Diablo 4 has officially been announced, and thanks to a series of recent reveals, we have a decent idea as to what we should expect. This is obviously big news, given how beloved Diablo is as an RPG series. Time will tell whether this new installment can fill the rather big shoes left by its predecessors.
It’s been over 10 years since Diablo 3 launched, meaning that the gaming space has changed a fair bit since then. As such, Diablo 4 looks to be a completely different beast, incorporating elements of live-service, and taking a more seasonal structure. This means a Season Pass, with tiers and plenty of gear to get through.
It also seems to be much larger in scope, at least it certainly looks more open than other games in the series. You’ll travel between hubs, set in five distinct open-world regions. There’s still a lot of time to wait out before Diablo 4 eventually launches, and we’re sure to hear more in the run-up, but for now, you’ll find everything you need to know right here. From details on classes, to interviews that shine a light on the structure of the story, read on to learn more about Diablo 4.
Diablo 4: Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next installment in the beloved RPG series
- When can I play it? 2023 (exact date TBC)
- What can I play it on? Xbox One, PS4, PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S
Diablo 4: Release date and platforms
During the Xbox and Bethesda Showcase in 2022, Blizzard confirmed Diablo 4 will launch in 2023 on PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Since its announcement in 2019, Blizzard had been coy on providing a release window. At a Blizzcon 2019 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.”
Fast-forward to the end of 2021, we then learned about an indefinite delay. During Activision Blizzard’s Q3 earnings call (opens in new tab) in November 2021, it made the following statement: “While we are still planning to deliver a substantial amount of content from Blizzard next year, we are now planning for a later launch for Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV than originally envisaged”.
So, while we don’t know when exactly Diablo 4 will launch in 2023, at least we now have a release window in sight.
Diablo 4: Trailers
Xbox and Bethesda Showcase 2022
The latest glimpse at Diablo 4 came during the Xbox and Bethesda Showcase in 2022. Not only did we get release date news, Blizzard also revealed Diablo 4’s final class, the Necromancer. You can see this cinematic trailer below:
Diablo 4 gameplay
Accompanying this, we also got Diablo 4 gameplay footage during the Xbox and Bethesda showcase. Watching this new character casting blood and bone spells, the Necromancer can also summon undead minions to assist in the fight. Lasting for about 5 minutes, check out this new footage here:
Otherwise, the last time we got a look at Diablo 4 was during BlizzCon 2021, which is where Blizzard unveiled the game’s fourth character class: the Rogue. In her very own trailer, the Rogue is shown to be fast and deadly in some brief gameplay clips accompanied by an overarching cinematic.
Post BlizzCon 2019, GameInformer (opens in new tab) 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 (maybe years) 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.
As for the very start, Diablo 4 was officially announced at Blizzcon 2019. We got the chance to see both the announcement story cinematic and the first gameplay trailer.
Check both trailers out below:
Diablo 4: 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.
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. With Lilith acting as the main villain, rather than Diablo, 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.”
We also know Diablo 4 is moving away from the conversation panes of Diablo 3. Instead, it’s using a mixture of tool-generated and choreographed camera angles, which should improve both simple and complex NPC interactions. Diablo 4 also makes use of real-time cutscenes for some of the game’s more important narrative moments, alongside a more seamless transition back to player-controlled gameplay.
Diablo 4: gameplay
Diablo 4 takes an open-world approach, where players travel between hubs. There’s five unique regions with a day/night cycle and ever-changing weather. Missions are non-linear and you’re free to take them on however you’d like. Players can join each other at any time in the same world. Better still, Blizzard (opens in new tab) confirmed Diablo 4 features cross-play and cross-platform progression, requiring a Battle.net account.
We had an interview with Diablo 4’s art director John Mueller and lead designer Joe Shely at BlizzCon 2021. This provided the chance to find out more about the series’ shift to an open world and how it’s going to work, especially with “each of its five regions being up to 10 times bigger than any of those in Diablo 3.”
A key Diablo 4 element is how it won’t follow a standard path of linear Act progression. “There’s an entry point in the game, then there’s a point when things diverge and you have a lot of options about which way you can go”, Mueller explained. “For the first part of the game there’s a path in, then a lot of options about where you can go from there. At a much later point it converges back together for the final act”.
There’s a Camp system which sees players find camps in the open world populated by different kinds of enemies. Mueller stresses that “every camp that the designers have done has been unique – there’s always cool little scriptures, lore bits, that kind of stuff”. Defeating the enemies in these camps frees residents of Sanctuary with knock-on effects that show off this reactive world. There’s also mounts, which help players move around the open world quickly.
Like previous entries, you’ll 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’.
