Diablo Wiki
"It has been said that in the end of all things, we would find a new beginning. But as the shadow once again crawls across our world and the stench of terror drifts on a bitter wind, people pray for strength and guidance. They should pray for the mercy of a swift death... for I've seen what the Darkness hides."

- Leah, narrating the cinematic trailer.(src)

Diablo III
Diablo Box Art.jpg
Developer(s) Blizzard Entertainment
Blizzard North (2002-2005)
Team 3 (2006-2012)
Released May 15, 2012 (PC/Mac)

September 3, 2013 (Xbox 360/PlayStation 3)
August 19, 2014 (Xbox One/PlayStation 4)

Genre(s) Action role-playing game, hack and slash
Mode(s) Singleplayer (Internet connection required), Multiplayer
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Xbox 360, Playstation 3
Media DVD, Digital download
Input methods Keyboard, mouse/Controller

Diablo III is the third installment in the Diablo series. After years of rumors, the game was officially announced on June 28, 2008 at 12.18 in the afternoon (CEST) at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational in Paris (WWI08), France.

The game was launched on May 15, 2012.12:01 AM PST. Console versions were released the following year.

The PC version is only playable online and does not support mods. It does not possess controller support.[1]

The game received an expansion pack, Reaper of Souls, in 2014.


Diablo III is a hack and slash action role-playing game (ARPG). It retains the isometric perspective from its predecessors.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows® XP/Windows Vista®/Windows® 7 (Latest Service Packs) with DirectX® 9.0c
    Processor: Intel Pentium® D 2.8 GHz or AMD AthlonTM 64 X2 4400+
    Video: NVIDIA® GeForce® 7800 GT or ATI Radeon™ X1950 Pro or better
  • OS: Mac® OS X 10.6.8 or newer
    Processor: Intel® Core 2 Duo
    Video: NVIDIA® GeForce® 8600M GT or ATI Radeon™ HD 2600 or better
All Platforms
  • HD Space: 12 GB available HD space
    Memory: 1 GB RAM (1.5 GB required for Windows Vista®/Windows® 7 users, 2 GB for Mac® users)
    Drive: DVD-ROM drive
    Internet: Broadband Internet connection
    Display: 1024×768 minimum display resolution

(Note: Be advised that some wireless connections do not meet the minimums required to be a true Broadband Internet connection. Wireless results will always be terrible.)


  • OS: Windows Vista®/Windows® 7 (Latest Service Packs)
    Processor: Intel® Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz
    or AMD AthlonTM 64 X2 5600+ 2.8 GHz
    Memory: 2 GB RAM
    Video: NVIDIA® GeForce® 260 or ATI Radeon™ HD 4870 or better
  • OS: Mac® OS X 10.7 or newer
    Processor: Intel® Core 2 Duo
    Memory: 2 GB RAM
    Video: NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 330M or ATI Radeon™ HD 4670 or better[2]

Console Version

The game was ported to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The port was based on the PC version, including recent upgrades such as Paragon leveling, new legendary weapons, and brawling.[3] Console differences/additions include:

  • Avatars: Diablo III-themed t-shirts are available for player avatars on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network.[4]
  • Buffs: The addition of power globes and the Nephalem Valor buff.[5] Nephalem Valor was later removed.[6]
  • Controls: The game is played through controllers.[7]
  • Combat: A target lock and evade function have been added.[8]
  • Co-op: The game may be played cooperatively through Xbox Live/PlayStation Network, through LAN/System Link, or in offline couch co-op[9]
  • Items: The PlayStation 3 version gets five exclusive items—The Hero's Journey, Drake's Amulet, Leoric's Gauntlets, Crimson Angelic Wings, and Leah's Ring.[10]
  • Connectivity: The game does not require an online connection to play.

Separate console ports exist in the form of the Ultimate Evil Edition and Eternal Collection.


See also: Diablo III videos

The game takes place in Sanctuary, the dark fantasy world of the Diablo series, twenty years after the events of Diablo II. Deckard Cain and his niece Leah are in the Tristram Cathedral investigating ancient texts regarding an ominous prophecy. Suddenly, a mysterious star falling from the sky strikes the Cathedral, creating a deep crater into which Deckard Cain disappears.

