Blizzard promises quarterly story and content updates for Diablo IV
Every three months look forward to new missions, narrative, and game mechanicsBy Cal Jeffrey
Something to look forward to: Blizzard plans to release new Diablo IV gameplay mechanics, items, and storylines frequently after its June launch. The studio claims it will adhere to a tight three-month content release schedule. It looks more ambitious than Diablo III's four-month seasons, which have only seen one significant story expansion since its launch in 2012.
Last week, Blizzard dropped a behind-the-scenes video showcasing some of Diablo IV's end-game content (below). In addition to a sneak peek at Nightmare Dungeons and the Fields of Hatred, Associate Game Director Joseph Piepiora said that "launch is just the beginning," vaguely indicating that work on seasonal content was already underway.
The revelation isn't surprising since Diablo III and the more recently launched Diablo II: Resurrected both have seasonal play. In fact, the D3 team has served up 28 seasons since 2014 – an average of 3 seasons per year.
What is surprising is what Piepiora revealed in this month's issue of Game Informer.
Unlike Diablo III, Blizzard plans to deliver fresh story content indefinitely every three months. In other words, the story is not over once players finish the core campaign. The team envisions Diablo IV's end game as a living, breathing story that unfolds like a dark quarterly soap opera.
"[Expect] meaty updates [with] new storylines tied to fresh mechanics and features [coming quarterly]," Piepiora said. He also mentioned they would have new free and paid Battle Pass options ready shortly after launch.
The more frequent and content-intensive updates mean that players will have a reason to continue playing even after hitting their level cap and entering Paragon play. Each season will bring much more than just a new ladder to climb, meaning that D4 could have even more longevity than Diablo III.
"There is never going to be an absence of something to do," promised Producer Ash Sweetring.
But how much is too much? Diablo IV's game world is already exponentially more massive than any game in the franchise. The world map encompasses the most of the eastern continent of Estuar rather than just a handful of scattered cities as in other franchise entries.
Furthermore, Blizzard has already indicated that the game will heavily encourage exploration. I could only explore a fraction of the Act One Fractured Peaks region during two days of playing the beta, which is saying a lot since I was skipping all dialogue to avoid spoilers as I raced to level 20. Add to that four more vast expanses, and it's easy to see that visiting the entire map will take quite a long time (above).
So the base game is already a lot to take in – almost overwhelmingly so. All but the most diehard fans will likely struggle to keep up with quarterly updates. But then again, nothing says players must complete everything Blizzard has to throw at them over the next several years. Finishing the single-player campaign might be enough for many. Occasional drop-ins from time to time might also become common.
No Man's Sky has a similar, albeit much less frequent, update schedule, with players who thought they were done with the game constantly returning to check out exciting new story content and gear. So Diablo IV is likely to experience a similar fan base – a solid group of hardcore seasonal players, fans who return to the game now and then to satisfy their dungeon-crawling urge and check out new content, and those who are one-and-done after the main narrative.
Diablo IV launches on PS5, XBS, and PC on June 6.