Diablo 4 is on the near horizon, with Blizzard confirming a 2023 release window during not-E3 2022. The long-awaited sequel (Diablo 3 is 10 years old this year!) was announced back at BlizzCon 2019, and we've learned a ton about what to expect from the action-RPG in the many months since. The publisher has given us plenty of insights into Diablo 4's development via the meaty quarterly updates that track everything from the level design and art direction to classes, combat, and itemization.
With pre-registration open now on Blizzard's website, things are really heating up down there in hell, and it's high time we run through everything we know about Diablo 4 before you can play it yourself sometime next year.
Diablo 4 release date
Blizzard is yet to set an official Diablo 4 release date, although the publisher has confirmed that it's due to launch at some point in 2023.
Diablo 4 platforms
Diablo 4 will launch on PS5, Xbox Series X, PC, and last-gen consoles in 2023. Although Microsoft (and thus Xbox) now owns Blizzard's parent company, the sequel has been confirmed as a multiplatform title with no known timed exclusivity deals on Xbox.
Diablo 4 beta
Diablo 4 beta sign ups are live! We haven't seen any Diablo 4 beta release date information, but we're expecting it to come soon.
Diablo 4 cinematic trailer
What a reveal this was! The Diablo 4 cinematic trailer was grim, dark, and pretty damn gruesome – which is exactly what we want from a Diablo game. You should check the trailer about above, as it sets a really good tone for what's to come.
Diablo 4 gameplay trailer
Get your first look at the game in action in the Diablo 4 gameplay trailer. It shows off some early Diablo 4 gameplay, including a first look at the world, classes, and combat we can expect to encounter in the game when it launches in 2023.
Diablo 4 classes
Blizzard revealed three classes for Diablo 4 at BlizzCon 2019: Barbarian, Sorceress, and Druid, and 15 months later the returning Rogue class was revealed at BlizzConline. The fifth class was just revealed to be the Necromancer. Whether via trailers or dev updates, Blizzard has given a lot of information about Diablo 4's various classes, so let's dive right in.
The Barbarian class is exactly what it sounds like - a storm of swinging weapons both blunt and sharp; tactless, brute, and unforgivingly effective. His special abilities include one that projects a wave of energy to damage surrounding enemies, as well as one that buffs attacks and covers the barbarian in flaming runes.
The Sorceress takes a more tactical approach to combat, choosing to attack foes from afar using projectiles including fireballs, ice arrows, and a honing bolt of lightning. And as we learned in a dev update, the Sorceress class has a unique Enchantment system that lets you "enchant" skills, thereby making them additional, passive moves. For example, you can use Meteor as a normal, active skill, or you can slot it as an Enchantment, which would call firey space debris down from the sky and onto your enemies periodically.
A return to the series from Diablo 2, the Druid class is back with a new design and magic skills. In place of fire magic, storm and earth magic power the Druid's attacks. Shape-shifting magic transforms the Druid between human, werewolf, and werebear, which will likely be central to most Druid builds.
Diablo fans of a certain age will remember the Rogue class from Diablo 1, but it sounds like Diablo 4's Rogue is a whole new beast. The Rogue in Diablo 4 is a versatile class that serves as a sort-of hybrid of the original Rogue's long-range skillset and the cloak-and-dagger melee of Assassins from Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction. You can check out the Diablo 4 Rogue trailer here.
Finally, the Necromancer sounds like a good mix of old and new. Yes, you'll still be raising the dead to do the dirty work for you, but there are some changes to how that works. For example, in a comprehensive dev update (opens in new tab) Blizzard explained how the new 'Book of the Dead' feature will allow you to customize your undead army in all new ways.
Lilith is coming back as a main antagonist in Diablo 4
The Daughter of Hatred has been confirmed as, presumably, Diablo 4's number one big baddie. Lilith is an extremely challenging demon we last saw in Diablo 2's Pandemonium event and is known as the 'Mother of Misery,' 'Queen of the Succubi,' 'Mother of Deceit,' and 'Mistress of Betrayal.'