The player character, known as the Nephalem, arrives in New Tristram to investigate the fallen star. The Nephalem rescues Cain upon Leah's request and discovers that the fallen object is actually a person. The stranger has no memories except that he lost his sword, which was shattered into three pieces. Although the Nephalem retrieves the pieces, the witch Maghda seizes the shards and attempts to capture Cain to force him to repair the sword for her own ends. However, with an uncontrolled display of power, Leah forces Maghda to flee, and she kidnaps the stranger instead. Cain, dying from Maghda's torture, uses the last of his strength to repair the sword and instructs the Nephalem to return it to the stranger. The Nephalem rescues the stranger and returns his sword, causing him to regain his memories. The stranger then reveals himself as the fallen angel Tyrael. Disgusted with his fellow angels' unwillingness to protect humanity from the forces of Hell, Tyrael cast aside his divinity to become a mortal and warn Sanctuary about the arrival of the demon lords Belial and Azmodan.

To avenge Cain's death, the Nephalem tracks Maghda to the city of Caldeum, which is controlled by her master, Belial. The Nephalem kills Maghda, and rescues Leah's mother, Adria. Adria tells Tyrael and the Nephalem that the key to stopping the demons is the Black Soulstone, which can trap the souls of the seven Lords of Hell and destroy them forever. In order to obtain the Black Soulstone, the Nephalem resurrects the mad Horadrim, Zoltun Kulle. Kulle reveals its hiding place and completes the unfinished Soulstone, but is killed by the Nephalem after he attempts to steal it for himself. The Nephalem kills Belial and traps his soul within the Black Soulstone, freeing Caldeum. As Leah studies in Caldeum's library to find more answers about the Black Soulstone and Azmodan, she receives a vision from Azmodan, who tells her that he is sending an army from the ruins of Mount Arreat to take the Black Soulstone for himself.

Tyrael, Adria, Leah and the Nephalem journey to Bastion's Keep, the only line of defense between Azmodan's forces and the rest of Sanctuary. With the others staying behind to protect the Black Soulstone, the Nephalem pushes out from the keep into Mount Arreat. The Nephalem kills Azmodan and traps his soul in the Black Soulstone. However, Adria betrays the Nephalem and takes the Black Soulstone with the seven Demon Lords' souls inside. She reveals that she has been Diablo's agent from the beginning, and that Leah's father is the Dark Wanderer, who conceived her while being possessed by Diablo, making her the perfect vessel for the demon's physical form. Using Leah as a sacrifice, Adria resurrects Diablo. Having the souls of all the Lords of Hell within him, Diablo becomes the Prime Evil, the most powerful demon in existence, and begins his assault on the High Heavens, the defending angels being no match for him.

Tyrael and the Nephalem follow Diablo to the High Heavens, where the city is under attack. The defending Angels warn the Nephalem that Diablo is attempting to reach the Crystal Arch, which is the source of all of the angels' power. To prevent Diablo from corrupting the Crystal Arch and completing his victory over the High Heavens, The Nephalem confronts and defeats him. With Diablo's physical manifestation destroyed, the Black Soulstone is shown falling from the High Heavens, apparently still intact. After the battle, Tyrael decides to rejoin the High Heavens but remain as a mortal, dedicated to building a permanent alliance between angels and humans.


Diablo III incorporates the Havok physics engine and enables players to utilize the environment to help in their quest. For example, huge walls can be reduced to rubble to squash monsters by a direct hit. Even monsters use the environment (such as Ghouls scaling the walls to reach the player). Many more parts of what appear to be a seamless background environment are destructible. Some dilapidated areas will also collapse (with or without harming the player) automatically when the player gets too near or passes under part of a structure.

The UI, including character screen and inventory is functionally similar to its predecessor, besides the graphical upgrades and more details in expanding tabs, and will be very familiar to Diablo II players.

Some stats (and their UI bars) were removed, including Stamina (and therefore Walking). The experience bar is now at the bottom of the screen spanning across the UI panel. Some other stats were changed or added, but overall, remain similar to what they used to be.

Stat allocation is changed to Paragon system, allowing players to allocate excessive stats after reaching maximum level (60 or 70 with expansion), but before that, core stats are distributed automatically. Paragon levels continue to increase without limit after reaching maximum level, and are shared among all characters of same type on account.

Potions have lesser importance because of the introduction Health Globes, dropped by slain monsters. These replenish lost Life when picked up, and cannot be stored. Only one (endless) potion can be equipped, usable every 30 seconds, but potions may grant special effects in addition to restoring Life.

