Fri. Dec 13th, 2019

Everything we know about Diablo 4

5 min read

Everything we know about Diablo 4

After years of will-they-won’t-they, Blizzard has finally revealed Diablo 4 at BlizzCon 2019. It’s a return to the darker look of early Diablo with even more blasphemy and profane imagery per capita. Take a look at all the new trailers and info below. 

Watch the dramatic Diablo 4 cinematic trailer

This was one hell of a way to announce Diablo 4. The cinematic is gorgeous and morbid, exactly as Diablo should be. Imagine how much better off the world would be without treasure hunters accidentally resurrecting the ultimate evil.

Diablo 4’s gameplay trailer shows the return of the druid

Diablo 4 is looking smooth. The game’s darker art style stands out, though we’ve yet to see how busy the game will get once loot is popping out of enemies by the dozens. You can ride horses! Druids are back! Lots of good stuff happening here.

What are Diablo 4’s starting classes?

Three classes were announced for Diablo 4: the barbarian, sorceress, and druid. In a panel following the announcement, it was confirmed that there will be five total classes. Details on those aren’t available yet. 

How do the online features work?

BlizzCon attendees were able to get their hands on the game, and our first impression was that it’s a game whose stark and desolate look is in contrast with its always-online elements, which guarantee that other players will be running past as you explore it: “There’s no queuing or anything like that, but seeing players who are clearly on the same quest, but aren’t a permanent part of my world, reminds me that this isn’t just my adventure.”

If you’d like to know more about how Diablo 4’s shared world works, here’s our breakdown of that. The main takeaways are that dungeons will be instanced for solo or partied players, and in the overworld you’ll see more players in towns and safe areas—though there’s no option to turn them off altogether, even if you’re solo. World events will draw players together, and you’ll be able to ride mounts to cross great distances. Difficulty can be set when you enter a dungeon, while above ground it will be scaled to your level (though there is a permadeath mode).

You will not be able to play offline.

Diablo 4 art leak

An official Blizzard artbook ad directly referenced Diablo 4. As reported by VGC, an ad in the German game magazine Game Star states the artbook has “more than 500 artworks from Diablo 1, Diablo 2, Diablo 3 and Diablo 4.” Yep, it just comes right out and says it.

A few days after this leak, Twitter user WeakAuras shared a legit page from the art book that reveals Lilith’s (the Queen of the Succubi from Diablo 2) return in Diablo 4. “Lilith’s debut in Diablo IV is a reimagining of her form that is far different from her previous appearance,” reads the page. At the bottom, you can see new concept art.

Diablo 4 has been an open secret for a while

The existence of Diablo 4 has been an open secret for a while. Blizzard itself has been making small hints toward its existence for years. Community manager Brandy “Nevalistis” Camel’s statement at the start of Diablo 3: Season 14 hinted at the future of the series.

“The forges here at Blizzard are burning hot. And we have multiple Diablo projects in the works. Some of them are going to take longer than others. But we may have some things to show you later this year. We hope you stay tuned, while we work to bring these Diablo experiences to life. None of this would be possible without the support that you have shown us for over 20 years.

“So whether you first joined us in Diablo 3 or you are a seasoned veteran, thanks you. Diablo is, and always will be, part of Blizzard’s identity, and we can’t wait for the future.”

The statement was accompanied by a video called The Future of Diablo. 

The “some things to show you later this year” turned out to be a mobile game called Diablo Immortal, which wasn’t received well by core Blizzard fans watching the opening ceremony at Blizzcon. Blizzard has reiterated since that more Diablo is in production, but the terms “projects” and “experiences” could mean anything, from a proper big new Diablo game to, who knows, a ten minute VR demo, or maybe even a TV series.

In February 2019 during an Activision Blizzard earnings call the publisher laid off hundreds of employees, but reiterated its commitment to Blizzard’s big series. In the same earnings call COO Coddy Johnson suggested that “Diablo’s development headcount will grow substantially as the teams work on several projects underway for the franchise”. There’s nothing imminent, however, as no major new games are coming from Blizzard in 2019.

A report from Kotaku in June 2019 claimed that a new Starcraft FPS was cancelled to devote “more resources into the Diablo and Overwatch franchises.” Kotaku previously reported on the current state of Fenris, the supposed development code name for Diablo 4.

What Blizzard’s hires tell us about Diablo 4

There are some hints that Blizzard are working on something very traditional. In June 2018 Blizzard started recruiting for some telling roles. “We are working on a new, unannounced Diablo project. Are you a skilled Dungeon Artist? Come work with us, and together we will build something exceptional,” read one post. 

The dungeon artist’s responsibilities include building “atmospheric dungeons” as you’d expect, “with a focus on composition, detail and mood, while ensuring that the gameplay space is readable.”

Blizzard was also looking for a technical artist to “help the environment and prop teams define, create, maintain and streamline the modelling and world-building pipeline and processes to bring to life the world of Sanctuary.”

The good news: these roles are unlikely to be related to Diablo Immortal. It sounds like much of Diablo Immortal’s development is in the hands of Tencent, and Immortal looks too far along to need new artists and designers. These roles are likely to be supporting a proper Blizzard joint. Bad news: if Blizzard was recruiting in 2018 it’s unlikely we’ll see the fruits of that work for a few years yet.

Going further back, to 2016, Blizzard was searching for a game director to “lead the Diablo series into the future.” The hire would be “the vision holder for the franchise, setting the creative goals for the team”. The role required “an awareness of global player behaviour and customs to ensure that design decisions are relevant for international regions”, which certainly plays into the announcement of Diablo Immortal. 

I wouldn’t make any guesses about a Diablo 4 release date yet, then. Instead, let’s speculate about what Blizzard could do next with the Diablo series. 

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