A brief history of the Diablo universe
A sword on a hill. An abandoned town with the wind knocking open shutters about. A world that was supposed to be safe from the eternal struggle of the Heavens, and of Hell. That was how Diablo, the original game, began. A deep, evil terror was locked away in the tombs underneath a great Cathedral, to keep such Terrors away from the world again. The Horadrim were wrong. They could not contain the evil that was the true Lord of Terror, that most evil creature of Hell. Shattering King Leoric of the Kingdom of Khanduras's mind, and destroying Tristram through false promises and eternal beckonings. And so, it was that King Leoric's son went into the catacombs to attack this evil. This man, not only a prince but a magnificent warrior, went through the catacombs of the Cathedral.He destroys a demon known as The Smith, and he finds in his struggle that the king has fallen, and with a curse, has become a creature of much malignancy. This man's son slays him, putting him back to rest in the catacombs, (forever?) silencing the Skeleton King. He continues within the depths of the catacombs, and eventually the Lord of Terror takes notice at this young man's deeds. Slowly, but surely, Diablo fills the Prince's mind with an idea on how to destroy Diablo forever. He beckons in the young man's mind to plunge Diablo's soulstone into his own forehead. The hero, upon defeating this great evil, believes that this idea is purely his own, and that it truly is the only way to defeat Diablo. He was wrong.
The wanderer emerges from the catacombs to find that he has damned his own body and soul to the destructive nature of Diablo, given him a vessel to control and use. Soon, Diablo has the majority of control of the young Prince's body and as he leaves Tristram, destruction and demons seem to follow his very footsteps. No sooner had he left Tristram than had demons erupted from the depths of Hell to take the town under their own control, and to seize the last of the Horadrim, Deckard Cain. A man named Maurius, in a pub that the Dark Wanderer had visited before he lost control of the Demon within, was the sole survivor of the brutal slaughter that had taken place there. Heroes from all across the lands, hearing tales of great evils, have begun to filter to the encampment of The Sisterhood of the Sightless Eye.There, they discover they are not too far from the Dark Wanderer himself, and quickly begin pursuit. They free Deckard Cain, and with that last living remnant of the Order of the Horadrim, set off to the East. Always to the East. The Adventurers travel into the Desert and find Tal-Rasha's tomb, and the Archangel, Tyreal, and the monstrosity known as Duriel that was guarding him. Dispatching Duriel, the heroes manage to free the Archangel for their quest.
The World Stone is now unable to be a protective shield for sanctuary, corrupted as it is. Tyreal has no choice but to destroy it, lest the demons gain access to Sanctuary without any interference from Heaven, and with no way to stop them. Tyreal himself admits to not being able to predict what will happen with the World Stone destroyed.
And so, the Heroes retire, wary of the events that had so consumed their lives, but ultimately heroes.
The Adventurers catch Mephisto, the lord of Hatred before he enters a portal to a special place in Sanctuary, and defeat him, before rushing through the portals themselves not too long after Diablo and Baal have escaped. The heroes later come across Diablo, the Lord of Terror, and end his destruction and shatter his Soulstone, ceasing the threat (forever?). Later, Baal is discovered near Mount Arreat, the home of the Worldstone which keeps both Heaven and Hell from entering, and limits the powers of the humans who reside in Sanctuary so that their magickal abilities are but a fragment of what they used to be. Baal's plan was to corrupt the Soulstone so that Hell may flood forth to claim Sanctuary, and the humans as their own prize and take control of the Humans' abilities to dominate the armies of Heaven. Baal succeeds in corrupting the Soulstone, and the heroes, battling the minions Baal has unleashed, have a hard time stopping the corruption. However, they triumph and continue into the World Stone Chamber, where, ultimately, they destroy Baal, the Lord of Destruction, and shatter his soulstone as well.
Deckard Cain goes back to help rebuild Tristram with those that come to settle. He apprentices a woman, his own niece, and tells her of the tales of Diablo, Baal, and Mephisto, and of those heroes that helped defeat them. He often keeps with him the Book of Horadrim, which tells Sanctuary's history, and its prophecies. Later it is called the Book of Cain, as the last bit of knowledge of the Horadrim dies from the majority of the world. This Book prophesies that after Diablo's defeat, a star shall fall from the Heavens, and bring about the End Days.
