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Diablo 4 Built for Much Faster Expansions + More Info From Game Informer Interview

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In an interview with Game Informer, Blizzard co-founder Allen Adham talked about the game, and an interesting part of the discussion focused around whether they considered/are considering making D4 a live service game, like WoW or similar titles. While we already know that is not the case at the moment, Adham did say that the way the Diablo 4 team is structured now is aimed at creating much faster expansions than ever before:

Quote

I will say that the team that that is making Diablo IV is ambitious. It's an ambitious game. Our hope then is that when we're finished with Diablo IV we can take that team and produce expansions at a higher cadence than anything we've done in the past. We know that our players want more content at a higher rate. We want to deliver more content at a higher rate. And it has been a goal of this team and the way we're building this team out to deliver that. So I think you'll see more of that in Diablo IV than you've seen in the past from us.

He goes on to be a bit cagey about the exact structure of releases, and we will definitely have a base game + faster expansions, but he left it open to there being other additions to that formula as well (presumably holiday events and obviously seasons).

The other big takeaway from the interview is that we might see seasons that don't make us restart or create new characters, but rather carry over our current ones.

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The rest of the interview mainly goes over the talking point we've heard before, hammering the "not even Blizzard soon" angle for the release date once more, touching on why they're announcing now specifically - the demo was ready and they had a good story to tell about the game (although one would assume last year's Diablo: Immortal incident had something to do with it as well).

There's also this somewhat bizarre exchange about "watchability", both from an esports and stream perspective, but nothing much is said other than the fact that D4 will be the "most watchable" entry in the series so far:

Quote

We do and in fact, that's exactly how we characterize it internally when we talk about the possibility of esports or another sort of media we always frame it in terms that it may or may not turn out to be that there's an esports approach to Diablo but the way we always think about it is we want to make sure that it's highly watchable. And we think that it is and we think that Diablo IV more than previous Diablos because of the fidelity of the engine, the beauty of what you see, the customization of the characters, that RTC (real-time camera). The opportunities to see and celebrate what you look like, they should make Diablo IV as watchable as anything Diablo has ever produced.

Other topics covered are integrating the raid-style experiences in a game like Diablo for the world bosses, reiterating that something like the paragon system is coming back, and the concern that players might farm world bosses by swapping from one game to another, layering style (they hadn't thought of that). 

It worth a read for a good overview so head on over to Game Informer to check it out.
 

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Other significant Diablo 4 articles:

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Ok, expansions are to be expected, no surprise there. If they are so ambitious they better focus on delivering a mindblowing, standalone masterpiece (they kinda have to), don't tell me how you already have planned content, purposefully reserved for the soon to follow expansion of a game we'd be lucky to play in 2021.

Edited by BobTheHuman
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50 minutes ago, BobTheHuman said:

Ok, expansions are to be expected, no surprise there. If they are so ambitious they better focus on delivering a mindblowing, standalone masterpiece (they kinda have to), don't tell me how you already have planned content, purposefully reserved for the soon to follow expansion of a game we'd be lucky to play in 2021.

I dont think that was the point. They're building the game engine, assets and world from the go so it's easier for them to slot in expansions both technically and story/world wise. At least that's how I understood it. I mean a lot of games have a lot of trouble with expansions (and even sequels) due to massive engine limitations (hello WoW), so if they're building it to be modifiable from the start that can only be a good thing.

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I would hope expansions would essentially do any combination of a few of the following:

-add a class

-add a large zone

-add a new Act

-add a new mechanic (larger runewords, gem melding, crafting)

-HOUSING?! FARMING/COOKING (alchemy/food buffs)?!

 

If they can do an expansion delivering one or 2 of these at a time (say a new class and zone, housing/profs in another, a new act in another) it could definitely give the game a long life.

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4 minutes ago, TyZone said:

I would hope expansions would essentially do any combination of a few of the following:

-add a class

-add a large zone

-add a new Act

-add a new mechanic (larger runewords, gem melding, crafting)

-HOUSING?! FARMING/COOKING (alchemy/food buffs)?!

 

If they can do an expansion delivering one or 2 of these at a time (say a new class and zone, housing/profs in another, a new act in another) it could definitely give the game a long life.

I'm more hoping expansions address problems with the base game. Reaper of Souls is one of the best expansions out there, not because it was amazing ot perfect, but because it took a seriously problematic and borderline bad game in D3 vanilla and made it solid and even good (for a while anyway). If there had been a third expansion that was like reaper D3 would be a truly good to excellent game - we just needed a proper endgame and some itemization tweaks.

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1 minute ago, Starym said:

I'm more hoping expansions address problems with the base game. Reaper of Souls is one of the best expansions out there, not because it was amazing ot perfect, but because it took a seriously problematic and borderline bad game in D3 vanilla and made it solid and even good (for a while anyway). If there had been a third expansion that was like reaper D3 would be a truly good to excellent game - we just needed a proper endgame and some itemization tweaks.

I agree with you, I am just being optimistic that D4 is not broken out of the box as bad as D3 was. RoS absolutely saved D3, 100%.

 

I also loved what ToB did with D2 though, adding a few new mechanics, and entire new act and storyline, and 2 classes. It was a wild ride at the time.

 

Hopefully we see the best of both worlds!

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37 minutes ago, Starym said:

I dont think that was the point. They're building the game engine, assets and world from the go so it's easier for them to slot in expansions both technically and story/world wise. At least that's how I understood it. I mean a lot of games have a lot of trouble with expansions (and even sequels) due to massive engine limitations (hello WoW), so if they're building it to be modifiable from the start that can only be a good thing.

Yeah, but anyone who knows Blizzard is well aware that they release games with the intent to update and support them for years to come.

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4 minutes ago, BobTheHuman said:

Yeah, but anyone who knows Blizzard is well aware that they release games with the intent to update and support them for years to come.

Um, that applies to every non-indie (and most indie) developers too, so I'm not sure what your point is.

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13 minutes ago, Starym said:

Um, that applies to every non-indie (and most indie) developers too, so I'm not sure what your point is.

