|Designer(s)||Jay Wilson (lead)|
Leonard Boyarsky (world design)
|Engine||In-house engine, Havok (physics)|
(August 22, 2012)
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, OS X|
|Release date(s)||May 15, 2012|
|Genre(s)||Action role-playing, Hack and slash|
|Mode(s)||Online single-player, online multiplayer|
|Media/distribution||DVD DL, digital distribution|
Diablo III is an action role-playing hack and slash video game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment. It is the third installment in the Diablo franchise. The game, which features elements of the hack and slash genre, was released in North America, Latin America, Europe, South Korea, and Taiwan on May 15, 2012, and in Russia on June 7, 2012. Before its release, the game broke several presale records and became the most pre-ordered PC game to date on Amazon.com. Diablo III subsequently set the new all-time record for fastest-selling PC game by selling over 3.5 million copies in the first 24 hours of its release.
The game takes place in Sanctuary, the dark fantasy world of the Diablo series, twenty years after the events of Diablo II. Deckard Cain and his niece Leah are in the Tristram Cathedral investigating ancient texts regarding an ominous prophecy. Suddenly, a mysterious star falling from the sky strikes the Cathedral, creating a deep crater into which Deckard Cain disappears.
The player character, known as the Nephalem, arrives in New Tristram to investigate the fallen star. The Nephalem rescues Cain upon Leah's request and discovers that the fallen object is actually a person. The stranger has no memories except that he lost his sword, which was shattered into three pieces. Although the Nephalem retrieves the pieces, the witch Maghda seizes the shards and attempts to capture Cain to force him to repair the sword for her own ends. However, with an uncontrolled display of power, Leah forces Maghda to flee, and the witch kidnaps the stranger instead. Cain, dying from Maghda's torture, uses the last of his strength to repair the sword and instructs the Nephalem to return it to the stranger. The Nephalem rescues the stranger and returns his sword, causing him to regain his memories. The stranger is the fallen angel Tyrael. Disgusted with his fellow angels' unwillingness to protect humanity from the forces of Hell, Tyrael cast aside his divinity to become a mortal and warn Sanctuary about the arrival of the demon lords Belial and Azmodan.
To avenge Cain's death, the Nephalem tracks Maghda to the city of Caldeum, which is controlled by her master, Belial. The Nephalem kills Maghda, and rescues Leah's mother, Adria. Adria tells Tyrael and the Nephalem 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 Nephalem resurrects the mad Horadrim, Zoltun Kulle. Kulle reveals its hiding place and completes the unfinished Soulstone, but is killed by the Nephalem after he attempts to steal it for himself. The Nephalem kills Belial and traps his soul within the Black Soulstone, freeing Caldeum. As Leah studies in Caldeum's library to find more answers about the Black Soulstone and Azmodan, she receives a vision from Azmodan, who tells 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 Nephalem journey to Bastion's Keep, the only line of defense between Azmodan's forces and the rest of Sanctuary. While the others stay behind to protect the Black Soulstone, the Nephalem pushes out from the keep into Mount Arreat. The Nephalem kills Azmodan and traps his soul in the Black Soulstone. However, Adria betrays the Nephalem and takes the Black Soulstone with the seven Demon Lords' souls inside. She reveals that she has been Diablo's agent from the beginning, and that Leah's father is the Dark Wanderer, who conceived her while being possessed by Diablo, making her the perfect vessel for the demon's physical form. Using Leah as a sacrifice, Adria resurrects Diablo. Having the souls of all the Lords of Hell within him, Diablo becomes the "Prime Evil," the most powerful demon in existence. He begins an assault on the High Heavens, the defending angels being no match for him.
Tyrael and the Nephalem follow Diablo to the High Heavens while it is under attack. The defending Angels warn the Nephalem that Diablo is attempting to reach the Crystal Arch, which is the source of all of the angels' power. To prevent Diablo from corrupting the Crystal Arch and completing his victory over the High Heavens, the Nephalem confronts and defeats him. With Diablo's physical manifestation destroyed, the Black Soulstone is shown falling from the High Heavens, apparently still intact. After the battle, Tyrael decides to rejoin the High Heavens but remains a mortal, dedicated to building a permanent alliance between angels and humans.
Gameplay is similar to that of previous titles in the Diablo franchise. The game is classified as a tactical action game that is played primarily using the mouse to direct the character with supplementary commands provided through the keyboard.
