I’ve been digging around on my computer, and found a few screenshots from the Diablo III beta. Back then, I had no idea how to take screenshots in Diablo III, or where they ended up. The computer I’m using now is not the same one as I used during the beta. Somehow, those few, precious, screenshots survived.
It seemed fitting to go ahead and incorporate them into a blog. All the memories about the Diablo III beta came rushing back to me when I found the screenshots. Although I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved in several betas since then (and one Technical Alpha), there was just something about this beta that was extra exciting.
The screenshots you see in this blog were taken in January and April of 2012. Whatever other screenshots I may have taken have been lost.
I played the original Diablo game for more hours than might have been healthy. It was the first game that I found compelling enough to stay up late at night, and into the next morning, while trying to get one more level. I was playing it on a “Frankenstein” PC that was put together my ex out of spare parts. I figured that eventually some part would break and I would have to get a new one. That PC lasted longer than I’d expected.
When Diablo II came out, I discovered that it wouldn’t run on my pieced together PC. So, I just kept playing Diablo I instead. I was happy with the game, never got bored with it, and discovered it was a good “anger management tool” after a stressful day at work.
Fast forward to when Blizzard started talking about the upcoming release of Diablo III. I’d switched over to Mac by then, which was fine because all of Blizzard’s games play on both PC and Mac. There was a lot of excited talk about the Diablo III beta long before it was ready for beta testers to get in there and check it out. Everyone wanted a beta key, but there were none to be had.
I became involved with the Shattered Soulstone podcast before the Diablo III beta was released. To this day, it amazes me that we found stuff to talk about on the show before any of us got into the beta. It seems kind of crazy to have started the show that early, but I’m glad we did.
I distinctly remember the moment I discovered that I’d won a beta key. Someone named Kat, who I was completely unfamiliar with, was holding a contest. I think it was one of those “retweet and have a chance to win” type of things. I didn’t expect anything to come of it.
One day, right before my fellow “soulstoners” were ready to record a show, I decided to check Twitter. It turned out that I’d won a Diablo III beta key. I was so excited that I made what must have been completely incoherent happy noises about it. Looking back, I wish I would have thought to check Twitter while we were recording the show instead of before, so that reaction could have been caught on audio.
The very first character class I rolled was a Demon Hunter – because I simply couldn’t wait any longer to play one. The sign in the screenshot says “Welcome to New Tristram”. Just like that, I was back in Sanctuary, ready to slay some demons, zombies, and skeletons.
In the Diablo III beta, all the player characters started out in what looked like underwear. This changed when the Reaper of Souls expansion was released. I ended up trying out all five of the character classes during the beta. No matter which one I picked, or what gender I selected – they all had to wait until they hit Level 3 before they found pants.
The beta included a very small amount of the Diablo III game. Players were level capped at Level 13. You could keep playing through the beta content as often as you liked – but your character would never progress past Level 13. This wasn’t a problem because the beta ended right after the player battled the Skeleton King.
My goal became to get one of each class to Level 13, and through the Skeleton King fight, before the beta ended. It was easier to achieve than I’d expected. I’d put a bunch of hours into playing the beta and never got bored with it. It reminded me of all the hours I happily played the original Diablo. The graphics in Diablo III were way better than the original game, but it somehow kept the same atmosphere. I was hooked!
I remember getting into a group game with a friend who I’d met via a WoW podcast. (Years later, I had the opportunity to meet this friend in person at Blizzcon 2013.) She was playing a Monk, and was a higher level than I was at the time. We were going through the crypts together, in search of the broken crown.
The content was brand new to me, and I’d avoided hearing about all spoilers. I distinctly remember feeling scared, and having a rush of adrenaline, when Manglemaw broke through the wall and started attacking us. It was completely unexpected, and exciting, and exactly what I hoped Diablo III would feel like.
The cinematic right before the player saves Deckard Cain was compelling. The Skeleton King looked much creepier than what I’d remembered him looking like (in Diablo I). I remember the first time I watched this cinematic, I wondered if I would have to fight The Skeleton King right then. At the time, I didn’t think I was ready for that. I wanted more time to level my character before that battle.
Of course, the Skeleton King’s appearance in that cinematic turned out to be a “cameo”. Instead, I had to fight off some skeletons, and then a bigger gold skeleton, in order to save Deckard Cain.
The battle was exciting, and it was cool to have Cain lead me through a secret passage in the wall of the Cathedral. The best part, though, was after we were back outside. Cain stands on the waypoint and says “Follow me… to New Tristram”. With a wave of his arm, he teleports back to town. There was something so perfect about this short scene. I remember thinking that if this was a movie, the crowd in the theater would be cheering right now.
The content in the Diablo III beta ended immediately after the player killed The Skeleton King. It was so cool to have a “Congratulations!” message pop up. It felt like a big accomplishment. Even better, the beta allowed players to go through the content over and over again, or to go through it with a different character class. The beta made me have extremely high hopes about what Diablo III would be like when it was finally released.
I remember staying up late the night that the beta ended. I think I was playing a Barbarian at the time, and jumping into a few random games with other players. I watched the countdown in the chat box, heart beating fast, anticipating that something awesome would happen shortly before the beta ended. Would there be an “Uber Skeleton King” to battle? The countdown ended… and so did the beta. Just like that, it was gone. All I could do now was wait for Diablo III to be released.