These Early Diablo III Screens Are Much Darker Than What We Got

Illustration for article titled These Early iDiablo III/i Screens Are Much Darker Than What We Got
Screenshot: Blizzard (Oscar Cuestas)

A former Blizzard North artist recently shared a “new” collection of screenshots from an early, unreleased version of Diablo III. Much like previous asset dumps, they show a continuation of the dark, gothic aesthetics of the game’s predecessors, details that many felt were missing from the Diablo III that launched in 2012.

Diablo III was in development at Blizzard North in the early 2000s until the project got scrapped and moved to Blizzard proper sometime around 2005. The game revealed in 2008 and then eventually released four years later was criticized for being too colorful and vibrant compared to prior romps, leaving fans to wonder what might have been if Blizzard North had been able to see its vision for Diablo III through to completion.

Thanks to former Blizzard North artist Oscar Cuestas, we can now have an even better look at the defunct studio’s work. Cuestas shared several galleries’ worth of screenshots from the project, mostly focused on environmental art.


These images come from 2005, the tail end of Blizzard North’s time with Diablo III, and as such depict series hallmarks like muted color palettes, gothic architecture, and unsettling gore. The assets were originally uploaded last year but series fansite PureDiablo only found them this week.

“At the time, models were pretty low polygon and we were only using base color maps,” Cuestas explained in one caption. Kotaku reached out to the artist for more information, but we’ve yet to hear back.

While the Diablo III we got in 2012 wasn’t the drastic departure some hardcore fans made it out to be, there was certainly a clear aesthetic divide between that game and its predecessors. In any case, it’s fun to look back at where Blizzard North was steering Diablo III before the new team took over.


You can see more screenshots on Cuesta’s personal ArtStation page.

Staff Writer, Kotaku

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I never understood the “Diablo 3" wasn’t dark thing that fanboys bellowed when that game dropped.  Act 1 is absolutely CLASSIC D&D style fantasy.  Dark marshes, crumbling castles and cathedrals, skeletons and zombies.  Sure, Act 4 takes place in HEAVEN so it has some bright areas, But largely its the exact same biomes as Diablo 2.  Desert, Forest, Marsh, Winter plateaus... I dont get it.