On November 1, Diablo fans across the world watched in astonishment and wonder as Blizzard Entertainment unveiled Diablo IV with a deliciously dark and bloody cinematic trailer. Leaks ahead of the official announcement gave players a hint at what D4 might contain, but BlizzCon itself provided a plethora of information—an almost overwhelming landslide of facts and details.
Some fans may find themselves confused by the amount of knowledge presented at BlizzCon, while others who were unable or unwilling to catch the broadcast live may want to know all the most pertinent details without having to wade through all the fluff. To aid in this, Gaming Instincts has put together a list of fifteen things everyone should know about Diablo IV, whether a long-term fan of the franchise, or a novice looking to descend to Hell for the first time.
Before diving into the actual list, however, it is necessary to state that Diablo IV is still in very early development. The Blizzard team was circumspect and did not even want to speculate on a possible release date, saying only that it wouldn’t be soon, “not even Blizzard soon.” Any of the details revealed at BlizzCon and reiterated through this list are subject to change as development of D4 progresses.
That said, here are fifteen things everyone should know about Diablo IV.
1 – There will, indeed, be more than three classes at launch.
Some players have expressed confusion around the number of playable classes in Diablo IV. Three classes were available in the demo at BlizzCon: Barbarian, Sorcerer, and Druid. These are not the only classes that will appear at the launch of the game; rather, they are the only three classes the team has created so far. In fact, the development team doesn’t even know what other classes they will put into the game, but they do know that there will be five classes at launch, with more to come in expansions. During the Diablo BlizzCon panels, the team stated that they were looking for feedback both internally and from players to help them decide what the other two launch classes will be. So, invested fans should try to make themselves heard.
Here is a quick overview of the three classes that were available for play in the BlizzCon demo:
Barbarian: The D4 barbarian is much like his previous counterparts, channeling the spirits of his ancestors into devastating attacks that smite his foes with the power of the earth. New to Diablo IV, however, the barbarian will now be able to equip four weapons using the new Arsenal system: two one-handed weapons, and two two-handed weapons. This allows the barbarian to have more legendary items in his build at the same time than any other class.
Sorcerer: Again, the sorcerer in D4 is much like previous iterations of the class, and will have a mix of returning and new skills alike. For example, a player might transform into a moving ball of lightning with the ability to teleport across the map while frying enemies into crispy, crunchy, bite-sized demon snacks. Gamers who prefer ice and frost spells can enjoy a new chill mechanic, where repeated applications of frost magic will apply a stacking slow effect that eventually culminates into freezing the enemy completely.
Druid: Diablo II fans are certainly pleased to see the return of the druid, this time with a much smoother shapeshifting mechanic that the Blizzard team called “seamless shapeshifting.” What this means is a druid who is in werewolf form can use a bear form ability and will automatically change from werewolf to bear. Should the druid then choose to follow up that bear form ability with a nature spell, they will automatically shapeshift back into human form to use that spell.
2 – More customization than ever before.
Throughout the weekend, the Diablo IV team made it clear that the main theme of their path forward is player agency and player choice. To this end, Diablo IV will have a lot more customization options for players, from build and gameplay to changing the appearance of characters at creation.
In previous Diablo games, players chose their class and didn’t have much in the way of individuality. One barbarian looked like another, with the exception of differences in gear. In D4, however, gamers can change hair style and color, choose a skin tone, pick from different jewelry options, and have an assortment of tattoos and body paint for selection.
This theme of player choice and customization continues through every aspect of Diablo IV, including the gameplay itself. Talent trees, purchasable skill ranks, a non-linear campaign, and more offer fans an array of choices, allowing for any kind of playstyle a gamer could desire.
3 – A contiguous world.
For the first time in the series, Sanctuary will be a contiguous, seamless landmass. Players will traverse over five different, distinct regions, each with their own ecosystems and biomes. Examples given at BlizzCon were the burning deserts of Kejhistan, the verdant and misty werewolf-infested forests of Scosglen, and the harsh, rugged wilderness of the Dry Steppes.
No loading screens will interrupt player immersion in Diablo IV, and explorers can traverse on foot from one end of the map to another without stopping. Competitive players will love this feature, as it extends to transitioning from one floor to the next in dungeons as well as the outside world—there was nothing more frustrating in Diablo III than losing a few seconds on the timer to a level transition in a Greater Rift.
4 – Diablo IV introduces mounts to the series.
Demon horses. Fire horses. Dead horses that lack faces. These were three examples given by the development team at BlizzCon of mounts that will be available to players in D4. Along with the seamless, contiguous world, this is a first for the series, and the announcement of player mounts was met with much applause. Adding a cherry on top, these mounts will be highly customizable. Players can change their mount’s armor, saddle, color, and more.
