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Everything We Know About Diablo 4 So Far

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Update: The article has new additions from more recent posts noted as (Updated) and the entries with the updates have been moved to the top of their categories.

With so many articles, panels, interviews and streams coming out of BlizzCon this year, a lot of people may have missed a lot of important details announced about Diablo 4, so we thought we'd gather it all up in one spot, before going into detail and analyzing each segment separately. We won't go into the smaller details and less useful info here, so we have a better overall overview, so if you really want to know every single detail, check out the list of articles at the bottom of the page.

 Table of contents

It's also very important to note that a lot of the things listed below are just the way things are now and the developers want as much feedback on them as possible so they can adjust them to better fit the community. But before we start, we can't waste an opportunity to re-post the impressive opening cinematic.


 Itemization

  • Affixes (full list from the demo, including legendary ones)
    • (Updated) There will be more affixes on each individual item, including magic items and rares (source)
    • (Updated) 3 new affixes (source?
      • Angelic Power, which increases the duration of all beneficial effects (like self-buffs or healing)
      • Demonic Power, which increases the duration of all negative effects (like debuffs or damage over time)
      • Ancestral Power, which increases the chance of on-hit effects (aka increased proc chance)
      • The three Affixes above are also prerequisites for certain affixes, ie you'll need x Angelic/Demonic/Ancestral power for a specific affix on an item to "turn on":
        CO8WLPEGYHLM1575335678970.jpg
      • Each affix is linked to a set of other affixes so you'll be able to choose which type you want to unlock by focusing on either Angelic/Demonic/Ancestral power
         
  • Only 2 base stats: Attack and Defense (instead of Str, Dex, Int Vit etc.)
    • (Updated) Attack will only be on weapons, Defense on armor and neither will be on jewelry (source)
    • + to skill and talent affixes will be very important
    • Many returning and new ones
    • Gold/item find and similar utility affixes won't compete with combat-affecting ones
    • We might be able to customize affixes, they're not really sure how yet, presumably through crafting
       
  • Legendaries
    • (Updated) Ancient items have been removed (source)
    • (Updated) There will be a special new item, similar to Ramaladni's Gift from D3 that will be able to imbue a rare quality item with a legendary power (source)
      • This will make rares much more important in the endgame, as any of them can be turned into a legendary
    • They are the focal point of gearing
    • More legendaries than ever before (hundreds)
    • Not going the huge 300-40,000% buff route
    • 5 types of legendaries so far- skill specific, skill category specific, +x to multiple skills or talents, talent specific, non-class specific,
    • You can stack several legendary powers that affect 1 skill
    • They won't drop as much as in D3
    • Drop rates will not be modified as you get farther into endgame (possibly one drop rate while leveling and another at max, but that's it)
       
  • Sets
    • Won't be as powerful as in D3
    • They will be more introductory items
      • They will be more easily acquirable than a full suite of legendaries (perhaps given through a series of quests?)
    • Heavily class themed, to get you a better feel for the class before you move on to specific builds through legendaries
    • Can be ancient, as in D3
       
  • Mythic items are the best in the game
    • You can only equip 1
    • They have 4 legendary affixes
    • Unclear whether they have existing legendary powers or unique mythic only ones

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  • Runewords
      • Only 2 word combinations
      • Condition and effect runes
        • Conditions we saw: drinking a potion, stunning an enemy, critting, freezing an enemy, when a pet dies, if you stand still for 3 seconds, when you are stunned or frozen
        • Effects we saw: 50% extra crit damage for 7 seconds, 15% reduced cooldown to random skill, random shrine effect for 7 seconds, next thorns hit deals 30% more damage, gain a 500 damage barrier
      • Might have a progression system, probably similar to the one D3 had before release (you can see all the numbers in the rune UI are highlighted yellow, indicating they might change if the rune is leveled or upgraded or similar, just like it was in D3)
    • Gems
      • Only have utility stats (gold/item find and similar)
    • Trading
      • No Auction House
      • The primary source of items should be killing monsters
      • 3 types of items
        • Tradable all the time (consumables, crafting mats), tradable once and then bound, and non tradable.
      • The most powerful items will not be tradable
      • If an item drops for you only you will see it
        • If you drop an item only those in your party will see it
    • Crafting
      • Will mostly focus around item modification and enhancement
      • A lot of the endgame will be item modification
    • You can get more powerful versions of all items even when you're in the endgame (not quite sure what this means, possibly alluding to the ancient legendary system coming back - hopefully it isn't an item level type system)
    • Gambling for gold is back
      • You can get some of the most powerful items in the game through it
    • Shoulder slot item is gone for now
    • All the best items will be available to everyone, regardless if playing solo or group
    • Transmogrification will probably return