The proprietary engine incorporates Blizzard's custom in-house physics, a change from the original usage of Havok's physics engine, and features destructible environments with an in-game damage effect. The developers sought to make the game run on a wide range of systems without requiring DirectX 10. Diablo III uses a custom 3D game engine in order to present an overhead view to the player, in a somewhat similar way to the isometric view used in previous games in the series. Enemies utilize the 3D environment as well, in ways such as crawling up the side of a wall from the depths into the combat area.
As in Diablo II, multiplayer games are possible using Blizzard's Battle.net service, with many of the new features developed for StarCraft II also available in Diablo III. Players will be able to drop in and out of sessions of co-operative play with others. Unlike its predecessor, Diablo III requires players to be connected to the internet constantly due to their DRM policy, even for single-player games.
An enhanced quest system, a random level generator, and a random encounter generator are used in order to ensure the game provides different experiences when replayed.
Unlike previous iterations, gold can be picked up merely by touching it, or coming within range, adjusted by gear, rather than having to manually pick it up. One of the new features intended to speed gameplay is that health orbs drop from enemies, replacing the need to have a potion bar, which itself is replaced by a skill bar that allows a player to assign quick bar buttons to skills and spells; previously, players could only assign two skills (one for each mouse button) and had to swap skills with the keyboard or mousewheel. Players can still assign specific attacks to mouse buttons.
Skill runes, another new feature, are skill modifiers that are unlocked as the player levels up. Unlike the socketable runes in Diablo II, skill runes are not items but instead provide options for enhancing skills, often completely changing the gameplay of each skill. For example, one skill rune for the Wizard's meteor ability reduces its arcane power cost, while another turns the meteor to ice, causing cold damage rather than fire.
As in Diablo II, Diablo III gives players the choice to make hardcore characters. Players are required to first level up a regular character to level 10 before they have the option to create new Hardcore characters. Hardcore characters cannot be resurrected; instead they become permanently unplayable if they are killed. They also do not have access to the real-world money auction house. Hardcore characters are separately ranked; their names are highlighted with a different color (red); and they can only form teams with other hardcore characters. After dying, the ghost of a hardcore character can still chat, the name still shows up in rankings, but the character cannot return to the game.
Artisans are NPCs who sell and craft. Two types of artisans can be introduced by completing a quest for each: Haedrig Eamon the Blacksmith and Covetous Shen the Jeweler. The previously announced Mystic Artisan has been pulled, possibly to be released later on. Artisans create items using materials the player can gather by scrapping acquired items and reducing them to their component parts. These materials are used to create items which will have random bonuses. Unlike Diablo II, rare and magic items can be enhanced, not just basic weaponry and armor. Crafting can also be used to train and improve the skills of the artisans rather than create new items. When artisans gain new levels, their shop reflects their higher skill level. The process of salvaging items into materials also makes inventory management easier. Blizzard stated that this crafting system was designed so that it would not slow down the pace of the game.
Followers are NPC allies that can accompany the player throughout the game world. There are three followers in Diablo III: Kormac the Templar, Lyndon the Scoundrel and Eirena the Enchantress, who each possess their own skills and background. As followers fight alongside the player, they gain new experience, skills, and equipment as they level up. Only one follower accompanies the player at a time, creating a gameplay strategy decision. Originally, followers were only going to appear in normal, single-player mode. However, Jay Wilson stated at BlizzCon 2011 that followers would continue to be usable in later difficulty levels. Followers will not appear in co-op games.
On August 1, 2011, it was reported that Diablo III will feature two types of auction houses; one where players spend in-game gold and another where players can buy or sell virtual items for real-world money. The real-money auction house will not be available in Hardcore mode.
Blizzard has stated that nearly everything that drops on the ground, including gold, can be traded with other players directly or through the auction house system. Aside from certain bound on account items, which include items for the secret levelTemplate:Clarify, there will be very few items that will be bound to a particular character and therefore un-tradable.
In order to get rated in South Korea, Blizzard had to drop the real-money auction house from the Korean release of the game as the auction house violated Korean anti-gambling laws.
In the gold-based auction house, a flat fee of 15 percent will be taken from the final sale price of an auction. The real-money auction house fees will be $1 USD, €1, £1, etc. for equipment (weapons and armor) and 15 percent fee for commodity auctions, which include things like crafting materials, blacksmith and jewel crafting plans, and gold exchange. There is an additional 15 percent "cashing-out" fee from proceeds gained selling items in the real-money auction house.
While the gold-based auction house is available to any player regardless of which region they play in, the real-money auction is restricted to players on their home region. If they use the global play function to play in a different region, they will not be able to access the real-money auction house. The real money auction house was opened on June 12, 2012 (June 15 in the Americas).