It sounds like Lilith has graduated from an uber boss in Diablo 2 to one of Diablo 4's primary antagonists, at least judging from the reveal trailer. This is far and away the best look we've had at Lilith, with a properly animated cinematic, backstory, and lore. The design is dramatically different from what we saw way back in Diablo 2, this time with far fewer limbs (at least from what we can see).
Diablo 4 locations are about "believability, not realism"
Blizzard has revealed (opens in new tab) that Diablo 4 will have "five distinct regions and hundreds of dungeons." Art director Chris Ryder added that "weather and lighting play a more prominent visual role" than in previous Diablo 4 games, but also that the team are going "for believability, not realism."
Some of the areas that got a name check were Scosglen Coast, - home to forests and werewolves - the Orbei Monastery in the Dry Steppes, and Kyovoshad, an oppressive, medieval-style settlement.
Blizzard is also making sure that players' demand for dungeons to conquer will be met with smart development techniques.
"In order to support over 150+ dungeons, we’ve had to shift the way we make environment art so that it's flexible enough to be used in multiple locations and not just in a single dungeon," associate art director Brian Fletcher explains. Diablo 4 uses dynamic dungeon "tile-sets" that can be rearranged to create a broader range of environments, meaning Diablo 4 should feel less same-y as you grind your characters to infinity."
Diablo 4 exists in an always-online shared world
Diablo 4 seems to be embracing its MMO side, as the new entry will demand a constant internet connection for players to play together in a shared world. Dungeons are instanced, meaning you won't find randoms during raids with your party, nor will key story moments be interrupted by other players. But you will come across folks roaming around towns and participating in world events.
Details are vague, but Blizzard says they're working on a way to create a shared world with random player encounters without compromising the studio's goal of bringing a darker atmosphere to the game more akin to Diablo 2.
Diablo 4 isn't a full-blown MMO
In a Diablo 4 dev update, game director Luis Barriga took the time to clarify that Blizzard's sequel definitely isn't an MMORPG, despite some similar features. "Our goal has always been to incorporate elements from shared world games without the game ever feeling like it’s veering into massively multiplayer territory," Barriga explained.
"To be clear, this is a philosophy rather than a tech limitation. We find that the game stops feeling like Diablo and the world feels less dangerous when you see other players too often or in too high numbers," he continued.
Despite technically existing in a shared world, all dungeons and key story beats are experienced privately between you and your party - no interruptions from randoms. However, you will find other players roaming around in towns when there isn't a story moment happening, and you'll probably want to coordinate with others during large world events.
Diablo 4 PvP
Fans of old-school RPGs, including the first two Diablo games as well as MMOs like World of Warcraft and Ultima Online, will appreciate that Blizzard has confirmed PvP for Diablo 4. The feature was sadly missing when Diablo 3 released seven years ago, and it was never properly introduced. We should also point out that those who'd prefer their only enemies to be NPCs have the option not to partake in PvP at all.
Speaking at BlizzCon 2021, confirmed that there will be PvP zones, called Fields of Hatred, that players can choose to enter, and whether or not they do has no bearing on the main quest or story. That said, you'll be rewarded for entering the PvP zone with Hatred Shards, a special currency you can collect by killing monsters, completing events, opening chests, and yes, killing other players.
Entering PvP zones is a high-risk, high-reward activity, as in order to use Hatred Shards you'll need to purify them first, and doing so makes you a prime target for other PvPers. But if you manage to escape with a few purified Hatred Shards, you can spend them at special vendors for costumes, weapons, and mounts.
