Players were teased multiple times on the proposed end game of Diablo IV throughout several panels at BlizzCon, and it's possible to piece the information together to get a sense for how Blizzard envisions the end game playing out. It's important to note that Diablo IV is still early in development, and it's likely that these systems will change through iteration and redesign. While speculating on these systems can be fun and exciting, remember to be constructive and respectful when presenting feedback.
Dungeons appear to be the primary end game activity in Diablo IV. Dungeons are randomly generated and come with pre-defined objectives and random events. Some examples of dungeon objectives might be to kill all enemies in the dungeon, or kill a specific enemy; however, these objectives aren't as uninspired as they may initially appear. While killing all enemies to complete the objective in the Domhainne Tunnels, players will have to defeat powerful elites that are sent to stop players as they make progress. Each dungeon has it's own custom objective which provides a sense of identity to every dungeon in the game.
While playing Diablo IV at end game, players will often find Keys to specific dungeons, and these Keys will have different difficulty ranks. The higher the difficulty of the Dungeon Key, the better the quality of loot that will drop--note that item drop rates don't change. Dungeon Keys also come with random affixes on them which change how that dungeon will play. Some examples of these random affixes might be that all of the enemies in the dungeon are invisible unless they are in combat, or that the dungeon has a lightning pulse which follows players around until the objective has been completed. Players familiar with Mythic+ dungeons in World of Warcraft may find that this system sounds familiar and iterative.
Because multiple affixes can be on a single Dungeon Key, and the combination of those affixes may greatly change how a dungeon plays, Diablo IV--in theory--looks to be offering a large amount of player agency when choosing what end-game dungeons complete. There are some obvious concerns with how this system may play out in a live setting, but we're excited for the potential replay value this could add to the end game in Diablo IV.
One of the most important parts of any Diablo game is what kind of loot you get, especially at end game. Having a compelling loot-chase can keep players engaged for months on a single character, and can also provide an immense amount of player agency in regards to how they build their character. Diablo IV has a similar item qualities as Diablo III, but with the important new addition of Mythic items--which are the strongest items in the game. The stats and affixes found on items increases in quantity with the quality of an item, but the main goal of affixes on items in Diablo IV is to provide players with the greatest amount of choices for their individual playstyle. A notable item affix in Diablo IV is +rank which adds ranks to specific talents, and can allow access to unavailable talents or additional ranks beyond the maximum of a specific talent you've already invested points into.
The goal of legendary items in Diablo IV is to be equal-to-or-more powerful than set items, unlike the set-dominated end game of Diablo III. This provides players with a greater variety of items to use since they aren't locked into using an entire set of gear all the time. Mythic items are the most powerful items that player's will find, but only one can be equipped at any given time. Mythic items have four legendary affixes on them but finding the right Mythic item for your build may require a large time investment.
We know that seasons are making a return to Diablo IV after their success in Diablo III. This is a feature that will be available at or near launch, and will provide players with reasons to return to the game on a regular basis. Seasons in Diablo IV will add new legendary items in addition to focusing on a set of specific legendary items each season. From what we have learned, it sounds like the Diablo IV team want to make sure that each season will change up the end game meta on a regular basis so that players aren't stuck playing a single build for several seasons. If they continue the traditions of the Diablo III seasons, we may also see exclusive cosmetic items be tied to completing various seasonal objectives.
What are your thoughts on Diablo IV's end game dungeon and loot system? What additions or changes would you like to see? Let us know in the comments!
Last week, our team had the opportunity to play Diablo IV extensively at BlizzCon! Neinball recently published his thoughts on the demo, and while we both generally agree on the promise that Diablo IV shows, we do disagree on which class we preferred to play in the demo. Below, you can find additional observations about the systems in the game which weren't mentioned in Neinball's write-up in addition to my thoughts on the Diablo IV demo!
