11.4.2019 9:38 PM

Gaming

'Diablo 4' release date: Blizzcon demos suggest a long wait ahead

It’s official, Diablo 4 will merge the occult and blood magic themes of Diablo 2 with the refined gameplay mechanics of Diablo 3. Blizzard Entertainment announced the brutal dungeon crawler during the opening ceremony of Blizzcon 2019. But sadly, gamers aren’t going to get to dive into this metal (af) hack-and-slash any time soon.

Blizzard announced Diablo 4 without as much as a vague release date window. Co-founder Allen Adham then told Game Informer that the series’ fourth entry is still in its early stages of development.

“While we’ve been working on Diablo 4 for several years, we still have a ways to go,” he said. “So we do want to set proper expectations. It’s a big, beautiful, contiguous open world. It’s packed full of creatures. It’s really grounded in the quests and the content that are an order of magnitude beyond anything we’ve done before.”

Blizzard

Adham refused to even give a rough timeline of when Diablo fans could expect another update. But based on the playable demos at Blizzcon and what we know about past Diablo installments a 2022 or even 2023 release date isn’t all that farfetched.

What parts of Diablo 4 were playable at Blizzcon?

Blizzcon attendees were able to play a 20-minute demo with three any of the three announced character classes: Barbarian, Sorceress, or Druid. The game snippet started in a confined cave area, which players had to fight their way out of to get to shared world space.

Just like in Destiny 2, this area lets players brush shoulders with other gamers, who they can team up with or simply walk past. IGN’s James Duggan said his early playthrough centered around a main quest that culminates in a boss battle against a witch. But he noted that there were a few “public events” and side missions he couldn’t explore during his trial run.

This suggests the starting area of Diablo 4 might be far along in development. But there seems to be a lot left to add, if you compare what we’ve seen so far to pervious Diablo games.

The first three classes revealed to be playable in 'Diablo 4'. From left to right: The Barbarian, Sorceress, and Druid.Blizzard

There are still missing Diablo 4 characters.

For starters, Blizzard will add at least another two playable classes. Ever since Diablo 2, there have been five choices from the get-go, but it’s possible that Blizzard will add all seven of the Diablo 2 classes that came with 2001’s Lord of Destruction expansion.

So far, we know three of the seven Diablo 2 classes will be in Diablo 4. The Paladin, Assassin, Necromancer, and Amazon are still missing and could make a comeback if Blizzard truly wants to make Diablo 4 an ode to the series’ second installment.

That means developers would need to create the skill trees, abilities, and models for at least three more classes before the game rolls out. They’ll also need to balance all of their abilities, seeing as Blizzard announced player-versus-player will be a big part of Diablo 4.

The five classes that came with 'Diablo 2*. From left to right: The Amazon, The Necromancer, The Barbarian, The Sorceress, and The Paladin.Blizzard

There’s a whole world left to create.

Diablo 3 consisted of four acts, each with its own own distinct map, dungeons, and secret areas. The game’s main story is estimated to take roughly 18 hours to play through and close to 142 hours if you want to complete every last quest, challenge, and achievement.

Adham said that Diablo 4 would be “an order of magnitude beyond anything [Blizzard has ever] done before,” so expect it to be lengthier and far larger in scale than Diablo 3. The 20-minute Blizzcon demo isn’t even the appetizer of the Thanksgiving meal that will be the game’s final product. That’s not even mentioning Blizzard’s reputation for making fans of its dungeon crawler wait a long, long time.

Blizzard

Strap in, it’s going to be a while.

It’s been seven years since the release of Diablo 3, which isn’t even the longest fans of the fantasy series have waited for a new installment. There was a twelve-year gap between Diablo 2 and 3 with only one expansion coming a year after the second entry was released in 2000.

Diablo 3 has received two expansion packs since its 2012 launch, which appeased fans through the years. So another three or four years wouldn’t be out of character for the franchise.

Diablo IV is currently in development.

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