Preview: Diablo III
Can you actually believe it? Diablo III is set to release in less than a week, ending a nearly 12 year long wait for one of the most anticipated RPG titles ever. Blizzard certainly knows how to build up hype, and hopefully fans get what they are expecting come May the 15th. We’ve already fed you a hands-on during the Diablo III beta, so you might be wondering why we’re doing yet another preview. Well, that type of question would be justified, but Diablo III is really the only thing on most PC gamers’ minds right now, so a quick refresher couldn’t hurt right? In this preview, we’ll discuss what you can expect from the story, the constant internet requirement, classes, auction house and more. Just no gameplay. We’ve extensively covered that already, and don’t want to bore you, so if you’re still not caught up on that front look no further than this link.
Okay, down to business.
Title: Diablo III
Developers: Blizzard Entertainment
Publishers: Blizzard Entertainment
Players: 1-4, Online PvP
Expected Price: R449.95
Release Date: May 15
Diablo III once again takes place in the dark fantasy world of Sanctuary, the setting for the previous two titles as well. Well, I’m hesitant to call it dark, but I’m sure you’ve heard tons on how Blizzard have shed some gothic aesthetics for a more “friendly” setting. Twenty years ago, this land was saved by you and some other nameless heroes in Diablo II and as a reward for your efforts against the Burning Hells you’ve been granted a lifelong holiday. So Sanctuary is ready for a new group of heroes to step up to the plate and once again brave the evils that seem to never stop terrorizing this poor world. Don’t plan a holiday here folks.
The plot is set to revolve around two of the Lesser Evils, Azmodan and Belial, and an artifact known as the Black Soulstone. What about Diablo you say? Well I’m sure he’ll make more than a small appearance, but Blizzard don’t really want to dive into any details regarding this. Instead, for once, it’ll actually be a surprise to see what Diablo has got ready for the new heroes of Tristam as they traverse a land forever transformed by the destruction of the Worldstone in Diablo II.
Diablo III will feature five very different classes for players to choose from, all with their own special abilities and perks. As an added bonus, all classes can be played as either a male or female, which really seems to be a big issue in some gamers’ lives.
- Witch Doctor: Raising the dead is the name of the game here, but apparently the Witch Doctor is very different from Diablo II’s Necromancer. Using a combination of shamanism and voodoo culture, the Witch Doctor is able to control the dead, cast curses, harvest souls and even poison foes, fancy that. Blizzard have said that a Necromancer should become available at a later stage, dispelling any similarities between it and the Witch Doctor.
- Barbarian: This is basically Diablo III’s “heavy muscle” class. There’s always one in an RPG, and although they may seem like useless broody brutes, they do serve a purpose. Using massive amounts of physical strength, the Barbarian is able to do tons of damage to multiple foes, which in turn builds up Fury. Fury is like Mana to the Barbarian, and powers all of his/her abilities.
- Wizard: Or Mage if you really want to get technical. Lightning bolts, walls of ice, balls of fire, it’s all here really. Everything you’d expect from a Mage is condensed in Wizard form, with fast regenerating Arcane Power allowing you to keep casting all the time nearly.
- Demon Hunter: By far one of the most interesting classes, the Demon Hunter is Diablo III’s “Archer”. Demon Hunters mainly use crossbow, and are even able to dual wield two of this incredible weapons, opening up some really interesting combination possibilities. The Demon Hunter makes use of Hatred and Discipline, with Hatred fuelling offensive abilities and Discipline fueling defensive. Also, a female Demon Hunter looks beyond awesome. Just saying.
- Monk: The monk isn’t really what you’d expect it to be, I think. When you say monk, people usually picture a calm bald guy wearing orange. Blizzard did not get this memo apparently. The Monk is a fast attacking melee character, and when I say fast, I really mean it. Monk’s make use of Spirit to fuel their abilities, with attacks generating more and more Spirit.
As you can see, and probably were expecting, the classes are extremely diverse but similar to previous classes as well. Anyone with some Mage experience should feel at home with the Wizard, but each class does carry some strategic advantages to them, as many Diablo player’s will reiterate.
Hardcore characters will also be available, giving players a chance to risk their entire character for a more compelling adventure. Hardcore characters are the same as normal characters in terms of abilities, stats and items, but if a hardcore character dies, they die. You won’t be able to play with that character again, so you really have to be careful. Couple this with Diablo III’s Inferno difficulty and you’ve got a truly punishing experience that veterans are sure to love.
PvP has also been a major talking point for Diablo III, but unfortunately this feature will not be available come launch day. Blizzard opted to drop the feature momentarily to push forward the release date, but PvP fans can hopefully look forward to it in the coming months. Players will use characters from the campaign in PvP, carrying over all abilities and gear as well. PvP will come in both ranked and unranked variations, with ranked matches allowing players to advance and unlock more gear, titles and other multiplayer rewards. When PvP does release it will boast various locations taken from the campaign, but aside from that details are scarce.
Diablo III will also be shipping with its own form of DRM, similar to the system used for StarCraft 2. Diablo III will require a constant internet connection when playing at all times. This includes normal single-player campaigns. No internet, no hack and slash action. This has been known for a while, though I don’t remember people being too worried about it. If DRM is such an issue with nearly every other title that implements it, why is that not so for Diablo III? This also rules out the possibility of offline LAN support, as you’ll only be able to dungeon crawl with your friends if you all have a stable internet connection.
Other than that, that’s all you really need to know about Diablo III before its release next week Tuesday. If you’re looking for gameplay, hit up our hands-on and get a quick rundown of what to expect when you log on for the first time next week. Am I the only one that is going to miss the “Waiting for Diablo III” memes come next week? Diablo III will release for PC on May 15th. Be ready.