Diablo III: Imp’s Good To Be Back

By Alec Meer on May 26th, 2009 at 5:41 pm.

Taking a good old crack at making an exciting upcoming videogame game as unexciting as possible is this short, strangely detached look at one of the classic baddies returning in Blizzard’s upcoming Diablo sequel. The Fallen Ones are coming back, as proven by a new video that is, to my mind, very much trying to reassure crazy fans that their treasured murky colour palette isn’t entirely replaced by – oh grud don’t make me say the bad words – ‘WoW gayness’.

More casual Diablo fans will remember the Fallen Ones as the little impy guys who resurrect themselves in huge numbers unless you nobble the Shaman lurking at the back. New (I think) to their first 3D iteration is the splendid Lunatic – a toad-chested chap who, at a guess, stabs himself in the fiery belly to wreak high-temperature havoc on anyone close enough. The video beneath the cut shows concept art and some brief in-engine animations of the various Fallenses – it’s frankly a dull piece of footage, but it’s there to excite the fans, not to sell the game to a new crowd. Two more screenshots to pore over too, which also seem deliberately dark.

Certainly looks a bit more Classic Diablo in tone and colour than the controversial brighter stuff we’ve seen so far. While I was never quite massive enough a Diablo fan to care a whit about the colour scheme of this one, I do find this apparent promise of contrast and variety very appealing. Also, fat mad things are always funny, right?

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78 Comments »

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  1. ChaosSmurf says:

    If it wasn’t for how gay WoW is, this update would have been better.

  2. sigma83 says:

    The more Diablo the better

  3. There was a point somewhere... says:

    Having an aversion to MMO, the first time I saw the screenshot comparisons, I thought they were simply exclaiming “Wow, gayness”. Admittedly, though, the concept art is significantly more menacing than after they’ve been translated into 3D.

  4. Tei says:

    Ooops… I was not ready for a D3 post.

    Let me use a stock comment:

    GENERIC WOWGAYNESS COMMENT #4431

    We are on a world, where everone have a voice, and can make his voice to sound everywhere. And with that, lies the need to try to make your voice something constructive (dinamite is also a construction tool, …but I digress..). The sane, calm, livid, fun, curious, voice of Blizzard is creating for us this awesum game, and we have to wait for it to delivers. And for these who disagree, GOD invented Modding.

  5. Tek says:

    True. Aside from the look of the game being perfectly fine with me, things like lighting or gamma correction of textures seem to be easier to modify by a dedicated group of modders than, say, a core gameplay mechanic. Depending on how accessible the relevant files will be, I think a mod that overhauls the visuals won’t be THAT far off.

  6. clovus says:

    Bleh, that last picture is sooo murky. I hate when I can’t see what the hell is going on. I push up the gamma which then makes everything look foggy. Why are game designers so in love with brown and black! Grumble, grumble, complain…

    Why can’t they make it nice and bright like that other game that they made that my grandma enjoys so much…

  7. Dominic White says:

    I’m just hoping for some more Opeth-esque acoustic guitar riffage in the soundtrack. Diablo 1 and Diablo 2’s first act were aided massively because of this.

    Gothic guitar strumming, deep and ominous drums, some strings and some synth. That’s all I ask for, music-wise.

  8. Stupoider says:

    Yeah, Clovus. Different shades of brown has become a sort of cliché in games these days. :)

    The models didn’t really strike me as menacing when compared to the concept art. Which is sad. :(

  9. Bhazor says:

    Personally I’m afraid the whole “painted” look will just be an excuse for blandness. Just blobs of different colours rather than ornate textures and I don’t think I’ve seen any animated back grounds yet. JRPGs are so much better at art design it’s ridiculous. For effs sake Obsidian/Blizzard/Bioware hire some of Squaresofts guys already. Still, never been a fan of Diablo likes so wasn’t too pumped to start with.

    Reply to Clovus
    Maybe it’s my eyes or my monitor but I can barely see in 80% of western made games from the past 2 years. It’s kind of funny that we’ve got the best graphics we’ve ever had and yet designers regularly makes things pitch black so you can’t see them.

  10. Freudian Trip says:

    Blizzard could take a dump on my toast and call it Nutella for all I care. It’s going to be bloody brilliant and I know it so I’m trying to ignore as much hype as possible.

