BlizzConline 2021: Diablo IV: What's Next Transcript

Luis Barriga (game director): Ever since we announced Diablo IV at the last BlizzCon in 2019, we've been sharing updates with you guys through our blog, whether it's items, skills, zones, even user interface updates. You guys seem to have really enjoyed that.

Diablo IV: What's Next Transcript

LUIS: Today, to mark the special occasion of BlizzConline on Blizzard's 30th anniversary, rather than doing a blog, we're going to share lots of videos, introduce a new class, like we saw in the Opening Ceremony, and cover some open world topics, including mounts, camps and PvP.

  • Mounts

  • Camps

  • PvP

John Mueller (art director): This is the ultimate blog post. We get to hand deliver it. This is the dream. It's all finally out there and we can talk about all of it. Just in case some of you missed it during the Opening Ceremony, let's take a look at the Rogue announcement video.

PRIEST: Your prayers do not fall on deaf ears.

(OMINOUS MUSIC PLAYING)

Just know they are being heard. There is justice within the Light…

but you have to be patient. Now, pray with me. May Akarat guide and protect me.

WOMAN: May Akarat guide and protect me.

PRIEST: May he shepherd my soul…

WOMAN: May he shepherd my soul…

PRIEST: …and grant it mercy.

.

ROGUE: ..and grant it mercy.

PRIEST: What are you doing here? This is not the time.

ROGUE: But this is confession. And I have sinned. I was a thief…

who stole from those more fortunate. I strayed from your Light…

and found my trade in the Shadows. They call it murder. I say job well done.

PRIEST: Enough!

ROGUE: I am a thief… a heretic… a murderer, Father. Will Akarat save me?

(CHUCKLES)

PRIEST: You mock our Light… but those monsters were a scourge upon my flock. And you… you were the answer to their prayers.

WOMAN: Then we are settled. And you owe me.

PRIEST: The name you seek is… Thank the Heavens for you.

ROGUE: Heavens? I assure you, Father… the Heavens didn't send me.

ROGUE INTRO

JOHN: Wow, I love that ending. (CHUCKLES) There's two things. There's the Rain of Arrows off the mount for the win. Then, when the guy takes the ear and he stretches it onto that hook right at the end. It's like… (SHUDDERS AND CHUCKLES)

LUIS: That ear box never gets old. I always wondered where those ears from Diablo II, when you kill other players went.

JOHN: Now you know. There's some creepy guy in a church collecting ears

and putting them in a box. Just what we always thought.

LUIS: No spoilers, but we're going to be hearing a little bit more about world PvP later in the segment, but ears are definitely making a comeback.

Let's go back to the class, because there's nothing more exciting to be able to introduce to a Diablo game than another class for players to check out.

JOHN: This is a pretty cool thing. We don't get to do this very often.

LUIS: I think it was you that said: "There's always room around the campfire."

JOHN: Always a little room.

LUIS: We had our very core archetypes to begin with. The brute strength of the Barbarian, the arcane knowledge of the Sorceress, a return of a shape-shifting classic with the Druid. No RPG line-up is complete without that dexterity class that's defeating enemies with finesse, with speed.

We kept coming back to the idea of bringing it to the godfather of all dexterity-based archetypes, the Rogue, that we saw in Diablo I.

JOHN: You've got to be excited to have the Rogue back. I know that when we were exploring different classes, you would talk about some of your experiences with Diablo I. Right?

LUIS: For sure. One of the things that's super cool is the Rogue was always able to adapt their playstyle. Fans of the Diablo I, Diablo II Rogues will be able to create very archetypical Rogues, starting with the weapons selection.

On the melee weapons side, Rogues can use swords and daggers, as well as bows and crossbows on the ranged side.

JOHN: The dagger attacks mixed with bow attacks, it just looks great on screen. With all the classes having this strong identity as far as the animations and what they do, you think about the Druid and shape-shifting

or the Barbarian with his leap attacks, there's all these great things you discover with the Rogue that you can't really do with other classes.

LUIS: I love that you can start cosmetically from such an iconic place where you're wearing the red armor, you look like a part of the Sisterhood of the Sightless Eye from the original games.

You can maybe even add some tattoos into the mix, some scars,

make that Rogue your own. Or if your fantasy of the Rogue is a more traditional RPG outlaw, you're definitely able to create that and put on your hood and half mask and be more of a shadowy character.

