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Diablo was the first of its kind, an isometric-perspective dungeon crawler that pioneered some of the mechanics we take for granted in modern day MMOs. It popularized the convention of color-coding gear by rarity and power, inspiring quests for greater loot that led to many a sleepless night for co-op groups of four playing locally or online. It was set in a dark fantasy world, weaving a tale of traveling through the dungeons underneath an ancient monastery to enter Hell and kill one of its Lords named Diablo. In the eyes of critics, Diablo is one of the best PC games ever released.
Diablo II blew it out of the water. Counting expansions it had seven character classes to Diablo’s four. Each of Diablo II’s four Acts was almost as large as the first game in its entirety, and it was built for co-op online gameplay from the ground up. Sometimes critics use the world “addictive” to describe a video game and it’s a misnomer, but not if they’re talking about Diablo II. The epic story included taking on three more Lords of Hell, and offered so much adventure it was like a Skyrim of its day.
Understand, then, that the fervor for Diablo III represents the devotion of the faithful, people who to this day continue playing the second game in the series, trading gear and altering their weapons and perfecting their party strategies. Throughout 2011, the slightest rumors that Diablo III was close to release rippled through the internet like a computer virus on ‘roids. When Best Buy recently put out signs announcing that February, 2012 was the release date, the news spread so fast that people on the moon heard about it a few minutes.
Not so, said Blizzard. False alarm. And everyone, fans and press alike, will simply bide their time and wait patiently. It’s Diablo III. Anything less than perfect may not do, but if there’s a developer that can deliver on this level of expectation, it’s Blizzard.
Dennis Scimeca is a freelance writer from Boston, MA, and a contributor to G4, Gamasutra, GamePro, and The Escapist. Reach him through his blog, Punching Snakes, or follow him on Twitter: @DennisScimeca.