An Entire Region, the Dry Steppes, is Fully Playable
Diablo IV features a huge world where you can travel between with five connected regions at will. In fact, one of the most striking revelations from BlizzCon was that you could walk from one end of Sanctuary to the other without hitting a road-block in the form of a loading screen. The latest Diablo IV playtest at Blizzard – where the entire development team sat down to experience the game together - focused on the dry desert setting of the Dry Steppes. One of the huge regions in the game.
"The Diablo IV team is still hard at work on the game (naturally) and will continue to provide in-depth quarterly updates on its progress throughout 2020.”
What made this recent playtest an important milestone was that all campaign content and quests were there alongside open-world events, dungeons, a PvP area, and cinematics. From this revelation we learn that you can complete an entire zone or region before moving on, but that it isn’t necessary, and you can simply work through the story and come back later. Tackling side-activities at your own pace.
Having all elements ready and playable in a single region has allowed the team to “see how all the current features harmonise over a longer playtime” according to Game Director Luis Barriga. Plus, PvP is now confirmed as in-game and functioning. Very cool. Development on other regions, the campaign, dungeons, and activities are of course happening too -- but this focus on the Dry Steppes paints the picture of a game coming together.
“Corpses riddled with bite marks. Splintered bones scraped clean of marrow. Tongues sawed off and eyes gouged out of their skulls. These are the bloody fingerprints the Cannibals leave behind—if they leave behind anything at all. No one is certain where they come from, but some legends claim they are a former tribe of barbarians, banished from Arreat years ago. Whether their cannibalism led to their exile or developed out of desperation afterward is unknown. The outcasts brought their endless hunger to the Dry Steppes, and from there spread to the far corners of the world to prey on lonesome caravans and unsuspecting villages.
The few who have survived encounters with these butchers share the same stories. They tell of the mad fire that burns in the eyes of all Cannibals, of how eating the flesh of their victims in battle only fuels their hunger for more. They whisper of the unlucky souls spared in the attacks, hauled off like livestock for the raiders to pick clean until their next hunt. And then, they say no more. The silence speaks for them: sometimes it is better to die than to live and remember.”
We are going to remove Ancient Legendaries from the game in their current form entirely.
Our newest proposal hits a couple different feedback points: addressing the usefulness of Rare (Yellow) items as well as increasing the depth and complexity of player gear choices in the endgame.
We will be introducing a new type of consumable item (which we haven’t yet named). This item would be earned by killing monsters, just like other items. It would have one random Legendary affix on it, drops only in the late endgame, and can be used to apply that affix to any non-Legendary item.
Angelic Power, increases the duration of all beneficial effects (like self-buffs or healing).
Demonic Power, increases the duration of all negative effects (like debuffs or damage over time)
Ancestral Power, increases the chance of on-hit effects (aka increased proc chance)
[For example], you would need 50 Demonic Power to get an additional rank in the Devastation skill, 55 Demonic Power for 25% Fire Resistance, or 60 Demonic power for an additional 2 ranks in the Char to Ash skill. If you wanted to build around Crushing Blow, you’d need to stack at least 55 Ancestral Power instead, while 40 Angelic Power would be required to gain 25% Cold Resistance.
Diablo IV shouldn’t just mimic the itemization in our previous Diablo games. Our plan is to take the best parts of previous games and improve upon them while introducing new elements to make Diablo IV unique. We don’t want to create an exact copy of Diablo II or Diablo III.
“Once we saw the art we were inspired, [Lilith] was a character that we could build a story around,” Luis says. “What we love about Sanctuary is that we've already planted these seeds. There’s a rich backstory found in novels and lore books, so we decided to look closer at the creation myth. We felt that we’ve fought Diablo before, and Diablo always comes back – so, it was a case of, what other bullets do we have on the table just lying around."
“Diablo IV is like the first chapter of a book,” John adds. “We want to tell a big story and we want to tell it, hopefully, for a very long time. Treating this like the first chapter of a book and Lilith as a key character in this story, it feels great knowing that there are still all these other characters that could come back in the future. Or, new characters that we haven’t seen before.”
Emerging from a cavernous crypt to wander the grassy hills of an overcast and dreary Scosglen in Diablo IV, you see a small village in the distance. Between you and that peaceful respite – monsters, beasts, goat men, and other creatures to slay. The new real-time cinematics that feature heavily in Diablo’s return allow Blizzard to highlight and put a focus on character as well as the vast open world of the now seamless Sanctuary to explore.
From dynamic weather effects, art direction that highlights the stark contrast between light and shadow, seeing things like the grass sway according to the whims of the wind, the day-night system that can change the overall feel of the familiar in an instant, to the improved geometric detail in the environments – Diablo IV looks incredible. Like some of the most evocatively dark concept art for the series come to life.
And then, like clockwork, the camera settles into that familiar isometric position and you begin to fully grasp the tagline - ‘A Return to Darkness’.