Diablo 4: How The Rogue Class, PvP, And Open World Work

BlizzCon 2021 shed more light on Diablo 4, revealing the Rogue class, how PvP will work, and what exploration in the open world will be like.

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At BlizzConline (aka BlizzCon 2021), we got several new details about Diablo 4. During a presentation, Blizzard revealed the new Rogue class, outlined how PvP works, and teased new elements of its open world design. It was our most in-depth look at the game yet, and the developers at Blizzard stressed that Diablo IV will not only carry many of the innovations from Diablo III, but will also be something of a return to the atmopshere and vibe set by Diablo II.

Though Diablo IV is still a ways out from release, this new look at the game offered a lot of information to chew on in the meantime. Below, you can find a summary of all the details shared about Diablo IV's new character class and gameplay at the show. We also had the chance to chat with game director Luis Barriga and art director John Mueller about the Diablo IV's return dark-fantasy and its big shift towards a more shared experience set in an open world.

Rogue Class Breakdown

Rogue is a dexterity-based class that can use bows and crossbows for ranged attacks, and swords and daggers for melee attacks. The class relies on mobility and striking fast, but also has a diverse skillset with abilities you can mix and match to great effect. From what we can glean, Rogues have skills like a dashing ability, flurry slashes, and an aerial attack that showers arrows down for AOE damage. According to Blizzard during their presentation, fans of Diablo II's Asssassin and Diablo III's Demon Hunter will find a lot to like about the Diablo IV's Rogue.

Rogues have three specializations. One is called Combo Points, which seem to rely on a sequence of timing-based attacks that stack damage--director Luis Barriga likened it to a sort of rhythm game. The second is called Shadow Realm, which puts you into temporary stealth to land attacks unharmed while in the middle of combat. Lastly, Exploit Weakness is a reaction-based specialization where an icon will pop up on an enemy and you have to time a counter to do extra damage. Players don't have to pick one specialization and can combine abilities to create their own builds and playstyles.

Speaking with game director Luis Barriga, he stated that the original Diablo Rogue was a starting point for them to further branch out the character class in Diablo IV.

"So the idea that the Rogue is the godmother, I guess, in this case of like all Dexterity based classes in RPGs," he said. "What I mean is that we could add all of those things to the class that we liked from say The Assassin or The Demon Hunter. Now with Diablo IV of course, we want to go beyond D1, we're saying The Sisterhood of the Sightless Eye, is one of the groups that you can find, the remnants of them anyway because that's an order that was destroyed and was lost to time for a bit, and maybe players will get to find out what they've been up to. But then there's also like just the different cutthroats that you can find in the world and you can learn techniques from all of them. So we've been able to basically treat the class as a very root fantasy as a start point and then add all the ideas that we wanted to see in a Dexterity based class."

As a Rogue, you can also temporarily attach elemental properties (frost, shadow, and poison) to your attacks in what's called the imbue system. Imbuing extends to all of the Rogues attacks and skills as well. These can also work in conjunction with other players--for example, frost damage eventually freezes enemies, and Rogues that imbue frost can freeze faster with a Sorcerer's blizzard spells.

Despite the majority of rogues we've seen or heard of thus far being women in the Diablo canon, other orders and groups of rogues have popped up. This means that like other characters in Diablo 4, you can play either male or female rogues, as revealed during a Q&A on February 20. The development team also wanted to give you the freedom to role-play how you wished, not putting backstory in place that would restrict you from being part of a specific group or coming from a specific region.

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How Diablo 4's PvP Works

We've know that player-versus-player would return in Diablo 4, but there weren't many details when it was first announced in 2019. Now we know how it works, and it takes a more open-ended approach. There are specific areas in Sanctuary's open world called the Fields of Hatred where PvP gets enabled and players can attack each other. You'll face strong AI-controlled enemies in these areas to collect shards of hatred, but you need to purify them in order to exchange them for unique gear.

To purify shards of hatred, you need to take them to a certain part of the zone and survive through waves of enemies for a certain amount of time. However, other players around the zone will be alerted to your presence and can pull up to fight you and take the shards for themselves. It's kind of like the Dark Zone in The Division. As a callback to Diablo 2's PvP, defeating actual players will reward you with their ears. For now, it's just planned to be a collectible for the battles you win, but may turn into a form of currency later down the line.

Game director Luis Barriga explained further that the design of the multiplayer encourages for aggression, but being too hostile will put a giant target on your back for other players in the world to see- incentivizing others to go out and see the marked player to try and take their loot.

"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."

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Strongholds And Mounts In The Open World

We knew that Diablo 4's version of Sanctuary was going to be one continuous open world with public events happening sporadically. Now we know there will also be a thing called Strongholds, which are enemy camps that you can raid and clear out to take for yourself. They can turn into hub areas with shops.

We saw a bit of the horse mount in previous gameplay, but Blizzard discussed how mounts work. They help you travel faster, but are not an element of combat. You can do special attacks while unmounting, but that's all. Getting hit while riding your horse will cause you to unmount. Various mounts will be unlockable throughout the game.

In a previous developer update, Blizzard went into greater detail on the design of Sanctuary this time around, so be sure to read up on how Diablo 4's open world works.

Art director John Muller stated that since this is the first time that Sanctuary is designed as an open space, the experience of exploration will be a big change for the gameplay loop established by the Diablo franchise.

"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."

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Additional Diablo 4 Details

For those unfamiliar, Diablo 4 is the next entry in the iconic action-RPG franchise that's coming to PC, Xbox platforms, and PlayStation 4. Catch up on everything we know about Diablo 4 in addition to the latest BlizzCon reveals. There is no release date yet, but Activision previously stated that Diablo 4 will not come out in 2021.

The wait will be made easier by Diablo 2: Resurrected. That game is planned for 2021, and it's coming to PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC. It will not support split-screen cooperative play, but Diablo 4 will support local cooperative when it launches.

More On BlizzCon 2021

For more on all the news on Blizzard's games, be sure to check out all our stories of what's been revealed and announced at BlizzCon 2021, including what's coming to Overwatch 2, World of Warcraft Classic's addition of Burning Crusade, Shadowlands' Chains of Domination update, and the Diablo 2: Resurrected remaster.

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