Amidst all the recent drama about Diablo Immortal, one of the main things we’ve all been wondering is when Diablo 4 will launch. It’s not a stretch to assume that it is in development- Blizzard have stated that they have multiple Diablo projects in development, while there have also been reports (which Blizzard denied) that Diablo 4 was originally going to be announced at BlizzCon– all of which is to say that, officially announced or not, it’s fair to assume that Diablo 4 is indeed in development.
We recently reported that as per a report on Kotaku, in the initial stages of development, Diablo 4 was being envisioned as a Dark Souls-like gothic RPG with an over-the-shoulder camera instead of an isometric one, but that the concept was scrapped in 2016, as the project’s director left Blizzard. In that same report, Kotaku’s Jason Schreier also mentions that development on Diablo 4 was then rebooted, and it is now under development at Blizzard under the codename Fenris.
And apparently, it’s taking a different direction from what fans of the series might be used to, with the biggest change, at least in its current stage of development, being that Blizzard wants to add social MMO-lite features in the game similar to Bungie’s Destiny. The report talks about concepts of hub areas where you can meet other players, and then venture out with them to take part in quests that are similar to Destiny’s strikes, or World of Warcraft’s instances.
How that should be implemented in a Diablo game is something that the team at Blizzard is still pondering. “The question that kept getting asked is, ‘If there’s going to be a ‘strike’ equivalent, where you’re forced into a very story-focused, well-designed level of a dungeon, what does that look like in Diablo?'” Kotaku was told by an anonymous source close to the project. “What if we still had a core Diablo game that just happened to have a bunch of people on the map to do other cool stuff?”
Beyond that, one of the core things that Blizzard does seem to have settled on for Diablo 4, or Fenris, is that they want it to have a darker art style. The developers want to move away from the slightly more cartoony direction Diablo 3 took with its art style, and harken back to Diablo 2 by going all in on the darkness. “There’s a lot of people who felt like Diablo III got away from what made DiabloDiablo in terms of art style and spell effects,” a current Blizzard employee said. “They want to make this gross, make it dark, [get rid of] anything that was considered cartoony in Diablo III… Make what people were afraid of in Diablo II, but modern.”
Then there’s the matter of the camera perspective. While in its previous form, Diablo 4 was being envisioned as a third person action RPG, as mentioned earlier, recent builds of Fenris have been classic Diablo isometric, though there are still question marks over whether that is permanent, meaning that it might end up being over-the-shoulder ultimately.
Something else that Blizzard haven’t been able to determine yet is how they should monetize Diablo 4. While games such as Hearthstone and Overwatch have proven easy enough for them to implement monetization methods, the same has always eluded them in Diablo. Diablo 3, as you might remember, stirred up massive controversy with its real-money auction house.
Monetization is something that Blizzard probably isn’t going to make any concrete decisions for a while yet, but from what the report says, they have plenty of time to do so, because Diablo 4 is not going to launch before “2020 or later”.