In co-operative play, loot is dropped for individual players (player cannot see what the others get). This was done to encourage trading between players in a group and reducing thievery. Co-operative play remains as the core of multiplayer, with a drop-in, drop-out feature so one can share their items (only available 2 hours after they drop, and only to players who were in the same party when item dropped). Between characters of same type on same account, gear may be transferred at any time.

Prior to patch 2.0, Auction House allowed players to trade their items for gold or real money.

Hardcore mode appears in Diablo III, with similar functionality to its prior incarnation. As of RoS, another choice during character creation is Season participation, which replaces the Ladder.

Players now can only learn 6 active skills (+3 or 4 passive), but can change those at any time for free. Skill Trees are gone, replaced with free choice almost without limits (some skills are limited to one per category). To compensate, skills can be upgraded with skill runes to change their functionality, and gear offers new stats, which greatly improve functionality of skills (such as reducing cooldowns and resource costs, increasing their damage, etc) instead of plainly increasing skill levels. Sets also offer unique bonuses instead of simply increasing stats. Skill Points are also gone, players always have access to a number of skills based on their character level.

There are four slots for keyboard activated skills, associated with the 1-4 number keys, and two are the mouse skills (LMB and RMB).

Buffs and debuffs are now displayed on the UI. As of patch 2.4, they are grouped and incorporated into skill icons for better visualization.

There is now a mini-map displayed on the top of the right hand side of the screen, replacing the automap. A detailed map can be viewed at any time with M key.

Action Combat feature, originally exclusive to consoles, was implemented on PC in 2.4.

The game is designed so that ideally, there is a change of art assets and monsters every fifteen minutes when playing the game.[11]


Like Diablo II, Diablo III has a four act structure.The fifth act is included with Reaper of Souls.

Act I occurs in Khanduras, in and around New Tristram. It hearkens to the first act of Diablo II geographically and aesthetically.

Act II occurs in Kehjistan, a location visited in Diablo II in its third act. However, in Diablo II, the events are centered in Caldeum and its surrounding desert, similar to Lut Gholein and Aranoch in the previous game's second act.

Act III occurs in the Dreadlands. This bears resemblance to Harrogath and its surrounding area in Diablo II's fifth act, which occurred in the same geographical region (then known as the Northern Steppes).

Act IV occurs in High Heavens, a location never visited in any previous Diablo series game, while in previous game, fourth act occurred in Burning Hells.

Act V takes place in Westmarch and Pandemonium.


Diablo III features four artisans. Covetous Shen, a jeweler, Haedrig Eamon, a blacksmith, and two more added in Reaper of Souls: a mystic, Myriam Jahzia, and Kanai's Cube operated by Zoltun Kulle.


Templar skills

Followers are an upgrade to Hirelings, who have expanded storyline, dialogue, and their own quests. They cannot permanently die, but fatal damage will put them out of combat for short time.

Diablo III includes three different followers: Kormac the Templar, Lyndon the Scoundrel, and Eirena the Enchantress. Followers are unlocked as the player progresses through the main storyline. While only one follower can accompany the player at a time, followers gain experience even when not in the player's party. In Multiplayer, followers are not available.

Followers can be equipped with a minimal set of items, and gain skill options at four periodic level-ups. Each time a new pair of skills is unlocked, the player must select one for the follower to learn. These skill choices can be reset and made again with no penalty. Followers may wear special items that give them unique properties unavailable to players.

Short-term followers also exist, as in, characters that follow the hero(es) for short sections of the story. These followers may not be equipped by the player.


Diablo III has seven classes, all of which have a choice of gender, and had a unique source of energy for their abilities. Expanded character customization features include choice of gender, dyes (for cosmetic appearance), banners and (as of expansion pack) Transmogrification, which allow players to build a unique way their character looks.

All classes have 3 types of Class-specific Items. No class-related quests are in game.