Overall, I walked away from BlizzCon with extremely positive impressions of Diablo IV. The combat felt incredibly impactful, and each of the three classes had skills which made me grin in utter delight each time I used them. The feel of combat is especially important to get right in an action RPG seeing as it's the action you're doing the most within this genre of games, and Blizzard has nailed it with Diablo IV. In many ways, the combat in Diablo IV feels like a better but slightly slower iteration of the Diablo III combat--which has always been one of the core strengths of that game. Slowing the combat down gives animators more breathing room when creating spell effects, and the result is that each skill feels like it has substantial weight and power behind it. Additionally, the gameplay felt smooth and responsive, and there was never a point in which I felt like I didn't have absolute control over my character.
Aesthetically, the game was substantially darker and more creepy than it's predecessor DiabloIII, and felt more like what I would imagine Diablo and Diablo II might look like running on a modern engine. Enemies, such as the Fallen, have been re-designed to appear as frightening minions of hell rather than their more stylized counterparts in Diablo III, and entering into a dungeon gave me a sense of terror while exploring around the dark procedurally-generated tile-sets. Each room had a sense of danger, and hallways/caves felt claustrophobic in a good way. The gothic style seen in the cinematic announcement trailer translates well into the new engine which they developed for Diablo IV, and I'm particularly interested in how dark the story may get throughout the campaign. These visual and narrative changes may cause angelic characters like Imperius to seem intimidating and powerful rather than a cheesy super-hero, and enemies like Lilith may be absolutely terrifying to face when we finally meet them in game.
Diablo IV, as it existed within the BlizzCon demo, is my new favorite Diablo game from an aesthetic and game-play perspective; however, many questions still remain as to the longevity and quality of its end-game. The game is still quite early in development, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing more of what the game has to offer once the game launches sometime in the distant future.
Before I begin diving into the individual classes, I want to be clear about two things. First, the power and balance of these classes from the demo is completely irrelevant. Because the game is still early in development, getting the fantasy and feel of the classes correct is a larger priority than number tuning. Second, my own thoughts on the classes come with personal biases, and I may be more inclined to like specific classes verses what our readers may enjoy. My favorite class from the entire Diablo franchise is the Assassin, and I enjoy the Monk, Crusader, and Demon Hunter equally from Diablo III. Hopefully that should give our readers a sense of what class-fantasies and gameplay styles I enjoy the most.
The Sorceress was my least favorite of the three available classes to play in the Diablo IV demo. While the abilities looked cool and were fun to use, I felt like I was just playing a better looking version of the Diablo III Wizard. The Sorceress was the class that felt like it had the least amount of improvement from previous games; however, if you're someone who loves the Wizard, than this may very well be the perfect class for you. The best thing I can say about the Sorceress is that each of the skills created lovely lighting effects in dark dungeons, and Lightning Spear was one of my favorite skills due to its "cool" factor. Simply put, you cast a spear of lighting that seeks out nearby enemies and destructables, zipping across the screen rapidly as it does so. I loved the feel and fantasy of that ability, and it made me feel like I was truly playing a magic-based class.
The Druid was the class I was most excited to jump in and play since the Druid is making its first appearance since Diablo II, and it seemed the most unique of the three. Shred and Pulverize were your two main abilities, with Shred shapeshifting you into Werewolf form whenever you would use it. Shred generated Spirit, the Druid's primary resource, and also had a high chance to hit twice. Pulverize was your primary spender, and would shapeshift you into a Werebear. Pulverize was a large AoE slam that cost spirit, so swapping between the two abilities was key to the Druid's rotation. In addition to these two abilities, the Druid could use Boulder to knock back enemies (which could even knock enemies off cliffs), Trample to charge and stun enemies, Cataclysm to create a massive storm which obliterated enemies, and Wolves which you could command to attack targets--much like Command Skeletons from the Diablo III Necromancer.
The Druid certainly plays differently than it did in Diablo II, but that's not a bad thing. Switching rapidly between Werebear, Werewolf, and your caster form felt incredibly powerful, especially when you consider that the Druid can gain passive buffs for doing so. Combat with the Druid felt very fluid, and I'm very interested in seeing the other abilities in action. Something else to consider is that the Talent Tree for the Druid contained two paths to venture down, one for spells and one for shapeshifting. While this would be quite concerning regarding end-game builds for the Druid, a conversation I had with Lead Systems Designer David Kim put those fears to rest. David Kim mentioned that an eternal version of Diablo IV currently has several horizontal paths that connect the two different Talent Tree's, allowing Druid players to swap over and create hybrid builds. Although, with the game being so early in development, it's possible we won't see that once it finally launches.
