by Davneet Minhas
previewed on PC
Blizzard also designed the new health system, in addition to every other aspect of the game, with cooperative gameplay in mind – no surprise given the lasting online popularity of Diablo II. Health power-ups won’t simply heal the player who claimed them; they will also heal all nearby allies, thereby removing the tank’s potential monopoly on health potions in Diablo III’s predecessor.
More importantly, Diablo III promises a seamless integration between its single-player and multiplayer aspects. The game will scale its difficulty according to the number of players and their respective levels, and that scaling will occur immediately as players jump between online and offline campaigns.
Of course, Diablo III’s multiplayer success is contingent on how well Blizzard incorporates the developer’s online gaming service, Battle.net, into the game. Blizzard plans on implementing all current Battle.net features, including the social networking aspects and cross-game communication, in Diablo III. However, Blizzard is placing a large emphasis on matchmaking. The developer promises a system to match players according to many different factors including story progression and character level.
Trading items via Diablo III’s Battle.net will be easier thanks to an auction system similar to World of Warcraft’s, in which players can buy and sell items both online and offline. Blizzard also plans to incorporate anti-hacking and anti-cheating features, including an active item scan and deletion system. In addition to its cooperative play, Diablo III will include PvP, though few details have been released about its implementation, other than the fact that Blizzard is focused on creating a system that protects players from griefing.
Perhaps the most controversial feature released about Diablo III to date is its art design, first revealed in screenshots over a year ago. Despite maintaining a similar top-down view as its earlier incarnations, Diablo III features a much more colorful and vibrant palette than its dark and shadowy predecessors.
Blizzard renewed the game’s color scheme in order to create more contrast, increase the number of possible highlights, and incorporate a large variety of indoor and outdoor environments: sun-soaked deserts, lush jungles, and blue-green dungeons. However, the drastic change in art design spawned a war of petitions, with an initial petition calling for a renewed artistic direction with darker and creepier indoor environments, less vivid outdoor scenarios, less cartoonish characteristics, and the return of the light radius system from Diablo and Diablo II. Opposing petitions quickly countered, calling for Blizzard to keep the current color palette as it differentiates Diablo III from other games dominated by browns and greys. The petition for a renewed artistic direction stands with over 60,000 signatures after one and a half years, whereas the petition for maintaining the current art design has slightly over 2,000 signatures.
Game of the…
Much has yet to be revealed about Diablo III given its tentative 2011 release date. So, the question remains, will Diablo III live up to its predecessors when it’s finally released? The game already seems to have improved upon the addictive and immersive gameplay of its forerunners – no easy task considering Diablo II’s popularity and its contention for game of the decade. Therefore, a more apt question may be, will Diablo III be considered for game of the decade in 2020?