BlizzConline offered a lot of new info on the upcoming action-RPG; here's everything we know so far.
Perhaps the most anticipated game Blizzard has in development is Diablo IV, the next mainline installment to the iconic action-RPG series. It was first revealed during BlizzCon 2019 through a cinematic trailer alongside a gameplay showcase. Those in attendance also had the chance to get hands-on with a playable demo. This year's saw a wealth of new information about the upcoming action-RPG, and just how much of a step forward it is for the franchise. While the BlizzConline was a more low-key show when compared to previous years, the amount of details and reveals we saw was more than enough in offering a clearer picture of what's to come with Diablo IV.
In addition to seeing the return of Diablo 1's Rogue class, we also got some new info about how the game's new open-world structure and exploration will work, which will bring players together for a more shared world experience. With so much info revealed during the online show, here's a quick breakdown of everything we know about Diablo IV. For more on Blizzard's games and what was shown during BlizzConline, including the reveal of Diablo II: Resurrected and more details about Overwatch 2, go check out our roundup of all the announcements from the show.
Release Date And Platforms
Diablo 4 is being developed for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. With the latest console generation upon us, it's likely that we'll hear about PS5 and Xbox Series X versions of the game too. Diablo 3 was released for Nintendo Switch, but there's no word on its sequel getting the same treatment. As for when it'll launch, Diablo 4 currently has no release date or release window, but Activision has stated that the game will not come out this year.
The Story So Far
Diablo 4 is taking on a darker, more grounded approach to its story, and that tone seems to have been set from what we've seen. This will be a direct sequel taking place decades after the events of the Diablo 3 expansion Reaper of Souls, but Blizzard has said that it's focusing more on commoners and their struggles within the ravaged world of Sanctuary, as opposed to just supernatural demonic grandeur.
The reveal trailer was terrifying in its own way, showing a blood sacrifice to resurrect the demonic villain Lilith, who is partially responsible for the creation of Sanctuary, which is the mortal world of the Diablo franchise. BlizzCon 2019 also featured a and offered a ton of insight into the upcoming game's worldbuilding. In the BlizzConline reveal for the Rogue, we also saw the return of the Sisterhood of the Sightless Eye, which was a staple in the original two games. Players will be able to work with this organization, and after collecting ears from your slain enemies, you can turn them in for upgrades for your character.
Sanctuary is made up of five different regions: Fractured Peaks (snowy mountains), Dry Steppes (desert), Hawezar (swamps), Scosglen (coastal forests), and Kehjistan (ruins of a past civilization). We've been able to see them in-game and in artwork and they all represent distinct biomes, and you'll visit all of them in Diablo 4's campaign.
Diablo 4 is set up as a shared open-world online game with multiple dungeons and regions that players can choose to explore. Whereas other Diablo games followed a more linear story progression with Acts, Diablo 4 is said to offer more freedom with where you want to go and what you want to do even with an ongoing story. During BlizzConline, it was revealed that players will be able to freely roam the map, conquering enemy strongholds and taking them for themselves, and even discovering corrupted zones known as the Fields of Hatred. In our chat with art director John Muller during BlizzConline, he stated that players will be able to have a greater sense of appreciation for the world with its new structure.
"We're creating this open world of Sanctuary for the first time, where it's a connective space. You can get on your mount and go from the harsh horrid coasts, all the way to the deserts, and then going through different regions along the way," he said. "Everything has a place now, so the history, the lore, everything you've heard about Diablo, it's no longer just a 2D representation that you click and go to a map. You're traversing the space on your horse, and it's a really different kind of experience. I think for the genre and for Diablo players, I know it's something people are going to enjoy."
Diablo 4's Gameplay
Diablo 4 isn't straying far from its roots as an isometric, dungeon-crawling action-RPG. The Diablo series is built around the loot and gear grind as you level up from fighting hordes of enemies and tough bosses, and there's now more options for you to acquire more loot and ascend in power. As stated previously, Diablo IV is now an open-world action-RPG, what this allows for is more freedom to explore and more opportunities to engage in new activities. Along with main quests, you can also find world events happening in the world, allowing you to sync up with other players to take down large targets or raid dangerous dungeons.
Some of the standout features that've been announced are PvP battles, mounts for faster traversal, and character build customization tools. Specifically, Rune Words (a feature from Diablo 2) are the way to tune your character and further tweak how they function--attaching rune words grants different effects and stat buffs. All classes also have skill ranks and talent trees that you'll progress through as you level up. Skills and talent trees will be vast for each class and Blizzard said that players will only have around 40% of skills unlocked by the time they reach the endgame. Along with that, the endgame will also introduce a new meta-leveling system similar to the Paragon levels from Diablo III, though not much has been said about how that will work at this time.
