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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.