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     Skills

    • (Updated) We will get 1 OR MORE skill points per level
    • Cannot be respecced
    • Skill tomes will drop/"be acquired in the world"
    • Skills have 15 ranks
      • There are skill rank thresholds that will add new functionality or buff the skill in some way (adding unstoppable (immune to crowd control) to it, increasing shout radius etc.)
    • There are 25-26 individual skills for each character
    • Skills are split into 6 categories for each class
      • Generally they are: Generators, Spenders, Defensive, class specific (Wrath for druid, Conjuration for sorc, Brawling for Barb), Mastery (which is Companion for druid) and Ultimate
    • "Elective Mode" from D3 is on by default, aka you can bind any skill to any hotkey

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     Talents

    • A talent tree with either 2 or 3 branches
    • Can be respecced for free or a low cost
    • Each class has something special about it (sorc has 3 branches, druid can hop from one branch to another)
    • Relatively small % buffs per point
    • Can only pick one of two talents at the bottom of each tree
    • Buffs to talent points from items will add to your progress in a particular branch and can go beyond the maximum ranks listed

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     The Endgame

    • Key dungeons are the primary endgame activity
      • You will get random keys dropped in various activities
      • The keys will be to a specific dungeon in the world
      • Keys will upgrade the dungeon to a much harder endgame one, which will scale up even in the endgame
      • Keys also have specific affixes that change how the dungeon works
        • Affixes can affect the player, enemies or environment
          • A giant indestructible stone pillar spawns, shooting lightning all around it, following the player throughout the dungeon
          • All enemies are invisible unless they're in combat
          • Double bosses in the dungeon
      • They offer a better chance of setup than Greater Rifts, as you'll probably know what type of enemies are in the dungeon you got your key for, as well as the affixes on the key and how the dungeon will change
      • Many keys will drop, you can dismantle them as well for crafting mats

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     World and Campaign

    • Campaign
      • (Updated) The story of Diablo 4 is just like "the first chapter in a book, meaning there are very big plans for the larger narrative after the game's story ends (source)
      • (Updated) Rathma is in fact, the bald summoner of Lillith from the intro cinematic (source)
      • Non-linear
      • Each part of the world will become shared with other players after you finish a specific part of the campaign. So presumably when you finish act 1 which takes you beyond the Scosglen area, that's when Scosglen will become a shared world
    • Open shared world
      • The world is preset, will not be randomized
      • You'll only run into a few players here and there in the overworld
        • Most of the time you will be alone
      • Towns will be trading hubs, you'll see more players there
      • World boss areas will be where you'll see the most players
      • 5 contiguous connected zones
        • Scosglen (savage untamed foggy forests)
        • Dry Steppes (war ravaged terrain, grasslands, canyons, salt flats)
        • Fractured peaks (snowy mountainous region, dark ruins, ancient cathedrals, Victorian gothic horror themes)
        • Hawezar (poisonous swamplands, disease, despair, swamp witches who worship massive snakes)
        • Kehjistan (last bastion of Zakarum faith, a lot of buried history from the Sin War, Lilith's agents are among the people)
      • Over 100 settlements of various sizes
      • Mounts
        • There will be mount equipment that grants stats as well as cosmetics
        • Special dismount abilities for each class (Sorceress dismounts by turning into an ice ball and rolling off)

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       Dungeons

      • Hundreds of unique dungeons
      • Always private for you and your party
      • Randomized interior and exterior environments
      • Seamless exploration - no loading screens between floors
      • Actions in one part of the dungeon can affect another part
      • Dungeon objectives
        • Progressing the objective increases difficulty and rewards
        • Enemy responds to your progress

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       Classes (All 3 class skills and talents from the demo)

      • There will be 5 classes at launch
      • (Updated) Some credible leaks that had correctly predicted BlizzCon announcements also predict that the final 2 classes will be Amazon and Paladin, making it a full D2 cast (source)
      • There will be a lot of character customization
        • Gender, tattoos, hair color etc.
      • Barbarian
        • The Arsenal system allows them to wield 4 weapons
          • Two 1 handers and two separate 2 handers
          • You switch between them based on the skill you're using
      • Druid
        • Caster (human), werebear and werewolf forms
        • Shapeshifting is seamless - you can transform mid-abilitiy
          • Similar to barbarian arsenal system, you shapeshift when you use an ability from that form
        • Specific mechanics tied to the moment you transform (damage reduction when you change to werebear etc.)
        • Can pick talents from either of two branches as he moves down them
      • Sorceress
        • The main caster class
        • 3 branches in talent tree based on elements
      • All classes have a default dodge ability
        • At the moment it has no cooldown and is spammble

