in, drop-out feature.[3]

[edit] Auction House

The Diablo III auction house.

A major feature new in Diablo III is the Auction House, wherein a player can trade items using gold or real money. Blizzard focused on developing an auction house system for Diablo III, citing a desire to do a better job compared to the trading system of Diablo II.[4]

Features:

  • Smart search
  • Advanced Search
  • Stackable items
    • Gold
    • Gems
    • Crafting & Dyes
    • Tomes & Pages

[edit] Character Classes

The five character classes of Diablo III: Wizard, Witch Doctor, Demon Hunter, Barbarian, and Monk.
Character selection screen with the demon hunter selected.

A list of the classes is provided below:[5]

  • Witch Doctor: A new class that appears to be a mixture of the Necromancer, the Druid and an alchemist. The witch doctor can summon undead monsters -- without the need of dead bodies like the Necromancer -- along with some skills reminiscent of the Warlock from World of Warcraft, such as Terrify and Mass Confusion. While these are old Necromancer skills, they seem to be a bit more potent now.
  • Barbarian: This class makes a comeback from Diablo II as the straight-forward brute force fighter, with revamped abilities. The barbarian uses their physical prowess to gain victory, including cleaving through groups of monsters and leaping into the air to smash down upon enemies.
  • Wizard: A magic user in Diablo III, it is a more powerful form of the Sorceress. Only the female Wizard was playable at the 2008 Blizzcon, but the male Wizard has since been revealed with the closed beta.
  • Monk: A skilled warrior of unparalleled dexterity that is armed with speed, holy fervor, and a quest for physical and spiritual perfection. The monk strikes down enemies with a barrage of lightning-fast blows.
  • Demon Hunter: Combines elements of Diablo II's Amazon and Assassin classes. The demon hunter wields as her main weapon a crossbow and can also throw small bombs at enemies. Some of the skills have been revealed and among them are arrow skills such as Chain Arrow. The class is unique in that it utilizes a dual-resource system, the fast-regenerating Hatred and the slow-regenerating Discipline.

[edit] Back Story

According to Blizzard, each character has a back story which will be revealed during the course of the game. Originally the male Barbarian was also to be the same one who defeated the Prime Evils in Diablo II and the Lord of Destruction, however this connection has since been removed.

[edit] Gender

There was a fair amount of debate in Blizzard as to whether each class should have both genders available, or whether to stick with the single-gender classes from the previous games. Adding more genders meant having to create custom models, more weapon design, more art, etc. Despite the cost, Blizzard decided to go ahead with the dual gender option, as the knowledge that gamers come from both genders, they wanted to make a choice available. However, genders will not affect available abilities.[6]

[edit] Monsters

Demonic Invasion.

Some of the monsters shown through the first game play trailer at the 2008 WWI included: Ghoul, Grotesque, Skeletal Archer, Scavenger, Skeleton, Skeletal Shieldman, Tomb Guardian, Wretched Dead, Wraith, and Zombie.

Two unique monsters were shown as well, Thousand Pounder and Siegebreaker Assault Beast. A third super unique monster, the Mistress of Pain was revealed a few days later only as concept artwork. At in the 2008 Blizzcon, the Skeleton King was introduced as the first boss.

A new game mechanic has been created in the game that, after the end of each battle, there will be a number of corpses left behind to give a sense of aftermath. These will stay until the player moves off the screen. This change is likely brought about by the community's negative reaction to the disappearing corpses in the initial gameplay video.

[edit] Locations

World map of Sanctuary.

Diablo III is still set in Sanctuary, but has a wide variety of locations to explore. This agrees with the trend in each game: Diablo I focused on only one town while Diablo II allowed players to explore five different environments (but still had only one town from each locale). Diablo III seems to let the player explore almost the entirety of Sanctuary. At the moment, many locations, most of them as yet unseen in-game, have been released as either concept art or as official lore.

The first is the town of Tristram, where Diablo I was set. It has been rebuilt as New Tristram. Old Tristram still has the Cathedral, which is the first dungeon to be explored in Act I.

The second and third ones seen were in the Diablo III cinematic trailer - Caldeum and Ureh. Caldeum is speculated to be present because of its importance in the game lore as the reason for the corruption in Aranoch. It may also be noted that Caldeum is the home of the, now supposedly deceased, author-turned-explorer, Abd al-Hazir.

