For the past five years, players have engaged themselves in the latest entry for one of Blizzard’s iconic franchises: Diablo III.
The Diablo series has been around for just over 20 years, and has grabbed players with its simplistic yet engaging combat, and a loot system that leaves players wanting more.
Today, on Diablo III’s fifth anniversary, we look back at the game’s development, launch, and the support Blizzard has provided over the years, then take a short glimpse at the future of the game.
The origins of Diablo III start back in the early 2000s. Studio Blizzard North was planning a second expansion for Diablo II. The expansion would have expanded on the game’s multiplayer, but after a few brainstorming sessions, the team decided to move on to the development of Diablo III.
Blizzard North started the development in 2001. Their version of the game would feature a more simplistic graphics style akin to MMOs at the time.
However, their vision of the game did not stay for long. In 2005, Blizzard North shut down due to financial and personal reasons.
The fate of Diablo III was not in limbo for too long. The following year, development was picked up by Blizzard Irvine. The development would be fronted by lead designer, Jay Wilson, and lead world designer, Leonard Boyarsky. The team spent over a month brainstorming on what type of game Diablo III should be. They spent time playing other games in the genre, especially previous Diablo games.
On June 28, 2008, the world got their first glimpse at Diablo III.
The game was announced at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational at the Porte de Versailles Convention Centre in Paris, France. There the team showed a cinematic trailer and an extended gameplay demonstration with commentary.
“We’ve wanted to expand on the epic story and gameplay elements of the Diablo universe for some time now,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment, in a press release.
The game was now using Blizzard’s custom in-house physics engine, a change from the previous installment which used Havok’s physics engine.
Three years later, players got their hands on the game with a closed beta starting on September 20, 2011; then an open beta from April 20, 2012 to April 23.
The game launched on PC and Mac on May 15, 2012.
A Diabolical Launch
Although the game’s launch was May 15, players would have to wait just a little longer to fully enjoy the game.
A number of errors were persistent, such as error 3005, 3006, or 37. When the game finally loaded and players could control their character, they were met with lag.
To help fix the issue, Activision took the servers down twice on launch day. Since the game required a constant internet connection, this meant no one could launch the game.
There was also the issue of vanishing achievements, which Blizzard took to their Twitter to address.
Despite the unfavorable launch, Diablo III still managed to gain a number of favorable reviews. Kotaku said, “Yes!” to players, and PCGamer gave it a 90, adding, “It’s a changed game, but it’s never been such spectacular fun to play, or so creative to tinker with.”
In the end, Diablo III managed to achieve an 88 on Metacritic with PC reviews.
Patches, an Expansion, and More Patches
Fans of Blizzard games know once a game of theirs is released, its support doesn’t end until Blizzard says so.
Following the launch on PC and Mac, Diablo would make its way to consoles for the first time with a release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on September 3, 2013.
But there was more to be done.
Blizzard started adding more features, and taking away problematic ones with patch after patch.
In patch 1.0.7, brawling was added, Brawling allowed players to duel each other in a new area, “The Scorched Chapel.”
Perhaps the biggest changes and additions came with the release of patch 2.0, around the same time the first expansion released.
Patch 2.0 brought a number of changes fans were happy about. With it, worthy loot for your class was easier to find; the grind became easier and more enjoyable. Another addition, was the new difficulty system. Gone were normal, nightmare, hell, and inferno; and replacing them was normal, hard, expert, master, and torment (at the time broken into six tiers). Also added were clans and communities, and class rebalancing.
Patch 2.0.1 would add a few more features with Pools of Reflection, which gave each player a 25 percent experience boost, and Nephalem Glory, power globes dropped by slain monsters causing the player to deal additional damage in the form of lightning bolts and increased movement speed. The patch also altered the mechanics of a number of bosses, such as Maghda and Azmodan.
The biggest change came in the form of an expansion, “Reapers of Souls,” released on March 25, 2014 for PC and Mac.
The expansion included a new story act and Adventure Mode, offering new end-game content with Bounties and Nephalem Rifts. Bounties are a number of tasks across the game’s five acts which reward gold and experience. Completing all the bounties for each act grants additional awards. Nephalem Rifts are a horde-like dungeon featuring areas and enemies from the game. Slaying enough of the enemies spawns the Rift Guardian.
The expansion would be included in the “Ultimate Evil Edition,” which released August 19, 2014 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Blizzard would expand on the content added in the expansion with patch 2.1. The patch added seasons, an optional way to start fresh with a new character aside from normal and hardcore. Nephalem Rifts were expanded with Greater Rifts, a more difficulty rift that gets harder with each level. Completing each rift within the time limit opens a new level of difficulty. Leaderboards were also added in the patch.
In the most recent patch, an armory was added, allowing players to save custom armor sets for each class.
The Future of Diablo III and Beyond
Five years after launch, Diablo III is still relevant in the minds of players and Blizzard.
At BlizzCon 2016, Blizzard announced the Necromancer would be added to Diablo III in the “Rise of the Necromancer” pack. The Necromancer will be reimaged from its appearance in Diablo II. The pack will also include an in-game pet, two additional character slots, a portrait frame, pennant, banner, and banner sigil.
The pack will launch sometime this year.
As for a Diablo IV, it’s hard to pinpoint when the game will come.
Scouring the internet proved useless for any solid information, as no credible news source had any quotes from Blizzard, or anybody associated with Blizzard. The usual run of speculation and rumors from forums were present.
A Diablo IV will most likely happen, but for now, let’s enjoy what Diablo III still has to offer.