Meanwhile, the Barbarians of Mount Arreat slowly begin to recede into their own society from the horrors they have witnessed, and become a legend among the people of Sanctuary. They are very rarely seen. The Guild of Assassins disappears, and demons begin to frequently take up residence in Sanctuary. Thus, a new order has begun, that order of Demon Hunters. They protect the innocent from the vile evils that the Hells have to offer. The Witch Doctors from the Jungles of Kurast have begun to walk out among the people, protecting those that need not be attacked by such evils as those that have come with the falling of the Star that predicts the End Days of the world of Sanctuary. The order that dominates elemental Magicks, the order of Wizards has publicized their powers and is widely known, and feared. Finally, the Monks, those who have based their entire lives on order and balance, the perfect examples of discipline and power, have come to maintain the peace and keep their home from being destroyed by the war, using all of their life-long training to defeat the Evils that have been brought upon the world.
So what exactly is there to look forward in this new game that Blizzard is putting out?
First off, the visuals of the game are amazing. You've never killed demons in the world of Sanctuary quite like you shall in Diablo 3. Adding in a new Physics System to the game, Diablo 3 has opened up new possibilities to how the game world reacts to a player's actions, or even their approach to such environments as a Catacomb. Crumbling walls crush enemies before you, books fall from crumbling book-shelves, and enemies fly when you hit them hard enough. You can use the Barbarian's skill Cleave to knock enemies back, or if it's a killing blow, launch them into the air to fall back onto the earth, sliding a short ways. You can use some of the Barbarian's more devastating attacks to stun enemies while launching them in the air, or even leap from a balcony to slam an opponent. The world of Sanctuary has been revamped and it's much better than just adding a physics engine.
Diablo 3 is now implemented with a rather gory detail, and the dark, sinister mood of the game has never been so promising of death. The enemies are shown in even more detail than ever before, and the monsters have new (and some disgusting) ways of keeping a horde after you, or attacking you, or even dying to your mighty weapons. One such enemy, approached in the Diablo 3 beta, explodes upon death, letting loose odd, carnivorous worms that come after you, determined to finish off what the explosion of the monstrosity had started. The world of Sanctuary has been entirely revamped, and it's looking better by the day. The long wait for the release date is drawing to a close (hopefully!) and the game feels close enough to touch! As soon as the game comes out, even Hell will shudder at the force of the Heroes that will come crashing on its doorsteps, even if it is only four at a time.
However, even with such anticipation, there are some things that have been removed from the game that I feel used to be part of the Diablo franchise's identity. The initial message of removing allocation of stat points during a level-up initially made me shake my head. The world of Diablo was about how unique you could make your character, right? It was about having perfect stats for your gear and continuing on,right? Well, apparently that was wrong. immediately, when I first began to play Diablo, I immediately botched my stats. Well, I had to start again. This time I did better, but still managed to put too much into Dexterity for my warrior, and so once again, I had to restart. I can understand the changes to the franchise, and know that it took too long (and too many characters!) to learn the mistakes of blind stat allocation. You didn't know what you needed for your next tier of items until you got your hands on it, and so people didn't always know where to put their points. Frankly, having an auto-assignment of stats seems a more ideal way, and I have to agree with the developers, even if I find that a part of the Diablo franchise's identity was taken. Only a fraction, though.
The next thing is that items will be more like World of Warcraft's item sets. Armor will give points to stats and make any character unique in stat development due to the random nature of the game's dropped items. However, before people look at the comparison to World of Warcraft, let's look back at Diablo 2. Many items increased your stats as well, and while they were rare (as they are sure to be in the latest installment to the series as well), they were still as much a part of the game as any other. The only reason it is being compared to World of Warcraft's stat system at all is because it is a more widely known stat-boosting system, and more than likely to have more items distributing stats like World of Warcraft's own items do.
However, even for all the quirks they've been introducing, and many that I have not mentioned, I cannot wait to play this game, and I'm hoping many others are as excited for this last installment to the story of Sanctuary, and the finality of the consequences of Diablo 2 as I am.
Bring on the armies of Hell, for we, the Gamers, are ready!
A brief history of the Diablo universe: by CloudedAssassin