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Diablo 4 is official - everything you need to know

Diablo 4
(Image credit: Blizzard)

It’s been over seven years since the initial release of Diablo 3, so obviously we're champing at the bit to start another monstrous loot hunt in Diablo 4.

After months of rumors, the title has been officially confirmed by Blizzard at Blizzcon 2019 - and we now know that Diablo 4 is an isometric action RPG which sees the return of Lilith, the daughter of Mephisto.

It will feature an open world map with five regions, day/night cycles and a non-linear campaign. You'll smash and loot your way through this world with one of five customizable classes, three of which are already announced. 

Finally, it's being designed in a brand-new engine for PS4, Xbox One and PC, with plans to simultaneously release it on all platforms.

Want to know more? Here’s everything to know so far about the long-awaited Diablo 4.

[UPDATE: Diablo 4 will have new stats and no Ancient Legendaries. Read on to find out more.]

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The next instalation in the veteran action-role playing dungeon crawling series, Diablo.
  • When can I play it? We're not entirely sure, but 'not soon' is what Blizzard says.
  • What can I play it on? Xbox One, PS4 and P.

Diablo 4 trailers

Post BlizzCon 2019, GameInformer brought us plenty of gameplay from Diablo 4 to pore over. Familiar in the best possible way, this footage showcases Diablo 4's return to an intensely Gothic game world and that addictive gameplay loop that's made it so famous. 

Given the game's release is some time away (years, in fact) it's possible that everything in this footage could change. But it's exciting to get a glimpse of the direction in which the game's development is going. 

Below you can watch videos of the the game's three classes in action: Barbarian, Sorceress and then Druid. All in all it's about an hour of gameplay which is quite something. Given the game is still a while off yet, maybe ration it. 

Diablo 4 was officially announced at Blizzcon 2019 where we got the chance to see both the announcement story cinematic, and the first gameplay trailer. 

Check both trailers out below:

Diablo 4 release date

Bad news here: Diablo 4 probably won't be released anytime soon. At a Blizzcon deep dive on the game, the game's director said that he doesn't expect the game to be finished anytime soon, "even by Blizzard's standards of soon."

That said, the fact that the team is developing the game for PS4 and Xbox One heavily implies that the game will be released within the next two to three years - as the lifespan of those consoles will be coming to an abrupt end after the launch of new consoles in late 2020. 

Diablo 4 news, previous leaks and features

No more Ancient Legendaries

Lead systems designer, David Kim, has written an update for fans with regards to Diablo 4's systems. The update reveals that the game won't have Ancient Legendaries and highlights there will be some new stats. 

In order to make Diablo 4's itemisation "deep and rewarding", Kim writes, Ancient Legendaries will be removed and replaced with a new consumable which will make it possible to apply a Legendary affix to a non-Legendary item. 

Affixes on items generally will increase which is expected to raise the importance of non-Legendary affixes with regards to overall power. However, three new stats—Angelic Power, Demonic Power and Ancestral Power—will also appear as new affixes.

As a result, according to Kim, "Legendary powers should no longer completely dwarf the strength of your affixes, and the affixes themselves provide more interesting choices because their strength depends on how much of the relevant Powers you’ve accumulated on the rest of your gear. You might find an amulet with the perfect stats for your build, but some of its Affixes may require Demonic Power when you’ve previously focused on Ancestral. Maybe your current amulet is the primary source of your Ancestral Power, so equipping a new amulet would mean potentially making sacrifices elsewhere.

With this system, it will be easy to identify items with good stats, but it will take some thought and planning to decide whether the item is good for your build."

The team is also streamlining Attack and Defense. Now, attack will only be found on weapons, defence will only be found on armor, and jewellery won't have an impact on either.

Big ambitions

In an interview with AusGamers Diablo 4's Game Director Luis Barriga and Art Director John Mueller have given an insight into the big ambitions the team has for Diablo 4 and its expansions. 

We already know that Lilith will be the main villain for the game, rather than Diablo, but Mueller has suggested that there will eventually more to tell than this, with more characters and stories that could be told in expansions: “Diablo IV is like the first chapter of a book. We want to tell a big story and we want to tell it, hopefully, for a very long time. Treating this like the first chapter of a book and Lilith as a key character in this story, it feels great knowing that there are still all these other characters that could come back in the future. Or, new characters that we haven’t seen before.”

