Skovos, Skovos, Skovos!

Amidst the treasure trove of new concept arts released via Sons of the Storm last week, (all of which you can now peruse in our environmental, monster, and character artwork galleries) were several new concept pieces of DiabloWikiSkovos.

Our first view of Skovos.
We first saw that area, the ancestral home of the Amazons, back in 2008 when the first batch of Diablo III artwork was released. (Click to the gallery for a damn near poster-sized version of this image.) Blizzard made clear, right from the start, that Skovos was not an area we would visit in D3C. But as we gazed upon the gorgeous, Aegean-looking ocean and Classical architecture, so bright and clear and temple-infested, a strong kernel of WANT began to grow in the hearts of many fans.

There wasn’t a lot to base the desire on; just that one awesome DiabloWikiPeter Lee illustration (which Bliz also dissected into choice details). But there were so many intriguing areas to imagine as Diablo III levels: the shipyards, the Roman-style temples and architecture, the forest and waterfalls, and even the white sandy beaches; sunshine delight by day, lobstrosity-infested horrors by night.

Happily, last weeks’ belated art dump brought us a bunch of new concept pieces of Skovos, all by Peter Lee. (Who is not to be confused with Victor Lee, another highly-prolific D3 artist.) There’s no telling if we’ll actually get to visit this area in D3X or D3Y, but since all of other Peter Lee artwork served as a template for areas that did make it into D3C, you have to take seriously Skovos, as much time and energy as he clearly sunk into imagining various aspects of the environment and structures.

Click through for all the new art, plus more info about Skovos as it’s presented in the Diablo world, largely through lore from the Diablo 2 manual.

All the following Diablo III images can be seen in full size in our extensive Diablo III Environmental Artwork gallery.

Typical Aegean island.

The real life influences are clear; Skovos is basically one of the Aegean Islands with the Parthenon stuck on it. Skovos is a larger city with more huge structures than any of the actual islands ever held; though Athens in its Classical prime, 2500 years ago, wouldn’t have been far behind.

Limnos by night.

Sanctuary’s Amazons hail from Skovos, and this area of the game lore hews closer to Earth’s history than almost anything else in Sanctuary. Diablo 2’s Amazons were reimagined versions of the pseudo-historical tribe of warrior women, popularized by Greek mythology, so it’s no surprise that Peter Lee’s art of Skovos is very like actual Greek architecture. The structures, of course, but also the statuary and artwork could practically be labeled with Zeus and Poseidon. Or perhaps Athena?

The game Amazons have their own pantheon, of course. These are best revealed through the Amazon class info and Amazon skill descriptions in the Diablo II Manual, where their location, culture, island home, and many of their deities are detailed, all of whom are reminiscent of various Greek gods and goddesses.

Given how often the world lore and fiction gets Met-conned, there’s no telling if that sort of concept would make it into a Diablo III version of Skovos. But it’s clear that the devs gave a good deal of thought to the larger world, even the parts that never got into Diablo II other than in manual lore. There was very little artwork representing the Amazons or their Skovos home though, and that’s where Peter Lee and the other Blizzard concept artists stepped in, when they spent 2006-2008 fleshing out possible locations for Diablo III.

That just shows another view of the basic city and docks, with everything formed of stone. The mountainous nature of the islands is clearly emphasized, as well as the mighty marble temple atop the hills, with higher mountains rising in the distance.

Skovos docks and city, plus a temple on a hill.

This piece is new and more interesting, for the text descriptions. You don’t get any sense of sinking city from the other concept art, but here it seems that Skovos has some issues in common with Venice, as the unstable subsoil and the massive weight of all that stonework is conspiring to slowly submerge the structures. This is a nifty idea, but it also works very well with the game, since it creates the potential for sunken rooms and partially-submerged levels. You know, like the 3000 sewer levels below the Act Two oasis that none of us ever get tired of splashing through.

Skovos architecture.

Another cool view of Skovos sinking structures. Amazing how that feeling of majestic, open, brightly-lit Mediterranean changes so quickly into a gloomy, rotting ruin. The sections of building below the water surface look awesome, and would be very fun to explore in-game.

Skovos sinking buildings.

This image isn’t specifically labeled as part of Skovos, but it certainly looks the part. The statuary is straight out of ancient Greece, and the stonework as well. Also, note the flooding waters, which fit well with the other views of Skovos. It’s easy to imagine some missions in the game that would take you into dungeons that were threatening to flood entirely, where you could battle a variety of land and even some aquatic enemies.

Watery Skovos Temple?

This one was also unidentified, and while it’s very pretty and worth a look, I think it’s probably part of Heaven, rather than Skovos. The gold scrollwork on the walls and pillars seems heavenly, as does the blue tree atop the altar. Also, compare to Peter Lee’s early concept art for Heaven, which had huge rushing waterfalls. Seems the early designs for Heaven were much wetter, probably as a contrast to the dry lava and fire of Hell, but over development that concept was lost and remains only in those odd pools of glowing blue liquid you occasionally encounter on the Heavenly levels of Act Four.

