Blizzard recognized that, despite the continuing success and widespread availability of Diablo IV on modern systems, Diablo IV needed to be designed as a contemporary game that would retain the core essence of the series while also attracting both veteran fans and new players. This imperative was driven by the passage of over ten years since the release of Diablo IV.
More gamers in more locations
Director Joe Shely recently highlighted one of the key distinctions between Diablo IV and its predecessors in an interview with GameSpot ahead of the announcement of the Server Slam beta test. Unlike previous iterations of the game, Diablo IV will be released simultaneously on both consoles and PC. This decision aligns with the trend of cross-play functionality across various devices and even generations, making the game accessible to a broader player base in multiple locations.
Joe Shely emphasized that the release of the console version of Diablo IV brought in many new players who had never experienced the game before. As a result, when the team started working on Diablo IV, they recognized the diverse audience they had to cater to – from avid fans who played various Diablo games over the years to first-time players. However, not all of these players exclusively play on PC. With Diablo IV being available on consoles since 2014, there are players who have never played the game on PC before. With cross-play and cross-progression features, players can now play Diablo IV on their preferred platform and even try it out on PC (if they choose to buy it again). Associate director Joseph Piepiora shared that during the early days of the original Diablo game, he played the game on both PC and the original PlayStation with a friend.
It is alive
One of the major enhancements in Diablo IV when compared to Diablo IV is the inclusion of endgame content at launch. Although the previous game introduced endgame content over time, those who had completed the relatively brief story had fewer reasons to continue playing.
Joe Shely emphasized the significance of endgame content for an action-RPG and the team's determination to incorporate it in Diablo IV from the outset. As the game is a live service, new content will be added to the endgame over time, but it was essential to include it in the shipping title.
In addition to endgame content, seasonal updates will be released every few months after the launch of Diablo IV. These updates will not continue the main story, which will conclude in the game itself, but will rather make the game world of Sanctuary feel more like a real, living world rather than a place where a story happened and then came to an end. New characters and side stories will be introduced, providing players with an incentive to return to Sanctuary with their friends even after completing the game.
It is DPS
Blizzard's goal when designing a detailed, interactive game world is to ensure that players engage with it fully. This is a significant reason why the company decided against implementing a map overlay, a feature that was present in previous Diablo games, in favor of a minimap and a full map in the menu. While this decision may be revisited in the future, it was not arbitrary.
Joe Shely emphasized the importance of listening to player feedback and addressing their needs. If players express difficulty navigating through the world, it is necessary to find a solution. The team believes that the minimap, map, and pinging system have gone a long way towards addressing these concerns, but improvements still need to be made.
One of the drawbacks of a map overlay is that it can become a distraction, causing players to focus solely on the map instead of their surroundings. Blizzard sought to eliminate this issue in Diablo IV.
While a map overlay can facilitate easier navigation, it can be problematic if it remains on all the time, as players may become overly reliant on it. Therefore, Blizzard is striving to create distinct, complementary systems in Diablo IV that provide players with a positive, immersive experience.