The majority of us without Diablo 3 in our lives are in for a treat this weekend. Blizzard opened up Diablo III to just about everyone (with the exception of Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau) for this weekend only, beginning Friday and ending Monday morning. With the May 15 release approaching, it’s the final step effort to refine the game that we’ve all been waiting for.
To test out the extent to which its servers can handle an influx of traffic, Blizzard is inviting anyone with a valid Battle.net account to download the client and play any of the five hero classes. The open beta testing begins April 20 at 12:01 PM PST / 3:01 PM EST, and will end on Monday, April 23, at 10:00 AM PST / 1:00 PM EST.
Unfortunately, players can only level their characters up to level 13. For the frequent Blizzard gamers out there, particularly the new World of Warcraft gamers, such restrictions shouldn’t come as a surprise. Blizzard recently implemented free-to-play features in its ailing WoW franchise, which restricts the player’s character level to a maximum of 20. Based on this strategy, we’re expecting Blizzard to implement similar restrictions once sales of Diablo III begin leveling off. The restrictions for the open beta testers don’t end there. Blizzard explained in its blog post, “In addition, stress test participants will not have access to post in the beta forums and will not be provided Beta Bucks for use in testing the currency-based auction house.”
While your excitement may be boiling over, don’t set your expectations too high. Because the motivation for opening up the beta is to stress its servers, the playing experience, particularly on Friday, might be compromised as tens of thousands of Diablo III hopefuls sign-up and sign-in all at once. Disconnections, lagging and queues are likely, and in fact, it’s for the better. Sacrificing three days of an inconsistent game play experience for a lifetime of minimal down times is one that we’re willing to accept. In fact, Blizzard does make a note of this in its statement. “It’s very possible that players connecting to the stress test could experience issues with the service. While not ideal, this is exactly why we’re having a stress test. We want to catch and analyze as many bugs as possible during this stress test period, so that we can try to ensure a smooth launch on May 15.”
For the fortunate closed beta testers, they’ll be in for a 15 day dry-spell as May 1 marks the closing of its closed beta test, only eight days after the open beta test comes to an end.
Now, who’s ready to be the first to level up all five characters to level 13 this weekend?