There's absolutely no need telling us what an awesome tech they've built for the future support of Diablo 4. First and foremost we need to see a totally badass Diablo title, which is something to be concerned about, considering Blizzard in recent years. Let's see how soon the game will come out, how successful it is, and then we can talk about the pace at which they'll be making money out of it.

Edited by BobTheHuman

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8 hours ago, Starym said:

hammering the "not even Blizzard soon" angle for the release date once more

I like this. Better having the devs craft the whole game carefully and with no hurry, so we get a fully fledged experience from the start. Because I'm pretty sure they don't wanna repeat the fiasco that was the Diablo III launch.

Edited by Valhalen
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4 hours ago, BobTheHuman said:

Ok, expansions are to be expected, no surprise there. If they are so ambitious they better focus on delivering a mindblowing, standalone masterpiece (they kinda have to), don't tell me how you already have planned content, purposefully reserved for the soon to follow expansion of a game we'd be lucky to play in 2021.

Well, they are focusing on the base game. It doesn't hurt for them to state that D4 will be much better equipped to include additional content from down the line to increase the longevity of the game. Also, it's pretty much expected at this point that they deliver on this title. Which is why they are wanting people to talk about the systems they revealed, and what they can improve on further on down the road. This title has a lot of potential but Blizzard knows they have to deliver it.

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9 hours ago, Rhondis said:

Well, they are focusing on the base game. It doesn't hurt for them to state that D4 will be much better equipped to include additional content from down the line to increase the longevity of the game. Also, it's pretty much expected at this point that they deliver on this title. Which is why they are wanting people to talk about the systems they revealed, and what they can improve on further on down the road. This title has a lot of potential but Blizzard knows they have to deliver it.

Exactly. Even if they deliver a mesmerizing and jawdropping experience, people will expect an expansion. In our current modern age games are expected to have post launch content, even if the game itself doesn't really need it.

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The game has literally just been announced and they are already saying that they plan to release multiple expansions ( with of course will cost at least 1/3 of base game's value, around 20 bucks). 

In others words instead of providing a masterpiece they will hold back on content in order to sell it as expansions . Not even surprised.

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1 hour ago, Kurosu said:

The game has literally just been announced and they are already saying that they plan to release multiple expansions ( with of course will cost at least 1/3 of base game's value, around 20 bucks). 

In others words instead of providing a masterpiece they will hold back on content in order to sell it as expansions . Not even surprised.

Ok, so not only are you just assuming that they will hold back content, but you are also forgetting that this is an interview between Game Informer and one of the developers... it's not like they were outright stating "OK GUYS, WE ARE ACTUALLY PLANNING ON FUTURE CONTENT RATHER THAN THE BASE GAME!". No. They are just discussing the future possibilities that D4 will have once it's out. To assume that they will cut parts of the base game and sell it without any proof is just outright ridiculous. Let me ask you this, would be a good idea for them to cut content for Diablo 4 to later than be sold back to the public? Despite the fact that everyone is expecting an outstanding game? And that expectations are much higher than they have ever been? No. In fact, I would reckon to say that it would hurt their reputation even further and cause further distrust in the community. Besides, Blizzard doesn't have any track record with their previous Diablo games in which they "cut" content to later be sold to the public. Diablo 1 was a full game before it's expansion, Diablo 2 was a full game before it's expansion, and Diablo 3 was a full game before it's expansion. Why would it be any different?

Edited by Rhondis
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Great more expansions we will have to pay almsot full price for. I bet they end up with the same issue WoW has. Not everyone on a team having the same expansions so not being able to completely play together. Nice way to separate the community.   But come to think about it. Diablo has always been really an anti-social persons game anyway so why not.

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21 hours ago, Rhondis said:

Ok, so not only are you just assuming that they will hold back content, but you are also forgetting that this is an interview between Game Informer and one of the developers... it's not like they were outright stating "OK GUYS, WE ARE ACTUALLY PLANNING ON FUTURE CONTENT RATHER THAN THE BASE GAME!". No. They are just discussing the future possibilities that D4 will have once it's out. To assume that they will cut parts of the base game and sell it without any proof is just outright ridiculous. Let me ask you this, would be a good idea for them to cut content for Diablo 4 to later than be sold back to the public? Despite the fact that everyone is expecting an outstanding game? And that expectations are much higher than they have ever been? No. In fact, I would reckon to say that it would hurt their reputation even further and cause further distrust in the community. Besides, Blizzard doesn't have any track record with their previous Diablo games in which they "cut" content to later be sold to the public. Diablo 1 was a full game before it's expansion, Diablo 2 was a full game before it's expansion, and Diablo 3 was a full game before it's expansion. Why would it be any different?

Yeah "assuming" , they already did it with necromancer on D3 ( and it wasnt even trully an expansion ) and regarding D4 if you hear a developer saying they are planning multiple expansions at a fast rate when the main game is at least a year away and it doesnt give any weird signals to you well congrats you achieved a new level.

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2 hours ago, Kurosu said:

Yeah "assuming" , they already did it with necromancer on D3 ( and it wasnt even trully an expansion ) and regarding D4 if you hear a developer saying they are planning multiple expansions at a fast rate when the main game is at least a year away and it doesnt give any weird signals to you well congrats you achieved a new level.

A few of things:

1.) The game is definitely not a year away... when the demo was presented at Blizzcon it was an early alpha stage. They even said the game wasn't coming out in terms of "Blizzard soon".

2.) The Necromancer was a character DLC, and the character itself wasn't apart of the Diablo base game whatsoever. Also it was only a character add-on, it didn't hold back any other content in terms of story, additional items, new mechanics etc. Some would say they released the Necro because of demand (popularity) or because it was a part of scrapped content from an expansion they were working on (which is more likely seeing that years have gone by without any other major announcements for Diablo 3).

3.) Let's review what they said again shall we:

On 11/3/2019 at 11:10 AM, Starym said:

Our hope then is that when we're finished with Diablo IV we can take that team and produce expansions at a higher cadence than anything we've done in the past.

