In the world of online video gaming, Blizzard Entertainment, creators of such gems as the “World of Warcraft” and “Starcraft” series, has stood well above the competition for the past 20 years.
Back in 1996, the company released the first game of what would become one of their most successful endeavors yet: the “Diablo” series
Now, 15 years later, anticipation among fans runs extremely high as Blizzard plans to release a “Diablo 3” beta, which will allow players to test some early levels of the new game sometime in the very near future.
What has fans most excited is that this release likely means the game is nearly complete and could be on store shelves by the end of the year.
The original Diablo, a “made-for-PC and Mac” action role-playing game, was one of the first of its kind upon release and, according to diablo3beta.com, very quickly attracted a huge following due to its gameplay style, graphics, levels and variety of items.
Set in the world of Sanctuary, in and below a town called Tristram, the general premise of the game revolves around a conflict between the High Heavens and the Burning Hells. Gamers can select one of several characters to journey through levels that lead deeper and deeper beneath the city until eventually the hero will enter Hell itself to do battle against the ultimate villain, Diablo.
A sequel to the original game, “Diablo II,” was released in 2000 and again met with much success. But for several years afterward the series went quiet as Blizzard continued to develop sequels to some of their other successful game creations until, June 2008, when Blizzard announced it had finally begun development of the third installment of the Diablo franchise, “Diablo III.”
Three years after the initial announcement, much about the design of the game has come to light, including the fact that users will have to be online at all times in order to play the game. Other differences from the first two games include characters no longer earning skill points, instead having skills automatically updated as the game progresses, and more focus being put on the narrative of the game, but as non-intrusively as possible as to allow gamers to continue to hack away at demons without being bothered by long storyboards.
According to the “Diablo III” official website, users will have the option of selecting their character from one of five classes: barbarian, witch doctor, wizard, monk or demon hunter, and each will come equipped with their own particular ability. New customization options will also allow players the ability to create even more unique characters, something the previous “Diablo” games failed to offer.
As for what the “Diablo III” beta will offer, Blizzard had this to say:
“You’ll be able to try out all five character classes and experience the early stages of ‘Diablo III’ from the start of the game through the Skeleton King encounter. You’ll be able to interact with new and returning characters in New Tristram and fight the reawakened evils emanating from the cursed Tristram Cathedral. You’ll also experience the randomized elements of ‘Diablo III’ as well as many of the new system designs that take many of the core ‘Diablo’ design elements to a whole new level.”
Although an official release date of the beta has not officially been released, nor has any information regarding how long the beta trial would last, Blizzard initially said the release was set for sometime in the third quarter of 2011, which starts August 1.
For anyone interested in qualifying for the free beta trial, an account at Battle.net is required. Once set up, users can visit the “Diablo III” section and download the Beta Opt-in application. Under the “Beta Test I’m Interested In” section, select the Diablo universe.
The lucky game testers will be chosen at random as the design company has said that it does not guarantee entry into the beta test to anyone. Entry will simply depend upon how many testers they decide they need and, unfortunately, any progress made during the beta test will not carry over into the full release.
In summary, PC and Mac users, get your gamer faces on, your computers ready and your thumbs stretched out, because you’ve got a whole new set of brutal demons, either in a free online trial or a full fledged game, coming your way in the very near future.
Are you ready to battle?
photo courtesy of hanapbuhay via flickr