Diablo III

What are the most anticipated sequels of 2012? The Dark Knight Rises? The Bourne Legacy? No question. But no such list would be complete without Diablo III. The long-awaited third installment of Blizzard Entertainment’s fire-and-brimstone role-playing game will debut May 15, and gamers everywhere are clearing their schedules for the days — nay, weeks! — of intense game play that’s sure to follow.

Blizzard’s senior vice president of creative development, Chris Metzen, a living legend in the gaming world for his efforts designing the stories and worlds of StarCraft, Warcraft, and, yes, Diablo, is well aware of your excitement. So to get you even more “geeked up,” as Metzen puts it, he commissioned a 2-D, hand-drawn animated short from Titmouse Studios and animator Peter Chung, creator of Aeon Flux.

“I was really keen to bring the world’s story forward for fans who played Diablo II 12 years ago,” Metzen says. “Basically, to reeducate the fans about the context of that universe.”

The collaboration with Titmouse represents a first for Blizzard. They’ve never before commissioned short-form animation to play outside of the game product. Not to mention that this is their first foray into 2-D storytelling.

Metzen’s intended hook for the video, titled Diablo: Wrath, was simple: to explore what makes the angels of the Diablo universe unique, how they interact, and, most importantly, how they relate to the Prime Evils and guys like Diablo. “That could be a big component of D3,” Metzen says. “This short will really illustrate for people a lot about the Angiris Council and what makes them tick…and, potentially, our series’ villain and why he’s so cunning and always six steps ahead of everybody.”

Check out Diablo: Wrath after the break:

Diablo III releases May 15 on PC and is rated ‘M’ for Mature.