The first time I played the Diablo IV demo, I decided to try the Barbarian. My reasoning was that it had the highest potential to be the most boring and standard of the three classes, and I wanted to start with the worst of the three experiences. I'm ecstatic to report that this couldn't have been further from the truth. The Barbarian was easily my favorite of the three classes, and the one I played the most times. Every single skill felt great to use, and the synergy of the Barbarian's skills meant that when players got into a rhythm, they would absolutely devastate enemies. Losing that rhythm would cause you to feel like you were Fury-starved, and unable to use your powerful skills.
Upheaval was the Barbarian's big Fury spender, and was hands-down the most satisfying ability to use in the whole demo! After a very brief delay, the Barbarian would essentially golf-swing the ground and hurl debris at his enemies in a small cone. Upheaval is a more epic version of Seismic Slam from Diablo III, and I praised the Lead VFX Artist Daniel Briggs and his team for creating an ability which felt so good to use that I loudly and audibly chuckled with absolute glee the first time I used it.
The final thing that really sealed-the-deal with my love for the Barbarian is the class-specific ability which allows the Barbarian to equip two 1-handed and two 2-handed weapons at the same time. By doing so, the Barbarian is able to assign a skill to one of their equipped weapons, allowing the Barbarian to min-max which Skill is utilizing each of their weapons. It's not just a visual effect, but there are also gameplay implications since certain abilities require you to have specific types of weapons to be equipped. I'll be keeping a close eye on this specific system all throughout development, and I could foresee myself primarily playing a Barbarian once the game launches.
There are several gameplay systems which are key to Diablo IV that I want to also discuss. The first is the Rune and Runeword system, which is a returning system from Diablo II, but with very different design. As you play the game, you will collect Runes which can be placed into gear which have sockets. Runes come in two different varieties, a condition Rune and an effect Rune. Condition Runes might be something along the lines of "Whenever you freeze an enemy..." or "Whenever you use a healing potion..." followed by "activate the next socketed rune." Effect Runes often give very powerful buffs for a short duration, and should be paired with condition Runes that are easy to meet the condition on. An example of this system might be that you socket a condition Rune and an effect Rune into a piece of gear with two sockets, granting you the ability to reduce a cooldown on a random ability by 15% whenever you use a healing potion. Personally, I really enjoy the flexibility of this system, but I fear how easy it could be to min-max the best combination of Runes without providing any actual choice on the player's part. This could be fixed by the countless tuning nobs the developers have available to them, and there is a potential for some amazing character customization through this system.
One of the more concerning aspects of Diablo IV to me is the flavor of multiplayer they have decided to use. While running around the open world, you will come across other random players. Certain regions will have restrictions on how many players you might see, and this changes dynamically depending on where you are. Campaign specific areas in the open world will be locked to you and your party until you finish that objective, but you will be able to see public players in those areas once you are done. My primary concern is with how one might perceive other random players they come across. For example, when doing World Quests in the retail version of World of Warcraft, players rarely ever interact with each other. Often times, they join a group to get a quest or world boss done, then immediately leave once their objective is complete without any form of communication or coordination. In an ideal system, the multiplayer in Diablo IV would create meaningful interactions with other players which would encourage players to communicate and coordinate to complete common goals, and in rare cases would lead to friendships. A game that discouraged these interactions through easy objectives and gameplay could very easily fracture a community before it ever had a chance to develop. Blizzard might take look at World of Warcraft: Classic as a source of inspiration for how to create meaningful multiplayer interactions in an open world to create a sense of community and cooperation between players.