NEXT: SPECIALIZATION

[table id=149 /]

ROGUE SPECIALIZATIONS

JOHN: The character customization, you mentioned it, being able to craft the class of your dreams or your nightmares, was a feature that I was nervous about when we started, because we'd never had this in a Diablo game.

But seeing where it is now, it's one of those things I'm super excited about,

with where we're at. There's a lot of creativity and fun looks. You can be that tattooed, criminal outlaw or you can be a more noble-looking

thief with good morals.

One of the things that we kept running with, beyond the cosmetics,

was customization. We had this niche to fill in the class line-up that spoke to the finesse player, to the dexterity player.

Everyone's idea of what that could be was a little bit different, whether it leaned more on range or melee, but we took that a little bit of a step further. We really wanted to have each class in our game have that one thing that makes you go, "That's bullshit!" when you see a player use it, so it makes you want to re-roll that class, because no other class gets it.

For the Rogue, it's the class specialization. The 3 specializations are Combo Points… Shadow Realm… and Exploit Weakness.

JOHN: I like Shadow Realm, because I can take the problem and make it smaller. I just pull 3 guys into the Shadow Realm and duke it out. Then I come back in and I'm like, "All right, smaller problem."

LUIS: I love the idea of Exploit Weakness. The way it works is, during some of the enemy attacks, players will see an icon flash over the enemy's head during which time they will be get to retaliate with much more damage than an ordinary attack.

If you're quick on the draw, this is the specialization for you. I'm a little bit skill-capped there. Every time I try to make it work, I'm just a little bit shy of the skill level that's required for that.

JOHN: It's almost like you're a surgeon. It requires a really strong ability to assess what's happening around you.

LUIS: My personal favorite is the Combo Points specialization. As you might expect, this ability lets you build multiple combo points, which enhance your spender's effectiveness in combat. Basically, you get into this rhythm of combat of 3 builders to a spender. It lets you build up to these big, big moments. It almost makes a rhythm game out of combat, which I really enjoy.

The way the class specializations work is you will work with one of the world groups of Rogues around the world in Sanctuary that you will find and do class-specific quests that no other class can do.

Whether it's the Sisterhood of the Sightless Eye, the remnants of that Order, that you choose to work with, or the mercenaries of Kehjistan, or the outlaw smugglers of the Swamps of Hawezar. Depending on what speaks to your class fantasy, or depending on which specialization speaks to you

or you find more powerful, you'll be able to complete that questline and activate that specialization, which you can mix and match with any of the playstyles.

You could be a Combo Points, ranged or melee player, but you can also be an Exploit Weakness, ranged or melee, or hybrid player. It just gives the class such huge variety and builds and playstyles.

NEXT: WEAPONS & IMBUES

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WEAPONS & IMBUES

JOHN: I love how that ties into the open world aspect, the ability to go to Kehjistan or Hawezar and get these special quests that only the Rogue can get. That touches on one of the things that I love that we've done, which is connecting the weapons and equipment to regions.

When you're exploring the world and you pick up a sword in Kehjistan,

it's a scimitar. If you're up in Scosglen, which is up in the north, it's more like a broadsword.

It's a subtle thing, but armors you get in different regions look like they're from the place. Giving that sense of place in the world is something that every time I play the game, I feel it, I see it in subtle ways. It really enhances the overall sense of immersion and experience. I want to see what's around the corner.

LUIS: The weapons are also, going back all the way to Diablo II, such an integral part of the class, and the ability to augment your weapon through magic, through enhancements is something that really spoke to us when we tried to tap into the core of the class.

Going back to those mercenaries that you could hire, it was always cool to see what kind of special arrow shot they would come with.

It's something we paid homage to with the Imbue system, all the way from directly elemental Imbues like the Frost Imbue, which feels a lot like the ice arrows that the D2 mercenaries used to shoot.

We expanded it to feel a little gritter, a little darker, and do things like Poison Imbue and Shadow Imbue. The ability to take any sort of attack and mix and match with those Imbues.

JOHN: Once that clicked for me, that I could take any ability and Imbue it with either of those elements, Rain of Arrows with Frost and Rain of Arrows with acid is completely different.