During BlizzCon 2021, we also received a deep-dive into some of Diablo 4’s PvP elements. PvP is accessible in the Fields of Hatred, areas integrated seamlessly into the main game’s open world with a mix of PvE and PvP gameplay, and it’s optional. Upon entering these areas, there’s . While you can kill one another, players have monsters to contend with too, and it’s possible to team up.
The aim of the Fields of Hatred is to gather shards of hatred. These can be earned through killing other players or monsters to less violent acts. These shards can be lost if you die, you’ll have to take them to an altar to purify them, locking them in. Shards of Hatred are currency once purified, spendable at special vendors, so there is an incentive to collect them. Getting them is a high-risk, high-reward process.
Players who really just are out for blood can make use of a new mechanic called the Vessel of Hatred, where hostile players become marked on the map for other players. This means players can either stay away from you or form an alliance to bring you down. Vessels of Hatred are likely to be attractive targets as they’re going to be in possession of plenty of shards of hatred.
When Diablo launches, it’ll be a live service game with a seasonal structure. In the same August quarterly update on the Diablo blog, Joe Piepiora, the associate game director for game systems and live service, said that each new season will have live events, “a fresh new gameplay feature and questline that introduces new challenges, mysteries, and possibilities into the level-up experience.”
Diablo 4 classes
As for character classes, Diablo 4 has five at launch. The Barbarian returns and can wield both double and single-handed weapons, packing four weapon slots. The Sorceress has AOE attacks that control the battlefield, turning into a ball of energy to incinerate enemies. The Druid has both animal companion NPCs and the ability to shapeshift. The Rogue allows for both melee and ranged builds, while the Necromancer can raise skeletal allies to overpower enemies.
We also know Diablo 4 will make big changes to skills and talents. Within the skill tree, all the branches contain skills and skill upgrades, while the roots hold powerful passive effects. As you level up, you’ll earn skill points that can be spent in the upper ‘Skills’ section of the tree. This unlocks new skills and additional functionality for them, alongside unlocking Passive Points on the lower Passive section.
As part of Diablo 4’s character customization, Blizzard has confirmed that there will be an in-game shop in which you can buy cosmetics. In an August 2022 quarterly update (opens in new tab), director of product for Diablo 4, Kegan Clark, explained how the game’s in-game shop is going to work. Clark emphasized in the post that “if players choose to buy something, it should be because they want to, not because they feel like they have to” and that it should be “clear to players exactly what they are getting before they choose to buy, with no unpleasant surprises.”
For that reason, the in-game shop will sell only cosmetic items which “give players even more options to customize the visual appearance of their characters.” Clark added that “nothing offered in the Shop grants a direct or indirect gameplay advantage.”
Diablo 4 Season Pass and tiers
A seasonal structure also means a Season Pass. While Seasons will “add all-new gameplay, quests, challenges, meta changes, and quality-of-life improvements”, the Season Pass will reward dedicated play with rewards. The Season Pass will have a single track of rewards, with Free Tiers that can be unlocked simply by playing the game. These Free Tiers will, Blizzard explained, “provide gameplay boosts to all players—things which make the journey of leveling up a fresh seasonal character faster and more streamlined.”
There will also be optional paid Premium Tiers. The rewards for the Premium Tiers “are focused on aesthetics” and while they’ll give no in-game power or advantage over other players, they’ll aim to provide “a huge value in the form of cosmetics and Premium Currency”. Premium Currency in Diablo 4 will be useable in the in-game shop for further cosmetics.
Season Journeys will also make a return from Diablo 3. These challenging journeys will encourage players to “explore Sanctuary anew” and they’ll earn “limited-time rewards with each chapter of the Season Journey that is completed.” Season Journeys will be free for all players and completing their objectives will also contribute towards progress in the Season Pass.
As part of its live service model, Blizzard said it will “always be evaluating the state of the game”, listening to player feedback, assessing balances and adding “new legendary and unique items, paragon boards, glyphs, and more that will continually refresh the meta and create new build opportunities.”
Diablo 4 beta
Blizzard has quietly opened pre-registration for Diablo 4’s beta test, although we don’t know when it will actually start. You can get to the pre-registration for the Diablo 4 beta now, so you’ll be prepared whenever they do start handing out access.
Diablo 4: News and rumors
Leaked screenshots reveal a skippable campaign option
At the beginning of October, a Twitter user posted screenshots (opens in new tab) that appeared to be of Diablo 4. They have since been taken down, but the most interesting thing that could be gleaned from them is an option to skip Diablo 4’s campaign. It’s unclear as to whether this relates to multiple playthroughs, but if it does it could be a response to the backlash from Diablo 3 players who were unhappy about having to clear the campaign with each new character.
Further leaked gameplay footage appears online
Following on from previous leaks in August, a leak appeared via Reddit (opens in new tab) with 43 minutes of Diablo 4 beta gameplay footage. However, unlike the alpha footage from last month, this showed us direct gameplay. While this doesn’t showcase much that we weren’t already aware of, it’s clear from the footage that whoever leaked this footage isn’t the one playing the beta.
