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 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 Peter 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?