Blizzard's Diablo III: The Adventures Go On

In Diablo III, classes are getting an overhaul, the potion system is no more, and a new crafting system is in the works

Diablo III takes place two decades after the events of Diablo II, when you (the hero) defeated the three Prime Evils—Diablo, Mephisto and Baal. An unexpected casualty of your confrontation with Baal included the Archangel Tyrael, who destroyed the corrupted Worldstone and was never seen again. Since then, the world went relatively quiet, and the massive invasion from Hell expected to come from the Worldstone's destruction never came, causing the adventure against Prime Evils to fade from memory, with many believing it to be an exaggerated story. When Deckard Cain hears rumors of a new evil, he visits the ruins of Tristram, where a meteor falls to the earth and unleashes the forces of Hell once again.

Although there are currently few details about the game, Blizzard confirmed that both the Barbarian and Witch Doctor classes will appear in Diablo III; new class announcements will be made at Blizzcon 2008 this October. The Barbarian remains more-or-less the same as Diablo II, using war cries to bolster its strength while fighting enemies with an array of melee weapons. A destructible environment supplements its strength, so there will be times when the Barbarian may knock down a wall to crush a group of foes instead of taking them on directly. Meanwhile, the Witch Doctor will play like a beefed up version of Diablo II's Necromancer, using a combination of dark spells and potions to repel, confuse and destroy enemies. And unlike the last game, players will be able to select the gender of their character during class selection.

Thankfully, classes aren't the only thing to receive an overhaul. Blizzard will also get rid of the potion system that was so prevalent in previous games. A skill bar, similar to those seen in World of Warcraft, will take the place of the potion belt. Instead of carrying around sacks full of healing potions, fallen monsters will leave behind health orbs that players collect, or else they disappear after a set amount of time. This makes room for a different approach toward monster design. In Diablo III, big monsters will be geared toward wearing players down over time instead of simply using single shot powers to eliminate all their health, making for more exciting battles that require forethought and planning. Although there are no set details yet, players will also see major changes with the inventory system, as it will trade the Tetris-like grid system from past games for something more functional.

Diablo III will also employ a new crafting system, but that's currently under development. The only thing that's known for sure is that it won't involve anything like stuffing items into a Horadric Cube. Other mysterious details, or lack thereof, include the game's story and the identity of the new threat since the three Prime Evils were vanquished. The best we can do is wait. Of course, in the normal Blizzard tradition, Diablo III will release when it's done.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.