Last yearÂs BlizzCon had an interesting surprise in the form of the WoW Annual Subscription and free copy of Diablo III. While no release date for the next installment of the Sanctuary-based series, weÂve all been on tenterhooks ever since. Last weekÂs earnings call revealed that while WoWÂs number continue to decline, the Annual Pass was subscribed to by over a million players. This is hardly surprising given that when you walk through Stormwind or Orgrimmar, the place is heaving with angelic sparkle ponies.
From SoonÂ to 2012
The problem for many players is that Diablo IIIÂs release date has moved from SoonÂ, to end of 2011 to early 2012. Blizzard confirmed the game is now on track for a Q2 2012 release which means it should land sometime between May and August. We hope. However as we move towards the end of the first quarter, a vocal minority have been moaning that they were misled and the game hasnÂt been released during Âearly 2012Â.
While Diablo III is the companyÂs most hotly anticipated title to date, itÂs well worth counseling patience. Do we really want - or need - a repeat of the Cataclysm debacle? No, we donÂt. Diablo III had been in development for at least four years, probably more, and the company has a good reason for taking itÂs time. WeÂve got a massive game to play, the real-money Auction House and who knows what else to enjoy.
With this title, Blizzard has, most importantly, appeared to return to Âwhen itÂs doneÂ mantra. This is a more than welcome move and shows that with the game is being treated with the right amount of respect. Yes, we live in a world of instant gratification but some things are well worth waiting for and this latest trip to Sanctuary will be one of them.
We all want to play Diablo III and it's going to be well worth the wait.
Fanning the Flames
The thing about Blizzard is how theyÂve handled the lengthy wait. There was access to the first act beta last year, a taste of the banquet to come, then the company showcased the Black Soulstone cinematic and CollectorÂs Edition at BlizzCon. Finally they revealed the opening cinematic which - for me at least, ranks as the best piece of CGI ever included in a videogame. This drip-drip of information, of images and video is what makes the wait bearable as well as serving to ramp up the tension.
The Book of Cain, released by Insight Editions late last year, was the perfect WinterÂs Veil present, offering up new lore. Written by the esteemed scholar Deckard Cain for his beloved niece Leah, it revealed the beginnings of the Diablo universe, the hierarchy of the angels and the lore surrounding the Prime and Lesser Evils. The book itself was designed to be a notebook, with lavish illustrations and even raggedy pages, to suggest it was hand-bound.
Replayability Times Infinity
The beta continues to run, with more and more invites pouring out every month. While Act One is rather short - and can be completed in under an hour, itÂs a taste of whatÂs to come. From what weÂve seen, no detail has been overlooked from the stained glass panes in info boxes to the amazing audio which allows you to absorb the gameÂs mythology without reading. Then there are the companions, who do your crafting for you in return for a quest or two, to the depths of detail in the dungeons. Yes, this is definitely going to be Game of the Year.
Even better, during GamesCom, Blizzard focused on re-playability, showcasing the various hard modes which will keep players revisiting Sanctuary long after the credits roll for the first time. These include Nightmare, Hell and Inferno difficulties which will not only reward players with harder monsters and epic gear; theyÂll also test your abilities as a player. Plus Blizzard assures us everyone is going to die. A lot.
2012 is the Year of Diablo. Fifteen years ago, we first stepped into Sanctuary and came face to face with the Prime Evils. Diablo II expanded the mythology and universe, offering us a deeper look into the cosmology as we met the Angel Tyrael and watched as he destroyed the Worldstone. Diablo III is going to top this and really will be worth the wait, itÂll be like waiting for WoW or StarCraft II for years only to have both land at once. Until then, bide your time. Blizzard will release the game when itÂs done, simple as. Even if we have to wait until the summer, it will be worth it. Just you wait and see.