You're essentially freezing the battlefield, and I just love Poison Imbue because of… the gruesome deaths that all the monsters experience. We've had a ton of fun making that art. It's always fun to see the goatmen melt into nothing. You just kill everything on the screen in a gory mess, which never really gets old. It's a really flexible way to take a build that you're already comfortable with, that you already like.

Say you're really comfortable with Flurry and Shadow Step as your melee skills and you find yourself needing more crowd control, without changing your playstyle, you can just add the Frost Imbue to your bar.

JOHN: Now you're able to use those same abilities to slow down enemies or build up to a full freeze. Frost Imbue plays pretty well with group play as well. I can freeze an enemy and somebody else can blow it up.

LUIS: Or also, the way that Chills work in the game, they build up to a full freeze. So if your best buddy is a Sorceress player, your Chill spells and your Frost Imbue's chills will actually build up faster than if you were

using a single player.

Ask to open with Blizzard before you Frost Imbue and you'll be freezing enemies twice as fast, which is a super-awesome synergy. The last thing that's worth spending some time talking about with the Rogue is how mobile the class is, how able the class is to close the gap between themselves and the enemy.

Even while mounted, you might find yourself a full screen away and dismounting into a Rain of Arrows, closing the rest of that gap with a Dash, and then getting back out of there, dropping some caltrops.

They can basically control the fluid motion of combat in a way that no other class can. That's something that, beyond all of the other customization options that you have, whether it's the playstyle, whether it's the range at which you engage with enemies, whether it's the cosmetics, just the sheer mobility of the class lets you adapt to the situation.

Even when you would have totally been toast as another class, a room full of elites, you're able to use offensive abilities in creative ways. Abilities like Shadow Step, abilities like Shadow Realm, abilities like Dash, you're able to use them to your advantage in a way that gets you out of a very dangerous situation by picking that one, lone skeleton archer that's not surrounded by everything else.

You can Shadow Step there, get out of the way, and live to fight another day,

which feels like such a Rogue thing to do.

JOHN: When I play the Rogue, I really do feel surgical precision. I really feel like I can move through the whole screen. It feels kind of effortless and almost sometimes a little unfair. When I go into the Shadow Realm and I'm dashing, I'm like, "Am I cheating? Did I just break the game?"

LUIS: We'll hear more about PvP in a little bit, but I just couldn't go without mentioning that some of our most feared PvP players on the team play Rogue.

It's just the way they're able to surprise you. You might be with a group of friends and that mobility lets them go to the middle of the group, unleash a Rain of Arrows that's Frost Imbued and before you know it, you're all frozen.

Looking at a Rogue while you're frozen, let me tell you, there are fewer scarier things in our game right now than that.

JOHN: So this was the ultimate blog post. This has been a lot of fun, getting to share a new addition to the campfire; and of course, there probably will be more in the future. We always say there's a little bit more room in the campfire.

LUIS: That's right. That pretty much wraps it up for the Rogue. So, why don't we go to Joe and Careena and learn a little bit more about those open world features that we promised?

NEXT: OPEN WORLD

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OPEN WORLD

JOE PIEPIORA: Thank you to Luis and John for introducing the Rogue, which I'm really excited we finally got a chance to talk about and announce to the community. We're here today to talk to you about Diablo IV and the open world.

I think the best way to start this conversation, Careena, would be for me to ask you what are you most excited about of what we're adding in Diablo IV in the open world? What feature, what mechanic, what are you most excited to talk about first?

CAREENA KINGDOM: I am really excited about exploring the world. I am a huge completionist naturally, that's the way I play. I love exploring and looking out into every single nook and cranny.

The more this game has been growing, particularly since last BlizzCon,

the more fun I'm having riding around the open world on my mount and exploring everything I possibly can.

JOE: It's really fun, I think. Now that we've taken Sanctuary and made it so much larger when you're playing through the game, when you compare it to Diablo III or Diablo II -- there's tons of exploration and movement throughout the world in those games, obviously; but now we've really been able to embrace the open world concept, we can dive much deeper into how Sanctuary actually all fits together, be able to ride from Scosglen to the Fractured Peaks. It's very interesting that way.

One of the things about that that I think is really neat is the collection aspect of mounts. So, there's all these horse breeds and other mounts you can find throughout the world from completing puzzles or finding hidden locations

or slaying particular kinds of monsters.

