Diablo 3 Beta Story Update: Welcome to New Tristram
Seriously, SPOILERS! Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
As Diablo 3 begins, players arrive in the world with a definite purpose — to seek a fallen star (odds are it arrives in the opening cutscene, not currently available). It is soon clear that a significant amount of time has elapsed since the events of the second game: the first town you come to, not coincidentally, is called New Tristram. Turns out the star fell directly onto the old cathedral, and proceeded to stir up all kinds of trouble. The dead are rising in numbers, wreaking havoc on the countryside and its people.
Your character is introduced to Leah Cain, one of the few people to experience the fallen star’s arrival and live to tell about it. In addition to being the niece of Deckard Cain, beloved identifier of magic items and all-round in-game loremaster, Leah is also the daughter of Adria, the witch/potion vendor from the original game. After meeting Leah, you are issued your first task: to stem the tide of walking corpses, easily accomplished by visiting the ruins of Old Tristram and dispatching a matriarchal zombie called the Wretched Queen.
Next you team up with Leah and venture into the ruined cathedral, where you rescue kindly Uncle Deckard from a close encounter with the Skeleton King. That’s right — the arrival of the fallen star has woken up King Leoric’s ghostly guise, and he’s out for blood. Entering the cathedral also gives you a good look at the giant hole the falling star made, which pulsates with an evil-looking blue glow.
In order to kill Leoric for good, you’ll need to retrieve his crown from the royal mausoleum, where the corpses are decidedly not resting in peace. Along the way, you’ll win the allegiance of the local blacksmith, Haedrig. He can’t bear to kill his wife, who is on the verge of zombification. Once she turns and starts vomiting up corpses, however, his qualms seem to disappear. After Haedrig makes the necessary repairs to the crown, you’re ready to venture into the catacombs and take on the Skeleton King Mk. II.
Battling your way deeper into the dungeons, you’ll encounter diaries left by the regicidal Lachdanan, detailing the pain he felt at having to kill the man he was sworn to protect, only to see him rise again as a hideous demon. You’ll also rescue a helpful Templar — one of Diablo 3′s three possible companion characters — who is being used for human sacrifice. With the Templar at your side, it’s a matter of fighting onward and downward, until you finally reach the lair of the Skeleton King. After allowing Leoric’s crown to work its magic, you’ll go toe-to-toe with the King, and when you come at the King, you’d best not miss. Once he’s dispatched for good, the beta ends.
There are lots of big gameplay changes in Diablo 3, but when it comes to the story, it seems like Blizzard is getting back to the series’ fictional roots. That being said, it is still unclear how they plan to tie the tale of the falling star and our heroes’ return to Tristram to Diablo and the other Prime Evils. Stay tuned for the rest of our extensive beta coverage — we’ll endeavor to find out! In the meantime, check out this Graphics Guide, or screenshot galleries featuring the Monk, Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Wizard, and Witch Doctor.