As if getting to ride about on a decaying horse with no face and a skull impaled on a spike sticking out of its saddle isn’t enough, each class will have a dismount ability which they can use to enter combat. For example, the barbarian might leap off his horse and slam his weapons into the ground to create a shockwave that stuns and damages a large group of enemies. Mounts can even carry trophies to display one’s prowess to others, so everyone knows who the best player around is.
5 – That seamless, contiguous world is shared with other players.
Diablo IV’s open world is shared with other players using a unique mechanic that populates zones with a certain number of people depending on different factors. While in the overworld, adventurers will often find themselves alone or with only one or two other players outside of their own party in any given area. However, D4will feature world events such as special objectives, creature spawns, and even world bosses. When one of these world events is occurring, the zone it affects will be populated with more players to assist in completing the event.
These randomly spawning events also introduce world bosses to the Diablo franchise. At BlizzCon, the development team introduced the first of these world bosses, the gargantuan demon Ashava, whose armored and bladed arms rip and tear adventurers into ribbons of flesh and gobbets of gore.
A new mechanic called “Stagger” will take effect during these boss encounters, and consists of a “stagger meter” at the top of players’ screens, which will gradually fill as the boss takes damage. When the gauge is full, it will “stagger” the boss, causing some type of effect that will change the way the encounter behaves. In the case of Ashava, for example, filling the stagger meter once will cause one of its bladed arms to fall off, lessening the damage players take. A second fill of the stagger meter will remove the demon’s other arm.
6 – Online couch co-op.
Neither the PC nor console versions of Diablo IV will have an offline mode, making a connection to the internet a requirement for playing the game. In Diablo 3, PC gamers could only play online, while console players were able to enter an offline mode, where they could engage in couch co-op style play. However, playing online with others in the same house required multiple consoles. This will not be the case for D4, as the team stated at BlizzCon that the game will support online couch co-op play.
This news is sure to please console fans, as the need to purchase more than one machine for the same household can be cost-prohibitive. It also may evoke a little nostalgia in long-term fans of the franchise who enjoyed playing Diablo II in the same room with their friends at LAN parties.
7 – Gamers who prefer to play solo won’t be left behind.
While many people enjoy a social gaming experience, grouping with friends or finding strangers to turn into friends, there is also a large population of gamers who prefer to do things on their own. Some prefer to play at their own pace, others are simply trying to relax and bash a few demons after work, and then some gamers just don’t want to play with other people at all. Whatever their reason, soloists often feel left behind in games with content intended for large groups. This will not be the case in Diablo IV, despite the presence of world bosses and events that require a lot of people to conquer.
The Blizzard team spoke in clear terms: “Diablo IV will not lock content behind grouping. All the best items will be available to solo players.” On top of making sure soloists can access the best gear, Diablo IV will have private areas in addition to its shared world. Campaign areas and dungeons will both be private, available only to the player and their group. The entire game can be played solo, so there is no reason for concern that grouping up will ever be a requirement for progression.
8 – Dungeons, dungeons, and more dungeons.
No Diablo game would be complete without dungeons or end-game content, and D4gives both to fans at the same time. The BlizzCon team told attendees that Sanctuary will be full of dungeons, “hundreds” of them in fact, including exterior dungeon zones. The core philosophy behind dungeons in Diablo IV is that they should be dark, dangerous, unpredictable places, where shadows fill the corners and anything could be lurking just beyond their abyssal veil. This, as well as other core art designs such as more blood, grit, and gore, hearken back to Diablo II and a return to the franchise’s roots as a gothic-horror style ARPG inspired more by the occult than fantasy.
Dungeons in Diablo IV each have an objective unique to them. As players take steps to complete these dungeon objectives, their actions are noticed by the dungeon’s denizens, and they will begin to respond to those actions in varied ways, such as sending stronger enemies to seek players out. This can even happen during boss encounters, creating an ever-increasing sense of danger as gamers progress through the dungeon. In addition, all dungeons will be randomly generated when players enter, so no dungeon run will be like another.
At max level and in the end game, monsters throughout the world will start to drop dungeon keys which can then be used to change a normal dungeon into an end-game dungeon. Much like Mythic+ dungeon keys in World of Warcraft, these dungeon keys will have affixes that will apply changes to the way a player must approach the enemies within. Some examples given were invisible enemies or double bosses. Higher difficulty keys will have a higher number of affixes, and unwanted keys can be salvaged for crafting materials.
9 – Monsters have families and they work together to murder you.
Monsters in Diablo IV are all part of family groups, some of which players have seen in game before, like the Fallen and Skeleton families. New family groups will be introduced as well, such as the Drowned, undead creatures risen from the oceans, and linked to ancient maritime curses.
In D4, monsters of the same family can and will act in concert, supplementing each other and becoming more powerful when doing so. The goal behind family groups is to bring back the strategic thought type of playstyle fans remember from Diablo II. When facing off with a group of skeletons, for example, players may have to make a choice between engaging with the melee skeletal soldiers wielding clubs and swords, or breaking off to attack three archers which have joined together to create a skeletal ballista that might present a larger danger.