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       Leveling

      • (Updated) The Paragon-like system might be infinite or finite, they haven't decided yet (source)
      • Maximum level is 40
      • There will be level scaling
        • They still want you to feel that you're getting more powerful as you level
        • In a party, the game will scale to the party leader's level
      • There will be something that fills the paragon level role, but they haven't decided on what exactly

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       PvP

      • Dedicated PvP zones, similar to the World Boss zones
        • You have to opt in to PvP in those zones
      • The game and classes were designed with PvP in mind from the ground up
      • There won't be separate PvP balance for items and skills
        • But they expect the builds to be very different from PvE
      • Specific PvP modes are being explored, as well as PvPvE modes

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       Mechanics

      • No crowd control diminishing returns
        • Makes the "unstoppable" buff very important, as it ignores CC
      • Death penalty
        • You have to corpse run and you drop a pile of gold you have to reclaim
      • The stagger system for bosses
        • Crowd control effects don't affect bosses directly but deal damage to their stagger bar. When it's depleted the boss goes into a unique state for each of them - the world boss Ashava has one of her blade arms destroyed and is less dangerous after that, and can lose both.

      Back to top
       

       Social

      • Leaderboards
        • Will go more in the direction of activity-specific ones, similar to the current Diablo 3 seasonal conquest leaderboards
        • Will also focus more on leaderboards between friends and not more broad ones
      • Group play vs. solo play should be completely balanced in terms of rewards
        • If they can't quite achieve that balance, they will choose group play to be more rewarding
      • Couch co-op on consoles (2 players only)

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       Monsters

      • New Enhancing affix
        • Improves a skill a specific monster type has (skeletal ballista now fires 3 shots instead of one, Fallen shaman resurrects multiple allies etc.)
      • Monster families have synergies
        • They work together to provide a bigger challenge
        • The Fallen
        • The Drowned - undead from the oceans, created by maritime curses and similar
        • Skeletons

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      Scosglen_Goatmen.jpg.00200ad50c7096e4c72


       Monetization

      • (Updated) There will be microtransactions (source)
      • Base game + expansions
      • There was a mention of cosmetics only in an interview but was not mentioned again when the question was asked elsewhere
      • You will not be able to buy power

      Back to top
       

       Post-launch content

      • Seasons
        • Seasons might not require you to roll a new character
        • They will shake up the meta and perhaps focus some less used builds or items
        • New legendaries

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       Platforms

      • (Updated) Cross-play between platforms is one of the big goals for the game (source)
      • PC, PS4, Xbox One and probably next gen consoles as well
      • They're looking into cross-play

      Back to top
       

       Progress updates

      • We will be getting quarterly progress updates starting in 2020

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       Misc

      • There's an auto-walk toggle, so you just have to move your mouse and not click it for movement
      • Contextual interaction with the world (you can climb or drop by clicking on a prompt in the environment)
      • Animation-cancelling (you can instantly back out of a skill you're in the middle of)
      • Controller support for PC
      • The game is full 3d for the first time in the franchise (D3 had some 2.5d trees and other assets)
      • Hardcore mode will return
      • No offline mode
         

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       Release date

      • Not even "Blizzard soon"
         

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      That's about every significant piece of info we gathered from all sources we could find. The story details and constant mentions of "darkness", "gothic" and "gritty" we decided to skip and focused on the game part. If you've run across anything we missed, do let us know in the comments!

       

       

       

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      Related Diablo 4 Articles:

      • Like 1
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      I'm beyond excited for D4. I hope it doesn't flop at launch. Also, a shared world is going to be cool. I've heard it is similar to how Destiny works. You'll see players doing their own thing. Plus, the new or at least updated Engine looks amazing! Might re-install D3 just to get that feeling again.

      Highly Interested on how Towns (Social Hubs) will play out with random players, hopefully just like any other MMO. Trading, questing and help from randoms that may turn into long life Diablo friends.

      Edited by Knoxtane
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      2 hours ago, Knoxtane said:

      randoms that may turn into long life Diablo friends.

      I respect your possitivity and hope / wish in this term, but i mostly met extrem psychopath's in both WoW and D3 in the past. At this point i welcome their idea of "you dont need people for every action" aka. Soloplay also brings happiness.

