Diablo 4 is official: everything you need to know about the next Diablo
Interested in Diablo 4? Then you need this handy guide full of everything there is to know about the upcoming game from Blizzard – including what to expect and the Diablo 4 release date.
It’s been eight years since the initial release of Diablo 3, which means we're dying to find out more about another monstrous loot hunt in the upcoming Diablo 4.
After what feels like years of rumors, Diablo 4 was officially confirmed by Blizzard at Blizzcon in 2019. Now we know that the next core Diablo game is an isometric action role-playing game (RPG), which sees the return of Lilith, the daughter of Mephisto.
It's likely to feature an open-world map with five main regions, day/night cycles and a non-linear campaign. You'll smash and loot your way through this world with one of five customizable classes, three of which are already announced.
What's more, it's being designed in a brand-new engine for PS4, Xbox One and PC, with plans to simultaneously release it on all platforms (maybe even PS5 and Xbox Series X?). In addition, The Coalition studio head Rod Fergusson has been recruited to oversee development on the whole Diablo franchise – which can only be good news.
But when is the Diablo 4 release date? And what other surprises might be in the new game? Here’s everything to know so far about the long-awaited RPG from Blizzard.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next instalation in the veteran action-role playing dungeon crawling series, Diablo.
- When can I play it? The Diablo 4 release date is unconfirmed, but 'not soon' is what we're hearing.
- What can I play it on? Xbox One, PS4 and PC (maybe next-gen consoles).
Diablo 4 release date
Bad news here: Diablo 4 probably won't be released anytime soon. At a Blizzcon 2019 deep dive on the game, the game's director said that he doesn't expect the game to be finished anytime soon, "even by Blizzard's standards of soon."
That said, the fact that the team is developing the game for PS4 and Xbox One heavily implies that the game will be released within the next two to three years – as the lifespan of those consoles will be coming to an abrupt end after the launch of new consoles in late 2020.
Diablo 4 trailers
The Diablo 4 release date might be disappointing, but post BlizzCon 2019, GameInformer brought us plenty of gameplay from Diablo 4 to pore over. Familiar in the best possible way, this footage showcases Diablo 4's return to an intensely Gothic game world and that addictive gameplay loop that's made it so famous.
Given the game's release is some time away (maybe years) it's possible that everything in this footage could change. But it's exciting to get a glimpse of the direction in which the game's development is going.
Below you can watch videos of the the game's three classes in action: Barbarian, Sorceress and then Druid. All in all it's about an hour of gameplay which is quite something. Given the game is still a while off yet, maybe ration it.
Diablo 4 was officially announced at Blizzcon 2019 where we got the chance to see both the announcement story cinemati and the first gameplay trailer.
Check both trailers out below:
Diablo 4 news, previous leaks and features
Rod Fergusson's teasing tweets
After departing The Coalition to lead Blizzard's Diablo team, Rod Fergusson has been posting some interesting tweets about what he's seeing behind-the-scenes of Diablo 4's development in his first few days of his new job. In his short time with the team, Fergusson has praised the "beautiful, yet disturbing" imagery created by the art team. We'll be keeping an eye on his Twitter feed over the next few days to see if he mentions anything else about Diablo 4.
Quarterly Update – February 2019
As promised, Blizzard has posted a quarterly update for the development of Diablo 4. The lengthy update, published to the Blizzard website, has words from Angela Del Priore, Lead UI Designer, and Candace Thomas, Senior Encounter Designer.
Angela Del Priore's update delves into UI changes, couch co-op and controller support.
As far as UI changes are concerned, the inventory will not have different-sized items "to avoid interrupting gameplay with pockets of inventory management". Item icons are being re-approached with the aim of giving them "natural texture and realism" opposed to the "painterly style" initially pursued. In line with achieving greater realism, the brightness and saturation of icon backgrounds has been toned down and rarity indicators are visually more subtle.
Based on more non-specific feedback, the inventory has also been reorganized for a more "balanced composition".
In addition to this, there will be more flexibility in binding options based on players asking "to rebind their primary skill to anything but the left mouse button so that they could separate moving from attacking." As well as making it possible to assign any skill to any slot from the start, all skill slots can have their keys rebound with the intention to support skill rebinding on controllers too.
Finally, the game's action bar's location has been up for discussion and based on feedback and field-of-view it's been decided that it will take a left-corner position on consoles while PC players will be able to choose from a corner or centre position.
Diablo 4 will support controllers on PC and according to Blizzard the aim is to give players "the ability to switch between the two options freely". As a result, a more unified UI is needed while "keeping established keyboard and mouse conventions" and "creating controller-friendly shortcuts or alternate flows". Efforts are apparently being made to ensure both inputs feel "native" to the game.
