According to the FAQ: "You’ll be able to try out all five character classes and experience the early stages of Diablo III from the start of the game through the Skeleton King encounter. You’ll be able to interact with new and returning characters in New Tristram and fight the reawakened evils emanating from the cursed Tristram Cathedral."
How many zones is that? Any outdoor areas aside from Tristram? And does it include the entire Cathedral dungeon (i.e. all D1 levels)?
Just interested how much variety of environments beta testers will be seeing
About 60 minutes worth of regular play. So I am guessing Tristram, that special Tristram Cellar of the Damned dungeon, the blood moor/cold plains style area leading up to Leoric's Cathedral, and Leoric's Cathedral itself.
We don't know but Jay Wilson said they are removing some stuff from beta just to limit spoilers as much as possible...What that means I don't know but I think there is pretty big possibility that content wise, beta will be pretty "fixed" with no so much random going on.
I was told by some of the media day testers (picking their brains via skype and email) from late July that there were some random quests in the early outdoor and dungeon areas, though they're more like random adventures/events than quests. You'll find some NPC soldiers to escort one time, next game they're not there. That sort of thing. Just one level slight variety. Nothing along the "whole extra dungeon" randomness, that early in the game.
The play through took the very fast people around an hour. Other slower players needed up to two hours to clear the same content, and chars got to around Clvl 8. It was replayable for more exp; we've got a ninja shot of a Clvl 10 Wizard from that event in the interface gallery.
You could say the D3 beta is up to around the 4th or 5th outdoor area in D2, in terms of gained experience and time spent, but it's not real comparable since D3 is so much more quest-driven and linear. There are no levels up through the skeleton king as open or large as even the Blood Moor in D2, and most of the early areas you're doing a specific quest, more akin to something like Blood Raven in D2.
The only really detailed write up about the content/quests/details was by JudgeHype, and the google translation is quite good, if you don't read French.