Blizzard confirmed late last month that, as pretty much everyone already suspected, Diablo 3 won’t be falling into our sweaty mitts this year. Yes, there are beta keys to pray for, but unless you’re some kind of elite journalist, media juggernaut or high-profile WoW guild, you’ll probably be praying a long time to no avail.

What of Runic Games, then, and their game which looks set to steal the ARPG crown in the meantime? Sticking true to the roots from which the team grew, they too haven’t let slip any official release date for Torchlight 2, other than the hallowed quote of “sometime in 2011″ – blargh, the suspense!

To ease the interminable wait, you might want to spare a glance toward one of these two alternatives.

Drakensang Online - hanging around street cornersFirst, you can dive straight in to Drakensang Online‘s open beta. It’s a browser-based game, and thanks to Java it’s far more playable and graphically attractive than you may initially think (no huge downloads, either!). The cash shop sells the usual selection of stuff like XP boosts and special item sets, but in my experience it’s entirely optional and – if you do have money to spare – it’s more balanced and better value for money than a lot of other similar games. While it only has two character classes and suffers noticeably from production-line armour making everyone look the same, the game is otherwise quite polished and the developers seem to be working hard to capitalise on its potential for the future.

Path of Exile - ooh, stompy!Something else to check out is Path of Exile, a much darker and grittier affair that fans of early ARPGs should definitely appreciate – it has a good selection of loot and a system of gaining skills through socket gems, alongside a novel way of recharging your healing and mana flasks by killing enemies. Unfortunately it’s in closed beta as I write this, so you’ll need to register an account there and hope you get lucky with their random hourly giveaways (or have some kind soul pass you a spare key). My words of wisdom would be that you should definitely try and play it through whatever means possible – it has “rising star” written all over it and has picked up some good press from the various gaming expos of the past couple of months.

There are other forms of free click-kill-loot entertainment out there but they mostly fall into the smelly category of “Korean grindfest”, so I’ve deliberately avoided mentioning them. What games (ARPG or otherwise) are you playing to while away the days between now and loot-filled heaven?