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      HYPE! Reading through all the infos, good vibes, really excited about D4. Hopefully Blizz gonna stay motivated enough so to deliver some next level action rpg... action ?.

      @Baharok Haha, "psychopaths", classic. I always found open privat community chats to be great for finding ppl that know how to have fun. Hopefully D4 will have a strong community backbone, making it easy to have fun. And an ignore option for the occasional "psychopath" ?.

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      • They won't drop as much as in D3
      • Drop rates will not be modified as you get farther into endgame (possibly one drop rate while leveling and another at max, but that's it)

      Having D3 release legendaries flashbacks. Back when they didn't drop at all and were still inferior to good proc Rare items.

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      I'm so sad that the runes and runewords won't be closer to the way they were in D2.

      It is to this day so satisfying to see that HR drop, save runes and eventually craft that sweet runeword in a piece of carefully selected gear.

      I'm also a bit scared that they won't really listen to the community through the development of D4, but only time will tell.

      Edited by Osmodium

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      5 hours ago, Kuarinofu said:
      • They won't drop as much as in D3
      • Drop rates will not be modified as you get farther into endgame (possibly one drop rate while leveling and another at max, but that's it)

      Having D3 release legendaries flashbacks. Back when they didn't drop at all and were still inferior to good proc Rare items.

      While I 100% agree you have to admit the few legendaries you got back then (as shitty as they were) were a *filtered* EVENT. I can seriousl still remember at least 2 and exacty where and how I got them. I really REALLY miss this in games nowdays.

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      5 hours ago, Osmodium said:

      I'm so sad that the runes and runewords won't be closer to the way they were in D2.

      It is to this day so satisfying to see that HR drop, save runes and eventually craft that sweet runeword in a piece of carefully selected gear.

      I'm also a bit scared that they won't really listen to the community through the development of D4, but only time will tell.

      While with any other company and Blizzard at any other time you'd be right, this time I'm 100% sure they'll listen. Why? Because they don't really know what they're doing. I don't mean this in  an incompetence way, but they do not have a vision for this game (unfortunately). D4 is a hail mary "we need to give something, anything to the community" and they're piecing it together from all the complaints and "wants" of the Diablo community.

      It's both sad and good, as the game will be fine, good even since Blizz know how to do good combat, but it won't have any new ideas or concepts - they will do EXACTLY what the community wants which is why they're practically begging for feedback.

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      Ahhw awesome summary! Really excited about the new Diablo.
      Already in love with everything from art to gameplay. There is absolutely nothing what I actually don't like. Can't wait that 'not even Blizzard soon'! 

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      Thanx for all this, Icy!

      I miss the Old D2 Crafting - I don't remember exactly how it worked, but I remember getting a White Item like a Grandfather Sword and Crafting it into something really kickass.  Maybe I'm Hallucinatin'.

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      Curious what you guys think about the Skills not being able to be respecced.

      Edited by albabe

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      I just want to say I have a lot of friends that are gamers but have never dabbled in Diablo, and they are talking about this game's announcement. People never playing Diablo before are interested and saying maybe they should give it a try.

       

      And my friends who have moved on from Diablo years and years ago are super hyped about it.

       

      So thus far they have done a fantastic job on rebranding this old school franchise, and I hope they continue to build on this momentum and deliver!

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      9 hours ago, Baharok said:

      I respect your possitivity and hope / wish in this term, but i mostly met extrem psychopath's in both WoW and D3 in the past. At this point i welcome their idea of "you dont need people for every action" aka. Soloplay also brings happiness.

      I have found as I've gotten older that I enjoy the journey much more than the destination I'm getting to. The majority of people you group with seem to be in a fury to burn through and race as fast as possible, skipping things as much as possible, to get that shiny thing at the end. Dungeons in WoW for example give you zero chance to even stop and chat, let alone admire the interesting atmosphere or architecture of the area. I hope they keep solo play or at least a slower-paced style available for people.

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      40 minutes ago, albabe said:

      Thanx for all this, Icy!

      I miss the Old D2 Crafting - I don't remember exactly how it worked, but I remember getting a White Item like a Grandfather Sword and Crafting it into something really kickass.  Maybe I'm Hallucinatin'.

      It was the runeword system, you'd need an item with 5-6 sockets and then a whole lot of extremely hard to get runes to crate a 5-6 world runeword that turned yout white item into basically a legendary.

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      13 minutes ago, albabe said:

      Curious what you guys think about the Skills not being able to be respecced.

      I'll be writing up a full article on skills and talents and that's a biggie I want to discuss

      8 minutes ago, TyZone said:

      I have found as I've gotten older that I enjoy the journey much more than the destination I'm getting to. The majority of people you group with seem to be in a fury to burn through and race as fast as possible, skipping things as much as possible, to get that shiny thing at the end. Dungeons in WoW for example give you zero chance to even stop and chat, let alone admire the interesting atmosphere or architecture of the area. I hope they keep solo play or at least a slower-paced style available for people.

      Can't agree more, I consistently either play solo, even in MMOs or with friends that I know won't just run around burning to get to "the endgame". I still get that pseudo-competitive urge when other friends are "already" max level or grinding the endgame content, but I manage to fight it off (mostly) and just enjoy. I still play a ridiculous amount of time but I really take my time to look around and enjoy the journey as much as possible, as you say.

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      As someone who wanted to play D3 on my Laptop when I deployed overseas, I know the lack of "offline mode" will continue to annoy veterans, and I don't blame them.

      With today's technology and crypto as it is, it shouldn't be hard to generate keys for each buyer that are impossible to duplicate.

      I.e. the game key would be generated server-side at time of purchase and then linked to that battle.net account permanently (and require online authentication for a one-time register to new devices if you were to switch from laptop to pc and vice versa) This way people couldn't add devices, go offline and play a LAN game with one Battle.net account

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      Lack of respec might be annoying to most players. Freedom of choice is good, but as usual people will quickly figure out what is the best build. Anyway, not planning to be "competitive" or anything of that sort, so I will just pick whatever I like.

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      While I want to get excited, I'm apprehensive as well. I've lost a lot of faith in Blizzard's direction this last year and their content seems to be gearing more towards profit than play. The idea of keyed dungeons and pvp says to me they want to invest D4 into e-sports, which could mean more investment into that side of the spectrum rather than the single/co-op version. Always online, well, that's a given these days it seems. But an open world where you see other players? Sounds like they want to make it an MMO without it being an MMO. Right now, if it were available for pre-order I wouldn't touch it. Later down the line when we learn more and it becomes available, I'll have to wait and see.

      TBH, as much as I was looking forward to D4, I was more interested in a D2 remaster. But given that Starcraft 2 got one and Warcraft 3 is getting one, I think next year we'll see a D2 remaster announced. Hopefully.

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      seems decent i really enjoyed d3 over d2 so not sure how illl like this . for me d3 is great i can hope on do 2 or 3 grifts real quick then get off fr a bit and come back d4 doesnt seems liek ill be able to play like that alot more time will be needed to invest . and shadowlands will prob be out way before this comes out 

       

      Edited by elmurufdd

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      On 11/5/2019 at 8:43 PM, Starym said:

      It was the runeword system, you'd need an item with 5-6 sockets and then a whole lot of extremely hard to get runes to crate a 5-6 world runeword that turned yout white item into basically a legendary.

       

      On 11/5/2019 at 8:43 PM, Starym said:

      It was the runeword system, you'd need an item with 5-6 sockets and then a whole lot of extremely hard to get runes to crate a 5-6 world runeword that turned yout white item into basically a legendary.


      Well there was crafting and there was a runeword system, for crafting the item would have to have been normal/magical/scoketed, for runewords it would have to be grey (or made grey via crafting, so you technically the original post would still be refering to crafting and not runewords)
      And yes runewords were more often than not better than legendaries.
      https://diablo2.diablowiki.net/Crafting_Recipes
      https://diablo2.diablowiki.net/Runewords

      Edited by Koxsos

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      On 11/5/2019 at 11:46 AM, Starym said:

      I'll be writing up a full article on skills and talents and that's a biggie I want to discuss

      Can't agree more, I consistently either play solo, even in MMOs or with friends that I know won't just run around burning to get to "the endgame". I still get that pseudo-competitive urge when other friends are "already" max level or grinding the endgame content, but I manage to fight it off (mostly) and just enjoy. I still play a ridiculous amount of time but I really take my time to look around and enjoy the journey as much as possible, as you say.

      Let us know when your article is up, sir.