You're assuming. They are still focused on the base game. There is no talk of any expansions being worked on at the current moment. Their only and main focus is the base game. And this quote is only stating that with the new engine, and with new tools they can implement expansions at a quicker rate than applying them every two or three years. Diablo is not as massive as WoW, and people will easily burn through the base game well within a year, so it makes sense that they want to implement more expansions at a quicker rate in order to still engage the fan base with the game. 

 

But again, it's still too early to assume my dear friend. How about in the next few years when the game comes out, you come talk to me when they actually do supposedly "cut content". Then we'll talk.

Edited by Rhondis
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On 11/3/2019 at 4:23 PM, Starym said:

I'm more hoping expansions address problems with the base game. Reaper of Souls is one of the best expansions out there, not because it was amazing ot perfect, but because it took a seriously problematic and borderline bad game in D3 vanilla and made it solid and even good (for a while anyway). If there had been a third expansion that was like reaper D3 would be a truly good to excellent game - we just needed a proper endgame and some itemization tweaks.

Damn dude, your article seems to have started a wild fire for no reason *filtered*.

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3 hours ago, Rhondis said:

A few of things:

1.) The game is definitely not a year away... when the demo was presented at Blizzcon it was an early alpha stage. They even said the game wasn't coming out in terms of "Blizzard soon".

2.) The Necromancer was a character DLC, and the character itself wasn't apart of the Diablo base game whatsoever. Also it was only a character add-on, it didn't hold back any other content in terms of story, additional items, new mechanics etc. Some would say they released the Necro because of demand (popularity) or because it was a part of scrapped content from an expansion they were working on (which is more likely seeing that years have gone by without any other major announcements for Diablo 3).

3.) Let's review what they said again shall we:

You're assuming. They are still focused on the base game. There is no talk of any expansions being worked on at the current moment. Their only and main focus is the base game. And this quote is only stating that with the new engine, and with new tools they can implement expansions at a quicker rate than applying them every two or three years. Diablo is not as massive as WoW, and people will easily burn through the base game well within a year, so it makes sense that they want to implement more expansions at a quicker rate in order to still engage the fan base with the game. 

 

But again, it's still too early to assume my dear friend. How about in the next few years when the game comes out, you come talk to me when they actually do supposedly "cut content". Then we'll talk.

I didnt even  read beyond your number  1. I said at LEAST a year away . If you dont bother to read what I am writing I see no reason to do otherwise. 

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1 hour ago, Kurosu said:

I didnt even  read beyond your number  1. I said at LEAST a year away . If you dont bother to read what I am writing I see no reason to do otherwise. 

Yikes, hypocrite alert! Refuses to read what I said and tells me to read your statement, when you didn't even fully read my statement clearly. Very sad indeed. Oh well, if you are going to assume then so be it. We'll see who's right down the line. Till next time dear friend!

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8 minutes ago, Rhondis said:

Yikes, hypocrite alert! Refuses to read what I said and tells me to read your statement, when you didn't even fully read my statement clearly. Very sad indeed. Oh well, if you are going to assume then so be it. We'll see who's right down the line. Till next time dear friend!

Yes my "friend" I will definately give a damn 2 years from now when you are proven wrong.Count on it.

PS; my condolences to your therapist. At least I hope you manage to stop polluting forums online.

Second PS : make sure to make another reply, since you obviously need the last word. Go ahead. Prove me right.

Edited by Kurosu

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10 hours ago, Kurosu said:

Yes my "friend" I will definately give a damn 2 years from now when you are proven wrong.Count on it.

PS; my condolences to your therapist. At least I hope you manage to stop polluting forums online.

Second PS : make sure to make another reply, since you obviously need the last word. Go ahead. Prove me right.

This is one of the major reason's why its so frustrating to have decent discussions or debates. People tend to ignore the facts, assume they are correct, and go straight for the insults. Is there really any need to the insults behind your words? Once you start throwing punches, and ignoring what I have to say you already lose the discussion by a long shot. At least stay civilized especially if you disagree with whomever is on the other side. All I can really say at this point, is that you never assume. Assuming never leads to anything. Once we get more solid proof other than them stating "we will be able to make more expansions at quicker rate". Than you will be more empowered to make those kinds of baseless statements with no proof behind them whatsoever. See you in two, three, fours years. And please be kind. Being ugly towards others on the internet is pretty pointless friend.

Edited by Rhondis

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6 hours ago, Rhondis said:

This is one of the major reason's why its so frustrating to have decent discussions or debates. People tend to ignore the facts, assume they are correct, and go straight for the insults. Is there really any need to the insults behind your words? Once you start throwing punches, and ignoring what I have to say you already lose the discussion by a long shot. At least stay civilized especially if you disagree with whomever is on the other side. All I can really say at this point, is that you never assume. Assuming never leads to anything. Once we get more solid proof other than them stating "we will be able to make more expansions at quicker rate". Than you will be more empowered to make those kinds of baseless statements with no proof behind them whatsoever. See you in two, three, fours years. And please be kind. Being ugly towards others on the internet is pretty pointless friend.

And I stand corrected

PS : I was kind and you called me a liar that only makes "assumptions". And now you try to play the polite one and shift it on me. Hillarious. Goodbye.

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2 hours ago, Kurosu said:

And I stand corrected

PS : I was kind and you called me a liar that only makes "assumptions". And now you try to play the polite one and shift it on me. Hillarious. Goodbye.

No where in my past comments did I call you a liar. Saying you are making assumptions for no reason doesn't equal me calling you liar, these are two very different terms. I'm clearly just stating that you are making assumptions far too early on an interview that Game Informer did. Just goes to show that you should really take your own advice: 

 

20 hours ago, Kurosu said:

If you dont bother to read what I am writing I see no reason to do otherwise. 

Especially since you are going to accuse me of calling you liar, I was being civilized through and through. You however, seem to not be able to control yourself in a discussion. 

 

This is obviously not going anywhere. Anyways, don't assume ok? Let's wait for beta access, lets wait till we get definite info that there are signs of them "cutting content". And if it turns out true, I will delightfully agree with you and anyone else who is assuming far too early. Just right now, them stating:

On 11/3/2019 at 11:10 AM, Starym said:

Our hope then is that when we're finished with Diablo IV we can take that team and produce expansions at a higher cadence than anything we've done in the past.

