Blind Release Dates

By now, you've likely heard the megaton announcement Blizzard unveiled at their Worldwide Invitational event in June. Like most Diablo fans, I logged on to my computer on the 28th to see what the announcement would be related to. When the archangel Tyrael greeted me on, I broke into a wild smile. Much like a fat kid devouring a box of donuts, I tore into the cinematic teaser trailer, dozens of screenshots, concept art, Deckard Cain's journal and best of all, a 20 minute gameplay video.

But what to do when the binge was over? While my initial glee was off the scale, it quickly diminished when I realize this was after all, a Blizzard product and therefore not likely to see retail shelves for several years. There are some small, insignificant games called Starcraft 2 and World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King which are probably in line ahead of the game I'm most eager to see. Assuming Lich King makes it out by the end of 2008, we can hope to see Starcraft in 2009, though that might be hoping for too much.

When can we hope to be charging into Hell to face the fallen hordes? 2010? 2011? Can we even conceive of a far-flung time when apes on horseback will have surely conquered our pathetic armies? Prophecies aside, it's not going to be on our desktops any time soon. The greater issue here isn't necessarily the wait we have to endure. What is really going to make those months (or more likely years) seem worse is the activation of a lumbering contraption known as the Hype Machine. This machine spews forth a barrage of screenshots and preview info designed to make Product X seem all the more desirable. The problem with Mr. Hype Machine is that he likes to stretch. You see, Hype Machine's owners sometimes forget to fill his gas tank with new screenshots, movies and descriptions. When that happens, he begins to show you the same things over and over. My October issue of PC Gamer arrived recently, promising "The Complete Revelation" and "Sizzling New Screens and Info!"right on the cover. With headlines like that, you'd think I would get some new information that Blizzard held back to this point. It's not uncommon for print magazines to secure some sort of rare gem (or skull if you prefer) of information from a company, I assume in exchange for a giant sack of money. Even the first page of the article gave cause for worry though. It was written by Dan Amrich. Nothing against Mr. Amrich, but the last I heard he was writing for Official Xbox Magazine. I've enjoyed his contributions to that magazine, and for all I know he's an avid Diablo player. But why would PC Gamer rely on someone who is associated very closely with Xbox to discuss the biggest PC game announcement of 2008?

Initial concerns aside, I continued the article to read that Diablo 3 is going to contain:

• Destructible Environments
• A Barbarian Class
• A Witch Doctor Class
• Enemy Types such as Dark Vessels, Walking Corpses, Wraiths.
• A New Interface

Now, you may be wondering where in that list does the new stuff come in? The answer my friends, is nowhere. Everything discussed in the article had been known since people watched the 20 minute trailer in late June. There was nothing but recycled information and the same screenshots we've all seen featured in online previews of this game. I don't mean to single out PC Gamer, I still read their magazine faithfully, though I suspect that it's more out of nostalgia than genuine satisfaction with the product these days. What it made me realize though is that this kind of recycling of limited information is going to continue right up until the eventual release of this game, and I'm officially bowing out. I'm excited for D3, make no mistake. In order to avoid falling prey to the Hype Machine and his slow-drip I.V. bag of screens and info for Diablo junkies, I'm going cold turkey. When Blizzard is good and ready to release this game, I'll be in line on day one. Until then, Deckard Cain will just have to find someone else to talk to