The Lost City of Ureh is seen in the cinematic trailer exactly as it is described in the Sin War novels. This has led to much speculation regarding the player meeting Zayl the Necromancer. It was confirmed to be Ureh in a concept art released by Blizzard after a few weeks of the release of the cinematic trailer.

Other locations include the newly formed Arreat Crater which was where the Demonic Legion was supposed to start its invasion.

[edit] Items

Diablo III expands the player character's arsenal by leaps and bounds. Many items make a return in the form of magic, rare and unique forms. It has been mentioned that some of the more popular Diablo I and II items may make a return, but they will be far less powerful than the new Legendary breed of items, the new name of unique items.

The item name colors have undergone a change, though normal and magic items are still white and turquoise respectively, there are purple colored items as seen in the gameplay video. The items also have a visual background color in the inventory depending on their type. Items with magical attributes will also give a visual effect when equipped by the character. This is a great improvement from the different color palettes that were used in Diablo II's magic items.

[edit] Armor

Blizzard has stated that there will be no customization of characters outside of choosing your gender. However, the Diablo series is known more for its custom avatar looks through countless different pieces of armor. The first gameplay trailer has shown that they have kept all the old armor slots:

It also shows that they have added a slot for Shoulder and for Pants. It has also been stated that all of the parts will have an impact on the visuals of the character, an improvement from Diablo II.

[edit] Runes

Like in Diablo II, Diablo III has Runes, but they are completely different from their Diablo II counterparts. They now give bonuses to skills instead of items.

[edit] Cinematics

Diablo III will have at least the same number of cinematics as Diablo II, if not more. Two cinematics from the game, the Intro cinematic and Black Soulstone Cinematic have been revealed.           

[edit] TV Spots

    

[edit] Expansions

It has been confirmed that Diablo III will have a number of expansion packs.

[edit] Development

Development on Diablo III began in 2001 when Blizzard North was still in operation. The original artistic design differed from that shown at Blizzard Worldwide Invitational 2008 demonstration, and had undergone three revisions before reaching the standards felt necessary by the team behind Diablo III. The game is being planned for a simultaneous release on both Windows and Mac OS X platforms. It was also revealed that the game would require a constant internet connection to play, even for single-player mode.[7]

Diablo III is the brainchild of a development team of around 60-65 individuals. The reason for the delay was that there was a lot of debate within Blizzard as to what kind of game Diablo III was going to be. As soon as a direction was chosen, the art style that would be used came under discussion. Initially the game as a whole was set to be dark and gritty, but it was found that monsters blended in too well with the background.

Even so, the choice was not universally greeted with enthusiasm. A petition was created by players to force Blizzard Entertainment to change their art direction for the game. Blizzard has said that they will not change the art direction no matter how many signatures the petition garners. This petition spawned several others that want the art direction to stay the same, thus causing a rift between Diablo fans.

However, the majority of feedback Blizzard received was positive. The game underwent three art revisions, with the game developer finding that a purely dark style was too drab. As the case was, the "sunny" art style represents the early parts of the game. This is to establish juxtaposition between the game's early and late stages, with things "feeling worse" as the game moves on.

In early May 2011, Blizzard started the company-wide alpha testing phase for Diablo III. At the 2nd quarter financial call on May 15th, 2011, Blizzard announced that the beta would start by the end of the third quarter (which ended on September 30th, 2011). On August 1st, they held a special reveal event at their headquarters in California. They showed the first preview of their beta build and a month later, they relaunched their community site. On September 6th, 2011 the Friends and Family beta started. The closed beta started on September 20th, 2011, and ended on May 1st, 2012. (During the beta, Blizzard held an Open Beta Weekend event from April 20-23, 2012. This was done to stress test the servers.)

[edit] References

  1. Battle.Net Topic: Whips
  2. D3 Battle.Net Topic: No More Death Animations...
  3. D3 Battle.Net Blog: Friends That Slay Together, Stay Together
  4. YouTube: Blizzcon 2011 Diablo 3 Panel Part 2
  5. Blizzard: Diablo 3 FAQ
  6. MPB: Diablo III Gender Debate
  7. PCGamer: Diablo 3 Cannot Be Played Offline

[edit] External links