Is not enough. You seem to have misinterpreted what they said. But it happens. Till next time.

Edited by Rhondis

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21 minutes ago, Rhondis said:

No where in my past comments did I call you a liar. Saying you are making assumptions for no reason doesn't equal me calling you liar, these are two very different terms. I'm clearly just stating that you are making assumptions far too early on an interview that Game Informer did. Just goes to show that you should really take your own advice: 

 

Especially since you are going to accuse me of calling you liar, I was being civilized through and through. You however, seem to not be able to control yourself in a discussion. 

 

This is obviously not going anywhere. Anyways, don't assume ok? Let's wait for beta access, lets wait till we get definite info that there are signs of them "cutting content". And if it turns out true, I will delightfully agree with you and anyone else who is assuming far too early. Just right now, them stating:

Is not enough. You seem to have misinterpreted what they said. But it happens. Till next time.

Damn you really cant stop yourself can you? Do you even realize you literally ruined this entire post with all this spamming just because someone dared to point out something that you didnt like / want to hear about ?

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      The sound team has been steadily cranking away on the soundscape for a while now, and while we aren’t ready to go in depth about the music side of Diablo IV quite yet, we wanted to start to give you some insight into some of the audio processes, content, and motivations behind the sound for the game.
      Before we begin, we wanted to give you something to listen to while you are reading this quarterly update blog. Please enjoy the snowy, dark, and stormy ambience of Fractured Peaks below as you start on your journey.
      Sound and music in games are the invisible glue that supports the storytelling and ties you to your character and their actions during gameplay. Creating sound for games is an exciting artistic endeavor that you can’t see— only hear. However, you can feel it literally, with the soundwaves against your body depending on what you are listening back on. It’s an amazing medium that can also affect how you feel emotionally while playing a game. A lot of the time it’s subtle, and other times it’s over the top, but always there to support the moment-to-moment gameplay. We hope you enjoy this dive into various aspects of the game’s soundscape, and you’ll have plenty more to look forward to and experience when you finally get to play it!
      Naturally, we want anyone and everyone who might be hearing impaired to enjoy the experience of Diablo IV as well. So, we are taking measures to broaden the experience to be inclusive for people with hearing or visual disabilities. There are various accessibility features underway that we hope to talk about more in the future.
      The Devil is in the details
      For the Diablo IV soundscape we’ve continued the tradition of gratifying combat, expanded upon the ambience to support the epic open world, continued to embrace the darkness in tone and gore while also trying to deliver a cleaner-yet-punchy audio mix that’s adapting to the situations as you play.
      One of the biggest goals we try to focus on as sound designers is to make the highest quality sounds to be triggered back in the game real-time and make them seem believable as well as grounded within the game world, tied to what you are experiencing. The randomness of audio playback is of the utmost importance when it comes to gameplay. If you think about real life, nothing is ever heard the exact same way twice due to your listening environment and the positioning of a sound source. Sounds never play back at the same exact sound pressure level along with the reflections within your environment and everything else happening around you at that moment in time. In essence, there are always subtle, real-life reasons as to why nothing ever sounds exactly the same. So, as sound designers for video games, we always strive to introduce subtle, randomized variation to not only the sound design itself, but also for when you hear it in the game. When we are doing our job correctly, it’s something you tend to not notice and supports your immersion into the game world by backing up the incredible visuals, story, and end-to-end experience.
      Another huge goal we have when creating audio for Diablo IV is to fill in sounds for just about everything that’s occurring on your screen. Whether it’s the world ambience, monsters idling offscreen, the tiny chunks of wood that are colliding off a wall when you break an object... everything should make a sound. We pour countless hours of effort into covering almost everything you see and don’t see, while also keeping it subtle enough to not be distracting and just feel right. The devil certainly lurks within the details...
      However, just because we are filling in as much sound as we can, it doesn’t mean you need to hear it every time. The playback engine within the game will not trigger too many instances of a sound if they are trying to play at the same time based on strict settings we create as basic rules. Because of the isometric camera view and being able to see so much on screen at once, we must limit how many instances of each sound will playback at any given moment. Once dialed in correctly, you tend not to notice that some instances were never triggered, and that helps with the clarity of the audio mix. It’s a fine line we straddle during big moments with a lot going on screen.
      How about we get on to more of the creative side of sound design? Naturally, there is no Diablo game without the heroes who do your bidding to vanquish the various evils that lie in your path. Let’s talk about some of the fire-based Sorcerer skills that partly define the class...
      Hero Fire Skills
      The sound crew luckily gets to record all kinds of neat and unique sounds for the game so that we have plenty of sound source to edit from when it comes time to start sound designing. Sound Design is technically described as taking a recorded audio source, editing it, and processing it to be used in another medium. In the case of Sound Design for games, we’ll record raw audio, re-process them, and edit it for our gameplay needs in various ways to achieve something that sounds clean, usable, and replayable for gameplay. The sound could be exactly what it was originally meant for or end up sounding completely different and used for something else entirely.
      Something we always tend to need for a game like Diablo is, of course, fire! When time permits, we plan for some time to record sounds out in the field. For Diablo IV, one of the first big recordings we did as a team was a desert fire session before the lockdown for COVID-19. We traveled far from Blizzard HQ to record various types of fire sounds in the deserts of California, armed with multiple recording rigs and microphones. Thankfully, since it was wintertime, it wasn’t too hot during the day and just a bit cold at night. While our main goal was to capture fire, we ended up capturing all kinds of other sounds we have used during production, like ambience, rocks impacts, foliage movements, wood impacts, door slams, wooden cabin creaks, metal impacts, and scrapes.
      Sorcerer Skills
      Firebolt and Inferno
      Some of the fire recordings were then used specifically for the Sorcerer skills Firebolt and Inferno. For the skill Firebolt, we recorded sets of wispy and smoldering flame whooshes using a fire staff or a dried-out medium-sized log of wood and performed the sound in various ways around sets of microphones. Once we had a nice assortment of different types of fire sounds, we then edited and processed those fire whooshes into game-ready one-shot audio files for the casting and impact sounds, as well as longer loops for the projectile traveling through the air. It all comes together as one cohesive-sounding experience once we get it hooked up in the game to play back as the entire skill sound effect set for Firebolt.
      For the Inferno Sorcerer skill, we then used other takes of the fire recordings and processed them to sound more aggressive and powerful for the larger skill. Just like Firebolt, there’s a set of casting one-shot sounds, a set of loops, and another set of one-shots for when the snake form constricts its body. One cool thing about the Inferno skill is that while it’s fire, it’s fire that has taken the form of a snake. Because of this form, we are able to take some liberties on pushing it away from just fire sound design. We added some light snake-rattling SFX paired with a darker-toned ethereal end to the skill sound to make it feel a bit more magical. When all these pieces re-trigger in-game, it will always sound like the same skill, but be slightly different each time—which increases the replayability sound-wise.