Leaks appear online
After an August report on Twitter (opens in new tab) from Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier said that an ‘early build’ of Diablo 4 was being used for a “friends-and-family alpha test”, leaks from the game have started cropping up online.
Quite a few of the leaks have been posted to Reddit, including a look at Diablo 4’s character creator and the range of customization options it will offer. The game’s Smart Loot system has also been detailed, something which has proven divisive in the fanbase since its introduction in Diablo 3, alongside a limited trading system which is also a source of debate.
This is, of course, an early build and features in alphas are subject to change – they are, after all, being tested – but it does seem likely that these features will remain in some form.
New director announced
Following the departure of Luis Barriga, Blizzard has announced (opens in new tab) that Diablo 4’s new director is Joe Shely. Shely is a long-time employee who’s worked on several World of Warcraft expansions and on Diablo 3. He’s not new to Diablo 4 either—he’s been working as a design lead on the game since development started.
Shely addressed fans in the October quarterly update, saying, “A lot has happened since our last blog and the hard work of practicing the values we aspire to must continue. In parallel with that important work, development of Diablo IV continues too.”
“Over the past few years,” Shely continues, “we’ve assembled a strong team with incredible passion for Diablo IV. You, Diablo’s fans, are a critical part of this team. With the help of your valuable feedback, we’ve steadily refined and deepened the game experience. We have ways to go, and while much has changed, our commitment to the game is unwavering.
Sanctuary should always be items glittering in dark dungeons. Tales of powerful heroes standing against the onslaught of hell. Lands where trials, treasure, and terrible monsters lie around every corner, equal parts familiar and boundless in its possibilities. Doing this world justice is a solemn responsibility.”
Diablo 4 director, Luis Barriga, and lead designer, Jesse McCree, are confirmed to no longer be working at Activision Blizzard. Activision Blizzard confirmed these departures in a statement to Kotaku which reads:
“We can confirm Luis Barriga, Jesse McCree, and Jonathan LeCraft are no longer with the company. We have a deep, talented roster of developers already in place and new leaders have been assigned where appropriate. We are confident in our ability to continue progress, deliver amazing experiences to our players, and move forward to ensure a safe, productive work environment for all.”
A reason for these departures hasn’t been given and it remains unclear whether the departures of two of Diablo 4’s most senior staff in conjunction with the ongoing litigation against Activision Blizzard will affect Diablo 4’s development at this time.
Grotesque new monsters
Blizzard is starting to grow more confident in its Diablo 4 development updates, and that showed tremendously with the showcasing of some in-engine monster designs. Rest assured, the beasts, demons and otherworldly creatures we’ll be fighting in Diablo 4 look intimidating and fittingly grotesque: everything you’d want from a Diablo game, really.
Diablo 4 art director John Mueller states that “[at] this point the work is a very good representation of what you will see when the game is in your hands.”
As such, we can begin to imagine (or perhaps we really can’t, depending on how many of these creatures’ looks will be beyond human comprehension) what manner of creatures we’ll be put up against in Diablo 4. And the best part is that the art direction looks to be taking inspiration from earlier games in the series, deviating from Diablo 3’s colorful, cleaner look.
Multiplayer won’t feel like an MMO
When it comes to multiplayer, the development team is trying to ensure that including shared open-world elements won’t make the game feel like an MMO. According to Barriga “the game stops feeling like Diablo and the world feels less dangerous when you see other players too often or in too high numbers.” To keep things under control, dungeons and key story moments will always just be players and their party. When towns become social hubs, however, and players are on the move there’s a chance they’ll run into strangers. Naturally, there’s an even greater chance of encountering other players in areas where world events are taking place.
Players will never be forced to join a party so those who prefer to go solo will still be able to head to an event and take part. Those who do want to team up, however, will “have new tools available to find a group, whether by activity or proximity in the game world.”
According to Barriga, even in these early stages, Diablo IV “is very fun to play”. In future updates, there will be more on how the game’s classes are developing as well as talent trees, items and music.
Rod Fergusson is overseeing the Diablo franchise
The Coalition studio head Rod Fergusson has announced he’s leaving the Gear of War developer to oversee the Diablo franchise at Blizzard Entertainment.
Fergusson officially made the announcement on Twitter, revealing that he will be joining Blizzard in March where he will, no doubt, join the team in developing the upcoming Diablo 4 and Diablo 4 Immortal.
Check his tweet out below:
Starting in March, I will join Blizzard to oversee the Diablo franchise. Leaving is bittersweet as I love our Gears family, the fans, and everyone at The Coalition and Xbox. Thank you, it has been an honor and a privilege to work with you all. pic.twitter.com/0FuO3RFYSQFebruary 5, 2020