  11. Tei says:

    In defense of Western artist:

    Is easy to “paint” with light (as in Coronas, Lens Flares and Shadows). But to paint in light, the background as to be black. If everything is white, you can’t use light. Western engines have something called a Lighting System, and Eastern engines moslty ignore. Eastern dev’s have amazing taste for modeling and textures, but a cursed love for anime that taint everything. To me, the western engines feel more like a world. While the eastern engines feel more like a cartoon box, everything feels fake to me, but pretty.
    [CORRUPTION ERROR, DATA LOST] …that hate [ERROR] this love of black backgrounds on the western engines, please visit the Prado or The Louvre .. Is something that predates computing. The old artist, Danish, Spanish, French, Italian, Holland… these guys loved to paint over black backgrounds.

    Then, on more modern times, we have artist that use white backgrounds. Sorolla, Van Goth, a few usa artist…. but you probably found these guys with a foot outside realism.

    caveat: IMHO YMMV, IANartist.

  12. Serondal says:

    Are we suposed to be excited one of the most generic monsters ever created is coming back? Does being in two games in a row make the monster less generic ?:P I mean really they’re just goblins with a diffrent name and I’ve already killed hundreds of thousands of them I dunno if I want to kill more.

  13. sigma83 says:

    “For effs sake Obsidian/Blizzard/Bioware hire some of Squaresofts guys already”

    Why, so they can all look generic in the opposite direction?

    Amazing art direction is practically what Blizzard is _built on_. I dunno what you’re smokin’ dude.

  14. sigma83 says:

    “Are we suposed to be excited one of the most generic monsters ever created is coming back?”

    No, we’re excited cause it’s Diablo, and the Fallen Ones are iconic. Also a close up glimpse at the modeling and animation.

  15. hoove man says:

    Professional fluffing… fluffiness, thats the best. Lets do it again, you devil.

  16. Phil H says:

    Hrm, the Lunatic reminds me of the enemies the old Overseers(I like the new one’s weapon, a pair of swords stabbed through a stick) would lash into suicidally explosive frenzies in the LoD expansion. Hound looks to be completely new though.

  17. Serondal says:

    I wouldn’t call the fallen “iconic” so much as “same monster diffrent name” or “generic filler monster because we couldn’t think of anything else”

  18. Wow Gayness says:

    “JRPGs are so much better at art design it’s ridiculous.”

    Ahaha. Sexually ambiguous barbarian would be golden.

  19. Thomas Lawrence says:

    Surely only 13-year olds think that Diablo was really “dark” in anything but the most puerile tits-and-gore sense? And it always had a nice line in vomit greens and lava oranges.

  20. Jeremy says:

    It’s looking pretty good to me, I’ve always been a fan of Blizzard’s art direction. Quality stuff and I refuse to hate it simply because they’re successful :) I appreciate indie, but I also appreciate quality, the 2 are not mutually exclusive no matter what angle you’re coming from.

    And come on, the Fallen Ones are incredibly iconic, along with those crazy goats. Can’t have a Diablo game without them!

  21. ScubaV says:

    I agree that the concept art looks much more sinister than the models, but I still have confidence in the overall effect. Also, anyone else like the music? Very subtle, but haunting. I hope it’s a sample of in-game stuff.

  22. Funky Badger says:

    JRPG background design is/can-be marvellous. Character design hasn’t progressed beyond Cloud, has it?

  23. Jeremy says:

    Nah, the heroes are all androgynous rebels that wield a 10 foot tall cleaver.

  24. A Dead Eldar Guardian says:

    Blizzard has an uncanny ability to create amazing concept art that is then translated into lackluster 3d assets.

  25. Willem says:

    “Imp’s Good To Be Back”

    That’s horrible, Alec.

  26. Blast Hardcheese says:

    Too bad Blizzard is owned by Activision-Vivendi

    They could otherwise get a hint from Valve and do something… exciting? Interesting? Entertaining? Excititing? Worth watching? (Choose your own statement! How fun!)

    Of course because they’re owned by Vivendi there is zero chance of them getting a clue of how to make their adverts something people follow other than just following them to proclaim, “WOW, WOW GAYNESS”

    I mean Vivendi killed The Incredible Machine. EA at least pretends it still uses the licenses eaten from Westwood and Bullfrog.

    So I’d say this disappointed… but honestly I had no hopes to begin with.

    Blizzard is dead. Long live Blizzard!

