A few unearthed Diablo 3 screenshots have surfaced demonstrating that the initial visual style of the game was much closer to Diablo 2. The darker aesthetics are more in-line with what the fan community expected, and couldíve contributed to a more positive reception, which, instead, was rather mixed when Diablo 3 released.

While the game wasnít bad, fans of the original dark and grim Diablo titles were disappointed with how Diablo 3 looked upon the release. The chosen visual style was a hard shift for the series, which relied on disturbing aesthetics before that. Blizzard acknowledged the fan backlash and even attempted to revert the colorful palette of Diablo 3 to the significantly darker and scarier Reaper of Souls expansion. It did feel closer to Diablo 2, but the legendary second game remains to-date one of the most popular variants of the genre in existence. Thatís the reason why recent rumors suggesting the return of Diablo 2 in the form of a remaster have sparked hope in fansí hearts.

That being said, history couldíve taken a completely different route if Blizzard decided to stick to its original plans for Diablo 3. Judging by recently revealed early screenshots of the third game during development (via PureDiablo), it was initially very close to how Diablo 2 looked and felt. The images were shared by former Blizzard North artist Oscar Cuesta a few months ago, but they only drew the attention of the community once they'd been shared by the fansite. In a description of the screenshots, Cuesta stated that the prototyped environments for Diablo 3 used low-polygon models and base color maps. Even considering that, the images give the impression of a properly dark and gloomy Diablo 3, which didn't happen until that game's expansions.

Despite that, Diablo 3 still keeps going strong, and players continue storming new Paragon levels. At the same time, Blizzard is already hard at work on Diablo 4, which is finally returning to the disturbing looks of the two original games. The announcement trailer alone has set the bar for the game's palpably vicious atmosphere, which has been backed up accordingly with dark and grim gameplay footage. While anticipation is growing, the game itself might still be far away. Blizzard warned during the official reveal that the game was not coming any time soon, implying that a 2020 release was highly unlikely - if not outright impossible.

The welcomed return to a darker visual style with Diablo 4 along with the initial plan to make Diablo 3 more gothic clearly indicates that the colorful cartoonish palette of Diablo 3 was just an experiment. It's still tricky to figure out why exactly Blizzard decided to go for the obviously controversial aesthetic, but the company is definitely not going to repeat that mistake with Diablo 4. Hopefully, hardcore fans will appreciate Blizzardís efforts to appeal to what that demographic wanted - but didn't get right away - with Diablo 3.