Seasons, live events, paid cosmetics, and a battle pass are all coming to Diablo IV, and will not in any way be pay-to-win, Blizzard has confirmed. The news comes in Blizzard’s latest Diablo IV quarterly update, where the developer dives deep into its post-launch plans for Diablo IV and attempts to assuage players’ fears over microtransactions.
Diablo IV’s seasons are modeled after seasons in Diablo III, and will regularly introduce new content and gameplay features to keep the experience fresh. Game director Joe Shely states in the blog that the game’s first season will begin shortly after launch, with the team aiming to bring “up to four seasons a year” to Diablo IV, with each new season including “major new features, questlines, enemies, legendary items, and more.” To play as part of a season, players will create a new seasonal character from scratch, and from there will level up, hunt down items for their build, and experience newly-added seasonal content. As associate game director Joe Piepiora explains in the blog, seasons are about introducing new ways to play and changing the game in “meaningful ways.”
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“We feel it [Diablo] is at its best when you get a clean slate to start from in a season, picking a class, customizing your build, and chasing down items that support it along the way,” Piepiora writes in the blog. “This affords us several advantages and chief among them is that we can really shake the box of Diablo IV with each season, creating unique experiences with each of our quarterly releases.”
When diving into a new season, Piepiora writes players should begin to experience the new gameplay features “within the first hour of play,” and that Seasons will be an opportunity to reveal more of the world of Sanctuary through seasonal questlines which will “introduce new characters or revisit old ones.” Seasons will also afford Blizzard a chance to continue improving the core Diablo IV experience based on feedback and make changes to the game’s meta. In addition to seasons, Diablo IV will receive limited-time live events, which will appear throughout each season and offer “new adventures and unique rewards.”
Going hand-in-hand with Diablo IV’s seasons is the game’s seasonal battle pass. Given the reaction to the free-to-play Diablo Immortal, which also offers a seasonal battle pass that rewards various pieces of gear, gems, and crafting materials for spending money, some fans of the franchise have been concerned that a similar system could appear in Diablo IV. Blizzard makes clear in this quarterly update that won’t be the case, emphasizing multiple times that there will be no way to pay for power in Diablo IV.
Diablo IV will offer various cosmetics through an in-game shop and a season pass that will include both free and paid reward tracks, with a goal of adding “value to players’ experience of the game,” according to Kegan Clark, director of product for Diablo IV.
“The scale of Diablo IV seasons is much more ambitious than what we’ve done in the past on Diablo III, with a large development team dedicated to seasons after launch,” Clark writes. “Diablo IV will be supported by an army of developers for years to come. With all the exciting plans we have for seasons, we want them to be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of whether they buy anything from the shop.”
Diablo IV’s season pass is progressed through playing, leveling up, and completing Season Journey-objectives. The free reward track “will provide gameplay boosts to all players–things which make the journey of leveling up a fresh seasonal character faster and more streamlined,” Clark writes. The Paid reward track will be “focused on aesthetics,” offering cosmetic skins tailored around the season’s theme, as well as premium currency that can be used in the game’s cosmetic shop.
A core part of the free season pass are Season Boosts, which are sprinkled throughout the season pass and will speed up players’ progress over the course of the season through increased XP gains. Though players can purchase season pass tiers to instantly unlock rewards, this can’t be done to instantly acquire Season Boosts, as certain leveling milestones must be reached in order for the boosts to become active.
“In other words, there’s no way to shortcut getting Season Boosts by buying tiers; they must be earned,” Clark writes.
When it comes to Diablo IV’s in-game shop, Clark writes that Blizzard wants buying cosmetics “to feel good–before, during, and after the purchase.” Blizzard also wants to ensure players don’t feel like they have to purchase the optional skins and that players know exactly what they are getting when making a purchase. Clark notes that it was a goal of Blizzard to ensure that all the best-looking cosmetics aren’t exclusive to the shop, and that purchased cosmetics can be mixed and matched with those found through playing for “endless customization options.”
Diablo IV is scheduled to release in 2023, and will support cross-play and cross-progression between platforms. Blizzard’s previous Diablo IV quarterly update took an in-depth look at the fifth and final class for Diablo IV’s launch, the Necromancer, with recent leaks giving players a closer look at how the game’s difficulty settings and character creator will work.