Player versus player combat (PvP) has not yet been implemented in Diablo III, but has been announced. On March 9, 2012, Blizzard announced that PvP was delayed, and that they will enable it in a future patch. Lead designer Jay Wilson said in a post on Battle.net that the PvP Arena system will arrive in a post-release patch. "As we're counting down the days until we're ready to announce a release date for Diablo III, we've come to realize that the PvP game and systems aren't yet living up to our standards," he said. Blizzard said the PvP patch will add multiple Arena maps with themed locations and layouts, PvP-centric achievements, and a quick and easy matchmaking system. "We'll also be adding a personal progression system that will reward you for successfully bashing in the other team's skulls," Wilson added.
Players will participate in PvP by choosing from their existing characters, with access to all of the gear and skill they have gathered from playing the game in single-player or cooperative mode. There will be both ranked and unranked gametypes. When participating in ranked games, players will earn points for advancement based on the number of kills, accomplished objectives, and victories they acquire throughout matches. The points earned lead to achievements, titles, and other rewards.
- The Witch Doctor is a new character reminiscent of the Diablo II necromancer but with skills more traditionally associated with shamanism and voodoo culture. The witch doctor has the ability to summon monsters, cast curses, harvest souls, and hurl poisons and explosives at his enemies. To power spells the Witch Doctor uses Mana, which regenerates slowly.
- The Barbarian has a variety of revamped skills at its disposal based on incredible physical prowess. The barbarian is able to whirlwind through crowds, cleave through swarms, leap across crags, crush opponents upon landing, and grapple-snap enemies into melee range. The resource used by the barbarian is fury, which is generated through getting attacked by enemies, attacking enemies and through certain abilities. Fury is used for certain strong abilities and degenerates over time.
- The Wizard is a version of the sorceress from Diablo II or the sorcerer from Diablo. The Wizard's abilities range from shooting lightning, fire and ice at their enemies to slowing time and teleporting past enemies and through walls. Wizards fuels their spells with arcane power, which is a fast regenerating power source.
- The Monk is a melee attacker, using martial arts to cripple foes, resist damage, deflect projectiles, attack with blinding speed, and land explosive killing blows. Monk gameplay combines the melee elements of Diablo II's assassin class with the "holy warrior" role of the paladin. Blizzard has stated that the monk is not related in any way to the monk class from the Sierra Entertainment-made Diablo: Hellfire expansion. The monk is fueled by spirit, which has defensive purposes and is slowly generated through attacking, though it does not degenerate.
- The Demon Hunter combines elements of Diablo II's amazon and assassin classes. Demon hunters use crossbows as their main weapon and can also throw small bombs at enemies. The demon hunter is fueled by both discipline and hatred: Hatred is a fast regenerating resource that is used for attacks, while discipline is a slow regenerating resource used for defensive abilities.
The Archivist class was presented on April 1, 2009, following in Blizzard's April Fool's Day joke tradition.
The non-inclusion of several of the classic Diablo II classes has been greeted with protest by some fans.
Development on Diablo III began in 2001 when Blizzard North was still in operation, and the game was first announced on June 28, 2008, at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational in Paris, France. 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.
Diablo III's lead designer is Jay Wilson, a former Relic Entertainment designer credited with work on Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War and Company of Heroes as well as Blood II: The Chosen for Monolith Productions. Its lead world designer is Leonard Boyarsky, one of the six co-creators of Fallout.
Bobby Kotick from Activision announced in February 2012 that Diablo III will not launch in the 1st quarter of 2012. A slide show presentation at Activision's quarterly financial report listed Diablo III launch sometime in Q2 of 2012. A release date of May 15, 2012, was announced on March 15, 2012.
Blizzard is considering a concept design for consoles, reportedly even hiring staff for a console version, while stating this concept will not affect PC/Mac release dates. The project's lead designer, Josh Mosqueira, said Blizzard is serious about bringing Diablo III to consoles.
On January 10, 2012, Blizzard community manager Bashiok tweeted "Yup. Josh Mosqueira is lead designer for the Diablo console project." However, a Blizzard spokesperson later clarified that Bashiok's tweet was only "intended as a confirmation that Blizzard is actively exploring the possibility of developing a console version of Diablo III," adding, "This is not a confirmation that Diablo III is coming to any console platform."