  • The Barbarian returns from Diablo II as the straightforward brute-force fighter, with some new abilities as well. The Champion's mechanics seem very similar to those in the last game, with most moves being very close range. Barbarians use Fury to power their attacks.
  • The Witch Doctor summons Undead monstrosities to do their bidding, along with possessing various spells, many of which resemble Curses. They can be considered to be a mix of the Necromancer and Druid classes from Diablo II. They use Mana to power their abilities.
  • The Wizard is the game's "glass cannon" class, bearing some similarities to the Sorceress. Their abilities are focused on damage dealing and evasion. They use Arcane Power as their energy source.
  • The Monk is a class with fast melee attacks, relying on fist-based weapons and daibos, along with Light-based abilities and mantras, similar to auras of the Paladin class. Similarities exist with the Assassin and Monk classes of previous games. Monks use Spirit as their energy source.

Blizzard also announced the Archivist class as an April Fools' joke, it appeared to die in a single hit and use spells based entirely on the usage of books and scrolls. Angels will not be playable classes due to them not being nephalem.[12]


Diablo III features more NPCs per act than its predecessors. These NPCs, while found in town hubs, are also found outside, and may spawn randomly. Also in contrast, interaction with NPCs is based on dialogue, where the player character interacts with the NPC, rather than the monologues of previous games. NPC dialogue can also be heard in the background, reflecting recent developments in the story.


Blizzard does not intend to make the gameplay of Diablo III any easier than its predecessors, and wants the game to have the same level of difficulty as Diablo II, though is easy to progress through at the beginning. However, harder difficulty modes can be unlocked. In addition, the game can be played through entirely as a solo experience and no section of the game requires more than one player to complete.[13]

The game currently has numerous difficulty settings — Normal, Hard, Expert, Master, and Torment, Torment being adjustable from I to XIII if players wish for more challenge.


Diablo III Inventory screen as of August 2010

Diablo III expands the player character's arsenal by leaps and bounds. Many Unique Items make a return in the form of legendary items, this new tier replacing the Unique ones. Sets also return. Normal Items, Magic Items and Rare Items also make a comeback.

Items may be crafted by Artisans in addition to dropping from monsters.


Armor slots in Diablo III include the following:


Gem breakdown for Diablo III.

Gems make a reappearance in five colors (Ruby, Diamond, Emerald, Amethyst and Topaz), with more power levels than in the previous game: gems have 14 quality levels (19 as of patch 2.0, and then 10 as of patch 2.3), but only the first few can be obtained as drops from monsters, the rest (above Imperial) must be crafted by the Jeweler Artisan.

Legendary Gems also feature, replacing Jewels.


Main article: Inventory

After many iterations the latest style of inventory is grid-based, but to a smaller degree than the inventory in Diablo II. Small items take one space, while big items take two spaces. Potions and some other items (scraps and ingredients) are stackable.

The player will also have a similar grid-based stash in town for storage purposes, it is expandable with gold.

The Scroll of Identify has been replaced by the player simply right clicking an unidentified item. Magic and Rare items do not need to be identified.

The Scroll of Town Portal has also been replaced by a button on the player's toolbar, which transports you directly to town.


Main article: Diablo III Bestiary

Diablo III's enemies operate on the same variety principle as Diablo II, divided into undead, demons, animals, etc.

Enemies' health bars appear at the top of the screen when a player attacks them and disappears if combat ceases or after the enemy dies. However, for Super Uniques and Bosses, is a separate health bar on top of the screen, staying there regardless of the location of the mouse until the enemy is destroyed.

Player vs Player (PvP)

Diablo III features a Battle Arena system, to allow players to show off and face off against other players. They made PVP separate to remove griefing and help keep the focus on player vs monster (PVM) gameplay. This also allows for balancing of PVP without changing the PVM experience. PVP will not be available at release, as Blizzard reiterates some core PVP concepts, PVP game play, and experience. The company stated the PVP experience for Diablo III is not up to their expectation or quality standards.[14]


Diablo III features a quest system to Diablo II, though with more quests per act. In addition, random events feature. These are shorter quests not part of the main storyline. dungeons are still randomized but the random map generator has undergone an overhaul. However, there are still hard borders to areas and players must go around some obstacles like crevasses and large fixed objects like trees and inaccessible buildings. Small amounts of experience can also be gained by destroying many destructible objects in a short period of time.

Dungeons are designed via tiles, with a non-standard unit of measurement ("Diablo metric feet"). 18-70 tiles go into the creation of a dungeon in a fixed dungeon. Most of the game's exterior environments have a fixed layout, with the exception of Westmarch, in order to keep the story experience consistent. However, monster, treasure, objective, and event placement can be random.[11]

Checkpoints allow characters that have died to return to the fray quickly, without going through the hassle of returning from town, as was the case in Diablo II. However, in battle with bosses, players may not revive themselves in the boss chamber. While items lose durability after death, a hero retains the items all the same.