Diablo 4 will be an always-online game in a persistent world shared with other players, even for those who wish to go about things as a solo experience. However, multiplayer is a big factor in the Diablo experience--enemies will scale to the party's levels and dungeons will be separate instances with various difficulty options. This also extends to the new PvP gameplay with the Fields of Hatred. In these zones, players can fight for loot against more challenging monsters and escape with your haul to keep it. In similar fashion to The Division's Dark Zones, it blends PvE with PvP, and according to game director Luis Barriga, it offers for a more tense change of pace from the larger game.
"It can be a cool cat and mouse game [when playing PvP aggressively], but if you are kind of the shark and you go hostile and you start killing players for a long enough, you become the Vessel of Hatred and it basically becomes harder to maintain," he explained. "Other players will actually see you on their map, so you then become content for other players. It's a very interesting mechanic that in a way it gives the 'gankers' a disadvantage, but they might take pride in it. We have really high skilled people on the team and they don't mind that they'll advertise like, "Hey, here's the Vessel of Hatred, everyone gang up on them," because they can take people 3v1 and so on."
Diablo 4's Character Classes
As for character classes, Diablo 4 will feature five in total. So far, we're only aware of four, all returning from previous games: Barbarian, Druid, the Sorceress/Sorcerer, and the Rogue. When compared to previous Diablo games, the classes of Diablo IV will be far more customizable, allowing for a deeper focuses on build management and designing the look of your chosen archetype on their journey.
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The Barbarian is your powerful melee class that uses axes, swords, polearms, and various one- and two-handed weapons. What's new here is the arsenal system which grants Barbarians four weapon slots so you can swap between them easily. Barbarians have strong AOE attacks and dash strikes.
Druids are shapeshifters who use earth and storm magic. They can transform into a werewolf or werebear for different attacks, and can even transition between forms mid-combo to diversify their moveset in combat (called seamless shapeshifting).
Sorceress/Sorcerer is your standard mage class that uses a combination of fire, lightning, and ice magic with various attack properties like AOE, AOD, or straight-up damage. Of the many spells they have, one that stands out is turning into a ball of lightning and darting across the map to hit multiple targets for high damage.
The newest reveal from BlizzConline was the Rogue, which is so far the fourth playable class coming to Diablo IV. Absent since the original Diablo, this dexterity focused class focuses on speed, quick reflexes, and abilities that debilitate and stagger multiple enemies at once. Wielding both a bow and short swords, the Rogue can use stealth and fast moves to pull on over against their enemies. According to the developers, fans who enjoyed playing as the Assassin and the Demon Hunter from Diablo II and III respectively will find a lot of similarities with the Rogue's skills and abilities.
Where To Find More On Diablo 4
We've been covering Diablo 4 since its reveal, and there are a ton of finer details about the game. If you want more check out our stories below:
- Diablo 4 Feels Like A Demonic Destiny Thanks To Its Shared World
- Diablo 4 Is Adding New Elements And Bringing Back Old Ones In An Attempt To Be More Replayable
- Diablo 4 Will Let You Spend Money On New Skins For Your Characters
- Diablo 4 Will Bring Back Talent Trees And Rune Words To The Series
- Diablo 4 Devs Talk Controller Support On PC, UI Changes
- Diablo 4's Creepy New Cannibal Enemies Are Fast And Hungry
- Diablo 4's New Boss: Concept Art Is "Nightmare Fuel," But In A Good Way
- Diablo 4 Update Details Its New Open-World Multiplayer Areas
- Diablo 4's Reworked Skill Tree Revealed
- How Diablo 4 Changes Itemization, Including The Removal Of Mythics
- Diablo 4 Designer Discusses How Itemization Will Work And Some Major Changes Being Made
- Diablo 4 - How The Rogue Class, PvP, and Open World Work
Blizzard still has much more to reveal about Diablo IV throughout 2021, and possibly including more info about the other classes. In the meantime, you can check out our impressions from the Diablo 4 hands-on demo from BlizzCon 2019 to get an idea of what the experience is like. If you're still eager to read more about Diablo, then check out our roundup of info regarding Diablo II: Resurrected, the remaster that includes a new visual upgrade, cross-progression, and for the first time, a playable version on consoles.