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Diablo 4 - Character Customisation Detailed Alongside New Artwork and Key Info
Post by KostaAndreadis @ 11:42am 01/07/21 | Comments
The latest Diablo IV Quarterly Update gives us a closer look at the characters we'll play and the monsters we'll go up against.


The latest Diablo IV quarterly update has arrived and it delves into the art side of the experience, where the dark and gothic imagery meets new 3D rendering techniques and real-time cinematics. Character stuff that not only looks incredible but features your character up-close-and-personal and decked out in whatever armour you’ve got equipped. And speaking of armour, we’ve got confirmation that you’ll be able to dye individual armour pieces, from individual shoulder pads right down to boots and gloves.


“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.”



“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,” writes John Mueller, Art Director on Diablo IV. “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.”

The end result is being able to render an impressive Lilith in real-time using the Diablo IV engine as seen below. This is the in-game character model, yeah, amazing.



Not only that, but your own characters, your Rogue, Sorcerer, or Barbarian can be customised extensively - with this detail reflected in the variations below. Very cool.



To get to this point the team at Blizzard had to build a whole team of “artists, tools engineers, rigging specialists, lighting and surfacing experts” -- leading to physically-based rendering, and detail like cloth simulation, fur, hair, metallic surfaces, and even the pores visible on your character’s skin. Also characters sweat, because, yeah, demon-slaying is sweaty business.

Although categorised as “Work In Progress” John notes that “at this point the work [depicted in the images] is a very good representation of what you will see when the game is in your hands” meaning that development on Diablo IV is seemingly further down the road than we thought.


“At this point the work [depicted in the images] is a very good representation of what you will see when the game is in your hands.”



Something he just about confirmed via adding “with the hard work behind us and the comforting steady hum of our pipeline [in full swing]”, exploring Sanctuary is definitely more enjoyable now that character detail and different gear and customisation and what we assume is the bulk of the artwork is now right there -- in the game. Which makes us hopeful for a 2022 release date.

Players will also have access to something called the Wardrobe as part of the new Lair system that will allow “hundreds of armor components unique to your class, alongside custom colour palettes” to be mixed and matched and customised.



So then what will you be able to customise when it comes to the look of your Barb or Sorc? Well that would be: the face, hairstyle, facial hair (beards and eyebrows), jewelry (nose piercing or earrings), makeup, and body markings like tattoos or body paint. It’s worth noting that full sculpting ala some RPG character creation tools isn’t available -- with the team wanting to maintain a level consistency. But, this level of player customisation is unheard of in a traditional isometric action-RPG on the account of just how zoomed-out classic Diablo is.

And with that the team had to create an additional layer to facilitate being able to zoom in whilst still being readable when playing -- something that is a hallmark of the franchise.


“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,” adds Arnaud Kotelnikoff, Lead Character Artist. “It’s the first thing we consider in character development. 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."


“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.”



"To support that, we have added an extra layer of texture called detail mapping," Arnaud continues. "Detail mapping is a small, repetitive texture applied on top of the material that brings more sharpness and detail to the main texture.”

With all of the above there will also be different colour variations and some bits and pieces will be shared across classes where it makes sense lore-wise.


This all leads to one of the big changes with Diablo IV in that it will feature both pre-rendered cinematics and real-time cinematics -- built using the actual game-engine and new level of character detail we see here. The team has worked closely with Blizzard Animation every step of the way and the results are fantastic no matter the presentation method.

Case in point here’s the brilliant pre-rendered cinematic from the Diablo IV reveal back at BlizzCon 2019.



And here’s the most recent in-game real-time cinematic that revealed the new Rogue class at BlizzConline earlier this year.



Last but certainly not least are the monsters, the demonic beasties you, well, kill. “With monsters, success requires that many different things come together, but it starts with the player feeling satisfied in killing it,” writes Nick Chilano, Associate Art Director, Characters. “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.”


“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.”



And with that here’s the Blood Bishop, an artery blood-filled creature, a “high-level boss based on vampiric blood and magic”.


For more info and a closer look at characters and monsters be sure to check out the full Diablo IV Quarterly Update.
Read more about Diablo 4 on the game page - we've got the latest news, screenshots, videos, and more!



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