For Diablo 4 the development team is looking to improve the 2-player co-op experience from Diablo 3 and set up "core progression UI screens such that they can be opened independently or at the same time."
Senior Encounter Designer Candace Thomas, on the other hand, gives fans a look at a new kind of enemy that will feature in Diablo 4: Cannibals.
New enemy: Cannibal Tribes
Cannibals are one of the monster families that will feature in Diablo 4 alongside other such as the Fallen and the Drowned.
For Diablo 4, the team aims to "build Sanctuary as a living, breathing character—especially through its creatures" and so its monsters have been re-imagined in a more gritty style.
According to Thomas they have "lovingly handcrafted every creature you’ll encounter from the ground up: that includes demons, NPCs, Act Bosses, and even the skittering critters you can crush underfoot. Though we still pay tribute to some hallmark gameplay—such as Fallen Shamans resurrecting other Fallen—we have completely reimagined things in other places."
The lore around the Cannibals states that no one knows where they've come from but the rumor is that they're a former band of barbarians, exiled to the Dry Steppes where they prey on caravans and villages.
The Cannibal family has four members, each with a unique weapon, silhouette or stance so you can tell them apart. Two of them are melee combatants, one with a two-handed greatsword cleaver; the other with a lightweight halberd.
The bruiser member uses a spiked club in each hand to deliver heavy blows while there are also dual-axe-wielding swarmers that unleash faster, flurried frontal attacks. The members are dangerous individually but combinations of their attacks are positively deadly.
Something the Cannibal family doesn't have is ranged units. Instead, they rely on speed which can make for a very distinctive and stressful combat experience.
Rod Fergusson is overseeing the Diablo franchise
The Coalition studio head Rod Fergusson has announced he's leaving the Gear of War developer to oversee the Diablo franchise at Blizzard Entertainment.
Fergusson officially made the announcement on Twitter, revealing that he will be joining Blizzard in March where he will, no doubt, join the team in developing the upcoming Diablo 4 and Diablo 4 Immortal.
Check his tweet out below:
Responding to concerns
In 2019, Blizzard stated its intentions to release quarterly updates on the progress of Diablo 4 in 2020. After a post on Reddit called out a lack of updates from the developer, a community manager has responded to manage expectations.
In a multi-pointed response, community manager Nevalistis stated that the game is in "very, very early in development" so there's not a lot to share at the moment and what is shareable has been shared already. Not only that, they pointed out that the Diablo team Blizzard is at work on more than one project and pacing is therefore necessary.
Given the first quarter of 2020 runs up until March, we could see an update on the game any time between now and then. More likely to be closer to then than now. Part of the reason for any time taken will also be to ensure that what is shown is at the highest standard possible. According to Nevalistis "We want to put a lot of time, effort, and polish into these updates because they are so few and we care a lot about our work. However, ultimately, the content will be decided by (1) what's ready to show and (2) what conversations we're ready to have with the community."
The post finishes up by promising that while cool stuff is in the works, the team will be taking its time to create an excellent game for fans as "while we want to maintain transparency, we also don't want to risk over-promising and under delivering. This happens all too often by showing features too early."
No more Ancient Legendaries
Lead systems designer, David Kim, has written an update for fans with regards to Diablo 4's systems. The update reveals that the game won't have Ancient Legendaries and highlights there will be some new stats.
In order to make Diablo 4's itemisation "deep and rewarding", Kim writes, Ancient Legendaries will be removed and replaced with a new consumable which will make it possible to apply a Legendary affix to a non-Legendary item.
Affixes on items generally will increase which is expected to raise the importance of non-Legendary affixes with regards to overall power. However, three new stats—Angelic Power, Demonic Power and Ancestral Power—will also appear as new affixes.
As a result, according to Kim, "Legendary powers should no longer completely dwarf the strength of your affixes, and the affixes themselves provide more interesting choices because their strength depends on how much of the relevant Powers you’ve accumulated on the rest of your gear. You might find an amulet with the perfect stats for your build, but some of its Affixes may require Demonic Power when you’ve previously focused on Ancestral. Maybe your current amulet is the primary source of your Ancestral Power, so equipping a new amulet would mean potentially making sacrifices elsewhere.
With this system, it will be easy to identify items with good stats, but it will take some thought and planning to decide whether the item is good for your build."
The team is also streamlining Attack and Defense. Now, attack will only be found on weapons, defence will only be found on armor, and jewellery won't have an impact on either.
In an interview with AusGamers Diablo 4's Game Director Luis Barriga and Art Director John Mueller have given an insight into the big ambitions the team has for Diablo 4 and its expansions.