  27. Serondal says:

    The incredible machine killed the incredible machine, each version was just a slightly better version or slightly diffrent version of the last game O.o

  28. Xercies says:

    I have to say that last screenshot is what I want, so moody and murky its great. If they keep on that i would love it. Remember kids if your going to have a dark depressing world to go in the atmosphere has to go for that. otherwise you just shot yourself in the foot.

  29. Riaktion says:

    I can honestly say I had no proboems what-so-ever with the D3 art style, colours, pallete, smell or flavour. I really enjoyed that walkthrough video they released sometime ago, it even inspired me to buy Sacred 2 on budget in some vain hope it would make me feel the same way. Somehow.. it didn’t. Looking forward its release… in the meantime though.. dragon age..

  30. Rhooke says:

    Two things:

    1) I’ve always been a big fan of Blizzard’s art direction, and to say that they need help from Sqeenix strikes me as preposterous.

    2) I am the only one who found most of the video lacklustre but then watched the logo animation 3-4 times? That’s a badass logo!

  31. psyk says:

    The darkest bit of diablo was tristram.

    “each version was just a slightly better version or slightly diffrent version of the last game”

    what like every second third fourth version of any game.

  32. Tei says:

    On the other part. The animations feel to me very WoW ish.

    The doggie lacks weight. The imp gesture… is a /emote directly from wow. I think Diablo could have use a different style on animation.
    The models? stilized…. too. Humm… Uh.. Oh…

  33. SwiftRanger says:

    Looks awesome and there is much more animation/detail in it than with the usual WoW models (or other hack ‘n slashers). Also, we haven’t heard the Fallen Ones’ voices yet, if you ever played the previous Diablo games you’d know that’s just as essential as their looks.

    Most promising though is that Blizzard ain’t afraid of expanding the concept of these little buggers:
    Diablo 1 had Fallen Ones equipped with sword+small shield and spears (and screeching voices you’ll never forget, still one of the best games ever in terms of moody sound effects/music), Diablo II introduced the Shamans with revive ability and Diablo III will provide the known Fallen Ones with pet hounds, kamikaze units and a new leader type in the Overseer (which will actually buff/reorganise the entire group). Just like everything else about this game so far it all seems made of pure win.

    It’s a new dev team but they damn well know what the flaws and gaps in the previous games were or how to expand on the good stuff.

  34. CPY says:

    Time to kick some red demon @sses… man i so loved killing those red imps in diablo2, i cant wait for D3, and it looked so brutal, i hope this wow gayness wont spoil cruel massacre of D2.

  35. teo says:

    Music has a definite Diablo vibe to it, but it’s not up to par yet

  36. Jeremy says:

    Is Blizzard really owned by anyone? I can’t imagine they would sell themselves after making over 100 million a month for a few years. It was actually a merger of interests, and they’re still a separate entity that needs only answer to themselves. So you can’t really blame corporate conspiracy.

  37. Nick says:

    “Is Blizzard really owned by anyone?”

    Yes. Check the story of how flagship formed.

  38. Pijama says:

    On an entirely unrelated note, I am looking forward to the soundtrack.

  39. unclelou says:

    JRPGs are so much better at art design it’s ridiculous. For effs sake Obsidian/Blizzard/Bioware hire some of Squaresofts guys already.

    Can’t stand most of the art style in JRPGs myself. There’s some top, more stylised stuff like Mother 3, or the Shin Megami Tensei games, but Square’s stuff in particular is just the same thing as your typical D&D game, only tacky and garish instead of gritty and brown.

    Two sides of the same coin, really, only I prefer the latter because it’s a lot less obtrusive.

  40. jalf says:

    @Jeremy: They didn’t. They sold themselves *ages* ago. They’ve changed owners a bajillion times by now.

  41. Psychopomp says:

    @Bhazor

    http://pbfcomics.com/?cid=PBF071-Weeaboo.gif

    Seriously, aside from Chrono Cross, Shin Megami Tensei, FFIX and Baten Kaitos, the art design of jRPG’s has stayed the same since FFXII

  42. Jeremy says:

    I meant in terms of Blizzard as an entity, being sold to other entities.

  43. Zyrusticae says:

    The concept art looks great.

    Then they had to ruin it by giving the actual models ridiculously large upper bodies and tiny legs.

    You bastards.

  44. DigitalSignalX says:

    Gotta agree with Pijama, what struck me most from that vid wasn’t what I was seeing, but hearing.

