Diablo III screenshot
Diablo III screenshot

The Diablo III beta is still a fairly limited snapshot of what's to come. A trigger-happy user can blitz through its first act - the only one available - in a little under an hour and a half, showing if anything Blizzard has worked out the art of brevity. By the end of the beta you'll have likely reached level nine, with a small clutch of quests and abilities, an introduction to the nostalgic home-hub of New Tristram, and one boss battle in the form of the Skeleton King under your belt before the game thanks you for your time and shows itself the door.

Ignoring the limited playthrough, the success of Act I lies with just how much it still conveys. That old "don't judge books by covers" adage can be roughly translated as "don't judge games by demos" in this industry, and needless to say the beta is just a fraction of the final product due out next year – but even without a multi-hour play session, the changes since the last time we saw the series are still deeply apparent.

Blizzard's new engine drags Diablo from the depths of last-millennia graphics, and the studio has decided to move on from the darker, gothic tendencies of the earlier games' art style for a bolder Warcraft-influenced direction - something 64 thousand or so users have actually petitioned against in a plight to protect the original sensibilities of the franchise. Everybody's a critic. The result, as the beta shows, is a colourful sort of macabre. Blue-green environmental lighting, the odd exaggerated weapon or attack, Diablo III re-interprets the Diablo aesthetic with a few more stylised gestures.

So welcome to New Tristram, built out of the wreckage of Diablo's original Tristram. Unfortunately for its denizens, a meteor has hit the old cathedral and raised an army of dead ruled by the Skeleton King, whom older players should remember from the original game. The first few quests snake into the lower, randomly-generated depths of the Cathedral, beginning with a rescue mission to save series stalwart Deckard Cain, then further tasks you to summon and kill Act I's final boss.

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destro's Avatar

destro

The beta is only the first third or so of Act 1, not the whole act as was the case with the Diablo II beta 12 years ago. It will be interesting to see how long the whole game takes on a detailed playthrough involving all side-quests etc... I suspect it will be quite long, even before once factors in the sequential difficulty settings (normal, nightmare, hell, inferno) that progressively get unlocked for each character
Posted 20:39 on 26 September 2011
FantasyMeister's Avatar

FantasyMeister

Quote:
Originally posted by Emily Gera
"The game is going to enter a new market of modern dungeon crawlers, many of which have spent the last decade genuflecting at the series' altar - even outright miming it - but it's outdone them..."

If you come to that conclusion just from the beta of Act 1 then it must be pretty good. Aside from the gameplay, the most exciting thing for me is the RMT Auction House. How many other games out there give you a genuinely realistic (and officially sanctioned) opportunity to make money as you play?
Posted 17:19 on 26 September 2011
munkee's Avatar

munkee

Does anybody know if this will run natively on OS X yet? I would really like to play it, but can't be arsed with bootcamp.

[edit]
Apologies. I decided not to be lazy and checked for myself. The Blizzard site states that all of their releases will be PC and Mac. Nice.
Posted 16:17 on 26 September 2011
Endless's Avatar

Endless

I really hope there's a try-before-you-buy type affair for this, otherwise i'll have to wait for the console version that is rumoured to be seriously considered.
Posted 15:43 on 26 September 2011

Game Stats

System Requirements
Release Date: 15/05/2012
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Genre: RPG
Rating: BBFC 15
Site Rank: 607 28
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