One final image which also may or may not be Skovos. The watery flooding looks a bit like what a prison/dungeon would beneath Skovos, but it too might have been part of the early design work for Heaven, with a lot of gold-tinted stone and metal in the visual.

Unknown prison level.

On the whole, I’m a big fan of the look and design of the areas of Skovos, and think it could be an interesting setting for a new Act in Diablo III. The varied architecture and natural areas are cool, and the proximity of the ocean and all the docks and boats could prompt some really cool new designs. Aquatic demons, (remember this guy?) tower defense type missions on a boat, submerged levels (sinking timed missions?), lush jungles and rugged mountains, watery leviathan sub-bosses, and more.

What do you guys think? Interesting new setting for a Diablo area, or too far from the proven model of desert/city/hell/gloomy wilderness?

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18 thoughts on “Skovos, Skovos, Skovos!

  1. You can visit there in the D2 mod Median by BrotherLaz. 😉

    Not as beautiful as the pictures though.

  2. Very cool. I’m from Greece btw, so this looks even cooler. I really wish the area to be added in D3X, along with some npc amazons. I guess amazons won’t return in the expansion, so this would be kind of a tribute, wouldn’t it?

    • or get an amazon as a new hireling type. While the bowazon-style is covered by the scoundrel, we have to remember the javazon/spearazon types – those could be the focus of the new hireling!

  3. TBH i’ve lost all excitement for concept art, since seeing Caldeum concept art, and seeing how it was implemented in-game. I was in awe at the Caldeum concept art and couldn’t wait to see it in-game. The real thing turned out to be extremely underwhelming.

    Not that it turned out terrible, but the incredible epicness of the concept art, wasn’t implemented in-game. I had imagined this huge city that we would explore as the town for an act. All it turned out to be was a few close-up views as zones outside of the camp.

    • The only thing for sure is that the current art lead will botch the transition from concept to game in any case.

    • Unfortunately, as much as I like the game, I have to agree with you 🙁 I expected most of the act taking place in that huge, life-filled city 🙁

  4. Kingsport is on the very southern tip of the \main land\, and the first of the Skovos isles is just a bit away from it. I wouldn’t mind having them both in the expansion! I heard Kingsport is a fair city. *nod*

    Also one of the conversations with Covetous Shen (the Jewelcrafter) mentions Skovos and the mysterious jewel (and that he got married for the 7th time there. 😉

  5. ” …even the white sandy beaches; sunshine delight by day, lobstrosity-infested horrors by night.”

    Stephen King would be proud.

  6. Forget the &^*&%$# maps, bring back the most important part of Skovos, THE AMAZONS!

    I wanna stab the Unburied Jay Wilson in the chest with a big ass pike!

    But that’s not gonna happen. The spear class weapons are so royally screwed up right now that the amazons spear skills would be a joke, weapon switch is also gone (the amazon was pretty fragile than other characters and this was a great balance). My lament is long and sad on this one.

    But the barb is back with WW so I guess it all worked out…

  7. I loved the initial Skovos artwork when it was initially revealed, though was definitely disappointed when it was also revealed it wasn’t part of Diablo 3(classic). The artwork and concept of the location are really cool, beyond the fact that it’s part of the homeland of my favorite DII class and it would be great to be part of an expansion. I’ve alwasy been fond of areas/locations set near the ocean – the first time I played Titan Quest I was thrilled to beat up on skeletons and giant snapping turtles running around on beach levels and sea caves. Blizzard has given us a lot of great concept art and these pics do have a lot of great gameplay potential…let’s hope the devs are able to sort out the game mechanics AND give us a story/quest worthy of such an epic location in Sanctuary.

    • The opening area of Path of Exile is on a beach as well, with zombies and giant mutant crabs and such, and it’s a nice area. The water-bloated zombies and being able to run out into knee-deep water works well, even though they didn’t really do anything with aquatic demons (at least on the beach).

  8. I had that giant first Skovos image as my background for a long time. I was really hoping to see a “water” act in D3. Flooded temples, fish demons and stuff like that! Guess I can cross my fingers for it in an expansion!

  9. well, in D3 we’ve had regular caves/farms in A1, desert in A2, snow in A3, heaven in A4, bits of hell, which has been covered well in D1 and D2 and would be boring in an xpack unless changed drastically.

    Forest/jungle scenery is a natural candidate. Other, less obvious ones could be some arcane dimension (unlikely for a whole act), underwater world (could be part of the Skovos act), some sort of mountainous terrain (again, could be part of Skovos) and some others.

    Based on the art presented above, I would love those pieces presented in-game. Just remembered Titan Quest, that game had some beautiful places.

  10. Somewhere like in the ship or something, ala God of War, it would be awesome and fighting titans XD~

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