Bashiok delivered a cryptic and tantalizing plot-related comment to a rambling question/complaint/joke about how Diablo III’s zombies need to be different and better and moar. Here’s the quote:
Zombies are soo overdone and boring these days. 20 years later in sanctuary and hell still commands zombies to rise? Even the witch doc? Boring! Geez Blizz I’m so bored of D3 already, go and make something I haven’t seen before.
They should be faster and thirstier. Should be more variations, more unexpected and unseen before summonings. Like a thousand pounder made out of 1000 dead bodies all moaning and stretching out. No more zombie wall, seen that 2 years ago. Boring! Make the earth split open and spray limbs everywhere. Blood, guts and everything, spice it up. Runestones should raise golems from the pit of limbs.
Have to run, someones coming
Bashiok: “20 years later in sanctuary and hell still commands zombies to rise?” The dead are not rising in Tristram because Hell commands them.
Bashiok quoted only that one sentence in his reply, leaving two possibilities. 1) He’s just being tricky and I’m reading too much into things, and 2) he’s slipping us a cool little plot/story clue.
As far as we know, the zombies and all of the other monsters arise in (and below) Tristram in response to the mysterious fiery meteor that nearly nails Cain and Leah as it crashes through the ceiling and down into the deep catacombs of the Tristram Cathedral.
We may be incorrect about the connection between The Meteor and the monsters, but we know that the characters believe it, as demonstrated by them all mentioning the meteor as the source of the evil in their introductory dialogues with Captain Rumford in the Blizzcon 2008 demo.
There’s been much speculation about the meteor, with a leading theory that the meteor is Tyrael, banished or escaping from the High Heavens in a ball of flame. That’s a cool theory, but so far it’s 99% speculation and 1% evidence. We might have to adjust that to at least 2% evidence now though, since Bashiok’s words, by ruling out “Hell” as the cause of the monsters, make every other explanation a bit more likely. Including the “Tyrael is a meteor” theory.
Though even if he is, there’s still proffered reason why his fiery presence would cause the dead to rise. (How about this; he’s all blasted full of Worldstone shrapnel, which somehow calls forth monsters?) Better or contradictory ideas are welcomed in comments.