Diablo IV got a hefty showcase at BlizzConline. While its release date is still a mystery, we got an in-depth look at PvP, and most notably, the fourth character class in the game: Rogue. This is a classic class that hasn't been a main class since the first game in the series from 1997.
For its next Diablo game, Blizzard has gone about completely reimagining this class for the modern-day. The result is a fighter with both melee and ranged abilities that Lead Systems Designer Joseph Piepiora describes as "an Olympic gymnast with a bloody pair of knives."
Through the official BlizzConline panel and a Q&A with the developers, Inverse learned how the Rogue has been overhauled for Diablo 4.
What kind of class is the Rogue? In Diablo 4, the Rogue is designed to be a mix between a ranged and melee character, switching between the two seamlessly. "She can snap immediately from one ability to another, and her weapons will immediately swap; there's no delay," Lead Animator Careena Kingdom says. Overall, the Rogue is swift, spinning around a lot as she attacks and evades enemies, either from up close or from afar.
That's why Piepiora described her as an "Olympic gymnast" as opposed to the more stoic classes like the Sorceress. "One of the focuses we had from the outset was to try to create an agility class that felt like it could serve many different play styles and could embrace a lot of these different character concepts," Piepiora tells Inverse.
"Our ultimate vision for the rogue is that she is a professional. She takes exactly the right tool for the job. And she's got it available to her at any given moment," he continues. "It's a really great template upon which to place a lot of different archetypes and ideas that kind of all fits in based on what the players are looking for."
What are the Rogue's abilities? Players can see the Rogue in action in BlizzConline's 2021's "Diablo IV: What's Next" presentation (featured above). We see them wield swords and daggers that can be imbued with effects to weaken enemies in addition to their three class specializations: Combo Points, Shadow Realm, and Exploit Weakness.
Combo Points lets players build multiple combo points that they can use to make the Rogue's skills more powerful. Shadow Realm lets you pull a group of enemies into that realm and take them out away from everyone else while you're powered up. Exploit Weakness lets players counter enemies as they attack, doing significantly more damage in the process.
Players improve these abilities by choosing a group of Rogues within Diablo 4's world to complete class-specific quests for. Piepiora stressed the uniqueness of these class quests when compared to any other in Diablo 4.
"What we don't want to do is say the Barbarian should have three Barbarian factions to go on quests for to get Barbarian skills because that would make the Barbarian feel like the Rogue," he explains. This should make replaying as different classes very entertaining as their quests will all feel quite different from each other.
How similar is Diablo 4's Rogue to Diablo 1's Rogue? The Rogue in Diablo 4 definitely has some roots in the original game but works differently as it combines the abilities and styles that we've seen from Diablo's dexterity-based classes over the years.
Lead Animator Careena Kingdom actually downplayed the connection to Diablo 1's Rogue, as the developers are striving for something that feels more original and unique.
"It's not just a matter of representing something that existed before," she says. "Diablo 4 is very much the evolution of that legacy and bring it forward because you can still go back and play those as they were originally."
She highlights the announcement of Diablo 2: Resurrected a significant example of that. "We don't need to replicate anything. It's more about improving it and bringing it forward." And from the looks of it, Blizzard has managed to do that and craft one of Diablo IV's most versatile classes.
Will Diablo 4 get more classes? While only four classes have been revealed for the game, the Rogue may not be the last. "Of course, there's probably going to be more in the future," Mueller says in the "Diablo IV -What's Next" video. "We always say there's a little bit more room around that campfire.
Diablo 4 is in development for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.