The final thing I wanted to discuss in regards to Diablo IV is how it shares some interesting design philosophies with Diablo: Immortal. Now that Diablo IV has finally been announced, we've observed that people are opening up to the idea of Immortal having its place within the Diablo franchise, and our opinions on Immortal haven't changed since we got our hands on it last year: It's a cool mobile game that has a lot of potential to bring countless new players to the Diablo series. Both Diablo IV and Immortal have persistent multiplayer experiences where it's possible to find random players exploring the world alongside you. Unlike my concerns for the multiplayer in Diablo IV that I mentioned above, I'm far less concerned about having meaningful interactions with players in Immortal where it's already difficult to communicate with others. In addition to similar multiplayer design, Immortal and Diablo IV also share the idea of a large world to explore; however, Immortal differs in the sense that there isn't one massive seamless world to explore like there is in Diablo IV. Either way, it's worth considering that these two games have similar approaches to world and multiplayer design, and the idea of that excites me.
As I mentioned before, Diablo IV is already my favorite Diablo game. If they manage to tune the end-game in a compelling way, then there is no doubt in my mind that Diablo IV would also be a favorite among most other players as well. If your interested in my additional thoughts on Diablo IV, then you can check out my Deep Dive video which I've linked below. With that said, I'm anxious to hear your thoughts, and if you have any Diablo IV questions, be sure to ask them in our comments!
While at BlizzCon, we had the opportunity to get hands-on experience with the Diablo IV demo and compile some of our thoughts and feedback on those play sessions. Below are my thoughts on the demo, and Zenkiki will contribute his later this week.
For being so early in development, I think it needs to be said how fluid the game felt. Skills felt powerful, combat was visceral, animations were flawless. The developers said this game is quite some time from release and to me that means it'll only get better from here. The game felt incredibly familiar, but different. The demo felt like it was the natural extension of Diablo III's combat system, but a tad bit slower which made positioning and skill animation lengths more meaningful. The Barbarian in particular had a skill with a minor wind-up, but had high damage that felt rewarding when you connected with it. The overall gameplay felt like it struck a great balance between Diablo III's fluidity of combat and Diablo II's speed and pacing.
The demo itself was beautiful rendered, but maintained a muted, gritty feel that was missing in Diablo III. You start the demo on a cliff-side and have clear view of the surrounding areas to the north that really drive home how massive this game is going to be. You could spend the majority of your 20 minute play session just exploring the map and we saw in one of the panels that the demo area is tiny compared to the rest of the planned game. The world in Diablo IV is going to be massive. Hundreds of unique dungeons, hundreds of villages, landmarks from previous games will be explore-able.
The Sorceress was my least favorite of the three classes available in the demo. The class felt powerful and fun, but it felt like it hadn't evolved much from Diablo II or Diablo III's Wizard. The Sorceress was also the only class in the demo without a generator+spender skill setup and when you ran our of Arcane Power, you just had to stand there and spam the basic free Frost Bolt while waiting until you had enough resource to use one of your other abilities. I feel that the Sorceress would have played better if it had another cooldown based spell that didn't require Arcane Power or at least a way of on-demand resource generation. All-in-all, it felt very much like a non-max level class in the caster archetype.
The Barbarian has undergone quite a few changes from it's Diablo III counterpart. In Diablo IV the Barbarian has access to four separate weapon slots that allow you can bind to different skills. While this feature was predetermined in the beta, from developer discussions they intend to allow the player full control over binding which weapons will be used by different skills. So while some skills may require a two-handed weapon or that you're dual wielding, you'll have free range to determine which specific sets of you four weapons can be used allowing tons of player customization.
The Barbarian felt very smooth in practice and the skill selection showed some new mechanics. Rupture for instance was a cooldown based skill that did massive damage over a couple of seconds, but if it killed an enemy the cooldown was instantly reset. It made gameplay very rewarding if you could hit smaller enemies and elites/bosses at the same time as it allowed longer uptime of the damage on the nastier monsters. I think the Barbarian showed a lot of potential in future skill design by making things such as positioning or timing the use of skills more important. If this is a hint of things to come from this early in development, I think the players will feel far more rewarded when they master certain elements of gameplay than in any of the prior entries in the series.
To me, the druid was far and away the best class in the beta. The shape-shifting animations were incredibly smooth and wonderfully showcased the possibilities of the new engine that was built from the ground up for Diablo IV. The druid had an excellent selection of skills with a couple of power skills on short cooldowns, a fast generator, an area of effect spender, with a little bit of crowd control thrown in. The druid really had that "Aha!" moment when you landed a Boulder skill into an elite that pushed them out of combat and gave you some breathing room to finish off other enemies around you. The druid also had the best legendary item in the demo that hit a random enemy with a lightning bolt every time you shape-shifted and you could shape-shift a lot.
