Atomic asked what the team believed needed real improvement from Diablo II to Diablo III, and, without hesitation, Martens replied, "The questing and story." Kevin continued:
Official Blizzard Quote:
I think we’ve added way more quests, more variety of quests. We’ve randomized the quests, and have these sort of quests that are self contained. For example, if you enter a dungeon in Diablo III, there might be somebody standing at the entrance, like a treasure hunter, saying, “Hey, I heard stories about the Idol of Rygnar is hidden somewhere in this dungeon. Help me find it and you can share in the reward.” Then you go through the dungeon and protect this guy. Then you’ll find the idol and you’ll get the reward. People will turn on you…you’re never quite sure what is going to happen. We’re adding all those random elements all over the world. There is way more quest content overall than Diablo II, period.
Over five distinct acts, including Lord of Destruction, Diablo II offered only twenty-seven unique quests, some of which were optional and not all of which were that interesting. Most quests consisted of stumbling upon a monster or item or otherwise being debriefed in a long-winded, impersonal dialog with a town NPC. Then out you went, into the wild, and, with relatively minimal effort or brain power, the quest was completed.
Most interesting of note with quests in Diablo III--besides, of course, the obvious randomized quest upgrade--is that NPC's will actually go on adventures with you from time to time and take a hand in the journeys so essential to the gameplay. Mischief, betrayal, and adventure combine to form quests that aren't quite as repetitive and linear as those of Diablo II. But who can tell how effective these quests will really be until release?
Last year's Blizzcon gave us just a taste of some of the ways storytelling will be improved from previous games. Drooling as the minutes tick away while you watch dialog scroll by in town isn't the greatest way to spend your time in an action RPG. Story elements--history, character, etc.--are now shown through interaction and events in the dungeons we explore. Fully-voiced lore books collected on the field will play as you continue to explore, and field NPC's will add more to the mix, including the usual dialog, interaction with elements in the levels, themselves, and more.
Unfortunately, if you were reading the interview in the hopes of finding release date information, Blizzard has countered us yet again. However, Martens echoed earlier Blizzard sentiment this year: 2011 is still the plan.
But it'll be 2012.