The pair also touch on just how big the world of Sanctuary is going to be:

“There’s going to be five contiguous regions in the world and you can actually go from the North, the Northern most point of Scosglen, which is the area seen in the demo, all the way down through the Dry Steppes and into the deserts of Kejhistan. And you'll never see a loading screen. It's completely seamless. That's the level of detail we've added into creating the world.”

Quarterly updates

In a blog post post-BlizzCon, Diablo 4's game director Luis Barriba has said that fans can expect a "cool update" on the game's progress come February 2020. This update will be the "first in a series of quarterly updates" which will come across the year. 

Baribba also addresses the discussions that have been happening around how Diablo 4 will approach items and stats in the community with a promise that it's being carefully considered and clarifications are coming. 

"We also know that one topic is burning hotter than the rest. We want you to know that we are having the same conversations about items and stats that you are having—whether on the official discussion threads or external sites, we read it all! Getting this right is at the top of our minds, and in the coming weeks our lead systems designer David Kim will provide a few clarifications, share some of his thoughts, and address some of your open questions."

Montetization

During a conversation at BlizzCon 2019, Twitch streamer Quin69 (via PCGamesN) had a conversation with Diablo 4's lead designer Joe Shely during which it was said that the game will likely have microtransactions but that they'll be cosmetic in nature (so no selling Power) and that there'll also be expansions on top of the base game:

“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.”

Shely added that it's still early days for the game so naturally things could change as development progresses.

Blizzcon 2019 unveiling
Diablo 4 was officially confirmed at Blizzcon 2019 on November 1, where it was revealed the game would focus on Lilith - the daughter of Mephisto.

Like its predecessors, the game is an isometric, action RPG and will have PVP zones in the overworld - with the first three classes being barbarian, sorceress and druid. It's also being developed for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

Story and setting
For those who haven't been following along in the in-game events, Diablo 4 will be set after Diablo 3 Reaper of Souls. At this point, the gates of heaven have been closed after Malthael, the Angel of Death, destroyed much of Sanctuary.

It's through Heaven's ignorance of the events transpiring in Sanctuary that Lilith, the daughter of Mephisto and canonical mother of humanity, is set lose from her prison. 

What we know about the overworld right now is that it's all open, with five unique regions and both a day/night cycle and ever-changing weather. Missions are non-linear and according to the game's director, you're free to take them on however you'd like.

Always online
Other players will appear in your game for shared events, meaning you will have to always be online to play. This isn't an feature you can turn off but you can choose not to group up with others. We don't know the exact details about how this will work.

Skill changes and talent trees
According to Eurogamer, the rune system is gone, instead replaced by a system that sees you spending points on skills to improve them - with some gainer new effects at higher levels.

In addition, each class has a talent tree that allows players to customize their build. You can also enhance equipment and weapons through a new Rune Word socketing system.

Dungeons and loot
Like previous entries, you're going to spend a lot of time in dungeons - all of which will be randomly generated in a similar way to Diablo 3. According to the game's director, there will be 'hundreds of dungeons' in the game to explore 'in which you'll find hundreds of legendary items to equip'.

Abilities
Each class has five abilities including Evade and an Ultimate attack.

Which classes are available?
At launch, Diablo 4 will feature five classes - three of which we already know about. The Barbarian, a series staple will return in Diablo 4 and will be available to wield both double- and single-handed weapons in a single build, and will have four weapon slots. 

The Sorceress, another returning favorite, will have AOE attacks that control the battlefield and will be able to turn into a ball of energy to incinerate enemies, while the Druid has both animal companion NPCs and the ability to shapeshift.   

Diablo 4

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

The Art of Diablo may have revealed Diablo 4 - confirmed
German magazine Game Star found a listing for a glossy new book called The Art of Diablo. Taking a behind-the-scenes look at the art of the franchise, it's set to contain “more than 500 artworks from Diablo 1, Diablo 2, Diablo 3 and Diablo 4.” Yep, Diablo 4, being mentioned in relation to a book officially associated with the developer Blizzard. Though the book is a little way off from release yet, the mention (likely unintentional) all but confirmed that Diablo 4 was on the way.