      Monster Sound Design
      Diablo games wouldn't be as fun if you didn't have monsters to slay. One of the most fun things about working on a Diablo game is the vast amount and variance of monsters that exist. This makes monsters ripe for both experimental and more traditional sound design, so let's dig into some monster sound design for foley and voice.
      Monster Movements
      The combination of expert animation and AI brings life and personality to the creatures as they undertake their nefarious activities. When we start the audio process for a brand-new monster, I always recommend that the sound designers start by adding footsteps and foley (clothing or skin) to their movement animations. The moment the creature has footsteps and foley, the creature's cadence and rhythm of their movement really comes to life. It’s at this point I consider that they are becoming grounded and attached to the world. This also dictates how vocal they might sound based on their patterns of movement.
      Monster Voice
      The next layer that finishes the birthing of the creature into existence is their voice exertions. These are the grunting or yelling sounds of them exerting at the player as they attack, or the screams of pain as you take them out one-by-one. Each monster family can be quite different from the next, so depending on the type of monster, we might have intense sound design layers of animalistic-type sounds or even everyday objects that we will manipulate to sound like a screech or scream to create a layer within that final voice. Other times it can be simpler, as we’ll hire creature voice actors to help create the core tone of the monster’s voice that we can then build around with other sounds.
      In the case of the Wood Wraith, it's almost fully sound designed from wood creaks and strains processed to extreme lengths and choosing the right sounds to convey emotion. The Wood Wraith was a blast to sound design as it’s mostly freaky and creaky wood sounds, with a touch of very low-pitched human tone underneath it all.
      Another monster we had the pleasure of working on is the disgustingly awesome Fly Host. This beast walks around birthing flies to attack the player. We ended up using some of our early gore session recordings where we ripped and smacked cabbages and melons, and stirred and squished mayonnaise, salsa and a delicious 7-layer dip into a not-so-great smelling slurry to make some great slimy and disgusting sounds to use in our sound design.
      Open World Ambience
      One of the audio pillars for Diablo IV is “Living Audio”. What this means is that the soundscape is ever evolving and never static. This pillar is built deep into the sound design variations we create for all types sounds, including when it plays back real-time in the game— especially the ambience. Because of the importance of the massive open world, we wanted to give the ambience as much detail as possible and think of it on the same level of Hero sound design. Having the audio and the systems changing subtly over time is key to this pillar. We always want the subtle changes in ambience (that might not be very noticeable) less repeatable and feel more natural and immersive overall.
      The World Building team has done an amazing job giving us huge amounts of inspiration in filling out the regions visually so that we can follow it up with immersive ambient audio.
      Since the player might be in the open world for a large amount of time, we wanted to support each exterior region with unique-sounding environments that also include subtle changes to the audio mix over time. To help achieve this, we use audio systems like real-time occlusion, high-quality reverbs, and environment reactive delay/echoes.
      We’ve provided some long-form recordings of in-game footage with a static shot where you can hear the ambience changing over time. Not only does this show some cool ambient sound design, but we also wanted to provide these to you for your tabletop RPG sessions, or even just to sit back and get lost in while working. The clips were recorded around 5-6 minutes and looped to be almost one hour.
      Dungeon Ambience
      When it comes to the Diablo dungeon crawling-style ambience, we take a special delight in creating various and unique sounding experiences to heighten your immersion. Our approach to the dungeon ambiences is a bit less intense compared to the new open world, as we don’t want to distract you away from a key part of what makes a Diablo game fun— dungeon crawling. This is one area where we can take more liberties in diving deeply into the hellish and creepy soundscapes while having the monsters onscreen to accompany the audible experience. For Diablo IV we are taking a more realistic approach to “what you hear is what you get” when within a dungeon. With long reverberation and sound occlusion, we want you to pay close attention to what might be just around the corner, mentally preparing you for the next pack of enemies.
      Breakable Interactives
      Scattered around the dungeons are a plethora of gratifyingly great breakables. The Interactives team have been creating hundreds of amazingly detailed breakable objects in Diablo IV. For the amazing amount of detail they put into objects as they break, we in turn wanted to fill in every sliver and chunk of destruction you see with believable physics audio. Destroying objects in Diablo should sound just as gratifying and believable as taking down monsters. We put a lot of effort into making sure that all objects have an extremely gratifying break sound, while supporting the debris with tiny bits of audio to accompany the pieces that break apart and fly across a room. I’m still amazed at the level of detail we have for the breakables in Diablo IV. One of my favorite things to do when I see a room full of them is to have at em’!
      Game Mix
      Finally, I wanted to talk a little about the isometric camera. It provides some interesting challenges when it comes to bringing all the elements of the game mix together. Because you can see battlefield at a certain angle out to a certain range, we have to make sure that the monsters existing on the screen are covered with audio, but have the overall mix not feel too cluttered, nor too empty. There’s a lot of real-time juggling of sound playback based on priorities and importance to you, the player.
      For Diablo IV we are able drive the real-time audio mix more than ever before. Because of the isometric camera view, we must trigger sounds on just about everything you see but focus your ears on the most important sounds you should be paying attention to. We've been carving away at audio mix states and an audio importance system that will allow certain important monster sounds to poke out when they are needed. Clarity of game audio mix is hard to achieve in a game where you can have multiple heroes as well as various amounts of monsters on screen, while having detailed ambiences means we need to craft different audible mix states depending on the situation.
      We hope you have enjoyed this brief look into the sound design of Diablo IV. There’s so much more to talk about, but alas, we will have to save it for another time. We welcome any feedback you might have about anything you have heard in the videos or learned about in this quarter’s blog. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about the soundscape of Diablo IV!
      Kris Giampa,
      Sound Supervisor, Diablo IV
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    • By Starym
      We have an interesting video to check out today, by loremaster Game LORE Dash, as he takes a look at some fairly solid evidence that the Paladin may be the final class of Diablo 4, based on many things we've seen in the preview content so far.
      While the Paladin specifically isn't quite a complete slam-dunk, the arguments for a heavily armored class are a pretty safe bet, both from the silhouette angle in the video and just in general. However, GLD makes some pretty convincing arguments, and it a pretty fun video to watch regardless of its accuracy as well! We have lore-based details, the ever-significant char selection silhouette, and a very recent entry from the latest quarterly update and more that all seem to point at a Paladin/Crusader/Holy Warrior type class, so let's get to it:

      So, what do you think? Paladin? Crusader? Priest? Or something else entirely?
    • By Staff
      The second quarterly update of 2021 is here and we have a lot of character-related features, all cosmetic in nature: from the transmog system that has dyes added, facial customizations, and some textures, including a couple of monsters as well! 
      Characters (Source)
      Table of Contents
      Introduction John Mueller, Art Director Arnaud Kotelnikoff, Lead Character Artist Nick Chilano, Associate Art Director, Characters Hello, and welcome once again to a new Diablo IV Quarterly Update! We hope you enjoyed the Rogue class announcement during BlizzConline. We had a blast creating the Rogue and open-world video segments, sharing them with you, and seeing your reactions. It was especially cool to share our updates as part of the larger Diablo family alongside Diablo: Immortal and the all-new Diablo II: Resurrected (both of which I personally can’t wait to play with you all).
      As we transition back to a blog format, we will continue to spotlight different aspects of development. Today we’re going to be focusing on Diablo IV character art—player characters, monsters, and allies.
      Art is a critical part of what makes Diablo, well... Diablo. Our signature randomized dungeons would not feel like Diablo without the ominous lighting setting the mood as players uncover horrifying details around every dark corner. Combat only feels visceral thanks to carefully crafted animations and visual effects that make spells and abilities sing. And while stats might make or break an item, we often can’t wait to get our hands on a piece of gear purely because of how incredible it looks.
      Character art is equally important as it encompasses two of Diablo’s key elements: classes and monsters. The look and feel of the classes has always been one of Diablo’s secret ingredients, each class instantly recognizable and imbued with a strong and unique personality. Diablo IV offers players more customization options than ever in a Diablo game, which makes achieving that result more challenging, but the outcome is well worth it. Your Barbarian is different from anyone else’s but still feels undeniably like a Barbarian. With monsters, the focus has been on creating new foes and updating classics drawn from the pantheon of atrocities in our previous games, while using new processes and technology to their fullest.
      To give us a better look at everything involved in this process, I now leave the rest of the update in the hands of our very own Art Director, John Mueller, and his team.
      We hope you enjoy it and look forward to your thoughts and reactions! As always, let us know what topics you want to hear about in the future. Be sure to stay tuned, as we’re planning to delve deeper into the topics of sound design and endgame systems later this year.
      Thank you, and until next time!
      -Luis Barriga,
      Game Director, Diablo IV
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      John Mueller,
      Art Director
      Our beautiful and iconic hell fiend, Lilith! This is a capture from one of the in-game cinematics rendered in the Diablo IV game engine. This level of detail is now standard for how we present the major NPCs, classes, and monsters in Diablo IV.
      Hi all,
      We are excited to do a deep dive on the character art for Diablo IV! This is a pretty exciting topic for our team, because so damn much has changed from Diablo III! You will get to hear from our Lead Character Artist, Arnaud Kotelnikof, and Nick Chilano, our Associate Character Art Director. They will be sharing a lot of cool visuals from our ongoing development related to character art that we’re revealing here for the first time. There’s a lot of ‘work in progress’ here; our goal is to give you an early look at content to get a sense of the direction we are taking. I don’t have a lot of caveats, though, as at this point the work is a very good representation of what you will see when the game is in your hands.
      When it comes to the topic of character art, I can say we've had an epic journey during development, so let's pull back the curtain and take a look! First, I need to give a big shout-out to our amazing character art team, engineering team, animators, lighting artists, and technical artists—without them, none of this would be possible!
      When I think back to the beginning, I think at the highest level, our goal was to make the characters in Diablo IV look as artistic and as hand-crafted as possible using the latest tools and techniques. Over time, our ambitions around what we thought we could achieve evolved and really solidified into what you see today. We wanted to use the latest tools and techniques, but we did have a concern about leaning into ‘realism’ in a way that wouldn’t have that hand-crafted feeling we felt was fundamental to a Blizzard game. We didn’t want the characters to feel procedural or generic because of these processes. We also embraced realism in terms of materials and character appearance. I think the touchpoint being the amazing pre-rendered look from the Diablo III cinematics. We loved those and it felt like a strong foundation to build upon in regards to the characters and achieving that warm quality that came through in the cinematics but in a real-time game environment. We thought it was ambitious, but possible. This of course is a simplified summary of the thousands of conversations it took to achieve the results we have today, but what's meaningful is that during the journey nobody was arguing for our limitations. Nobody ever said we shouldn't, we couldn't, or we can't...everyone said yes, even when it meant starting over or throwing out work, everyone really pushed and brought their best to this work. I think this is one of the truly unique aspects of Blizzard...we all said 'Yes, and...' instead of 'No, because...' it's a wonderful aspect of working here.
      That singular focus and commitment to quality led us down a very long, winding, and challenging path to where we are today. The challenges required us to completely rebuild our rendering engine and authoring tools. We needed to assemble a world-class character team comprised of artists, tools engineers, rigging specialists, lighting and surfacing experts. This was a complete overhaul.
      You can choose from a variety of personas and customize them with a slew of detail options during character creation.
      We made massive improvements to the level of detail, the surfacing of complex materials like skin, cloth simulation, hair, fur, metal, even down to the details of the highlights of the eyes and rivulets of perspiration. We built a robust character customization system that is entirely new to Diablo and it was a daunting amount of technical character work. These solutions had to work not just for a single character, but for hundreds of componentized armor sets, different body types, dozens of unique personas, and completely unique art for five distinct classes (to start). This was an entirely new challenge for our team to tackle.
      I can say now (with the hard work behind us and the comforting steady hum of our pipeline) that it was all worth it. We hope you agree (when you play it) that it really enhances the overall experience of the character's journey exploring the world of Sanctuary and makes the story, the gear, and the ways you see the characters of Sanctuary that much more enjoyable.
      Most importantly, we hope you feel the love and care we've put into creating the gear and characters you will see in the game. Beyond just living out my most awesome Barbarian fantasy, we're honored to bring this work to you!
      We call this our Lair scene. Players will customize the look of their character here in our exciting new Wardrobe system that allows you to mix and match hundreds of armor components unique to your class, alongside custom color palettes to create the class fantasy that best represents your character.