There were two bosses in the demo you could fight: Ashava, the world boss, and the Sea Witch that you encountered if you played through the questline offered in the demo.
Ashava was a truly massive boss. The camera had to pull out to full show the scope of the encounter. This encounter felt akin to a raid boss in WoW, with telegraphed attacks that were absolutely devastating if you didn't dodge or position accordingly. Ashava also showcased a new mechanic referred to as the Stagger System that is represented by a second bar under the boss's health that filled as you used crowd control effects against it instead of actually subjecting the boss to the control effects. When the bar filled Ashava was briefly stunned and one of her giant talons broke off, drastically lowering the damage and range of her attacks made with that claw. The system basically made it so that bosses couldn't be cheesed by chaining crowd control effects, but still made control effects have meaning. All bosses will have different responses to the Stagger mechanic and it will be very interesting to see it in action against more bosses.
The Sea Witch also had the interaction and feelings of a boss that would be at home in a MMO. She would spawn area of effect circles all over the ground that did damage and summoned smaller mobs to try and bury you under their numbers. Sadly the boss was tuned to be easy to defeat as she was the showcase of the demo story and I always killed her before being able to Stagger her to see what the effect was. I was told that her Stagger would clear the room of the damaging pools, but also stun the player briefly while any minions that were still alive would become enraged. This sounded awesome and I wish I could have experienced it because it would give players a real choice in fighting the boss. Deal with the damaging pools continually covering the area and summoning more and more mobs or Stagger the boss and risk the stun, but clear the pools. This demo's bosses are already a couple steps ahead of any rift guardian and will offer far more fulfilling gameplay for players if this is just the starting point.
What are your thoughts on Diablo IV so far? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to ask us any burning questions you may have about the demo!
In case you missed it with all the Diablo IV excitement over the last couple of days, Blizzard posted a Diablo Immortal update on Friday, giving some insight into their progress and answering common questions. Today, Lead Game Designer Wyatt Cheng posted a follow-up on Reddit, further detailing how Ultimates work in Diablo Immortal, and clearing up a couple of other questions:
A lot of people have been asking me why we didn’t talk about Immortal on the main stage. Quite simply, we want to make sure we give Diablo 4 the space for a clear announcement. I am personally super happy for all my friends on the D4 team who worked so long towards this day. As a company, we didn’t want to risk any confusion regarding features, storylines, etc between D4 and Immortal.
We had an updated demo for Diablo Immortal playable on the show floor that was played by thousands of people. The demo had a playable Demon Hunter to join the Monk, Barb and Wizard from last year. Hopefully a few people who had a chance to play the game at BlizzCon will be able to share their game experience.
Our dev update mentions ultimates, so how do ultimates work? As you use your basic attack you charge up a meter that sits around the rim of your basic attack button. When the meter is full a new ultimate button becomes available. You can activate that button at any time of your choosing to activate an ultimate mode that transforms your basic attack into a new upgraded version. The exact details of your ultimate state change based on which basic attack you have assigned. Every class has two basic attacks each with a corresponding ultimate. We observed that some players did not notice their ultimate when it became available - something we’ll have to iterate on more.
One of the top questions from the weekend was “When is it coming out? I heard the game was done and I was hoping to install it this weekend!” Regarding rumors, the rumor that the game is basically done was false. We are currently in full production and working hard on the game and we’re looking forward to sharing more information in the coming months. I know the rumors are fueled by excitement for the game and I assure you that when we are ready to talk about the next phase of development there will be clear messaging from Blizzard. Thank you for your patience as we take the time to get the game right.
Another question I heard was, predictably, if I had a phone. Joking aside, last year’s announcement was rough, but it was nice to see people on this subreddit showing genuine support and interest in the game. The whole Diablo Immortal team loves to game on PC, console and mobile. We all want to make an authentic Diablo game for both the core Diablo audience as well as new players, and we are glad to have you on that journey with us.