Find various horses or things to customize your horse with, like horse armor, there are hoof plates you can get and trophies to show off your accomplishments.

There's lots of ways you can personalize your mount and make it feel like your companion.

CAREENA: It's really cool, like you mentioned, with the horse shoes, you get to actually change the speed at which your horse can run.

I like to be able to customize the horse to the type of gameplay that I like to enjoy as a player. It's really fun. I like the amount of variety that you give us.

JOE: There's more to mounts than just that as well. One thing we knew we didn't want to do with mounts in Diablo IV was we didn't want to have jousting. This idea of fighting from horseback. It's not really the Diablo experience.

CAREENA: Yeah, that's something I'm super excited for. At last BlizzCon, we had the Sorceress. We showed her dismount skill, Ice Dash, where she shoots forwards off her mount and destroys everything in her path.

With the Rogue, we got to have a little bit more fun with it. The animation department has done a fantastic job of having her leap up into the air and fire down the Rain of Arrows that destroys everything. It's really cool. It feels really good.

JOE: Leaping from your saddle and raining arrows down on your enemies as you pass by, then get in the fray and starting to stab people and poison people, that is spot on what we're looking for.

Being able to jump in, engage with enemies, from your horse, and then duke it out using your skills and everything else like we want.

CAREENA: It's interesting that your mount can't get damaged, but if a monster attacks you while you're mounted, you will be forced to dismount.

So, there is a flipside of actually judging for yourself when you do want to use that skill in order to prevent you from being forced off unintentionally. There's definitely a bit of gameplay there to make sure you use it in a way that's appropriate to help you get where you're trying to go and also to be able to fight the monsters you want to fight.

One of the things I'm most excited about for the open world is this feature we have called Camps. Camps are basically these strongholds of evil

out in the open world. You've got to remember that, decades ago,

during the events of Reaper of Souls when Malthael rose to power,

the Reapers killed 9 out of 10 people throughout Sanctuary.

A tremendous number of people passed away. Now there's a big power vacuum out here decades later, and these monsters have started to move into these places. Bandits, monsters, goatmen, all kinds of different creatures, skeletons, the undead, have started to resurface and come back into these areas and take them for themselves.

You, as the hero of Sanctuary, get to wander through these spaces and begin to reclaim them for the people of Sanctuary. That's part of what makes them really neat. Each of them have their own story. They're their own unique, fixed place in the world.

CAREENA: Unlike quests. Quests are something that happens randomly in the world, and you can come across them any way. Camps are a permanent fixture that you, as the player, when you come across that evil, can actually have a real impact on the open world that everyone else can see.

Because, once you have defeated that evil, one of the really fun things is

that you basically unlock that camp and you make a new waypoint that previously didn't exist for you. Suddenly all the marketplaces open up

and now you have a blacksmith in a location that previously didn't exist,

which I think is really cool.

JOE: What we're looking at here, this was a village, the village of Qara-Yisu.

Now, it's fallen to ruins. The people here in the Dry Steppes had a problem.

The problem was there were bloodthirsty cannibals that dwelled nearby

and would regularly raid their community.

The people had to find a solution. They weren't strong enough to defend themselves from these cannibals. So, they made a dark bargain with a demon, and they were able to gather enough power to push these cannibals out and protect their community.

But not without great cost, as you can see here. You're helping re-settle

parts of Sanctuary in many ways when you take these camps back from the enemy. Vendors will come back and now there might be new quest-givers,

new stories that need to be told.

Dungeon entrances can appear in some of these places afterwards. There's all kinds of things that occur after you take over the Camp and liberate it from these forces of darkness.

Again, it's so cool to see you permanently change the world as you find these places, and wander through and solve these problems. One of the other neat things about camps, and in general the open world broadly speaking, is that we have so many more opportunities now to play with movement.

CAREENA: It pushes the bar vertically as well as horizontally. We now have been playing around with the idea of jumping across chasms to allow the player to get access to a location that they previously didn't have.

  • Jumping across a Chasm

JOE: There's all kinds of areas where players can find their own path, allowing them extra movement options they haven't had in previous Diablo games.