We already know that Lilith will be the main villain for the game, rather than Diablo, but Mueller has suggested that there will eventually more to tell than this, with more characters and stories that could be told in expansions: “Diablo IV is like the first chapter of a book. We want to tell a big story and we want to tell it, hopefully, for a very long time. Treating this like the first chapter of a book and Lilith as a key character in this story, it feels great knowing that there are still all these other characters that could come back in the future. Or, new characters that we haven’t seen before.”
The pair also touch on just how big the world of Sanctuary is going to be:
“There’s going to be five contiguous regions in the world and you can actually go from the North, the Northern most point of Scosglen, which is the area seen in the demo, all the way down through the Dry Steppes and into the deserts of Kejhistan. And you'll never see a loading screen. It's completely seamless. That's the level of detail we've added into creating the world.”
In a blog post post-BlizzCon, Diablo 4's game director Luis Barriba has said that fans can expect a "cool update" on the game's progress come February 2020. This update will be the "first in a series of quarterly updates" which will come across the year.
Baribba also addresses the discussions that have been happening around how Diablo 4 will approach items and stats in the community with a promise that it's being carefully considered and clarifications are coming.
"We also know that one topic is burning hotter than the rest. We want you to know that we are having the same conversations about items and stats that you are having—whether on the official discussion threads or external sites, we read it all! Getting this right is at the top of our minds, and in the coming weeks our lead systems designer David Kim will provide a few clarifications, share some of his thoughts, and address some of your open questions."
During a conversation at BlizzCon 2019, Twitch streamer Quin69 (via PCGamesN) had a conversation with Diablo 4's lead designer Joe Shely during which it was said that the game will likely have microtransactions but that they'll be cosmetic in nature (so no selling Power) and that there'll also be expansions on top of the base game:
“Diablo IV will be available as a base game, and […] we’re going to have expansions. You also will be able to acquire cosmetics in the game.”
Shely added that it's still early days for the game so naturally things could change as development progresses.
Blizzcon 2019 unveiling
Diablo 4 was officially confirmed at Blizzcon 2019 on November 1, where it was revealed the game would focus on Lilith – the daughter of Mephisto.
Like its predecessors, the game is an isometric, action RPG and will have PVP zones in the overworld – with the first three classes being barbarian, sorceress and druid. It's also being developed for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
Story and setting
For those who haven't been following along in the in-game events, Diablo 4 will be set after Diablo 3 Reaper of Souls. At this point, the gates of heaven have been closed after Malthael, the Angel of Death, destroyed much of Sanctuary.
It's through Heaven's ignorance of the events transpiring in Sanctuary that Lilith, the daughter of Mephisto and canonical mother of humanity, is set lose from her prison.
What we know about the overworld right now is that it's all open, with five unique regions and both a day/night cycle and ever-changing weather. Missions are non-linear and according to the game's director, you're free to take them on however you'd like.
Other players will appear in your game for shared events, meaning you will have to always be online to play. This isn't an feature you can turn off but you can choose not to group up with others. We don't know the exact details about how this will work.
Skill changes and talent trees
According to Eurogamer, the rune system is gone, instead replaced by a system that sees you spending points on skills to improve them – with some gainer new effects at higher levels.
In addition, each class has a talent tree that allows players to customize their build. You can also enhance equipment and weapons through a new Rune Word socketing system.
Dungeons and loot
Like previous entries, you're going to spend a lot of time in dungeons – all of which will be randomly generated in a similar way to Diablo 3. According to the game's director, there will be 'hundreds of dungeons' in the game to explore 'in which you'll find hundreds of legendary items to equip'.
Each class has five abilities including Evade and an Ultimate attack.
Which classes are available?
At launch, Diablo 4 will feature five classes – three of which we already know about. The Barbarian, a series staple will return in Diablo 4 and will be available to wield both double- and single-handed weapons in a single build, and will have four weapon slots.
The Sorceress, another returning favorite, will have AOE attacks that control the battlefield and will be able to turn into a ball of energy to incinerate enemies, while the Druid has both animal companion NPCs and the ability to shapeshift.
The Art of Diablo may have revealed Diablo 4 – confirmed
German magazine Game Star found a listing for a glossy new book called The Art of Diablo. Taking a behind-the-scenes look at the art of the franchise, it's set to contain “more than 500 artworks from Diablo 1, Diablo 2, Diablo 3 and Diablo 4.” Yep, Diablo 4, being mentioned in relation to a book officially associated with the developer Blizzard. Though the book is a little way off from release yet, the mention (likely unintentional) all but confirmed that Diablo 4 was on the way.
New hires – confirmed
Tongues started wagging after nine job listings for an "unannounced project" in the Diablo franchise were spotted on the Blizzard Entertainment careers page. The company was looking for key roles, including lead character and concept artists, software engineers, a lead narrative designer and an executive producer.
While it's not certain that the listings were for Diablo 4, the game has since been announced.
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