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Early Diablo 3 shots reveal a darker Diablo 2 sequel that never was

(Image credit: Oscar Cuesta (via PureDiablo))

Newly resurfaced screens from Diablo 3's early development prove Blizzard originally aimed for a darker, grittier sequel to Diablo 2.

Of course, the shots offer a stark contrast to the well-lit, even vibrant at-times, sequel that polarized Diablo fans in 2012. It's true that the years have been kind to Diablo 3, there's no doubt players are excited by suggestions that Diablo 4 could mark a return to the series' dark, imposing past.

But shots first published by Blizzard North artist Oscar Cuesta (via PureDiablo) reveal an early version of Diablo 3 that's much more faithful to its predecessors. You can see dungeons with dark shadows all around, murky colors, and a more Gothic style in general. Despite the fact that "models were pretty low polygon and we were only using base color maps," it's clear that Diablo 3 was originally meant as a more direct sequel to Diablo 2, at least aesthetically.

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(Image credit: Oscar Cuesta (via PureDiablo))
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(Image credit: Oscar Cuesta (via PureDiablo))
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(Image credit: Oscar Cuesta (via PureDiablo))
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(Image credit: Oscar Cuesta (via PureDiablo))
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(Image credit: Oscar Cuesta (via PureDiablo))
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(Image credit: Oscar Cuesta (via PureDiablo))

As I mentioned earlier, fans who prefer their Diablo to be as bleak and foreboding as possible should be excited for Diablo 4. "If you decapitate enemies, heads fall off. If you're a Sorceress using a flame spell, you just roast all the meat off their bones. Or you can freeze them and see them shatter into a million pieces,"  senior producer Tiffany Wat told GamesRadar+ sister publication Edge in their hands-on preview. And it's not just carnage Blizzard is bringing back for Diablo 4, several systems are returning to their pre-Diablo 3 forms.

Hey, this is cool. Check out the Diablo-inspired, real-life cardboard RPG some friends made for a quarantined groom.

As GamesRadar's Arizona-based Staff Writer, I'm responsible for managing the site's western regional executive branch, AKA my apartment, and writing about whatever horror game I'm too afraid to finish. Probably drinking green tea.