Elite monsters will, of course, have affixes that change their behavior and grant them abilities beyond the standard for their type. Returning affixes like frozen and mortar will be present to torture players, as well as enhancing affixes, which take one of a monster’s base powers and increase its potency. For example, a skeletal ballista may have the multishot affix and fire three bolts rather than one. However, to make it easier on players to dodge these extra-powerful abilities as well as boss attacks, every class in Diablo IV will have an evade ability to allow them to make a dodge attempt.
10 – Item rarity now includes Mythic items as the top tier.
For the most part, the gear rarity system in D4 will be familiar to fans of the franchise. Item quality climbs from normal to magic, then rare to legendary, followed by ancient legendary. However, a new item quality makes its debut in Diablo IV: Mythic. Mythic items will be color coded as red, and only one mythic item can be equipped by a player at once, as it will have four legendary affixes, making these pieces extremely powerful items to have.
The development team stated that hundreds of legendaries will be present in the game, many of which players will recognize from previous Diablo titles. Gear sets will also be available to players, however the team felt that these sets shouldn’t overpower legendary gear as they can in Diablo III, and so all legendary items will be of equal or greater power than set items.
11 – Runewords are back.
The crowd at BlizzCon erupted in heartfelt cheers and applause when the development team revealed that Diablo II’s Runewords would make a return in new fashion. In Diablo IV, Runewords will come in two parts: players combine a condition rune with an effect rune to create a custom Runeword that fits their style of play. For example, one might combine a condition rune with the condition of “is stunned” to an effect rune with the effect of “take 50 percent reduced damage.” The possibilities are endless and Runewords are one more way for Blizzard to deliver on their promise of unprecedented levels of customization.
As well as Runewords, players will have access to talent trees which they can spend skill points on to bolster their effectiveness with certain abilities or elemental damage types. On top of this, Diablo IV will feature upgradeable skills with different ranks bolstering their effectiveness which players can purchase as they level up, and which will be augmented by some gear affixes.
12 – Trade items with others in a central hub.
Sanctuary’s new open, shared world will feature a central hub in which players can gather to trade, form groups, and more. During a Q&A session, the Diablo IV team stated “The philosophy is that killing for loot is best,” however certain items will be tradeable in the game. The general idea is that there will be three different types of items: those that can be traded freely as many times as one wishes, those that can only be traded once, and then the highest power level items, which will not be tradeable at all.
13 – Diablo IV will launch with PvP.
Unlike Diablo III, D4 will launch with PvP enabled, including special PvP zones where players can go and duke it out with each other as much as they desire. This is sure to appeal to a large portion of former Diablo fans, who were disappointed in the lack of PvP at the start of D3.
When it comes to balance issues, the development team stated that the goal is to have enough choices and options in the game so that the best items and talents for PvP will be different than the best items and talents for PvE content. This would allow for some ease of balancing for each type of play, and encourage those who enjoy both PvP and PvE to collect multiple sets of gear.
14 – There will be seasonal play.
Fans who enjoyed seasonal play in Diablo III will be happy to hear that seasons are slated to be a thing in Diablo IV. Seasonal play is a popular mode in which player progress is wiped after a set amount of time and everything is reset to square one. Many enjoy the aspect of releveling a character and seeing it grow powerful over time again, while some like to change it up and try out new classes every season. This fits with the general purpose of seasonal play as stated by the BlizzCon team, which is to change up player experience. New legendary items will also be introduced at the beginning of each season, keeping the game fresh and ever-evolving.
15 – Blizzard will not sell power.
Blizzard’s business model for Diablo IV is simple and to the point: maintain a live service of seasonal play in the base game, while releasing multiple expansions as time goes on. Adding more dungeons, legendaries, monster families, and places for players to explore will be a high priority.
Perhaps best of all, those worried about microtransactions and the effect they might have on gameplay can breathe easy. During a Q&A session, a question was posed about microtransactions and gameplay balance, to which the answer was an extremely emphatic “I can also confirm we will not sell power.” This statement was met with the loudest cheer of the night, a testament to the desire of Diablo fans for an even playing field unaffected by real-life economic status.
The Diablo IV development team handed out more information than players had dreamed they would, and while overwhelming and confusing at times, all of it also seems to be exactly what one might want from a Diablo game. Many things in D4 are reminiscent of Diablo II, unquestionably the fan favorite of the series. By increasing the dark and foreboding feel of the game, bringing back mature themes along with blood and gore, Blizzard is on the right track with their intentions to create a medieval, apocalyptic and demonic version of Sanctuary in what they called “the totality of that tone that creates the experience we all know and love.” Even the character select screen, with the game’s heroes gathered around a flickering campfire, is an homage to what has made Diablo such a beloved and enduring franchise enjoyed by millions of players across the world.