Prepare Yourselves: Diablo III Launch Date Set For May 15

Diablo III's long-awaited launch date has finally been unveiled; gamers can expect copies of the game to go on sale May 15. The game is available for pre-purchase and, as we previously discussed, can be had for free if you're willing to sign up for a year of World of Warcraft.

The game will launch internationally at 12:01 AM with copies available in the US, Canada, Europe, South Korea, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. A Latin American / Russian launch will follow a few weeks later, on June 7th. The amount of translation work going into the game is truly impressive; D3 will be translated into Latin American Spanish, Brazilian, Portugese, French, German, European Spanish, Italian, Polish, Russian, Korean, and Traditional Chinese.

The game will be available in two flavors. $59.99 for standard copy while the Deluxe Edition retails for $99.95. The extra scratch buys:
  • a behind-the-scenes Blu-ray/DVD two-disc set
  • the Diablo III soundtrack CD
  • a 208-page Art of Diablo III book
  • a 4 GB USB soulstone (including full versions of Diablo II and Diablo II: Lord of Destruction®)
  • a corresponding Diablo skull base
  • Exclusive in-game content for Diablo III, World of Warcraft®, and StarCraft® II: Wings of Liberty

As CEs go, that's a fair bit of swag, particularly if you don't have a copy of Diablo II or LoD and want to replay them at sometime in the future. Diablo III features five classes:  Barbarian, witch doctor, wizard, monk, and demon hunter. Having spent some time with the beta (look for an in-depth report coming shortly), we can say that while there are similarities between these classes and those that starred in previous Diablo games, the experience of play is qualitatively different. That might seem tricky for a class like the barbarian -- beating creatures to death (preferably with pieces of their own anatomy) might seem a straightforward experience, but Diablo III doesn't just re-tread Diablo II.

When Blizzard first announced the game, there was substantial controversy over its expanded color palette. Now that we've logged some playtime, we'd like to note that Blizzard clearly made the right decision. Diablo III is still dark, brooding, and evil-looking a lot of the time, but the game makes great use of light and color to portray the world of Sanctuary.

Without giving too much of our upcoming coverage away, we would like to make one note: Diablo III really isn't just like Diablo III. A lot of character-related options have been streamlined and customized; the end result is that while you still have plenty of control over your character's evolution, you don't control it in the same ways.

Starfall in two months. Start counting.