New hires - confirmed
Tongues started wagging after nine job listings for an "unannounced project" in the Diablo franchise were spotted on the Blizzard Entertainment careers page. The company was looking for key roles, including lead character and concept artists, software engineers, a lead narrative designer and an executive producer.

While it's not certain that the listings were for Diablo 4, the game has since been announced.

More development focus
Reports have stated that Blizzard is no longer working on a StarCraft shooter and has decided to shift development focus over to Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2. This is good news for those waiting with bated breath for Diablo 4 updates as it shows Blizzard is entirely focused on the game. With a larger team behind it could we see more updates soon? Given Blizzard didn't attend Gamescom 2019, it could still be some time.

Blizzard wasn't at Gamescom 2019
We knew Blizzard wouldn't be attending Gamescom 2019 as, in a news post from Blizzard Entertainment, the developer confirmed that it wouldn't be attending. But why?

"As part of a renewed effort this year to maintain our focus on development, for our current games and our future projects, we won’t have a booth at Gamescom 2019," the post reads. "The show is an important one for the European and global gaming community, and we’re going to miss meeting players in Cologne this year. 

"We’re also looking forward to sharing more details about the projects we’re currently working on when the time is right."

Diablo Hades and / or Diablo Fenris

Game development is often iterative. Diablo 3 was in the works for many years and prototyped in many different ways before becoming the game we know today – and even then, it’s changed dramatically since its (somewhat shaky) initial launch.

Diablo 4 will likely be no different, and an incredibly interesting report from Kotaku back in 2018 pointed to multiple iterations of Diablo being in the works at Blizzard – one that has now ceased experimentation and has been shelved, the other what is reportedly now the foundation of Diablo 4. 

Note that these rumors come from sources we’ve not been able to independently verify, but, working alongside the Kotaku UK team and being able to vouch for their integrity, we’d say there’s legitimate information here that could point to the direction that Diablo 4 is headed towards.

Diablo 4

Diablo 3, modified to play from an 'over-the-shoulder' perspective. (Image Credit: Mr Monstrosity / Diablo Fans)

Hades (or ‘Diablo as Dark Souls’

The first of these projects was codenamed ‘Hades’. Sources speaking to Kotaku described a game not dissimilar in approach to Dark Souls – an over the shoulder, hardcore dungeon crawler. Work on Hades spanned 2014-2016 reportedly, and included top Blizzard talent including Diablo 3 director Josh Mosquiera. Given the popularity of Dark Souls, broadly similar RPG mechanics and the shared gothic aesthetic of the two, this would have been an interesting and fresh direction for the series to take. However, sources state that the game just wasn’t gelling, with the team eventually going on to make the excellent Rise of the Necromancer DLC for Diablo 3.

Fenris (a return to Diablo 2’s darkness)

The second (and reportedly ongoing) effort to make Diablo 4 was codenamed ‘Fenris’, and was worked on by the same team that canned Hades. It would be a more traditional isometric Diablo title, and would see the caricature, colorful aesthetic of Diablo 3 ditched in favor of a darker, grimier, more horrifying look that bring the creepy dread of the first two Diablo games up to date.

"There’s a lot of people who felt like Diablo 3 got away from what made Diablo Diablo in terms of art style and spell effects," one unnamed Blizzard employee told Kotaku. "They want to make [Fenris] gross, make it dark, [get rid of] anything that was considered cartoony in Diablo 3… Make what people were afraid of in Diablo 2, but modern." 

Fenris is also discussed in highly social terms, taking cues from the likes of World of Warcraft and Destiny. While it wouldn’t be an MMO, it could well be a ‘live game’, with social areas that players can meet in before heading out into instanced dungeon raids.

Could it be that the Diablo franchise is about to experience a schism? One that sees the more approachable stylings of the Diablo 3 era be carried as the mobile Diablo Immortal experience, freely monetizable away from the ire of the hardcore Diablo fan, while Diablo 4 goes back to the horror-infused roots of the earlier games in the series, as being worked on with the Fenris project? It’s a reasonable idea.

Whatever happens, we’ll have all the most up to date information on Diablo 4 here. So keep checking back as we delve deeper into the growing darkness at the heart of Sanctuary.