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[edit] Levels

Levels is a generic term used for areas within Diablo III. A level is demarcated by being named on the mini map while clearing it. Levels can refer to areas such as Fields of Slaughter or a dungeon such as The Keep Depths.


[edit] Variety

Across the four acts most 'levels' have a unique theme. Some dungeons look very similar. It's difficult to make one stone built dungeon look a whole lot different from the next.

Act I - Is a mixture of grasslands, moors, heaths and marsh type areas. Below the ground it's caves, caverns and multiple floors of dungeons below manors, cathedrals and temples. The town here is Tristram which sits next to a river.

Sample of Open Areas
Cemetery of the Forsaken Fields of Misery Festering Woods
Cemetery of the forsaken act1.jpg Fields of misery act1.jpg Festering woods act1.jpg
Southern Highlands Wortham Tristram
Southern highlands act1.jpg Wortham act1.jpg Tristram act1.jpg
Sample of Dungeons
Khazra Den Drowned Temple Tristram Cathedral
Khazra den act1.jpg Drowned templ act1.jpg Cathedral act1.jpg
Halls of Agony Leoric's Manor Royal Crypts
Halls of agony act1.jpg Leorics manor act1.jpg Royal crypts act1.jpg


Act II - Is largely an arid desert landscape however small parts of it are an oasis. Below the ground you will find sewers and ancient temples. The city is Caldeum and more fighting goes on here than in Act I's Tristram in the city itself and its Palace.

Act III - Is mostly tundra and military structures taking you below ground to strongholds, barracks, and supply stores. Also the famous Arreat Crater which spirals deep into the ground towards Hell. The town, such as it is in this area, is Bastion's Keep, a military stronghold.

Act IV - Is otherwordly and takes you to the High Heavens. No outside areas as you have known them in the previous acts but rather a heavenly palace which eventually turns more hellish the closer to Diablo you get. There is no town in this act.



[edit] Variety

Though fans have thus far seen only a few levels, Blizzard promises that there will be lots of them in the final game; as many or more than there were in Diablo II, and with a wide variety of appearances and styles. Bashiok commented on this in July 2009.[1]

I think there’s a nice juxtaposition between the larger more epic dungeons and the others that may be less epic but have very specific tones and themes associated with them. When you step inside one of the more epic dungeons, like the Tristram cathedral (and considering its past, shouldn’t it be epic?) you immediately know you’re somewhere important. Somewhere that looks and feels magical in its presentation and lighting, as opposed to, say… a cave.



Still cool! Caves are still awesome, but you probably don’t want magical purple and green lighting in a cave, it’s probably going to have a much different and subdued feel. If it’s a natural cave it may have light streaming in from cracks above, or if it’s a mine it might have lighting from lanterns. Much earthier and natural. Then you walk into some ancient tomb of a powerful wizard, oh crap, this place clearly has something else going on. The lighting is a bit unnatural, maybe some sickly greenish hues to set a theme and mood.

That type of theming adds a lot to keeping the scenery changing and interesting. If you’re just fighting demons against a grey or brown backdrop for hours and hours, days and days, maybe years and years… it gets boring. Interesting, themed, and contrasting scenery all help ensure visual longevity.

I think before too long we’ll have shown a nice cross section of the dungeon types and looks. It’s been too long staring at the one dungeon. Each one has a very unique look and feel, so it’s really cool going in to each one and having a total change of scenery. It’s all very exciting and we’re all looking forward to sharing it with you and seeing the fan reactions just as soon as it’s ready.


[edit] Randomized vs. Pre-designed

Surface areas in Diablo 3 are non-random in their general layout. There are still some randomized elements on the surface; but the general shapes of the levels does not vary from game to game.

Dungeons are a lot more random in their layout adopting more of a bolt-on approach where different segments appear in different configurations. Some smaller dungeons are the same each time such as Leoric's Passage and Crypt of the Ancients for example.



This concept was explained by Diablo 3 Community Manager Bashiok in July 2009. [2]

Randomized levels can indeed create a very generic feeling if not done well. We’re working really hard to ensure that doesn’t happen though. It’s actually one of the reasons why our exterior layouts aren’t randomized. It’s extremely difficult to have wide open areas be randomized as well as interesting. Instead we have static exterior zones where the roads, towns, and edges are always in the same place. To keep some bits of random in there though we have a bunch of small, medium, and large pieces cut out of them. In those cut out pieces the game can then place the randomized “adventure” sets. They could be artistic in nature (a fountain, an abandoned cart), they could spawn extra enemies, or they could spawn quests.



Our interiors are randomized, but we do some things differently that help make them more interesting. I think we accomplish this mostly by using our interior jigsaw pieces more intelligently, building more and different types of jigsaw pieces, and also because our artists are amazing. I don’t think anywhere in Diablo III are you going to think “This place is not visually interesting”. The types of interior pieces do make an enormous difference, and I think we’re pretty good at it now. In Diablo II for example you pretty much had a few standard square set pieces, and then a bunch of hallways. We still have those in Diablo III but we’re mixing it up a lot more with more intricate and interesting ‘showcase’ pieces that make it seem like they’re not even randomized levels.

Players who were able to explore the same areas in multiple games, especially the desert surface areas of Act 2, found the outlines repeating every game, but didn't mind the approach. The borders of levels were always the same, but they were much more interesting in their art design and layout than the largely square, right-angles at the edges of outdoor levels in Diablo 2. There were also a number of chests placed around the outer borders of the Diablo 3 surface levels, rewarding players who explored the entire area.

Contained within the surface areas were numerous sections where semi-random objects appeared; in different games a player might find empty space, a small, ruined town, an NPC with a quest, or a big pack of boss monsters, and this kept the exploration and exploration fun. That said, it remains to be seen how well this non-randomization will hold up long term, once players have raced through the same levels dozens or hundreds of times.


Bashiok threw out another large explanation of this system in April 2011.[3]

...while the exterior is largely static, within that defined landscape there are literal square holes (from small to huge) and within those empty square holes a great number of possible pieces can be dropped in. And they’re chosen randomly. So you may play a few games and always see empty terrain in the same place, but on your next playthrough you’ll instead have a broken down wagon appear and a quest giver that needs you to go kill a unique fallen shaman who stole his tools to fix it. And maybe the playthrough after that the square puzzle piece is a short dungeon to explore with a big chest or mini-boss at the end. Ideally it’ll encourage exploration of the exterior zones over and over, hoping to find that a rewarding adventure has appeared.



Dungeons on the other hand are completely randomized, same as Diablo II.* All of the halls and rooms and all the bits are shuffled around and it’s all different every time. Some of the rooms themselves will offer unique quests if they’re rolled up, and in some cases individual rooms themselves have those square chunks missing and within those randomly chosen rooms a number of random events can occur.


[edit] Media