So, PvP in Diablo 4 is an optional, yet rewarding trade, and Fields of Hatred aren't exclusively about PvP. There are PvP events and bosses to take down too, you just need to watch your back for other players. Or, if you're of the type that other players need to watch out for, you might end up with a mighty bounty on your back. Diablo 4 has a system in place called Vessel of Hatred, which puts a target on the head of the most bloody PKer in the Fields of Hatred and pays handsomely to the player who ends their reign of terror.
Remember how I mentioned the high-risk, high-reward nature of the Fields of Hatred? Well, it's not so high-risk that you lose all your loot when you die. Dying in PvP zones just means you lose any Hatred Shards that hadn't been purified, which could be pretty devastating depending on how many you'd collected. And, much to my delight, downed players will lose an ear for their killer to collect. It doesn't do anything, it's just a trophy for the winner and a catalyst for revenge for the dead player.
Diablo 4 will have microtransactions
Lead game designer Joe Shely seemed to confirm the presence of microtransactions in Diablo 4, speaking to Twitch streamer Quin69 at BlizzCon 2019 (via PCGamesN (opens in new tab)).
Asked by the streamer about microtransactions, Shely said, "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." The streamer then asks, "so, MTX? Is that going to be through some sort of shop?" Shely responds vaguely with, "It's very early … but yes."
So it sounds like cosmetic microtransactions will be a feature in Diablo 4, but hopefully Blizzard is wise enough to refrain from adding microtransactions that benefit the player in gameplay situations, as we've seen before that pay-to-win mechanics can often spell doom for even the most mainstream games.
Diablo 4's character creator offers "more in-depth customization than any previous Diablo"
Blizzard's latest quarterly update explains how Diablo 4's character creator is far more in-depth than other games in the series. It's not a high bar to clear, of course. The only thing you can decide when creating a character in current Diablo games is gender, but that's all about to change in Diablo 4, which will let you customize your character's skin, hair, eyes, fur, metal, and apparently, even the rivulets of perspiration on the skin.
"We built a robust character customization system that is entirely new to Diablo and it was a daunting amount of technical character work," explained art director John Mueller. "These solutions had to work not just for a single character, but for hundreds of componentized armor sets, different body types, dozens of unique personas, and completely unique art for five distinct classes (to start)."
Diablo 4 will have Elective Mode
Just like Diablo 3, Diablo 4 won't lock certain skill categories to any buttons or keys. Elective Mode allows you to assign skills to keys however you fancy, which wasn't made clear at the BlizzCon reveal.
"Like many other things in the demo, the UI is not final and we will support Elective Mode-style skill selection. Skill selection and assignment will always be completely open for all players," writes lead systems designer David Kim in a community update.
Diablo 4 won't have Ancient items
Blizzard confirmed in a developer update that Diablo 4 won't feature Ancient items, which they is due to community feedback regarding the topic. Instead, Blizzard is introducing a new consumable that can only be found on monsters in the late endgame. The currently-unnamed consumable will feature one random Legendary affix, which can then be applied to a non-legendary item of your choosing.
Diablo 4 items include Uniques and Legendaries
December 2020's Diablo 4 dev update was a deep dive into loot, detailing the different weapon types and item Affixes you'll use to fine-tune your gear setup. Firstly, remember Mythic items? Well, it's time to unremember them, because Blizzard is replacing them with Uniques, which are distinctive-looking items with static Affixes and mostly class-specific effects.
Legendaries are also getting a big overhaul, thanks to new randomly rolling Legendary effects that can be applied to multiple armor slots. Legendary items come with four regular Affixes and one Legendary effect, and some are class-specific while others can be used by all classes.
Blizzard is also planning to make individual Affixes on Magic items more powerful than on any other item and increase the max number of Affixes on Rare items to five. The goal here is to ensure that Legendaries aren't the only drops worth your time if you're at or near max level.
Finally, different weapons in the same class will have unique speeds and characteristics. For example, wands will be faster but less deadly than quarterstaves, and swords and maces should feel distinct from one another as well.