Tome.png This page contains obsolete content
This article contains information that is no longer relevant to gameplay, but is kept here for informational purposes.
For the original version of Diablo III as conceived by Blizzard North, see Diablo 2.5.

Early Development

Blizzard Irvine took over development of Diablo III in 2006, effectively rebooting it,[15] though the game wasn't officially announced until two years later.[16] possessing a development team of around 60-65 individuals.[17] The reason for the delay was that there was a lot of debate within Blizzard as to what kind of game Diablo III was going to be. In fact, several versions were scrapped and rumors link these difficulties to the dissolution of Blizzard North in 2005.[18] After Jay Wilson started work on the game, the developers spent over a month brainstorming the game. During this time the also studied and played other games in the genre, especially the previous Diablo games.[19]

According to a former senior-level staffer at Blizzard who worked on game for most of its 11 year development cycle, the legacy of Diablo II overshadowed every aspect of the game's production. The staffer claimed that the team had differing ideas as to what the franchise actually stood for, and as such, several versions of the game were created, all of which "dead-ended."[20]

During development, Diablo III was codenamed "Hydra."[21] In 2007, Paul Sams reaffirmed Blizzard's dedication to the setting.[22]

A build Blizzard worked on prior to publicly announcing the game was never shown to the public. Jay Wilson has referred to this build as "Diablo 2.5."[23]

In 2008, the game was officially announced.[16] In that same year, there were fifty people on the game's development team.[24]

Subsequent Development

Upper management within Blizzard gave the game's development team free reign in regards to the design of the game.[25] A key concern within the team was stagnation, of building a game too similar to its predecessors.[26]

Content was being generated in regards to the tech and game engine, which was indicated as "really solid" by August 2008. At that time, most of the design team was still on Act I, refining and improving the quests and flow and some of the big game systems that hadn't been announced yet. Blizzard was not moving through the acts in a linear fashion, and would often revisit previous ones.[27]

Context/lore-wise, the game is based around black and white rather than gray morality. The idea is that if one sees something, it can be slain, without asking why; the player is killing monsters, not people.

The game's music was expanded upon, using a full orchestra, choir, and several additional musicians.[28] The game's soundtrack was recorded in a concert hall. The composers decided to "go big" with the score, reflecting the game's epic nature of good vs. evil. 87 instruments were used in the orchestra.[29] The music partly operates on a 'by location basis, using specific tracks for specific areas,[28] and different choirs were used for Hell and Heaven-themed music. [29]

The game entered its "crunch period" towards the end of 2011.[30]

Console Version

"A lot of the timing of skills on console felt off, because instead of focusing on your cursor, your eye, you're focusing on your character. So we essentially went in and tweaked every skill in the game."

Despite compatible gameplay, Blizzard stated in 2008 that it had no intention of releasing the game on a console.[31] However, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 version were eventually released.[32] The success of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft gave Blizzard an impetus to release a console port after seeing the viability of gaming platforms outside the PC.[33]

The console team was initially small, consisting of three individuals.[30] The lead designer of the team was Josh Mosqueira, who previously worked as design director on Company of Heroes at Relic.[32] The PC and console versions influenced each other (in terms of development) and ideas from one version can be carried into another.[34] Blizzard gave Mosqueira's team liberty to overhaul everything for the console version. They took advantage of this freedom, changing the skills of every class to account for the new control scheme.

When the PC version entered its crunch period, the console team (which had grown to eight people) were transferred to work on the PC version. After the release of the main game, the console team returned to work on their version of the game.[30]


As soon as a direction for the game was chosen, the art style that would be used came under discussion. Initially the game as a whole was set to be dark and gritty, but it was found that monsters blended in too well with the background.[18] The game's original art style got "good, but not great" responses internally. A second art style was chosen, and received a much more positive response within Blizzard. This art style was similar to the one the game possessed when it released.[19]

Some monster designers developed insectoid demons for the game. However, these were scaled back, as senior staff members pointed out that such demons didn't exist in Diablo II. Ergo, the game went with more traditional designs for its demons.[20]

