Blizzard is in a lot of hot water right now, and these days BlizzCon is most associated with a problematic video that made the rounds again in the wake of the sexual harassment lawsuit that just keeps getting more and more complex.
However, back before these controversies blew up, BlizzCon was also known for a lot of memorable moments and community memes, like the red shirt guy. Now, Ian Bates - his real name - is dropping details about cancelled Diablo games on Twitter.
The prompt for these recent Tweets was, of course, the release of Diablo 2: Resurrected, the graphical remaster of Diablo 2 that stayed faithful on the gameplay side of things. The launch went pretty well and Resurrected is gaining a positive response, which is a win Blizzard desperately needed - whether or not they deserve it is another matter.
However, it also proved to be the best time to look back at the past of Diablo. The past most of us never got to see, specifically. Blizzard is well known for the absolute graveyard of cancelled projects it has left in its wake, and that includes many titles that would have taken place on the constantly demon-infested world of Sanctuary. Seriously, the Sanctuarians really can't catch a break.
Ian Bates, also known as the Red Shirt Guy, is something of a Blizzard superfan, and runs a blog about the deeplore of the company and its games. To commemorate the release of Resurrected, he posted a Twitter thread about Diablo projects that didn't quite take off.
Since D2R came out yesterday, here's a random trivia thread about canceled Diablo Games!
— Ian Bates 💙 (@TheRedShirtGuy) September 24, 2021
These include a particularly surprising family friendly take on the franchise called Diablo Jr. which would have been a Pokémon clone - presumably you capture the demons instead of dismember them - down to being released on Game Boy systems with two versions that have cross trading. Execs apparently nuked the project not because of it being a blatant rip-off but because they thought Blizz should stick to PC.
Additionally, it seems like Diablo 2 was supposed to get another expansion - Salvation. This eventually got canned because the studio decided to start work on Diablo 3 immediately. That is, another Diablo 3 project which is not the one that ended up launching in 2012, but an earlier iteration.
Ironically, this 'North American' version of Diablo 3, as it is referred to, eventually got cancelled because it felt too much like an expansion. Apparently, the story and setting would have been focused entirely on the High Heavens, like the fourth act of Diablo 3.
Another expansion that got axed was a second pack for the actual Diablo 3. Titled King in the North, this expansion was cancelled in order to begin work on Diablo 4 instead, with completed content added as free updates to Diablo 3. Presumably, King in the North would have adapted the sixth and final passage of the Prophecy of the End of Days, the first four passages of which were the basis of Diablo 3's four acts, and the fifth was the basis of Reaper of Souls. By the looks of it, Diablo 4 isn't concerned with Itherael, so I guess we're just pretending the prophecy didn't exist.
Last up, Diablo 4 also had a case of an early version being cancelled. The initial take on the fourth main entry was titled Project Hades during development, and was a radical departure from the gameplay we've come to expect - this version of D4 would have been a third-person over the shoulder soulslike. That would definitely have sparked some major controversy.
The version of Diablo 4 that Blizzard is working on right now seems to be much more authentic to the series' heritage - more so than Diablo 3, even - heralding a return to the darker tone and aesthetics of the early titles.
Diablo 2: Resurrected is out now, while Diablo 4 is still a few years away.