Diablo 4's skill tree is separated into active and passive skills
Diablo 4's very tree-like skill tree is divided into passive and active skills, a development tweak Blizzard says came in response to feedback from fans that the skill system lacked depth. Now, your passive skills can be unlocked from the literal roots of the skill tree, while active skills are contained in the branches.
Then there's a whole separate system of "upgrade nodes" placed along the skill tree, unlocking new functionality for active skills and powering up existing skills. The square nodes unlock new skills and the circular ones upgrade skills you've already unlocked. Blizzard says there's a cap on how many nodes you can unlock at once, with the goal being for players to have 30-40% of nodes unlocked at the end game so that "players can have very distinct, and different ways they build out their character."
Diablo 4 crossplay
We know Diablo 4 will release on a variety of platforms (including PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X), but we don't yet know whether players across each of them will be able to play together. That's always the hope, but it's anything but confirmed at this point.
Thankfully, Diablo 4 executive producer Allen Adham is hopeful about making cross-platform play happen. Speaking with The Telegraph (opens in new tab) at BlizzCon 2019, Adham said there were technical hurdles to get over, but that "it's our goal to get to cross-play.”
Diablo 4 local co-op is a "focus" at Blizzard
Blizzard is listening to feedback from the Diablo community and implementing changes to improve player experience with Diablo 4. Likewise, the company says improving the local multiplayer experience is something they're working on, specifically in regards to UI.
"For Diablo IV, we decided to focus on improving the favored 2-player co-op experience and set up our core progression UI screens such that they can be opened independently or at the same time."
Diablo 4 will have controller support for PC
While there are workarounds to play Diablo 3 with a controller on PC, it's not an official feature implemented by Blizzard. That's all changing with Diablo 4, as Blizzard has confirmed native gamepad support on PC.
According to a dev update (opens in new tab) from February 2020, the decision to add controller support for PC was the impetus behind developing Diablo 4 for PC and consoles simultaneously. "We wanted to give players the ability to switch between the two options freely, so our UI needed to be unified enough that swapping hardware inputs on the fly wouldn’t throw people completely off kilter. A unified UI means our layouts are more grid-based for ease of navigation, but it doesn’t necessarily mean an identical interaction flow."
Diablo 4 will let you rebind the left-click button
Blizzard says a common request from fans is the ability to the primary skill to a button that isn't left-click, and so it's been confirmed that Diablo 4 will feature left click rebinding. Further, all skill slots will be able to have their keys rebound.
That should please players who prefer not to use the same button to move their character and use their primary skill to attack. Personally, it's become so second-nature to demolish my left-click button hacking through dungeons that I couldn't imagine it any other way, but it's good to hear Blizzard is doing their best to accommodate all playing styles.
Diablo 4 has cannibal monsters
As you might've learned already, Diablo 4 is grouping its monsters into various families. Blizzard revealed a new monster family in February, and I can't wait to dig my dagger into as many of the foul bastards as possible. Just look at 'em - truly wretched, they are.
Blizzard says there are two standard melee fighters in the Cannibal family, one equipped with a two-handed greatsword cleaver and another with a lightweight halberd. Then there's the bruiser, which uses a spiked club in each hand to damage and stun players. Finally, swarmers dual-wield axes and take advantage of the bruiser's stun to catch you off guard and subsequently feast on your innards.
Diablo 4 will probably have "many" returning and redesigned characters
A page from the recently-released artbook, 'The Art of Diablo,' was leaked by Twitter user WeakAuras (opens in new tab) and included a quote from Diablo 4 art director John Mueller that confirmed "many" characters from previous Diablo games will be returning for Diablo 4. According to the passage, the returning characters will at least appear fundamentally different this time around. The leak includes a quote from Mueller that explains how the creative team plans on bringing back characters from past Diablo games.
"I've always really liked that about any kind of IP: letting really talented artists get a hold of things and letting them do their version of it. We're doing that with a lot of characters in the new game."
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