Diablo III utilizes a "painterly" art style.[35] The game's art style was not universally greeted with enthusiasm from the public after it was showcased, and a petition was created by players to force Blizzard Entertainment to change their art direction for the game. Blizzard underwent three art revisions, finding that a purely dark style was too drab. As the case was, the "sunny" art style was said to represent the early parts of the game. This was to establish contrast between the game's early and late stages, things "feeling worse" as the game moved on.[36]

An artwork divide existed between Diablo III and its predecessor in that they use 3D and 2D art styles respectively. This required new technology and stylistic methods. To best demonstrate this, the decision was made to start the game in New Tristram, a familiar abode from previous games. That, and because the region is steeped in Medieval fantasy, it would serve as good contrast to the more exotic locations found later in the game.[37]


The closed beta launched on September 20, 2011.[38] As it developed, a number of patches were written.

The open beta was launched April 20, 2012 at 12:01 p.m. (PDT) and ended Monday, April 23 at 10:00 AM (PDT).

The beta was intended to be a short demo of the game, in order to avoid story spoilers.[39]


It was stated in 2008 that Diablo III would have a number of expansion packs.[40] In 2014, the first expansion pack, Reaper of Souls, was released.

In early March, 2014, it was stated that there was a "fairly decent list" that the Diablo III development team wanted to do with the property. This included dealing with the issue of Leah, and "the ultimate end to the saga of the humans, angels and demons."[41] It was stated later in the month however that the future of the franchise is "up in the air," and while Reaper of Souls will continue to be supported, Blizzard is evaluating whether the game will receive further expansions,[42] and has surveyed some players to gauge interest in a possible second expansion.[43] In 2013, Travis Day stated offhand that a "Diablo IV" will be made at some point in the future, predicting that Blizzard would be working on the game by 2018 (though also joking that its release date would come "twenty years from now" (2033).[44] As of May, 2014, Blizzard's development model was to release expansions and free patches rather than DLC.[34] At BlizzCon 2014, Josh Mosqueira refused to confirm or deny the existence of a second expansion.[45] A second expansion was planned to be announced at BlizzCon 2015, but was scrapped and its content released for free.[46]


Blizzard considered abandoning the isometric perspective of previous games and have Diablo III with a camera setup similar to that in World of Warcraft. However, the isometric perspective was stuck with.[47]

The combat design and physics engine of the game are most attributable to Jay Wilson.[34] The game's difficulty was designed to mirror that of Diablo II. The idea was that players would play through the game once on Normal mode, then once on Nightmare mode, then Hell mode. A fourth mode, Inferno, was designed as well, intended for players who had hit the level cap.[30]

A number of internal modes were tested internally. These included an arena with four pillars, a MOBA style 3-lane map with towers and creeps, a mode where a player played as a boss against four heroes, and a hostile bounties system where the player is doing bounties, but PvP is enabled outdoors.[48]

Skill Trees[49] and Fatalities were cut from the original game.

The developers wanted to have a central player hub, which they referred to internally as "Player Town." The idea didn't make it into the final product, but was revisited with Westmarch in Diablo Immortal.[50]

The Paragon system was added later to introduce extra leveling for those who had reached the level 60 cap.[51]

The game was designed to have a lot of randomness, and that drop rates would be low in order to encourage item searching.[39] The Auction House was removed in 2014.[52]

In 2014, competitive PvE was being looked into, even beyond Ladders and Tiered Rifts.[34]

As of February 2015, Blizzard is considering implementing microtransactions into the game. However, this model will not be used for European or North American regions.[53][54]

Originally, conversations with NPCs would use highly detailed models appearing close to the screen, rather than text boxes being employed. The idea was later abandoned.[55]

Dynamic weather was once present in the game, but scrapped.[56]

The Talisman system once existed as an extra means of character customization, but was removed.[57]

"I believed, and still believe to this day, that a hyper competitive e-sport would have been one of the worst things that could happen to Diablo 3, and would have been almost unavoidable with the direction we were going. Remember when I mentioned that the Game Director is not all powerful? One of the examples is that it is near impossible to resist the tide of public and company pressure when applied to something like this. The result would have been outcries and demands for game balance in a game that ‘should’ be all about crazy and insane impossibilities. It’s my opinion that Diablo works best when it embraces a very whimsical approach to game balance. That’s one of the reasons that the stepped difficulty system works so well in Diablo, because when players get overwhelmingly ridiculously powerful they can just keep cranking up the knob until the game is challenging again. This kind of approach to power creates wild imbalances that can be corrected from patch to patch, but they are generally corrected with a hammer (everyone gets a new uber set!), not the scalpel PVP needs."

