Diablo III is an action role-playing game in a hack and slash and dungeon-roaming style, currently in development as the third installment of Blizzard's Diablo franchise. It was announced on June 28, 2008, at the 2008 Blizzard Entertainment Worldwide Invitational in Paris, France.
The game takes place in Sanctuary, the dark fantasy world of the Diablo series. This world was saved twenty years prior by a handful of unnamed heroes in Diablo II. Warriors that survived the onslaught of the armies of the Burning Hells have gone mad from their ordeals and it is up to a new generation of heroes to face the forces of evil threatening the world of Sanctuary. Players will have the opportunity to explore familiar settings such as Tristram.
The only confirmed NPC is Deckard Cain, who has appeared in both of the previous games. Cain's journal on the official site brings the player up to speed on the events of the first two games. Diablo's world map is composed primarily of two main continents with several small islands in the Northwest region.
Diablo III is similar in style to its predecessor, Diablo II. The proprietary engine will incorporate Havok physics and feature destructible environments with an in-game damage effect. 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 will use 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 will utilize the 3D environment as well, in ways such as crawling up the side of a wall from the depths into the combat area. Every creature model will have around 35 unique death animations.
As in Diablo II, multiplayer games will be possible using Blizzard's Battle.net service, with many of the new features being 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.
An enhanced quest system, a random level generator, and a random encounter generator are slated for use in order to ensure the game provides different experiences when replayed. Overall, the game will include both static and randomly generated levels. Additionally, there will be class-specific quests to go along with the main storyline quests. Blizzard originally planned to have in-game cutscenes, but decided these would divert from the gameplay and decided against them. Two new armor pieces will be available: shoulder plates and leggings.
Unlike previous iterations, gold can be picked up merely by touching it, rather than having to manually pick it up. Sidekicks, unlike Diablo II, are now distinct NPCs who join the player, rather than randomly-generated and endlessly replaceable hires. 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 function keys. Players can still assign specific attacks to mouse buttons.
Skill Runes, another new feature, are skill-modifying items that are randomly dropped by monsters and used across all classes. Similar to runes in Diablo II but instead of changing equippable items, they can be attached to skills as though they are items, often completely changing the gameplay of each skill. They also have the ability to make one particular spell in each class more powerful, and give the player options as to how the rune will enhance a particular spell. For example, investing Skill Runes on the Wizard's "Lightning" can allow the players to make the lightning jump towards additional enemies, or, alternatively, adding the runes with explosion effect blows the enemy up and causes damage to the surrounding area.
As of June 2010[update], four of the five classes have been unveiled: the Barbarian, the Witch Doctor, the Wizard, and the Monk. The Barbarian is the only class that Blizzard is planning to bring back from Diablo II for the initial release. Blizzard has also stated that the Monk is not related in any way to the Monk class from the Sierra Entertainment made Diablo: Hellfire expansion. The Archivist was presented on April 1, 2009 following Blizzard's April Fool's Day joke tradition.
In the previous two games, each class had a fixed sex, but in Diablo III, players may choose the sex they would like to play. Although Blizzard initially revealed only one sex per class, the alternate sex is being revealed slowly in the lead-up to the game's release. Currently, all four announced classes have had both their male and female form revealed: the female Monk, female Barbarian, and male Wizard. The female Witch Doctor was originally seen in the gameplay tutorial on the Diablo III website, and has also been formally announced after some time, and the fifth class has yet to be revealed.
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 development teams are composed of fifty people. Most of the game mechanics and physics are complete, and are undergoing minor revisions. Most of the current and remaining development will focus on adding game content.
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. Its lead world designer is Leonard Boyarsky, one of the six co-creators of Fallout.
The game is being planned for a simultaneous release on both Windows and Mac OS X platforms. Blizzard has also announced it has "no plans" to make the game available on other platforms, but has recently been rumored to have begun talks with console manufacturers. No official release date has been announced.
Russell Brower composed the music from Diablo III. When composing for the orchestra, he tried to respect the Wagnerian style from Lord of Destruction expansion of the second game in the series. 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 on the Cinematic Teaser Trailer of the game. The Tristram theme from the first Diablo videogame, also used in the second game, is present in Diablo III with few changes.