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Rumor: Diablo 4 was a Dark Souls-like action game before it was rebooted

BlizzCon rumors of a cancelled Diablo 4 announcement, coupled with the poorly received Diablo Immortal reveal, reignited discussions about where the series is headed. Well, according to a new report from Kotaku, the next Diablo game was at one point headed in the direction of Dark Souls.

According to anonymous current and former employees, development on Diablo 4 started in 2014 under the code-name Hades. Rather than a refinement of Diablo 3's top-down action formula, Hades would supposedly feature challenging, third-person, over-the-shoulder combat. Not only that, it would blend Diablo's hellish motifs with gothic themes to craft haunting new dungeons to crawl. Hades would be so different from previous Diablo games, in fact, that Blizzard was reportedly unsure if it would even be called a Diablo game. 

Kotaku reports that Hades was developed alongside minor Diablo 3 content from 2014 through 2016, when the project was cancelled. Reaper of Souls director Josh Mosqueira was reportedly director on Hades, but he left Blizzard in 2016. It's unclear if Mosqueira's departure was caused by, the cause of, or unrelated to Hades' cancellation, but according to one anonymous source, the project was shelved because it "was not shaping up at all." 

After Hades' cancellation, the Diablo team was reportedly split yet again, with many members moving onto another new project code-named Fenris. According to several sources, Fenris is the current build of Diablo 4 - and while it's said to be a much more conventional sequel compared to Hades, it may yet take Diablo in new directions. Its tone and art are reportedly darker than Diablo 3 and closer to the style of Diablo 2, and one anonymous source said it will add "light MMO elements" to the series' formula. However, Diablo 4 is reportedly still very early in development, hence the lack of an official announcement. 

Whatever form it finally takes, Diablo 4 is undoubtedly a ways off. The question is, what do you want from it? 

By the way, you can read Kotaku's full report here. It's long, thorough, and very good. 

What else is Blizzard up to? You can catch up on all the BlizzCon 2018 announcements here.  

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a staff writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature.