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Starym

Could Diablo 4 Be Closer than Expected?

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Blizzard's Diablo 4 release timeline has never been outright stated, and the most accurate piece of info on the matter we have is from BlizzCon, where we learned it was "not even Blizzard soon", implying quite a few more years of development were to come. However, the demo that was presented at the convention looked very polished, and even if it was a vertical slice, it was quite far along, which has prompted many discussions on the game's potential 2021 or 2022 release date.

Today we have redditor poundcake_64 discussing the recent additions to the Blizzard CDN (Content Delivery/Distribution Network), which include not only project Fenris that we already talked about, but also many updates to it in recent weeks. This is all speculation, obviously, and there are differing opinions on poundcake's interpretation of the facts, but we're going to summarize his conclusions anyway, and you can check out the different opinions on the matter in the reddit thread.

The main claim here is that Diablo 4 is much further along than most of us assumed, with a possible release in 2021. The reasoning given is based on the authors 20 years of experience on the IT field and the patterns of update patches and their contents on the Fenris/Diablo 4 CDN. The first argument is a comparison of the Diablo 3 builds and the fact that the current D4 build already has 142% more versions than the original D3 release build. The second is that Blizzard are already adding things like RGB product integration testing with Corsair and a Vivox SDK (a voice and chat commonly used for video games, like Overwatch), which would be somewhat strange if the game was at an early stage of development. He also reveals the current version on the CDN is playable and is possibly being used by Corsair and co. to test their product integration. He also found out the game is currently 30 GB large, which would be a lot for something not that far along. Finally, he claims that Rod Ferguson was actually brought in to push the project over the (near) finish line, and that Activision are pushing hard for releases, especially knowing Blizzard's usual slow/procrastinating nature of development. Read the full details of poundcake's arguments at the bottom of the article, as he goes into far more detail and is certainly more convincing than this summary.

My personal thoughts on all this are mixed, as the game build versions could mean anything, as the way Blizzard mark or update them could have changed many times since Diablo 3. The Corsair and Vivox integration, on the other hand, could go either way, but to me it does sound like the game is a significant way along, and this news is actually quite positive for those of us (aka all) that want the game to release as soon as humanly possible (while still being a quality product). Rod Ferguson's addition could be both a good and bad sign for the game's previous development (and I think it's definitely a good sign for its future development, having played most of the Gears games - (regardless of what you think of the games themselves, they're very efficiently made and solid quality products), as he could have been brought in to finish the game quicker/at the finish line or because there was trouble in leadership in the previous regime. Unfortunately I'd say the latter is more likely, as we know/heard solid rumors that another version of Diablo 4 was already scrapped and the team lead left the company, so it wouldn't be that hard to believe the current version of D4 also had leadership issues (especially with the rather uninspired "what do you think we should do" presentation of the game at BlizzCon).

Having said all that this particular post does give me a lot of hope, as I was completely shocked to see a finished demo of the game at BlizzCon already, and any evidence that the game is much further along that we thought, no matter how flimsy it might be, is something I'm going to be inclined to believe. With the quarterly updates for 2020 we can be sure the game won't be coming early in 2021, as the marketing push needs some time to play itself out, but if these are just the preamble and the real push starts in early 2021, a release in the same year could be possible. The "not even Blizzard soon" comment was somewhat conspicuous, especially considering Activision's constant pushing to get more frequent game releases out, so it might have been a bit of a cover, so they can pull out a huge reveal at this year's BlizzCon about the release date next year. The current pandemic may have thrown off all of these calculations, of course, but I have to say I'm more optimistic now and significantly more hyped.

Quote

I've worked in IT for 20 years and have worked in data centers, networks and systems, and with developers and product managers. I am very familiar with dev ops and typical development processes and product life cycles. Having this experience, I am seeing certain patterns across Blizzard’s Diablo builds on the CDN I'd like to share with you. While I have not gained access to the underlying files to datamine I was able to ascertain quite a bit of information.

  • First publicly CDN Fenris build 5/8/2020 Build 0.0.1.23041
  • Latest build as of 5/16/2020 Build 0.0.1.23157
  • Build Legend = Major Version . Sub Version . Patch Version . Build Version

In Diablo 3 terms, Diablo 3 (Vanilla) was released as version 1.0.1.9558. It is a common dev ops process to flip an internal build, such as 0.0.1.9558 to 1.0.1.9558, when the build is deemed 1.0 ready. This likely means Diablo 3 likely had a build number close to 0.0.1.9558 before being converted to 1.0.1.9558 with a development black out starting to allow for the final build to be sent to manufacturing in order to create distributable media. This is typically referred to as the RTS build or Release to Sales version which is then, back in the day, written to media disk/CDs.

I will later reinforce, but if we presume Diablo 3 was at build 0.0.1.9558 before being flipped to 1.0 than Diablo 4 has already seen ~142% more build versions than Diablo 3 had seen prior to launch. Blizzard build numbers typically range from 1-70000 before a major, sub, or patch version # is incremented by one. I very much am suggesting Diablo 4 is much further along than believed and seeing something in 2021 is expected. We know Blizzard can often procrastinate on releasing games, but given the investor calls for more regular release cadences I think something in 2021 is likely.

To prove my point, Blizzard are currently performing Diablo 4 RGB product integration testing with Corsair using their CUE SDK. Blizzard are also deploying a very modern version of Vivox SDK which is a voice and chat commonly used for video games, most notably this was used in Overwatch. You can find that point referenced at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vivox. If Blizzard was years upon years away from having a 1.0 version of the product would they being participating in RGB lightning kit and 3rd party SDKs tests?

I can tell you, as part of the development cycle, products that do not serve any core purpose for a product are typically not a focus until a product is very close to a tangible 1.0 version. That sort of testing would typically be something that would be performed closer to a major release so this cannot simply be CPU testing as originally anticipated / reported when the build hit the CDN. Furthermore, look at all the art and content they have been publishing lately, it reinforces that the game is mostly ready with revisions of certain components or systems being tweaked. The game is probably mile ahead of where we originally thought, and my digging took me deeper.

Currently, there are active play test where the Diablo 4 client is being connected to st22.bgs.battle.net. While this login/game server is not reachable over the internet it requires a VPN to Blizzard’s network but is actively being used. How do I know? Its NEW and accessible to 3rd party vendors, most notable Corsair who is making RGB PCs.. The game does not allow for multi-boxing, cannot be played offline, is only play able in English / US regions, requires 30 GB of disk space. The game also requires a 64-bit CPU, is only able to be installed on a version of Windows newer than or equal to Windows 6.1 (Windows 7).

For a game many years away from release and early in development it is unlikely for the game to 30 GB in size. With all the art, content and game play we have already seen it reinforces the game has be optimized and is likely much more polished than originally thought. By example, Diablo 3’s system requirements are very similar and requires 25 GB of disk space while only actually consuming ~16-17 GB. Diablo 4 already requires 5 GB more and while memory requirements are not set within the CDN installer requirements I am expecting a min of 4 GB required with 8 GB of ram being ideal.

Almost done.. Rod Fergusson left Gears to come to Blizzard and has a reputation of being a “fixer” getting games over the finish line. We also know Diablo 4 was rebooted at least once and seeing that the current build has ~142% more builds than Diablo 3 had prior to launch of vanilla this why he was brought in. For one, I think Blizzard’s procrastination problem is a real issue for revenue streams and Rob being known as a fixer is a good candidate to break glass ceilings and cut red tape. Putting this alongside of product testing with Corsair I think we are closer than we are further away, meaning 2021 might bring something, if not at least a publicly known closed beta.

You can skim through the CDNs using a free browser-based tool with the link below. All dates on CDN are in Year-Month-Day-Hour format and Blizzard's CDN / patch history does not exceed five digit numbers before again being converted into a major / sub version / patch number.

https://wow.tools/monitor/

- poundcake_64

 

What do you think about all this? Just random reading into things that we want to have happen, or is there something to it? When do you think we'll see Diablo 4 released?

Source.

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Fixing a mediocre base game with a follow-up expansion worked 3/3 already, so I don't see why shouldn't they push for an early release with this Diablo generation.

Edited by Badadada

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Yup, my money's on early access 'privilige' for 60€ with a special discount to bring it to 39,99€ , so you get to alpha test.
There's plenty of people who would go for that, hell I might even go for that, but of course the game won't be 'finished' for quite some time, if ever.
Should it pay for itself early on, there's little point to continue supporting it with an actually adequately staffed dev team.

But to be fair and all, the D3 was a surprisingly bug-light experience for me besides the launch issues.
But then again, times change, free hong kong!

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I would say a November 2021 release is feasible. We already know Shadowlands will be November this year with the sudden ramping up of the alpha, won't be long before beta now. And Blizzard has a history of not competing with its own product launches, so only one major franchise game will get the November release spot each year. We've not heard much at all about Overwatch 2 since its announcement at Blizzcon, not even any demo footage, which puts that at 2022 at the earliest.

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24 minutes ago, SidonisAntares said:

I would say a November 2021 release is feasible. We already know Shadowlands will be November this year with the sudden ramping up of the alpha, won't be long before beta now. And Blizzard has a history of not competing with its own product launches, so only one major franchise game will get the November release spot each year. We've not heard much at all about Overwatch 2 since its announcement at Blizzcon, not even any demo footage, which puts that at 2022 at the earliest.

Misread - yea 2021 is feasible.

Edited by durdyenglish

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I hope they release it the fast as possible... and kick the bucket. So finally everbody can see whats left of "the good ol`times" Blizzard, alongside with Bioware and other formerly great gaming companies. Choke on ur own greed and make room for new, smaller companys wich try to care `bout their customers. I´m tired of buying AAA titles for 60+ € and recieving a Game thats in a state that´s more worse then an early alpha of a one-man-production...

Edited by DukeThumb

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      The World Boss Ashava shown during Blizzcon 2019 in Scosglen can spawn in the Dry Steppes as well
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      Various items from the playtest utilizing the new attribute system. Note that the item icons are not final art
      Back to Top
      Other Thoughts
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      The playtest was also a really good way to put our tech through its paces. Since we played at home, we got to test the game on a lot of different setups—from graphics cards, to screen aspect ratios, to network speeds. We also had the opportunity to exercise our client-server technology, including deploying builds with fixes to bugs during the playtest.
      Of course, we still have a lot of work ahead of us and to be clear, we are not at an Alpha or Beta stage yet. We don’t typically discuss our early milestones publicly during the course of development, but we think it’s especially important to continue to share our progress during a year without a BlizzCon. Also, this was an important milestone for the team as we feel it corroborated that we have all the key ingredients for a great Diablo IV (of course, we’ll continue to seek feedback and iterate as we drive to completion).
      We hope you’ve enjoyed this update and, as always, we welcome you to share your thoughts on the platform of your choice—whether it’s our own forums, other sites, or social media, we read and appreciate your comments and feedback. We were happy to see lots of great discussion after our last blog (which seeded a bunch of conversations on our end as well).
      We are also excited to see the range of topics you want to hear about. Based on your response so far, we think talent trees are by far what you’re the most eager to discuss, so we’ll make sure to queue that up for our very next blog. Items continue to be a popular topic and there was also a lot of interest in music. We are shooting to have more updates around those topics later in the year. Let us know how that sounds.
      Thank you for taking the time to read this update. We can’t wait to share more of Sanctuary with you!
       

      Development is well underway outside the Dry Steppes. More of Sanctuary awaits in coming updates!
       
      -Luis Barriga-
      Game Director, Diablo IV Team
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      Have a question, comment, or feedback about the information we shared today? Join the conversation here on our General Forum. We can’t wait to hear from you!
      The Q2 Diablo 4 update is here!
    • By Starym
      We have some news on the second Diablo 4 quarterly update, in the form of a very short reply from Community Manager Lead PezRadar, confirming that it's still planned for this month, with a note that things can change. But we do now know it's at least written (in some form), so that's something. You can check out the previous quarterly update from back in February here, which focuses on the UI, controllers and co-op and the Cannibal monster family.
      We also recently took a look at whether D4's release could be closer than anticipated, a cool Assassin fan concept, a hate/excitement meter on some D4 features from reddit and discussed whether local co-op was in the cards for PC players as well.
      2nd Quarterly Update (source)
      One simple question, is the D4 Q update still on track for this month?
      Yes but will caveat that things can always change. But I have read it/gone through it.

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