      One of the benefits of the investments we've made in our character art development pipeline is that now most of our story cutscenes will be rendered in our engine using the game models. In previous Diablo games, the high fidelity cinematic story moments were all pre-rendered. We will still have those amazing cinematic moments from Blizzard Animation, but now we also have cinematic moments that feature your character up close, rendered in our game engine. We have been working closely with the legendary Blizzard Animation team to bring as much of their knowledge into our process as possible. The Rogue Announce trailer was a really fantastic collaboration where we were able to push the limits of our tech and tools.
      The Rogue Announce trailer was created entirely in our game engine.

      We are getting to geek out about how good things look up close, but all things Diablo are in service to our isometric point of view. The fidelity we put into the characters and the balance of detail all has to work with our game camera. Those looking closely will notice we like to work with bigger shapes on the armor, and we tend to reduce things that affect readability. I think we've found a sweet spot of detail that retains the readability, works well with the environments, but also keeps things looking grounded, which is super important for this vision for Sanctuary and how we present the world to you, our most important critic.
      While I’m really happy with where we have arrived. I know we are going to keep pushing the bar at every opportunity and at Blizzard, releasing a game is just the beginning! I hope you enjoy the rest of the deep dive on character art with Arnaud and Nick!
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      Arnaud Kotelnikoff,
      Lead Character Artist
      Thanks for joining us! I’d like to dive into character customization and some of the visual improvements we developed for Diablo IV.
      Diablo IV has more in-depth customization for your characters than we’ve had in any previous Diablo games. You will be able to change the face of your character, the hairstyle, the facial hair (beards and eyebrows), and add jewelry (nose piercing or earrings), makeup, and body markings such as tattoos or body paint. You will also be able to change the color values of your character’s skin, eyes, hair/facial hair, and body markings. Some elements will be class specific, to support the classes’ unique backgrounds, but many will be shared between classes allowing more possibilities to mix and match. You can see some examples of these customization options throughout this blog.
      Now I want to talk about some of the challenges we faced.
      Dark Fantasy Meets Realism Through Physically-Based Rendering (PBR)
      Diablo IV is intended to have a look that is grounded in reality, and to achieve that we need to follow some basic rules of color value, such as PBR, which means our materials look and react to light in a realistic way. The challenge for the 3D artists is to transfer the color of a concept drawing to a PBR value. For example, in PBR, silver is a very bright grey, almost white, and the reflection of the material makes it look darker. All the characters in Diablo IV follow the PBR rules, to ensure that our characters look as good in daylight as they do in a dark dungeon.
      Expanding the Dye System
      Tools that empower players to customize the look of their characters help build a stronger connection to those characters and the game. Our dye system allows you to change the color palette of your armor pieces, such as changing silver to gold or replacing a white cloth for a black cloth, etc.
      Each part of the armor can be dyed, including the helmet, chest, gloves, legs, and boots. You can dye each piece with a different color palette if you choose, or apply the same palette to all of them.
      This system was challenging to implement because materials such as metal do not allow themselves to be dyed with inappropriate colors when they follow PBR rules. To address this, we added data to our armor that identifies specific material types and tells the dye system what color goes on what material, such as leather, fabric, metal, and other specific surfaces. The result is armor that is dyable in a range of colors that still feeling grounded and realistic in the world we’re building for Diablo IV.
      Here is an example of the Barbarian with various dye palettes applied to his armor set.
      .grid-container { display: grid; grid-template-columns: 210px 210px 210px; grid-column-gap: 1px; background-color: "display: flex"; } .item1 { grid-column: 1 } .item2 { grid-column: 2 } .item3 { grid-column: 3 } An example of a Sorceress armor set dyed with three different color palettes.
      A Close-Up Look at Our Camera
      The game camera is one of our top priorities, as we want to make sure the character looks good and readable from the isometric perspective. It’s the first thing we consider in character development. That said, the player character will be displayed in a lot of different ways throughout the game, whether that’s the character customization screen, the inventory paper doll, social screens, and in our real-time cinematics, which will often zoom in for a closer view of the character than in the rest of the game. To support that, we have added an extra layer of texture called detail mapping—detail mapping is a small, repetitive texture applied on top of the material that bring more sharpness and detail to the main texture.
      Every armor set in Diablo IV has two body types. Here is an armor set for Barbarians with some subtle differences between the two.

      Another example of different Rogue body types wearing the same armor set.

