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Diablo 4's "much more ambitious" seasons won't be pay-to-win, Blizzard says

Diablo 4
(Image credit: Blizzard)

A new Diablo 4 quarterly update finally breaks down the upcoming ARPG's seasonal structure, in-game store, and the dreaded topic of live service monetization.

After the whole mess over Diablo Immortal's microtransactions, you can almost sense the tension beaming through the internet as the developers very carefully assure players that Diablo 4 won't have pay-to-win elements. 

"As we've discussed previously, Diablo 4 will be a full-price game with a Cosmetics Shop and Season Pass - none of which provide any pay-for-power options," says director of product Kegan Clark. "Our goal in designing our in-game purchases is that we want to create beautiful things which add value to players' experience of the game."

Though Clark calls Diablo 4's seasonal structure "much more ambitious" than Diablo 3's, the fundamentals are essentially the same: everything resets at the start of each season, including your character, items, and gold - although old characters will still be accessible via the "Eternal Realm." Game director Joe Shely also insists that the game's "season design requires that all sources of character power come from playing the game, so you will not be able to pay for power in Diablo 4."

Diablo 4

(Image credit: Blizzard)

New Diablo 4 seasons will come with a new gameplay feature and questline that unveils more of the world and your character's role in Sanctuary. There will be new challenges to take on, mysteries to unfold, and new ways to level up your character. Blizzard says you should be able to experience these new features within the first hour of playing each new season.

Each season will also refresh the meta, introduce bug fixes and quality-of-life improvements, and introduce live events with unique rewards. Blizzard says events could include a weekend-long Drowned invasion or a mysterious merchant peddling his spoils amidst the crags of the Dry Steppes.

Diablo 3's Season Journeys are making a comeback in Diablo 4. These free, time-limited tracks offer special rewards for adventurers determined enough to complete various objectives, which end with an "extremely difficult" boss fight, offering time-limited rewards for players who can complete certain tasks. Completing Season Journeys will help you progress through each season's battle pass.

Speaking of battle passes, Blizzard also explained how those will work in today's new dev update (opens in new tab)

Like most battle passes, Diablo 4's season passes will have cosmetics and premium currency for you to earn by progressing through both free and paid reward tracks. Premium currency can be used in Diablo 4's in-game shop, but only for cosmetics. There will also be season boosts that accelerate your progress for the rest of the season, but don't worry, the boosters are free for everyone. Players can buy season tiers, but the boosters are still tied to level milestones so they won't be able to apply them until those milestones are met. "In other words, there’s no way to shortcut getting Season Boosts by buying Tiers; they must be earned," Clark says.

Diablo 4

(Image credit: Blizzard)

As alluded to earlier, Diablo 4's in-game shop will be cosmetic only, and you won't need to visit it to access any part of the game. Blizzard says the shop will be optional, transparent about everything it's offering, and, curiously, won't be home to the "best-looking cosmetics" in the game.

"Diablo IV will ship with hundreds of transmogs unlockable from drops in-game, including dozens of armor sets of the highest visual quality. There are incredible pieces—Unique and Legendary quality items—for players to find without ever going to the Shop. The Shop offers more diversity of choices, not systematically better choices."

Diablo 4 is expected to launch sometime in 2023.

For everything nearer on the horizon, check out our guide to new games of 2022.

After scoring a degree in English from ASU, I worked as a copy editor while freelancing for places like SFX Magazine, Screen Rant, Game Revolution, and MMORPG on the side. Now, as GamesRadar's west coast Staff Writer, I'm responsible for managing the site's western regional executive branch, AKA my apartment, and writing about whatever horror game I'm too afraid to finish.