In regards to player vs. player (PvP) gameplay in Diablo III, there were two opinions during development as to how it should be approached. The first was allow structured dueling of some form, but not try to make it a serious, balanced, competitive mode. The other opinion was to try and make an e-sport. The team generally fell behind the idea of making something closer to an e-sport. Within the team the mode was pretty popular, but outside of the team the reception was a lot more mixed. Jay Wilson took a dim view on the idea, convinced that PvP would demand game balance that would harm singleplayer and co-op gameplay. The issue was balance, in that PvP would require a curtailing of some abilities, while PvE gameplay allowed for more "whimsical" possibilities. As singleplayer and co-op were the game's focus, the idea for PvP was dropped. During development, some ideas for some team-based player vs. monster vs. player type gameplay, but these weren't pursued.[57]

In 2012, it was stated that PvP would be added in a later patch.[14] As of August, 2015, this is doubtful—the developers found that trying to balance PvP would adversely effect the PvE of the game, including item design.[58]

Similarly to PvP, there was no serious talk about a hostility feature in the game, similar to Diablo II.[57]


The class abilities of the game were designed before their backgrounds.[34] There was a fair amount of debate in Blizzard as to whether each class should have both genders available, or whether to stick with the single-gendered classes from the previous games. Adding more genders meant having to create custom models, more weapon design, more art, etc. Despite the cost however, Blizzard decided to go ahead with the dual gender option, as in the knowledge that gamers come from both genders, they wanted to make a choice available. However, genders do not affect a class's available abilities.[59] Ultimately, both genders were made available for each class.

It was decided that the classes of Diablo III would be actual characters with backstories, rather than the classes of the previous games which were seen as archetypes rather than actual individuals.[20] Initially, Blizzard did not intend to bring back any of the classes from the previous games, feeling that the other classes could not be improved on. With entirely new classes, Diablo III could stand on its own. The Barbarian was an exception to this, as it was felt that the class had a lot of room for development. As such, it is the only returning playable class from previous games.[60] Blizzard considered bringing back old classes for future expansions.[40]

It was initially intended that the classes have a 7 skill limit. This was reduced to 6 during development.[61] The class design intended that there be 3-5 iconic skills for each class.[62]

The game's classes are regularly played by the developers in order to gauge the game's difficulty. This is cross-referenced with player feedback concerning balance, builds, and what monsters are killing them.[63]


Since the first two entries in the series focused on combat over storytelling, there was a lot of room to build out the world beyond the cast of demons that made up its core mythology. Some on the team resisted that urge, saying that it ran counter to their vision of the franchise. Some staffers also resisted attempts to inject some levity into the game’s environments, saying that the game should stick to "grimdark environs."[20]

For Diablo III, it was deemed that explaining with mood is preferable to explaining with dialogue. The writers have to compromise when writing their story because it has to fit from a gameplay perspective and can't be too expensive, art-wise.[34] It was decided that Diablo III would employ dialogue rather than monologue for the conveyance of quest information. The backstories of the characters would be reflected through their art design, and the way they viewed the events of the story.[20] Chris Metzen worked on the plot. It was decided that the game would end the overall story that began in the first game, but not end the story of the setting itself.[64] Among the game's themes are loss, regret, and being able to pick up the pieces and move on.[65]

Elements of the storyline were altered based on input from the art and design teams. At least one third of the game's story was rewritten at some point to account for these changes.[20]

Effort was made to make the setting its own unique world rather than being derivative of Earth-history. This involved the lack of iconography with real-world sources (burning crosses, pentagrams, etc.)[66]

Diablo III was going to have branching storylines. Leonard Boyarsky, the game's lead world designer and co-creator of the Fallout series, believes that this was one of the reasons why Blizzard brought him on board. However, he came to believe that player choice couldn't be factored into an ARPG, partly due to how quickly its story moves, but mainly because of the multiplayer aspect. Players would have had branching conversation choices and a 'corruption' system would have seen players gain access to different conversation options as their characters fell from grace.[67] An angel/demon system was toyed with that stemmed back to work on Diablo 2.5, where narrative choices a player made would influence the player's character and their character development. The developers were inspired by Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, namely the idea of the player walking down a 'light' and 'dark' path.[68] However, the design team couldn't find a way to implement it due to the multiplayer issue.[67]

