Nephalem in Diablo III

Nephilim are something that I always thought were an incredible idea, and as I toil through my second play of Diablo III, I thought I would take the time to share some thoughts on the Nephilim and Diablo's storyline. (No spoilers.)

Nephalem (Diablo III spelling), or Nephilim (as they are called in the Bible,) are the offspring of the "sons of God" and the "daughters of men" as quoted in Genesis.

The term "Nephilim" occurs twice in the Bible, both in the Torah. The first is Genesis 6:1-4, immediately before the story of Noah's ark:

1. When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them,
2. The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.
3. Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years."
4. The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

So basically, my understanding of this is thus: Some Angels are chill'n in heaven, doing whatever it is that Angels do, and they take a look at some 'daughters of man,' and thinking they are pretty hot, fly down and everyone has a good old time. A couple years later we we have some overpowered half-Angel half-human heros kicking some serious ass across earth. Sounds a bit like Diablo, does it not?

To me, there is little else (in storytelling) that could be as cool as being half Angel, or even being the descendent of a half Angel, and having Angel blood in your veins. (This, by the way, kicks the shit out of Tiger Blood, sorry Charlie Sheen.)

However, Blizzard, instead of making this awe-inspiring situation the center of the storyline, just throws it in there, saying, ya, ya, you're Nephalem, so you are great at killing stuff. So... Uh... Go kill stuff (and then sell the loot for USD at the AH so we can make money.) 

Seriously though. Can you IMAGINE actually having Angel Blood and walking around your fellow member of humanity? What would that be like? Would your fellow men love and revere you, or would they be filled with prejudice and ostracize you? How would that make you, the main character of this epic story, feel? What issues would you have to face and deal with and how would you, an Angelic Human Baddass, affect the people of this war torn world where Angels and Demons fight for dominance over your immortal soul?! To me, this is the very definition of EPIC!

But yeah, in Diablo III, we don't get to explore or emotionally experience any of that. Instead, we run around and get loot. And, YES, I get it, this is a dungeon crawler, but Blizzard has eight books set in the world of Diablo. EIGHT BOOKS! Do you know how much lore that is? It's incredible. But in the game, all we get is some scrolls and merge storyline. It's not that they didn't put the time in, they took a LOT of time to voice act a SHIT TON of text in the game. The storyline, though, was so boring that after my first play-through, I now skip through all dialog with a feverous clicking of my mouse just to make it stop.

So my point here is that they took the time to draw real world lore into their amazing fantasy world, and have a huge back story too, but then they don't actually let us get to emotionally experience it in the game. Nephalem are the epitome of awesome, yet we don't get to feel the trials, tribulations and excitement of being awesome in this expansive world. I, for one, am dissapointed.

And yes, to all Diablo lore experts, I do indeed know all about Sanctuary. I know about the Worldstone and the final battle between the Edyrem and the Cathedral, and how when it ended, Uldyssian cleansed Sanctuary of both demons and angels and the Angiris Council convened and concluded that Sanctuary would be preserved. I know of the trials and tribulations of the Barbarians and all the rest. This is all great lore from the Diablo books, but the actual game (Diablo III, something we have been waiting YEARS for) hardly goes into any of this. Reading a couple of scrolls does not make me feel that my character is connected to any of the epic lore or history of this very expansive world. To me it just felt like some storyline filler to listen to as I kill mobs (and make Blizzard money.)

In all fairness, I do really enjoy the game (and the CGI cut scenes are stunning,) and will continue playing the game for some time. But without wanting to actually re-experience the storyline (because there is hardly anything there,) I am going to get bored of killing elites soon. Yes, Diablo III is great, but I ask you, where is the artistic storytelling? Where is the player's emotional investment? Where is the magic of actually being in Diablo's fantasy world? I, for one, am just not feeling it.

And so my solemn promise to you, not only will Mindra's Haven and The Illusive Diamond have all the epic storytelling we are missing here, but Numinious, our epic Action-Adventure RPG will be that and oh so much more!



Jamison Stone

Jamison is the Director and Lead Writer of Apotheosis Studios. In addition to his professional career, Jamison is also a Trustee, Committee Chair, and grant writer for the W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation, an organization which provides grantmaking programs in education, youth development and early childhood development.