He also responded to a comment clarifying device support:
Switch is not currently planned but you're not alone in wanting that. This weekend I got a lot of requests for a Switch version. BlizzCon attendees also asked about iPad (Yes, definitely - and we actually had ~25 iPads on the show floor where people could try it out), controller support (we'll look into it but no promises), and support for casting the visual to a TV (we'll look into it).
The Diablo IV World & Lore panel is a quick run down on the influences and goals for the tone of the game, as well as a quick recap of how we got to this point in the story and some little tidbits of workings of the world of Sanctuary.
The development team took influences from lots of sources. Comics, pop culture, and lots of tabletop roleplaying games.
One of the talents of the team is to see something cute and through their lens turn into something dark and horrific. Like a cute little pig that becomes a massive, horned, demonic boar.
In the development area they would blast heavy metal music and make it a part of the experience. 'Metal' became a common way to describe things in Diablo IV.
Diablo IV isn't just about darkness, it's about bringing back a very specific feeling from the earlier games.
The developers wanted to take a more grounded approach to the development of Diablo IV compared to Diablo III.
There will be more chances to interact with villagers and common folk, with over 100 villages or towns within the game.
Diablo IV isn't about big heroes or politics or high fantasy, it's about the regular people and the evil that surrounds them.
The essence of Diablo is being alone and wandering through the darkness, wondering what's out there looking back at you.
Visual storytelling to reinforce that dark feel is very important to development. Lots of small details spread throughout the world will help build the mood of the game, but it's up to the player to notice those details or ignore them. It all depends on how much those things are important to the player.
The end of every road ends in evil. They showed a new boss called the Blood Bishop. The Blood Bishop created many evil things and overtime became warped and twisted by those acts of evil and is now a monstrosity composed of bothing but blood and veins,
The development team took lots of influences from the Middle Ages and a gnostic take on religion.
General story game flow approach was you'd encounter a villager who has a problem, you'd take a journey to where the trouble was coming from, and finally encounter some great evil thing at the end.
The game will be dark, gnostic, with a little bit of crazy and dark humor thrown in.
And to reiterate: a grounded story is important to Diablo IV.
Diablo III recap: Diablo used the Black Soulstone to create the Prime Evil by merging the souls of all the Great Evils. Diablo then went on to devastate heaven, but was ultimately defated. Tyrael tried to hide the Black Soulstone, but it was taken by Malthael. Malthael then used the Black Soulstone's power to slaughter the population of Sanctuary. Malthael consumed the Black Soulstone and Evils contained within, but was defeated. With Malthael's defeat the essence of those Evils was freed and released back into the world.
The history of Sanctuary: Lilith is the daughter of the Lord of Hatred, Mephisto. Lilith fell in love with the angel Inarius and together they created the world of Sanctuary and subsequently the Nephalem.
The setup for Diablo IV: Malthael's campaign was a genocide across the entire face of Sanctuary. This genocide left a huge power vacuum that groups like the Zakarum or the Church of the Triune are vying the top spot. There's not a lot of hope left in the world.
The world of Sanctuary that we know was introduced as just Tristriam and the first Diablo game. Most of the story was in the manual, but not so much in the game. Things like Inarius, the Crystal Arch, the Sin War, etc were all introduced in the original Diablo.
Diablo II gave us our first map of the world and started to show other places. We got see oceans and places with names we didn't understand, but inspired our imaginations.
Waypoints were also introduced in Diablo II as a form of travel and later expanded upon in Diablo III.
Reaper of Souls gave us adventure mode and added more maps of zones, but some places didn't fit or make sense. The Shrouded Moors, as an example, were just kind of thrown into a map without regards to where it actually existed in the world. In Diablo IV the maps are far better and areas will be more fleshed out and connected within the world.
The demo area for Diablo IV is pretty big for demo, but is incredibly tiny compared to the rest of the planned game map.
In Diablo II when you switch acts the zone and pallet transitions were very stark. You could go back into the manual and find the world map to see how far apart they were and it was left to your imagination to fill in the rest of the journey. Now we will get to walk the entire path between those places and see everything in game.
Scosglen: The home of the Druids. A wild, untamed place where beasts and monsters lurk everywhere waiting to pounce on you. Darkness is always closing in and the inhabitants of this area always live in fear, hoping that their numbers will keep them safe from the beastmen and other dangers lurking just outside of their village walls.