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          Over the past few years, we've assembled a strong team with incredible passion for Diablo IV. You, Diablo’s fans, are a critical part of this team. With the help of your valuable feedback, we've steadily refined and deepened the game experience. We have ways to go, and while much has changed, our commitment to the game is unwavering.
          Sanctuary should always be items glittering in dark dungeons. Tales of powerful heroes standing against the onslaught of hell. Lands where trials, treasure, and terrible monsters lie around every corner, equal parts familiar and boundless in its possibilities. Doing this world justice is a solemn responsibility. Today, we're taking a deep dive into the sound design of Diablo IV. Sound is a sometimes underappreciated yet integral element of the game's design, serving as a channel for communicating everything from incoming damage, to confirmation that a button press was registered by the game, to the intensity of a combat sequence. Try turning off the sound in a Diablo game sometime; you'll find your eyes have to work a lot harder to follow the action.
          Sound also conveys the subtext of the world through which you adventure. It supports the rising and falling action of the campaign and immerses you into the ambient life of a region, transporting you into the game world. While you're reading through the blog, I encourage you to listen to the ambient tracks and pay attention to their effect on your heartrate and emotions. Try closing your eyes while listening to get a better sense of how much is being communicated.
          Crafting Diablo's sound requires science, art... and the occasional ball of fire. Sound Supervisor Kris Giampa and his team have fascinating insights to share in this behind-the-scenes look at how it all works.
          We hope you enjoy this update and look forward to your thoughts and reactions. As promised, our next blog will cover endgame systems and visual effects. It's been a while since we looked at systems, and there's a lot we're excited to share. Let us know what topics you'd like to hear about in the future too!
          We are grateful to have you with us on this journey. Thank you for playing the stuff we make.
          -Joe Shely,
          Game Director, Diablo IV
          Source: PC Gamer
        • By Staff
          Blizzard just pushed a new quarterly update for Diablo 4 that deals with sound design.
          The opening is handled by the new Game Director Joe Shely. Diablo 4's former Game Director Louis Barriga left Blizzard a while ago.
          In the latest development update, we learn more about the sound design of Diablo 4, including hero fire skills, monster movement, monster voice, open world ambience, dungeon ambience, breakable interactives, and more.
          (Source)
          Table of Contents
          Introduction The Sound Design of Diablo IV Hello, and welcome once again to a new Diablo IV Quarterly Update.
          I'm Joe Shely from the Diablo IV team. As a design lead who has been working on this dark, shared, open world action role-playing game from the beginning, I’m honored to continue the vision of Diablo IV as its new Game Director, and I’m humbled to represent the team pouring their hearts into this game.
          Like many of you, our team has been reflecting upon recent events. A lot has happened since our last blog and the hard work of practicing the values we aspire to must continue. In parallel with that important work, development of Diablo IV continues too.
          Over the past few years, we've assembled a strong team with incredible passion for Diablo IV. You, Diablo’s fans, are a critical part of this team. With the help of your valuable feedback, we've steadily refined and deepened the game experience. We have ways to go, and while much has changed, our commitment to the game is unwavering.
          Sanctuary should always be items glittering in dark dungeons. Tales of powerful heroes standing against the onslaught of hell. Lands where trials, treasure, and terrible monsters lie around every corner, equal parts familiar and boundless in its possibilities. Doing this world justice is a solemn responsibility. Today, we're taking a deep dive into the sound design of Diablo IV. Sound is a sometimes underappreciated yet integral element of the game's design, serving as a channel for communicating everything from incoming damage, to confirmation that a button press was registered by the game, to the intensity of a combat sequence. Try turning off the sound in a Diablo game sometime; you'll find your eyes have to work a lot harder to follow the action.
          Sound also conveys the subtext of the world through which you adventure. It supports the rising and falling action of the campaign and immerses you into the ambient life of a region, transporting you into the game world. While you're reading through the blog, I encourage you to listen to the ambient tracks and pay attention to their effect on your heartrate and emotions. Try closing your eyes while listening to get a better sense of how much is being communicated.
          Crafting Diablo's sound requires science, art... and the occasional ball of fire. Sound Supervisor Kris Giampa and his team have fascinating insights to share in this behind-the-scenes look at how it all works.
          We hope you enjoy this update and look forward to your thoughts and reactions. As promised, our next blog will cover endgame systems and visual effects. It's been a while since we looked at systems, and there's a lot we're excited to share. Let us know what topics you'd like to hear about in the future too!
          We are grateful to have you with us on this journey. Thank you for playing the stuff we make.
          -Joe Shely,
          Game Director, Diablo IV
          Back to Top
          The Sound Design of Diablo IV
          Hello traveler, I’m Kris Giampa, Sound Supervisor for Diablo IV.
          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
          Back to Top
        • 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
          Back to Top
          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!
          Back to Top
          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.
          Back to Top
          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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