Despite there being less than one day remaining until the long-awaited release of Diablo III, plenty of noteworthy news is still finding its way to the internet from all over the globe: things look grim for fans who pre-ordered the game in Australia, Diablo III’s systems and balance are addressed by Blizzard, and details on the game’s Starter Edition have come to light. Plus, for a bit of backstory on the battle between Heaven and Hell, be sure to check out Peter Chung’s short film, Wrath, at the top of the page.
Starting with the bad news, retailer GAME Australia sent out a text message to all its Diablo III pre-order customers, informing them that not only will GAME not be stocking Diablo III after its transition to administration, but that there will be no refunds issued on pre-order deposits. This is the text message that customers received:
“Due to the appointment of an administrator to our business this morning, it is with regret that I inform you all that our stores will not be receiving any stock of diablo 3. Because of this, we regrettably will be unable to fulfill any pre-orders. Also, we will be unable to refund any deposits paid towards a pre-order of diablo 3. If you need any more info, please email firstname.lastname@example.org”
According to Kotaku AU, not only will the money be non-refundable, it also can not be used as in-store credit or as money for another pre-order. That money now belongs to the retailer.
Although the GAME Australia issue might be nearly unsolvable, Blizzard has responded to another worrisome problem fans have brought up since the Diablo III beta. Many players were concerned about the game’s difficulty after playing the beta three weeks ago. Initial complaints centered on simplified character creation and an overall “dumbing down” of how the game is played relative to its predecessors.
In an interview with Eurogamer, Blizzard assured players that the early areas showcased in the beta are not representative of the difficulty or breadth of choice that will be offered in subsequent portions of the game. The beta was meant to be very approachable, giving a basic overview of what Diablo III will have to offer for new and old players alike. Julian Love, the game’s lead technical artist, wants players to know the benefits behind the reconfiguring many were surprised by:
“So it’s not that we’re dumbing the systems down, so much as we’re changing the balance of when systems are introduced and how much information is thrown at the user. A lot of those things are just re-prioritised to flow into the proper portion of the game, where you’ve already gotton used to the early systems and early combat, and now you’re ready for more. That’s a big part of the process of just getting it to ramp up properly.”
Having played the beta as a seasoned Diablo veteran, there is no question that the introductory levels of the game presented in the beta were simpler to tackle than in Diablo and Diablo II. That said, it has been 12 years since Diablo II launched, and an entirely new generation of gamers who have never been involved with the franchise before will be picking up Diablo III.
Speaking of new inductees to the war against the devil, fighting hordes of demons will be even easier with Guests Passes and the Diablo III Starter Edition. Every copy of Diablo III will come with Guest Passes which allow a friend, family member, or complete stranger to gain access to the Starter Edition of the action RPG. The Starter Edition appears to be identical to the beta that took place last month: players can complete all of Act 1 up to the Skeleton King, levels are capped at 13, and there are restrictions on the auction house and online matchmaking.
Thirty days after the game launches, the Starter Edition will be freely available to everyone without requiring a Guest Pass. In other words, by June 15th, everyone with access to a computer will have had a chance to try out Blizzard’s latest title.
So Ranters, in light of all this news about the most anticipated ARPG on the market, will you be picking up Diablo III tomorrow? Let us know in the comments below.
Diablo III will be available at midnight tonight for PC and Mac.
[Update: According to Polygon, a community manager over at the Blizzard forums has informed GAME Australia pre-orderers that if they submit their receipts by June 30th, they will receive credit of an equivalent monetary amount to be applied to the digital purchase of the game. Bullet: dodged]