Dry Steppes: Salt flats and deserts filled with pools of boiling water. A very difficult place to live where you are either predator or prey. Lots of wars are fought in this area vying for power of the region. With Lilith's return people here are giving into the darkness within them. All humans are half demon after all.
Fractured Peaks: Gothic Victorian themed area. The people here always live with anxiety that something is always out there watching them from the shadows, waiting for them to drop their guard. When night falls in the Fracture Peaks, you better lock your doors as being outside at night is a death sentence. Blood suckers and other evil things lurk here while decadent priests sleep soundly, ignorant to the darkness continually drawing in around them.
Hawezar: Southern swamplands. Lots of poison gases and delusions plague this area and the dreams of those who live here. People travel here to be forgotten, thieves, exiles, and the like. The area is home to swamp witches that worship gigantic snakes and can offer arcane knowledge, but at steep prices.
Kehjistan: The remnants of the once massive empire.This is the last bastion of the Zakarum faith, which has suffered many setbacks in the few games. The Zakarum is decaying in it's own decadence. Kurast is here and that place has gotten even worse since we last saw it. This is an ancient area, the Sin Wars were fought here as well as the Mage Clan wars. The Church of Triune is also centered here, where they worship the Prime Evils and hope summon back their dead masters. The people of Kehjistan live in fear and are trapped by superstitions to try and keep the evil away.
Monster design is about taking the lore and trying to have it kill you. Monsters tell a story by punching you in the face.
There exist all these monster of legends, terrors in the night that have been forgotten or that people just refuse to believe are real.
One of these are the Drowned. You've heard the tells of them stealing people away in the night and drowning them, sinking ships, and terrorizing the coasts. But they are real. With the light of the first full moon, they come ashore in droves and hunt their victims. Their approach is always heralded by the ever present ringing of a bell. But how do you tell this story in a monster?
The Drowned Juggernaut is an example of using the lore to create a monster. He's a big heavy punisher that shambles out of the ocean to try and drag you back down to the depths. His concept art has him holding a giant flail, but how does that tell a story? The monster designers changed the massive flail into a broken shipmast to reinforce his themes, as well as making some of his attacks summon a spectral ocean wave to supplement that.
Ashava is a world boss that exemplifies Diablo IV. Ashava is an always present threat, always lurking just below the surface and can appear anywhere in Sanctuary. She tougher than what you can fight on your own and reinforces that feeling of fighting against overwhelming odds.
Duriel is back! Duriel is the Lord of Pain & Maggots and while he's returning in Diablo IV developers don't want to spoil his impact on the story. In Diablo II Duriel was a brutal close quarters fight that had the feel of a two men enter, one man leave kind of fight and they want to pay homage to that while expanding on his lore. He can burrow underground forcing you fight his maggots or impale you and throw you into his belly/mouth which acts as an iron maiden, reinforcing his status as the Lord of Pain.
When asked if Inarius will return the devs reminded us that there were more angel/demon pairs that had children than just Lilith and Inarius. Inarius was last scene being tortured by Mephisto 3,000 years ago and as far as they know he's still there.
Sanctuary will be a fixed world but will include outside dungeons with randomly generated areas.
When Malthael was killed the essence of the Prime Evil was divided and the souls of the Evils were separated and loosed back into the world including Mephisto, Inarius' jailer.
We've seen Duriel in the trailers and we know that the other Evils have been able to resurrect, so the threat of them returning is out there. But Lilith is here and active, the Evils may be a bigger threat on the horizon Lilith is in our face.
When asked if Tyrael will return as the narrator for Diablo IV the devs asked "Does the game need a narrator?", but they're not ready to talk about Diablo IV's timeline and how long after Diablo III it takes place, so where Tyrael is at or what part he plays is something they're not ready to talk about. Remember: Heaven is closed, we're on our own.
While it's awesome if fan favorites, like the Butcher, could return in Diablo IV their inclusion has to make sense. Those character have to fit, their lore has to matter to the game. The devs want to honor the legacy of older titles with monster that will murder you.