DIABLO 4 is right around the corner, and fans are desperate to find out more.
While players have been able to take part in up to three beta weekends already, these only showed fans a small part of the game.
Diablo 4 will be available soon.
We sat down with associate game director Joe Piepiora, and art director John Mueller to talk about Diablo 4’s development and what we can expect post-launch.
Piepiora explained to us how the team hopes to include everything that players love about the series, but still allow it to welcome new players.
He says: “The way that we thought about Diablo 4 boils down to, we wanted to make the very best Diablo game we can, regardless of your entry point into the series.
“In doing that, we looked at the previous Diablo games and thought deeply about them. We tried to take the best parts.
“In Diablo, it’s atmosphere. The player is alone going into this dungeon beneath this church with these tight and compact areas, with these moments of surprise.
“In Diablo 2, it came down to the progression system. It’s so interesting and intricate to build a character that you want.
“In Diablo 3, man, it felt so good to kill monsters – smashing demons feels great.
“In Diablo 4 we try to marry these different elements together, to try and create a robust customization system, a dark gothic environment that is oozing atmosphere, and then, of course, making sure that killing monsters feels really f**king good.”
However, aside from the gameplay, the story needs to be true to the series in order to draw people in.
Mueller explains: “We look at the past as like, embracing the legacy of the previous games.
“But at the same time, making our mark with a lot of new features like character customization and putting your character into the story – it’s the first time we’ve done that.
“The character you create is now in the in-game cutscenes, and that was something that was really important, and it ties into the level of detail we’re putting on the character art and the world.
“We pull the camera in really close and we tell this intimate story about the creation of Sanctuary, Lilith, Inarius, and how you’re experiencing that whole narrative is very different than previous games.”
This is the first time Diablo will feature live-service content, seasonal drops and future expansions planned even before release.
It’s a huge shift for the series, and it was important to the team to integrate this in a way that won’t scare off new players.
“Once the game has gone live and we’re in a post-launch environment, our first season is going to drop about mid to late July.
“So six-plus weeks after launch because we want to give players the chance to play the campaign and really explore Sanctuary with their first character.
“Inside of seasons, rather than having all this required reading to be able to enjoy the next expansion pack – which will be coming sometime in the future – we want seasons to tell their own self-contained story.
“So when you come in you can tackle the campaign before playing all the seasonal content, or, if you want, once you’ve completed the campaign one time, you can choose to skip the campaign when you make a new character.
“And you can start the new seasonal content right way – you’ll start in the first major city you come across in the story.”
The team is preparing to support Diablo 4 for years to come, potentially even past the end of the current console generation.
Piepiora says: “We want to support Diablo 4 for years to come.
“We have a really compelling story that we want to tell, there’s so much happening in terms of seasonal teams and expansion teams with all the stuff they’re working on – there’s a lot to look forward to.
“We’re not committing to a timeline necessarily, but when you look back on how we supported 3 – we’re about to enter season 29 right now – we’re committed to supporting these games in the long term and have assembled a team to do so.”
In another first for the series, Diablo 4 will launch on consoles at the same time as PC.
But how will the team make the experience on console as enjoyable as the PC version?
Piepiora continues: “We’ve had some experience, we ported Diablo 3 on the Switch, and that was well-received and we learned a lot of lessons from doing that.
“So we knew from the get-go that we wanted to get Diablo 4 into as many players’ hands as we possibly could – not just PC players, not just console players.
“So with every feature we added to the game we had to keep a couple of things in mind.
“One, how does it feel to play on a controller and a mouse and keyboard at the same time?
“So working on the skill tree, how does it feel to navigate the skill tree on a controller?
“If it feels great on a mouse and keyboard but garbage on a controller, or vice versa, then that’s not a viable path. We want it to feel good on both.
“Then the second thing is couch co-op. There aren’t really a lot of games that introduce themselves in the couch co-op mode.
“When Diablo came out, I played it on my own on PC, but later on, in college, I played it with my girlfriend on PS1 in couch co-op – which was a miracle at that time – and now we’re thinking of this history we have, we’ve got to bring this back.
“There are a lot of considerations you have to make to allow players to play, you have to ensure that two players can both have their UI menus up.”
Diablo 4 is trying to push for co-op play, in particular, playing in co-op locally with a friend from start to finish.
Mueller says: “It’s not just parroting, it’s also improving.
“We spent a lot of effort to improve the experience of couch co-op this time around.
“So many of the stories we hear are people playing with their significant other or their family and those are really warm stories.
“We heard a story of a guy who’s playing with his son and the son’s playing barbarian while he plays the rogue, so the son’s just running in.
“Smashing buttons and killing stuff while the dad’s slaying stuff with a bow – those are just heartwarming stories that make me glad we made that.”
Diablo 4 will launch on PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, and Xbox One on June 6, 2023.
Written by Georgina Young on behalf of GLHF.