Other issues remained with the attempted light/dark mechanic. First, the developers found that not all players were interested in reading all the dialogue required to make the good/evil choices meaningful. Second, players often identified often as "always good" or "always bad", so the game didn't end up with a lot of nuance. This was deemed fine for a single playthrough, but not good for repeat playthroughs. Third, the developers tried to tie mechanics to the system (e.g. needing a certain number of alignment points to unlock a skill or equip an item). They found that this put the player at odds with the "player fantasy," where their narrative choices conflicted against the build they wanted to use. By extension, according to Cheng, the type of player who plays Diablo a lot tends to focus on builds, and a focus on dialogue trees would create "dissonance."[68]

In the end, Boyarsky and the team decided to strip the game's story down to a linear one, and one easily skippable at that. However, he reflected that the game "came down too hard" on players uninterested in the story, that the mechanics of the game's original complexity hadn't been removed from what was now a linear story.[67]

Skovos and Ureh were originally in the game but were cut due to their inability to "fit in."[34]

The original idea of Jay Wilson was to evolve the Diablo setting through Diablo III's story in such a manner that the series would be able to lead into an MMO game. This idea has since been dropped.[69]


Critical Reception

Diablo III had a positive reception from news sites, gaining normalized rankings of 87.64% and 88% on Metacritic and Gamesrankings.com respectively.[70][71] Criticisms included the use of the game's DRM and the consequent server issues that stemmed from it,[72] along with the lack of a PvP mode.[73] The Auction House was a controversial addition.[74]


Player Reception

"Honestly, I think that they did a lot of the things the best they could, it was a very different game than I would have created, the team and personalities, the people, the talent and all the design philosophies of the people that worked on it in Irvine, we called them Blizzard South, those people have their own style and the their own way they like to design. It was very, very different from the Blizzard North."

Negative player reception to the game was noticeable—news sites made note of a flurry of 0/10 and 1/5 scores on Metacritic and Amazon respectively.[82] Forbes argued that the scores should not be taken as objective feedback, but were still a valid protest vote against the game's DRM.[83] "Error 37" (a notice that stemmed from connectivity issues) became an Internet meme.[84]

David Brevik, the series's creator, expressed a dim view on the game. He expressed the idea that Blizzard South did not have the same experience with the ARPG genre that Blizzard North did, that they had concentrated on elements that they were more interested in (e.g. story) that were not shared by Blizzard North. He was also critical of the game's loot system, and reflected that "some of the decision they have made are not the decisions I would make."[85]

The poor player reception was noticed at Blizzard. Josh Mosqueira described Team 3's office as being "akin to a funeral home" due to the poor player feedback, even as the sales figures broke expectations. In a talk at the 2015 Game Developers' Conference, Mosqueira described the following issues as being key to the poor reception:

  • The beta had not gone on long enough to allow Blizzard to gain long-term feedback.
  • "Randomness is king" was a poor idea, and sacrificed too much fun.
  • They had tried too hard to make a sequel to Diablo II, rather than making Diablo III its own game.
  • The drop rates were too low—they had misjudged player psychology, believing that a hard search would be welcomed.[39]

In 2019, a former Blizzard member who'd worked on the game stated that Diablo II's legacy had overshadowed development of Diablo III. They further stated, in regards to the game's development cycle, that "I think if we’d listened to every ‘that’s not Diablo’ that was said, there’d be a very small, very bland game left over, If Diablo 2 is a perfect game, with no faults, then it was a mistake to make a sequel."[20]


Diablo III sold 6.6 million copies within 2 days of launch—figures that Blizzard's sales team had initially expected within a year.[86] As of May 2013, Diablo III had been played by 14.5 million unique players, according to Blizzard's released statistics.[87] As of June 2014, Diablo III and Reaper of Souls had combined sales worldwide of more than 20 million copies.[88] As of May 2022, Diablo III has over 65 million registered players.[89]


Class crests


This section contains facts and trivia relevant to this article.
  • When loading cinematics in the game, "suffering" is the message displayed on the upper-left part of the black loading screen—a pun on the usual "buffering."


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External links