    I enjoyed Diablo for the story, gameplay, and the character development, not any nitpicky art direction. Face it, they’re all just lil half inch high pixels on your screen and I could care less if the palette draws parallels from WOW or not as long as the game is as solid and fun to play as the previous.

  45. teo says:

    “Surely only 13-year olds think that Diablo was really “dark” in anything but the most puerile tits-and-gore sense? And it always had a nice line in vomit greens and lava oranges.”

    Dude, the whole world was messed up. Hell had invaded earth, there was abundant cruelty. The hero from the first game sacrifices himself in vain. The visuals have a very dark tone to them and that doesn’t mean there can’t be colour.

    Just because someone put it badly (‘WoW gayness’) doesn’t mean there isn’t a valid point. People might be too quick to judge things but people are also too quick to defend video game companies with a certain status. They’re seen as infallible.

  46. Pod says:

    AHEM.

    I think that you’ll find that the Fanatic Enslaved were already in D2. They’re the explody dudes in worldstone keep. (Well, I’m not sure if they’re Fanatic Enslaved by then – they’ve upgraded into the hell spawn or whatever, but that’s just a name change)

    Anyway, I demand Alec resigns from RPS for clearly benig a wow gay and for not knowing his stuff.

    Tut, Tut, Tuttus.

  47. Dick Nickerson says:

    Looks like World of Warcraft with a slightly higher poly count and a darker pallet.

  48. Pijama says:

    ACH.

    See, I don’t oppose this debate. Mostly because art is subjective, so for *that* everyone should rightly be allowed to say their opinions.

    What makes my eyes roll is the blatantly stupid tug-of-war that goes between “ARRRGH ‘TIS GAY” against “LET IT SHINE” positions. Not that it matters, though. This is the internets after all.

    And exactly because it doesn’t matter, I ask you the question, unsatisfied gentlemen:

    Are you still going to play it?

  49. Wow Gayness says:

    teo: The visuals aren’t exactly rainbows and unicorns for Diablo 3 (that one T-shirt excluded), either. They’re just not lacking in colour, which seems to be a problem with many. Case in point, ‘WoW gayness’ came from that one screenshot where someone decided the game needed more contrast to be more in line with the originals.

    And bringing up the lore of the game has no bearing on any of the major complaints I’ve heard, as I have it on good authority that Diablo 3 still exists in the same universe. The world, no matter how it looks, will still be messed up.

  50. Wulf says:

    I actually have no problem with the art style as it is, it sort of reminds me of a grim fable; by this I mean what would happen if you took a fairy tale (all of which already have worryingly psychopathic undertones) and stuffed it into the head of a stereotypical goth. It’s actually an entertaining look and it doesn’t bother me in the least.

    What does bother me is that there’s very little cohesion in the art direction. If you look at the screenshots they’ve released, some of them look like they’re from another game entirely, the quality varies, and some things just don’t look like they fit in the game at all (probably lighting issues). It looks like they just tossed a bunch of stuff together and held it in place with gaffo.

    For example, the orange critters on the first two screenshots stick out like sore thumbs, it looks like something someone has added to the scene after the fact, and they don’t obey the light present in the scene at all, not unless they’re radioactive. I don’t mind it being dark, I don’t mind the creatures being very bright and colourful, but don’t try and mix the two in a way that clearly doesn’t work! There’s just no way those creatures belong in that scene, you can make all the claims about alternate realities and the different behaviours of light sources that you like, but to me it’s no less horrid, visually. A real artist wouldn’t stand for it.

    Look at the third screenshot, now. This screenshot looks professional, all the elements actually fit within the picture, nothing sticks out like it doesn’t belong there. This is what creates atmosphere, by presenting the the gamer with a scenario that appears real and believable. The first two screenshots shatter my suspension of disbelief, what with the radioactive and obviously misplaced creatures.

    To me, Diablo III looks sloppy, very, very sloppy. It doesn’t look “gay” (please stop saying that, it’s moronic), but it does look like it’s been cheaply throw together, it looks less like a passionate sequel, and more like a soulless cash-in. That’s just my opinion, take it or leave it, but before you bitch at me, take a look at all the screenshots they’ve released and see if you can’t see what I’m talking about too.

    And I’m sorry if I’ve killed Diablo III for you, it would’ve happened sooner or later, better sooner.