Blizzard Entertainment made the launch announcement Thursday, nearly four years http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/company/press/pressreleases.html?id=4606414 and acknowledging beta testing last summer. (The last edition in the franchise, Diablo II, was released in 2000.) Players of the new game can choose to be a barbarian, witch doctor, wizard, monk, or demon hunter--then go on an "epic quest" to rid Sanctuary of the evil "Burning Hells" in a series of intense battles.

World of Warcraft players who have subscribed to that game's "annual pass" program by May 1 can get a digital copy of Diablo III for free. (Subscribers will also have access to additional World of Warcraft content.)

Digital pre-sales start immediately, and the game will be available for the Mac, as well as several different editions of Windows. Diablo III will cost $60--or, if you're a hard-core fan, $100 for the collector's edition that includes the full game on DVD-ROM, a behind-the-scenes DVD, game soundtrack CD, a commemorative book, and other items. The game is rated Mature for bloody violence.