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Blizzcon 2019: You can play Diablo 4 solo, but expect to meet strangers

Blizzard has spent Blizzcon 2019 touting a dark and twisted world for players to explore in Diablo 4. This time around, though, you’ll be doing so with others, as the seamless world will be populated with other players. Just how interconnected will Sanctuary actually be? And is solo play still viable?

The answers to those questions are complicated.

Diablo 4’s Lead UI Designer, Angela Del Priore, took to the stage to explain what a connected Diablo looks like. According to Priore, the number of players in a shared space will be dependent on a multitude of factors.

Story beats and important campaign missions in the overworld, for example, will not be shared. Only a player and up to three party members will be able to partake in these essential plot moments together.

Once a core objective is complete during campaign missions, only then will players see others running across the landscape, and even then it won’t seem too populated. Dungeons will be affected similarly, as these instances will only be available to up to four players in a party.

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Many of these choices are designed to preserve the sense of solitude and dread that comes with a Diablo title. Blizzard still wants players to feel like an isolated hero in a strange land, surrounded by unknown horrors.

Cities and towns are much safer than the foul swamps or dry steppes, and so these hub areas will be much more populated. This will let players to group up or challenge each other to friendly PvP bouts. Areas specifically designed for PvP or PvE public events will allow a higher player density.

Priore made it a point to address solo players. No items will be locked behind social events, allowing solo players a path to attain any gear they wish, with friends or not. Adventurers who prefer to play alone can still participate in clan activities, even donating or withdrawing from a guild bank, or not interact with anyone else at all. The level of social engagement, or a complete lack of it, will be left up to players.

While some of this news may be reassuring to some, it creates more questions. With no public event-exclusive gear, will those events just be an avenue to earn some form of currency to buy legendaries? It’s unclear exactly how that will work out.

With no concrete release date, and a confirmation from Blizzard that Diablo 4 is nowhere near ready, we’ll just have to wait and see.

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