On May 9, 2011 Blizzard announced that Diablo III was then expected to be released for external beta testing in Q3 of 2011. On September 7, 2011 Blizzard community manager Bashiok confirmed the start of the closed public beta test of the game with limited external testing by employees and their families. Testers were not restricted by a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) i.e. every participant would be free to show, share, or talk about any portion of the beta content. On September 20, 2011 Blizzard announced through their Diablo III site that the closed beta test portion of the game through invites, promotions and giveaways had begun. On October 22, 2011 at BlizzCon, Diablo III game director Jay Wilson announced during an open Q&A that a new wave of beta invitations would be sent after an upcoming patch. Blizzard announced on April 19, 2012 that there would be an open beta weekend for the game, starting on April 20, 2012 and ending the morning of April 23. The closed beta ended on May 1, 2012.
The content available in the beta includes the possibility to try all 5 character classes in the first act up to the Skeleton King encounter. The players are also able to try various in-game features such as crafting through the blacksmithing NPC, the auction house, hosting and joining public games as well as earning achievements.
The beta website makes reference that there will be measures in place to prevent future cheating.
On June 11, 2012 it was announced at Apple's 2012 WWDC keynote that native Retina display support will be coming to Diablo III. The following day, a Blizzard's representative confirmed via the official Battle.net forums Apple's statement, the ongoing work by the developer on the optimization of the game engine for its rendering on the Retina display (and technically on other similar future high-density monitors) and that this optimization will be mainly for aesthetic purposes.
On August 22, 2012, the patch 1.0.4 was released which included a new system of leveling, called "Paragon levels". It also included a redesign of all the legendary items, making them more powerful.
Russell Brower composed the music for Diablo III. When composing for the orchestra, he tried to respect the Wagnerian style from the expansion to the second game in the series, Lord of Destruction. The Overture is considered the main theme of the game and it has been performed by the Eminence Symphony Orchestra. A similar composition was used in the cinematic teaser trailer of the game. The Tristram theme from the first Diablo, also used in the second game, is present in Diablo III with few changes.
Diablo III was released on May 15, 2012. Players had the options to either buy one of two retail boxed versions, a standard edition and collector's edition, or could also pre-order directly from Battle.net and download the installer in advance. On May 14, 2012 players who bought the downloadable version from Battle.net could install the rest of the game including patches. On May 15, 2012 the retail version could be bought from stores doing midnight launches such as GameStop. Also the Diablo III Battle.net servers went live at this time and people who downloaded the game could begin playing. Initially the launches were hindered by heavy server load with many users getting various errors, including the error 37 which reads; "The servers are busy at this time. Please try again later (error 37)". These issues made the game unplayable for those affected while some others experienced in-game bugs. Despite assurances from Blizzard that the problems leading to the connection errors during Diablo III's launch had been resolved, Eurogamer reported on May 31, 2012 that these errors were still ongoing, and had reappeared after patch 1.0.2 was released for the game. Many fans complained that the ongoing problems has caused them to lose their hardcore (permanent death) characters.
The release was also the source of a minor controversy in Australia when retailer Game went into voluntary administration the day before the release, and so was unable to honor pre-orders or offer refunds. In response to this, Blizzard Entertainment offered affected customers credit in purchasing the digital version of the game.
The game has yet to be released in China as it has not been approved by the Ministry of Culture. Although it continues to be sold under the name "Big Pineapple" which sounds similar to Diablo in Mandarin Chinese.
World of Warcraft promotion
Starting at BlizzCon in October 2011, Blizzard offered an "annual pass" for World of Warcraft, where players who signed up for a 12 month subscription to that game received a free digital copy of Diablo III once released, as well as guaranteed beta access for the upcoming Mists of Pandaria expansion to World of Warcraft and a special Diablo-inspired mount called Tyrael's Charger in World of Warcraft.
A demo version of the game, called the Starter Edition, was released simultaneously. It provides a limited introduction to the game. Players could complete Act 1 up to the Skeleton King boss encounter with a level cap at 13.
For the first 30 days after Diablo III's release the Starter Edition was only available through a guest pass code, which was included with the boxed versions of the game. Players will have the option to upgrade to the full game through their Battle.net accounts.
The Starter Edition was originally planned to become available to all users after 30 days (on June 14, 2012), however it was delayed until August 15, 2012.
There was a bug which allowed players who had beta access to get into the Starter Edition for a period of time before Blizzard patched this up. This caused the Starter Edition to be revealed before its time. This problem was probably related to the fact that the Starter Edition is exactly the same (content wise) as the beta. The Diablo III Starter Edition is similar to the World of Warcraft and StarCraft II ones, which are level based, not time based.