CAREENA: We are also in a vertical top-down camera for the environment,

so it really breaks up the plane that you typically see not only as a developer or an animator, but also as a player.

JOE: There's such a huge variety of things that you can possibly do to mix it up and make things a little bit different. There's certain puzzle elements to it. It's not straightforward or not always obvious. It's not just a matter of running through the world and getting to your goal -- if you have to think about it.

NEXT: DIABLO IV PvP

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DIABLO IV PvP

JOE: Definitely. Now, Careena, I know that you're very excited about PvP.

CAREENA: I'm a huge fan of PvP. I love the first time we all had a chance

as a whole team to play PvP, because the amount of feedback it generated, I think it took the DesignTeam about 3 days to go through it all.

What that showed me is that everyone either loves it or they hate it. I personally love it. I really enjoy it. The way that PvP works is that the Hatred of Mephisto has been bubbling up from Hell and has created these areas in the open world that you can freely walk into that consumes you and makes you turn against your fellow players.

  • PvEvP - Rogue vs Fallen vs other Players

JOE: PvP, even in these areas, these Fields of Hatred, it's not mandatory.

These are optional places people can choose to go to collect Shards of Hatred that they can collect from killing monsters, from completing events, opening chests, all kinds of ways to earn these things, not necessarily just killing players.

As you earn these Shards of Hatred, they're in an un-purified state. They're in a basic state. You need to bring them to a Purification Event in order to turn them into a currency that you can use in the nearby, small encampments around the Fields of Hatred.

  • Altar of Purification in the Fields of Hatred (PvP Zone)

What's neat about that is when you're trying to purify these things, that's when everybody nearby finds out and hears, "Someone's trying to complete a Purification Ritual, we need to go and kill those players and take their shards before they finish."

Once you purify them, they're yours, you can't lose them. But before they're purified, they're free game. It's really important to note that, even if you don't want to engage with othe PvP players, you can actually explore those areas and collect those Shards of Hatred from specific monsters, but the second you need to turn them in and purify them into a currency where you can spend them on gear, trophies and other content, you are hostile yourself and can be attacked during that single moment.

But, I think that creates a lot of opportunity for you to team up with friends for just that one moment in order to gain the reward you spent so much time collecting.

JOE: You called out earlier that the Shards of Hatred are used for some of the vendors you'd find in the Fields of Hatred, there are some special vendors that only arrive in these areas who'll have special costumes or new mounts, and weapons, and things along those lines.

Nothing strictly more powerful than stuff you get in other parts of the game, but stuff that speaks to your desire as a PvP player. I think one of the things that's neat about the system in general is that as a player, if you choose to go hostile, betray the players who are near you, try to get as many Shards of Hatred as you can, you're going to slowly begin to infuse yourself with that same Curse of Mephisto and you're going to become a Vessel of Hatred.

Once you do that, everyone within a very large radius of you is going to be able to see you as a threat on the map and they'll get a bonus for killing you.

So when that occurs, you have a set amount of time you need to survive.

If you're able to do that without running away or jumping into a town portal to try to escape, if you can do that and finish that period and manage to escape or defeat people who are coming to try to destroy you, you'll get a really big bonus at the end.

That's been really exciting to watch in our play tests already. People are wrestling for this status and trying to defend it once they achieve it.

CAREENA: There's also the ears that you get to collect as a trophy. It harkens back to D2, where I think you could… sell the ears for 1 gold.

I don't know if we'll do that. I know we played with them as a currency at one point, but I think right now it's just a cool trophy that you get to collect and show off.

JOE: Yeah, right now, a very cool trophy. The thing that was neat about the D2 ears was, you could fill up your whole inventory with them, being able to see the people that you took the ears from, seeing their character names on there.

It was always the interesting, fun part and proof that "Yeah, I got that person that time." We want to make sure we embraced that aspect of it. That's the important part for u. I think that's going to be a great call back to Diablo II PvP.

Yeah. I love where PvP is going and I love that it is only one part of how large and open the world is, and really harkens back to the adventurer in me when I play the game. How do you feel?

JOE: I'm super excited. There's so much to look forward to in Diablo IV right now. What we talked about today just scratches the surface. In general, as a Diablo fan, there's a lot to be looking forward to in the franchise in the future.

Thank you so much for watching today. We look forward to speaking to you more about this game and others in the future.

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