Skip to main content

Blizzcon 2019: Diablo 4 has a lot of stuff, and looks a lot like an MMORPG

Blizzard came out swinging at this year’s Blizzcon 2019 with a cinematic reveal of Diablo 4. However, Virtual Ticket holders and attendees alike were also treated to a panel hosted by the team behind our next adventure in Hell. Director Luis Barriga sat down, along with Senior Producer Tiffany Watt and Art Director John Mueller, to give fans a general overview of some of the changes being made this time around. And they are many.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the grim story tying the game together. Decades after Malthael’s failed attack on humanity, suffering has spread across the land. Heaven itself has barred its gates to the faithful, leaving mortals to fend for themselves. The creator of Sanctuary and daughter of Mephisto walks the Earth again, her motives unknown.

The main narrative may be as grim as in entries past, but the way players will engage with it has changed.

Diablo 4 will be non-linear, allowing players to level up on their terms. Repeatable content, side quests, random dungeons — it’s all fair play. The eternal struggle will play out across a continuous open world, allowing players to walk from one end of the continent to the other. Distinct biomes and unique architecture will define these areas, each with a weather system, and even a day/night cycle. Some of these regions include foul swamps, icy peaks, and desolate grasslands.

Cities and towns will operate as hubs for players. You’ll be able to pick up new quests from NPCs, trade, and group up with others to take on more difficult content. Among those challenges will be world event bosses that require multiple players to dispatch. Fans can also expect rewards to match difficulty, as Diablo 4 is hoping to have more legendaries than ever. This increase in legendary items is a direct answer to set bonuses dominating in Diablo 3. The developers behind Diablo 4 want to encourage more diverse builds.

That desire for more diversity among characters stretches all the way to character creation. When rolling a new character in Diablo 4, players will be given presets for their given class that they can then customize. According to the game’s director, players will be able to change features such as hair, skin, jewelry, tattoos, and scars. While a few examples were shown, Blizzard says the final game’s character creation will have many additional choices.

Character customization isn’t the only new feature coming to Diablo 4, as mounts will make their series debut as well. The developers have remained faithful to the overall aesthetic of Diablo with flaming, flayed, and decaying horses. You’ll be able to customize your horses’ armor, saddle, and mount trophies from them. Other items will also buff your steed, increasing their speed or their resistance to damage. Each class will feature dismount abilities that complement their playstyle. Barbarians will leap off their horse and ground pound, while the Sorceress dismounts in a flurry of ice and snow.

Add all this together, and Blizzard’s dungeon-crawler is beginning to look a lot more like an MMORPG. It’s not, of course, in the classic sense, as you won’t see dozens of players running around at the same time. Yet the more open world, with world bosses, new cosmetics, and numerous side activities, sounds a lot like the sort of quests you might see in World of Warcraft. This perhaps isn’t surprising. Other recent action-RPGs, like Pagan Online, have taken a pseudo-MMO approach, pairing ideas from big persistent multiplayer games alongside classic action-RPG gameplay.

While all this change may seem daunting for series purists, the team has been vocal about the careful steps they’re taking as they introduce new features. The game’s Art Director assured fans that they can complete the game solo if social features don’t interest them. Players will also still have familiar waypoints to move around the in-game world.

Many of the changes made are, according to Blizzard, in response to player feedback and behaviors in Diablo 3. It seems that the team is pulling from everything they’ve learned throughout the series. How true the end product will be to its roots remains to be seen.

Editors' Recommendations

Alan Torres
Introduced to gaming in the mid-’90s, I was lucky to experience consoles from before my time. The PS1 is the first console…
Diablo 4 should resurrect the series’ most controversial feature
Diablo 4 Rogue

In 2012, Blizzard fired up one of its many future controversies: It wasn't the decision to simply revive the Diablo franchise that did this, but the fact that it chose to monetize the legendary hack 'n' slash RPG with Diablo 3. Beyond trading items with another player, an in-game auction house meant players could buy and sell items with real money.

For some, it was a bewildering decision from a developer already battling the threat of real-money trading (RMT) in its monolithic MMORPG World of Warcraft. The idea of claiming a cut of player's profits was seen as simple corporate greed stemming from the then-recent merger with Activision, a company known for pushing aggressive revenue streams onto consumers.

Read more
Diablo 2 Resurrection, Diablo 4 headline first day of Blizzcon 2021
Diablo 4 Rogue

Blizzcon 2021 kicked off with a batch of exciting game announcements, headlined by a Diablo 2 remaster. The showcase also highlighted Diablo 4, Blizzard Arcade Collection, new World of Warcraft updates, and more.

The long-rumored Diablo 2 remaster was finally shown off following weeks of speculation. Diablo 2 Resurrected is a full HD remaster of the original game and its expansion, Lord of Destruction. The rerelease will allow players to play the game in its original 2D form. The game is coming this year to PC, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox with cross-progression.

Read more
Diablo Immortal will be a massive success, whether you like it or not
diablo immortal mobile will be huge for blizzard featured

On an ill-fated evening in November 2018, Blizzard decided that a gathering of hardcore gamers was the best place to unveil a new mobile-only game in a franchise that was begging for a proper numbered sequel. Conditioned over the years to believe that its adoring fans would lap up anything with its brand IP attached, Blizzard endured a vocal backlash that tore deep into its cushy reputation.

Diablo Immortal was revealed to a sea of boos: The audience Blizzard had fostered over the decades felt betrayed by the notion that the slow-turning cogs of an Activision merger were finally transforming a company that cared about its community into one that simply cared for its bottom line.

Read more