      Here is a video clip in slow motion of the Rogues, which we recorded in our real-time engine. You can really enjoy the details and see how the light reacts with the materials. You will also be able to see some of our customization elements that I talked about earlier. Please note, the environment is a test scene that modelers use to look at their characters and many of these armors are works in progress and subject to change and polish.
      Here is another slow motion video of the Barbarians. Please note that all these armors are a work in progress and are subject to some adjustment.
      This is just scratching the surface of what’s to come in Diablo IV in terms of character customization. The team is dedicated to delivering the best quality possible, and we hope that players will enjoy all the options we have available for customizing their characters in Diablo IV.
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      Nick Chilano,
      Associate Art Director, Characters
      Hello everyone,
      I'm excited to share with you our vision and our process for making monsters in Diablo IV.
      With monsters, success requires that many different things come together, but it starts with the player feeling satisfied in killing it. That means the monster needs to visually match its gameplay and have a gory/demonic twist to it. They should look like something you have not seen before as well as taking something visually familiar and brushing it with a Diablo paint brush. That Diablo brush applies a level of detail, an understanding of gameplay needs, a level of artistry, and the demonic Diablo theme to all our monsters.
      Visual Design and Gameplay Intent
      For me, everything starts with a goal. Typically, it's a goal from design on what this monster needs to do and what the player experience should be. Making games is a collaboration. Sometimes a visual concept helps drive an idea, while in others a paper design is enough.
      The Blood Bishop
      Our game design goal for the Blood Bishop was to make a caster who would cast direct damage and create AOE bombs for area of denial. As for the visual notes, we wanted a high-level boss based on vampiric blood and magic. We knew we wanted to double down on the notion of a heart shape for the function of the blood magic. That naturally led to the notion of arteries creating these blood clots that explode to cast the AOE effect design needs. An exposed beating heart was the natural visual choice. So, the organic pulsing we see, the flowing arteries, and the blood-based VFX all combined to reach an aligned goal the team could get behind. The success here is when the game design needs were met visually in a true Diablo way.
      The Skeleton Lord
      This process was similar, but this time we had a visual concept to work from.
      This undead Skeleton Lord is made of fused skeleton and body parts, with sinew and blood connecting it together—something we felt fit our game visually. That led to a Design Lead wanting to create a fight based on this character. The Design team was able to create a unique fight based on bone visuals, summoning skeletons, bone walls to restrict pathing, and leveraging the giant staff—one attack has the Skeleton Lord smashing the staff into the ground and creating a shower of exploding bone shards. Even though the art was created first, the Design team leveraged its look to help theme a fun and interesting fight we all enjoy.
      The Right Artistic Detail for the Game
      We also need to look at our assets from two main focal points. Our game camera and a closer full body size camera. This means we need to understand what is important and what is supporting these elements in terms of overall shape language and finer secondary and tertiary details.
      Level of artistic detail is always a challenge. Details need to be readable for the game, colors need to group well, silhouettes need to stand out, as well as being built for performance and movement. Understanding this is key to allowing our monsters to look great from our isometric camera while also delivering stunning details up close.
      This Spider feeding upon and birthing spider spawn from a bloated corpse has a great visual design.
      The spindly legs and back thorax instantly tell you what it is. That thin look of the legs as it moves down to a thicker body give it a nice balance to settle the shape language from top to bottom. The saturated red of the spider, on top of the cooler and more subdued body, help pop the spider visually so your eye catches it as soon as they show up on screen. When we look closer, you can see the spectacular highlights on the bloated body, the torn and pulled flesh, and the bulging pustules. So, up close gruesome details are visible from the game camera because of the clear shape and color grouping.
      This succubus is another great example of an interesting and clear visual read from gameplay, with finer details that don't get in the way of the game camera but really raise the visual bar.
      At the game camera we see a familiar silhouette. A winged demon hovering to seduce its prey and attack with magic from a distance. As you look closer, you see intricate details in the cloths, translucent skin on the wings, as well as materials like gold clasps, stitching, and embroidery on the outfit. We also see the wings are attached at the base of the head. A detail that needs a closer look to see but doesn’t complicate the look from different cameras.
      A Modern Pipeline
      In order to achieve this, we needed a process and technology to realize these amazing and, honestly, disturbing creations. To do that we have built a world class team creating monsters and demons at a level of quality that raises the bar for the Diablo series.
      PBR gives us the ability to create surfaces and materials that look realistic and accurately react to lighting in the world. Leather can look like leather, metals like metals, and organic surfaces can feel appropriately squishy and fleshy by comparison.
      This Knight is covered head to toe in metal and fabric that reacts differently based on lighting. You can see nice details and material breaks on the hard surfaces that your eye expects to see. This detail grounds us in a world we all visually know and understand. The difference from a scale pattern of finer metal to large, hammered iron next to gold trim is readily apparent.
      Organic surfaces also are represented accurately in our engine. Fur, bone, flesh, and blood are all visible and react to light correctly. This is a Diablo game, after all, and we know these materials will be important.
      So that is a brief rundown of some of the things we look at and value when it comes to monsters in Diablo IV. We really enjoy creating enemies, monsters, and demonic creatures that bring out an emotional response from our players, from fear or revulsion to the excitement of slaying them in true Diablo fashion.
      In closing, I'd like to say that there are moments as a developer where you are just making the game, day-in and day-out, and you don't always take time to appreciate the craft on display that you are privileged to see every day. I love that we are doing these blogs to give you all some insight into our progress and process. It's a great opportunity for us to reflect on the journey, share our art, and appreciate the craft of our teammates. We hope you like what you see, and please share your comments on your platform of choice. We love to hear community feedback—it's really been a labor of love and an honor to create for you, and we can't wait for you to play it!
      Thank you for joining us and keep an eye out for our upcoming blog update next quarter!
      -The Diablo IV Team
       
    • By Staff
      During an interview on all things Diablo, Rod Ferguson, Executive Producer for the franchise, mentioned the next Diablo 4 quarterly update (which should be coming by the end of this month) will be focusing on characters and character art. Diablo community manager PezRadar also confirmed that in a reddit thread:
      D4 Quarterly Update (Source)
      Edit: Upon closer inspection he said "Character Art". I blame the cheap headset mic for the error on my end ?
       
      Correct, Character Art. It will be asset heavy. The art team have put in a good amount of work on the blog.
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