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Diablo® III is coming!

28 Jun 2008

Diablo III Logo</a> It has been a long time since Blizzard has released a title in their Diablo® line of computer video games. I have watched both the cinematic and gameplay trailers and I admit that I am very excited. I'm almost excited enough to pull out my old Diablo® II discs and install them this very weekend. Alas, I have work to do, and cannot oblige my inner gamer's desires. Read on for details.

Screenshot of Diablo III rendering engine in action. Barbarian fighting several enemies in a picturesque scene.</a>The most exciting things about Diablo® III is that they have vastly improved the game engine. Among the improvements is kinetics and handling of character movement. Which is a problem that plagued Diablo®, and Diablo® II. Primarily because -- I think -- the World of Sanctuary was based in a two dimensional plane in terms of the game's map, at least. Then everything other than the backdrop is a pre-rendered three dimensional object placed at specific coordinates on the map. Including your character. According to the official FAQ, however, Diablo® III's engine is capable of displaying your character, the environment and all of your enemies in full three dimensional glory.

Female Barbarian rendered by the Diablo III engine with armor equipped.</a>Another great advancement is that all items have class-specific visual renderings when displaying on avatars. The beauty of the fully three dimensional engine is that you can add this type of feature. The models look like they have much more detail and are visually interesting. I'm very much looking forward to discovering new item sets and unique items.

One gameplay enhancement that I've seen is that there may no longer be health potions. Slain enemies now drop health orbs. Upon contact with an orb you instantly "use" it so to speak. So walking into a health orb replenishes one's health meter. From the gameplay trailer it may also seem that walking over dropped gold automatically adds it to your purse. If this is so, I'm happy about it. It was annoying walking around picking up gold.

Diablo Screen Shot Character Class select screen (Playstation version)</a>Blizzard has decided to add a few more character classes in the new title. However, expect to see some of the old "faces" so to speak. When Diablo® II was released I recall that the Amazon replaced the Rogue from Diablo®.  The Barbarian took on the power characteristics of the Warrior. The Paladin took on the more rounded characteristics of the Warrior and melded the Sorcerer with the Warrior in a balanced set of skills and stats. The Necromancer was new to Diablo® II and concentrated some of the more dark scrolls and spells into this class as well as earth elemental. And the Sorceress is the female form of the Sorcerer focusing their spells and skills on elemental fire, wind, water, and lighting.

In reference to the above paragraph, I must post this disclaimer. Yes I know the Barbarian existed in Diablo®: Hellfire expansion pack. I never played Hellfire and therefore cannot speak for it. And also, the Barbarian was merely a hack as was the Bard. The character classes that were added in Hellfire are as follows: Monk, Bard, and Barbarian. Monks are the only offical character type that was added in Diablo®: Hellfire. One might compare the Paladin of Diablo® II with the Monk. However the Monk didn't have too much ability in terms of magic.

Diablo III’s New Female Barbarian Concept Drawing</a>In Diablo® III so far I've seen two classes. Both of these classes feature a female and male character model. The first being the Barbarian that we've come to know and love from Diablo® II. The first thing that I noticed about the Barbarian class in Diablo® III is that the Leap skill has been greatly improved. Not only does it deal a great amount of damage, but it handles the plotting of where you'll land in a much more precise and realistic fashion. The effects when you land are beautiful as well. Slash appears to be quite an affective skill that will slash in a wide arc in the direction of your click.  For those that are wondering, Whirlwind is still a staple of the Barbarian skill set. The animation for Whirlwind looks much more refined than that of the Diablo® II rendering.

Diablo III New Witch Doctor Character Class Concept Drawing</a>The second class I saw in action was the Witch Doctor class. This class is sort of what one might consider a shaman from World of Warcraft®. At their command are Fire, Disease, and other plagues which they use against their enemies. Witch Doctors can also summon underworldly pets to keep the battle out of arms length. The Witch Doctor can summon a swarm of locusts to devour the flesh of his enemies which spreads to nearby enemies. In an interesting twist Witch Doctors can hurl fireballs at their enemies. I'm not certain whether this skill is meant to be an elixir that is thrown. However, it seems that each class needs to have some sort of elemental damage adding skill or spell. It would make sense then that this was the only way they could give the Witch Doctor fire elemental damage. The Witch Doctor class also has a skill called -- I believe -- Mass Confusion that causes enemies to become confused and begin attacking each other. The more I think about it, it may be possible that the Witch Doctor is replacing the Necromancer.

Diablo III old man with staff and tome artist rendering</a>This artist's rendering is someone's idea of Decard Cain who has definitely returned to the story. Blizzard has placed a narrated version of what they're calling Cain's Diary up on the official Diablo® III site. Cain's Diary basically fills you in on the story up until where Diablo® III starts off. Starting with pre-Diablo® times. It is interesting to hear it narrated by Cain instead of seeing the cut-scenes that are shown at the beginning of Diablo® II.

In closing, I don't care which character classes are added or removed I'll definitely be buying this game. I can hardly contain my excitement. I always liked the Diablo® series much better than Starcraft® anyway. I can wait on the Starcraft® II release. Give me Diablo® III!

Starcraft</em>®, Warcraft®, Diablo® and the Diablo® III logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment Inc. All images copyright © Blizzard Entertainment Inc.</em>

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