Activision Blizzard reported that Diablo III had broken the one-day PC sales records, accumulating over 3.5 million sales in the first 24 hours after release and over 6.3 million sales in its first week, including the 1.2 million people who obtained Diablo III through the World of Warcraft annual pass. On its first day, the game amassed 4.7 million players worldwide, an estimate which includes those who obtained the game via the World of Warcraft annual pass. In its second quarterly report, Diablo III was reported to have pushed Activision Blizzard's expectations. As of July 2012, more than 10 million people have played the game. Diablo III remains the fastest selling PC game to date, and also one of the best selling video games for PC of all time.
|PC Gamer UK||90/100|
GamesRadar was positive about the game's opening act and its nods to past Diablo games claiming "we liked what we saw."
IGN was positive about the new skill system stating "Instead of gameplay like Diablo II, where I often regretted how I allotted my ability points, Diablo III encourages experimentation and finding out exactly what works for your play-style. It's a vastly superior way to handle character abilities", and praised the overall gameplay, stating "the new systems really do make it a lot easier to enjoy Diablo III".
IGN further praised the game's new gameplay design, in particular the rune and loot systems, the randomly generated levels and the game's enjoyable unpredictability. It stated the game's feel is quite intuitive and also praised the game's sound and voicing.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun gave mixed commentary during the game's beta period, praising the actual game itself by stating that it is much more direct than its predecessors and intuitive in its interface. However, it said the playing experience is spoiled due to lag in single-player mode caused by a lack of an offline single-player mode. Following the game's release, it reaffirmed its displeasure at the always-online DRM and offered a mixed opinion that the game was enjoyable but added "nothing new" to its genre.
Some users have voiced criticism about the game's strong digital rights management which requires what is known as persistent online authentication, resulting in the lack of an offline single-player mode. Players also took out their anger on developer Blizzard. Their actions have been described as a legitimate display of discontentment with game features.
Erik Kain, a Forbes contributing writer, stated that the requirement to remain online is not necessary for single-player mode and that Blizzard is abusing its position as a "juggernaut" and is setting a worrying precedent for the gaming industry. Diablo III senior producer Alex Mayberry was quoted as stating during development questions and concerns about DRM: "Obviously StarCraft 2 did it, World of Warcraft authenticates also. It's kind of the way things are, these days. The world of gaming is not the same as it was when Diablo II came out."
Gaming Blend countered negative journalism aimed at the game's fanbase. It claims that the industry at large is far too defensive of production companies' actions to the point of accepting backward steps in game availability. It dismisses the existence of "entitlement" saying that while a large portion of 0/10 reviews do not reflect the quality of the game, they nonetheless reflect the dissatisfaction with the product.
While Gaming Blend disliked the always-online DRM, it did give the game a positive review. It stated the game includes interesting opportunities for experimentation and has great appeal for replaying over and over. The review concluded the game is "smooth and entertaining." A GameArena critic questioned how Blizzard managed to "fail so spectacularly at creating reliable networking for Diablo 3" before going on to point out the lack of competitive multiplayer.
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On May 28, 2012, Blizzard Entertainment's offices in South Korea were raided by the Fair Trade Commission amid allegations that the company had breached consumer rights laws, including suspected violations of Korea's law on electronic commerce and commercial contracts. Players in Korea requested refunds from Blizzard based on their inability to play Diablo III, but that Blizzard cited the terms of sale and refused to grant these requests. Hundreds of gamers filed formal complaints with the FTC, which are now investigating whether Blizzard sold Diablo III under an unfair contract, and also whether they are liable for their failure to properly prepare for the launch of the game.
On June 15, 2012, French consumers group UFC Que Choisir announced that it had received 1,500 complaints in 4 days regarding connectivity issues with Diablo III. As a result of this, the organization has asked Blizzard Entertainment to provide a permanent solution within fifteen days of that time (June 30, 2012) and to "communicate completely and transparently about problems encountered in due time". They also requested that gamers be given reimbursement for any troubles they may have encountered. In addition, they asked the French government to take a closer look at games with online-only DRM. On June 28, Blizzard replied to the Que Choisir that the box for Diablo III clearly labelled that a high-speed internet connection was required and that most of the stability issues had been fixed. According to UFC Que Choisir's Edouard Barreiro, they have been satisfied with this information, but are still deciding on what action to take on the main sticking point: that players cannot resell their game due to the DRM.
The Federation of German Consumer Organizations has taken action against Blizzard for not providing clear information on the German version of the box regarding the requirement of an internet connection and lack of resale-ability. Blizzard had until July 13, 2012 to respond to these issues. The deadline was extended to July 20, 2012. Blizzard was later given the deadline of July 27, 2012, to respond, or face possible court action.
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