This editorial is meant to gather what we know and don't know about locations that'll be featured in Diablo III. I'll begin by quickly recapping what we have been explicitly told, and then continue by making my own speculations. Finally I'll throw the ball to the community and see which places you people think we'll be visiting.
Firstly, most of you have probably seen the map of Sanctuary available on Blizzard's own Diablo III site. However, I colored some areas to show where I think we'll be visiting:
Dark Blue: Diablo II areas (Dots being towns).
Faint Blue: Confirmed areas not in the core Diablo III game.
Red: Confirmed Diablo III towns.
Green: What I speculate the four Acts to be.
Orange: Expansion (I wrote an editorial about this here).
What We Know About Diablo III and Its Locations in General.
Firstly, the number of Acts has not yet been decided, as you can see from this snippet taken from Diablo-Source's Julian Love interview on October 28th, 2009:
Official Blizzard Quote:
DS: haha Sounds good. Have you guys sat down and decided on a number of acts for Diablo 3 yet?
JL[Julian Love]: I... don't think we have actually. We have a lot of possabilities, but I don't think we've nailed that down just yet.
Secondly, Acts are not what they were in Diablo II. They are divided into chapters, as this lengthy quotation from Jay Wilson on IGN's Blizzcon 09: Diablo III Q&A posted on August 29th, 2009 states (underlining mine):
Official Blizzard Quote:
IGN: D2 had a relatively large story that was kind of broken up. Are you still planning on doing the same kind of chapterized settlements, or are you building one epic tale that starts and doesn't really stop until the end credits?
Jay Wilson: Our system is still in progress. It's pretty close to being locked down, we've just got a couple of little details we're working out. We do have acts, like Diablo 2 did. They serve a different role now, they're mostly to break up major chapters, major elements of the story. But they're not necessarily a box for content, because we break down even more so than we used to. We take an act and we break it down into smaller chapters, each chapter has a goal and everything. But the overall act structure is still in the game. Between each one there's a cinematic, it's a way of saying, here's where the cinematics go, here's where we go to a new environment you've never seen before, here's where we branch to the next step in the story.
One of the things we didn't like about Diablo 2 was that…the story was basically the same story in each act. You showed up in the town and the townspeople said, the demon went thataway. In here, every act is different. The first act is a little bit more of a mystery, there's this cult that has been operating in and around the rebuilt Tristram, you're trying to find out who they are. Act two's a little bit more of an intrigue and deception-focused story, because Belial is in there. Act three, there's a lot more.
Largely related to that, in the already mentioned Diablo-Source's interview with Julian Love tells us little more on the Act length in Diablo III:
Official Blizzard Quote:
DS: Have you decided on the size of an act, like compared to an act in Diablo 2?
JL: Yeah, well, what we did do is we looked at act size in general as an issue. We looked at ones that we felt were good in Diablo 2 and ones that we felt maybe went a little too far and maybe got a little stale. At this point we don't have an ideal act size. Act 1 must be this big and Act 2 must be this big and whatever. What it really comes down to is given the content that we plan to build for each act, how often can we keep that content changing for the player. The big problem will be that if the content doesn't keep changing, that's when it gets really boring. We've got to keep throwing new stuff at the player every so often in order to keep them engaged. As soon as you run out of your ability to do that, that's when it gets old. That in itself tends to dictate the act size more than say, an arbitrary decision that we might make to say "well, it must be 2 miles..." - it doesn't work like that. Really it's kind of more of the case of the tail wagging the dog.
What we also know is that Acts may have more than one town, and towns may be destroyed as the Act progresses, as told in this TVGRY.PL Jay Wilson interview, the quoted part begins at around 4:10:
Official Blizzard Quote:
Jay Wilson[...] There's other changes, like, not every Act has a central town, and sometimes they start with a central town but that changes, mainly because we want a world that just feels more alive. We really want to improve the feeling of Diablo III being a role-playing game. So, you know, if we will say, "Demons overrun the town and burn it down", like that wasn't really an option in Diablo 2, the way the game was set up, but that's an option for us. Like we can do that, and transplant you into a new town. So, you know, those are things that might change and gonna be like surprises throughout the game.
This is probably sad news to everyone wanting to re-visit places like Lut Gholein, but locations from Diablo II won't be revisited. Notice the careful wording and responce of Leonard Boyarsky in this Hellforge's interview with him on October 19th, 2009. The way he words it doesn't rule out re-visiting old areas, only specific locations.
Official Blizzard Quote:
Besides a return to Tristram and its Cathedral. Can players expect to revisit locations in the previous games?
Leonard Boyarsky: Locations? No. We had actually talked about revisiting some of them and we went through a lot different iterations, as we do on everything, but it just seems like we wanted to go to new places and expose more of the world, because people have seen those places and we wanted to kind of really just expand what people experience of the world.
Because these are quite known, and not all that interesting, I'll just quickly recap them with bullet points.
(New) Tristram and Khanduras
A piece of concept art showing Tristram.
- Starting town.
- Not to be confused with Act I of Diablo II, located quite much apart.
- Referred by Blizzard as part of Act I.
- Features Diablo I's Tristram Cathedral with King Leoric aka the Skeleton King.
- I believe that players will travel West after leaving Tristram, more on this later on in this article under Westmarch.
