Perhaps the most important tidbit of information is the news we learned today: Diablo III releases May 15. We finally have a solid release date, one that hopefully won’t get pushed back.

What follows here is a greatest hits collection of our past previews of the game care of our own Adam Biessener, and any other details we have been able to steal away from Blizzard’s stronghold of secrets.


Each class uses a unique resource (two, in the Demon Hunter’s case). This has obvious advantages in terms of differentiating their playstyles, but don’t expect any big surprises in the mechanics. The Wizard’s fast-regenerating arcane power functions like Rogue energy in World of Warcraft. The Barbarian’s fury is basically WoW rage, building off of basic attacks and being consumed by more powerful strikes. The Witch Doctor’s mana is exactly what you’d expect. The Monk’s spirit gauge is interesting; it builds slowly as he uses normal attacks and is quickly depleted by using special skills. On the other hand, his specials generally don’t have cooldowns, so Monks can burst huge power at the expense of being relatively weak until they can re-energize their spirit. Finally, the Demon Hunter combines the concepts of mana and arcane power, using quick-replenishing hatred to fuel their offense and slow-recharging discipline to power defensive escapes.

Click here to read Phil Kollar’s personal experience with the Demon Hunter class.


Blizzard has removed skill points entirely. Instead, you unlock skills as you level but can only equip a handful at a time (two to start, six eventually). It allows you to freely experiment with new spells.

When you hit new levels in the middle of battle, you can immediately bring new skills into your arsenal. Unlike Diablo II, which required players to commit early to dumping points into a single skill in order to be effective, all of the powers now automatically scale with your level.

The Rune system affords you the ability to alter (sometimes drastically) each of your skills in six different ways. It means that there is still a ton of room to create a unique build that plays the way you want it to.


Followers in Diablo III take the place of mercenaries from Diablo II: non-player characters that autonomously support you in combat. The system is unsurprisingly much more developed than the often kludgy mercenaries. Rather than choosing between hilariously imbalanced (life leeching unhittable barbarians) and pointless (mages that die in two hits and have all the firepower of a Super Soaker), you can develop your companions into customized support roles.

Followers aren't intended to contribute a lot to your direct damage, though you can make up for that to some extent with equipment and skill selection. Instead, each of the three followers primarily helps you out in a less face-smashing but still useful way. The templar can perform moderate tanking, the scoundrel can distract and misdirect your foes, and the enchantress can confuse their minds with her spells.

All three followers will join you along the adventure's critical path. Unlike the BioWare approach, they don't hand out sidequests or dramatically alter the path of the story. You can dig into their backstories by chatting with them in camp, but it's all lore fluff – you won't unlock an uber skill or a secret dungeon for doing so.

Though you can have just one follower active at a time, the other two hang out at your camp, conveniently sitting near your waypoint, and can be switched out for no cost. Respeccing them is a nominal gold fee, which goes up as you level but that Blizzard intends to be minor relative to your wealth at any stage of the game. Instead of dying and costing you a hefty resurrection fee, they get KO'ed at zero health and can be revived for free after the battle.

You can specialize each of the three followers between twelve skills that come in groups of three. Possibly more importantly, you can equip them with weapons, jewelry, and a class-specific item to customize their capabilities. Much of any Diablo character's power is tied to their equipment, and followers will be no different.

Followers cannot be controlled at all, not even with MMO-esque "aggressive/defensive/passive" commands. Blizzard toyed with the idea, but decided that those controls didn't mesh at all with fast-paced Diablo combat. Instead, the developers have focused their efforts on improving follower AI. Your adventure buddies will react to situations, like the enchantress casting a missile shield spell when facing archers or healing you when you're wounded. Follower behavior also changes depending on what skills you've given them, so hopefully a damage-specced templar will naturally be more aggressive than a defensively focused one.

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Eirena, the enchantress - Part of a mysterious band of women led by an enigmatic prophet who she says is training them to prevent the end of the world, Eirena shares the same goal as the player. However, with the prophet and her sisters missing, Eirena is on her own until she meets up with you. In battle, the enchantress focuses on buffing the player while debuffing opponents with a variety of status effects.

Kormac, the templar - The templar order, like Diablo II's paladins, is dedicated to the eradication of evil in Sanctuary. Unlike those noble warriors, the templar also believe in the enrichment and empowerment of themselves. Once you rescue Kormac from a double-cross by a corrupted templar, he assists you in melee with his shield and spear.

Lyndon, the scoundrel - A disgraced member of the Kingsport thieves guild, Lyndon will flirt with anything remotely female and steal anything not bolted down. In exchange for your protection from his murderous former guild, Lyndon will happily shoot your foes with his heavy crossbow, use poison and distraction to cripple your enemies, and increase your chances of finding valuable gems and jewelry.


The Artisan system allows players to create powerful magical items without making them hang around in town wasting time better spent killing monsters.

Two artisans will join you after you complete certain quests within the greater storyline. They will have names and backstories of their own, but for now we know them only by their trades.

All artisans have basic vendor functionality, allowing you to buy and sell items at your camp rather than shopkeepers in town. Beyond that, their capabilities vary greatly.

The blacksmith unsurprisingly focuses on equipment supporting close combat. Heavy armor, swords, axes, and the like can all be found here. He can also add sockets to items, allowing you to place an additional stat-boosting gem into an existing item. He can also repair any damaged equipment you may have and salvage items. Common (white) items will not be salvageable.

The jeweller focuses on gems. He can combine lower-grade gems into more powerful versions, and pop a previously socketed gem out of an item (preserving both the gem and the item in the process).

To fund these powerful abilities, you'll have to collect materials by breaking down existing items. The good news is that you can do it in the field, clearing space in your inventory by reducing bulky swag to easily stackable components. The bad news is that this has allowed Blizzard to remove town portals from the game entirely.