Caldeum and Borderlands (which is the desert Caldeum is located in).
A piece of concept art showing Caldeum
- The empire of Kehjistan.
- Referred by Blizzard as Act II.
- Not to be confused with Act II of Diablo II, located very much apart.
Confirmed Locations NOT in the Game
Again, these are not all that interesting, so I'll just quickly recap these.
- Skovos Isles (the Amazon islands)
- Sharval Wilds (home of the Monk)*
- Torajan Jungles*
- Alas, as Leonard Boyarsky himself said, most old locations (such as Lut Gholein, Rogue Monastery, etc.).
*Confirmation under the next headline.
Now the interesting speculation begins. I'll move from what I consider the most probable to the least probable location.
Xiansai and Scosglen (Act III?)
- The Wizard's home island. Little is known about this most likely oriental-themed island. Blizzard could flesh something very interesting in here.
- Scosglen, home of the Druids is located right next to it. This would make possible to visit both locations at once.
- My own guess is that this would be the Act III.
The almost certain confirmation that Xiansai will be appearing in the game was given by Jay Wilson on the already mentioned IGN interview (underlining mine):
Official Blizzard Quote:
IGN: Considering that a lot of what we've seen about the witch doctor has a sort of jungle theme, or level, are we going to see eastern-themed monsters or instances of where the monk is coming from? Or even character-specific quests or regions that you can fight your way through to the main quest?
Jay Wilson: Well, our story tends to focus a lot more on the two major demons and the impending invasion of Sanctuary. So the character classes tend to follow those events and not so much their homelands. I think the only character who actually goes through their homeland is, I believe, the wizard, Leonard [Boyarsky] knows more about this than me, sometimes I get this wrong. But I'm pretty sure it's the wizard. The monk's land we're not going to, but there are likely to be other monk characters and details about the religious group and the culture that he comes from.
This quotation is also a strong proof that we won't most likely be visiting the other player characters homelands. I wonder whether he forgot about the Barbarian and where he fits in this.
Kurast (part of Act II?)
The above is an image I would interpret as the town Gea Kul along the river banks that separates the jungles of Marshlands (where Kurast is located) from the deserts of Borderlands (where Caldeum is located)
A ruined jungle city. I'd say that is either Kurast or then Viz-Jun.
- Kurast is located within a reasonable distance from Caldeum, so my guess is actually that they will both be featured in Act II. Else it would be too much of a Diablo II and half, if Act III would be Kurast.
- Here comes the big proof. Kurast is a part of the SAME empire (Kehjistan) as Caldeum and the confirmed places of Act II.
- A lot of concept work has been done of Kurast. Alternatively they are of Viz-Jun, but Kurast fits my hypothesis much better.
- A lot of concept art depicting a transitional area between the deserts of Borderlands and jungles surrounding Kurast has been done. For example the one above is a small town located on the river bank which is between Caldeum and Kurast. I would interpret the town as Gea Kul.
- A lot of players feel Kurast itself wasn't done much justice in Act III of Diablo II (Most of the Act took place in the jungles, and boring repetitive Bazar, Lower and Upper Kurast.
- However, as was already mentioned, Blizzard apparently are not revisiting same exact locations. This does not rule out revisiting other parts of Kurast not yet seen, or perhaps changed over the years.
Arreat crater and Dreadlands surrounding it (Act IV?)
An extremely beautiful piece of concept art. It depicts a frozen landscape dominated by sea. Some port view at Dreadlands is my guess.
A piece of concept art depicting a very barbaresque town. My guess is Bastion's Keep.
- A lot of concept art has been done for the area.
- Harrogath won't be however re-visited, as it was destroyed by the exploding Mt. Arreat at the end of Diablo II.
- The area is shown in the cinematics.
- A lot of speculation as to the crater being a gateway to Hell. Problem with Diablo II Act IV was that it was so short. I guess there's only so much variety you can put in Hell.
- ScyberDragon had a nice post about this.
This leads me to the next location:
- Hell was both in Diablo I & II.
- Makes practically no sense to not include it. What would be a Diablo game without Hell?
- However, most likely part of the Arreat crater and Dreadlands Act, simply because just brimstone and tortured souls won't be enough material for a long Act.
Westmarch (part of Act I)
Concept art of an unknown city. Maybe either Duncraig or Bramwell?
- I'm not sure, but this concept art seems to depict a town that is not Tristram, but is still located within similar forest areas. Your takes? It could possibly be Bramwell, or even Duncraig.
- It is located west from New Tristram. The players could travel from New Tristram into Westmarch.
- The kingdom of Westmarch is allied with the kingdom of Khanduras, and it has not been visited in the Diablo games so far.
- Diablo III being the last game in the current setting bringing the Prime Evils storyline into an end, it would be a shame to miss visiting it.
- There are a large number of cities on the Diablo III map belonging to the kingdom of Westmarch.
Finally, click here to see the route of travel between acts I'm putting my money on right now.
Some Additional Concept Art
This is just a treat to the people who haven't seen these ones yet.
A fascinating piece of concept art depicting a dungeon with Titan-sized corpses laying around.
Concept images like this one above tell me not to worry about Diablo III "the Rainbow Game", to be frank.
Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it!
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