We’re all still coming down from the post BlizzCon high this Monday morning, but we’ve got some sobering news for Diablo fans, at least some of them anyway. The good news begins with the announcement of Diablo 4 for all various platforms, which will ostensibly continue the story of demonic and angelic struggle, but will also return to its roots. This return to form will include new and old enemies, and a much darker tone, something some fans celebrated. We saw the return of Lilith in one trailer released for the game, although other returning bosses are suspected, no other major villains have been confirmed.
What wasn’t too celebrated was the reveal about how online play will work in the new game. Blizzard’s RPG sequel Diablo 4 will be online-only across PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. This change is a bit of a departure for console players though, as Diablo 3 had an option to play offline on the console ports of the RPG. Many other Blizzard video games of this era, as do many games in general, require some kind of online server support or authentication, so it’s OK that Diablo 4 does too. It’s also pretty common practice on the PC, but online-only for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One as well is a bit of a big ask for some.
At a BlizzCon 2019 panel, lead designer Angela Del Priore explained the changes; revealing that the development team will still design the game so that the vast majority of content, if not all of it, can be done solo. “We are not going to support an offline mode,” Del Priore said. “But as I said before, nothing in DIablo 4 is going to require partying up. You can play solo and dungeons are private. Campaign quest areas will [also] remain private.”
The team has made it quite clear why this change is being made though, going beyond just group vs. solo play. The biggest reason for the alteration is that the game world is about to get a lot bigger, and some areas will require some instancing. This is because there will be consensual PvP zones, as well as new areas of Sanctuary for players to explore. So not only will there be new enemies, they will inhabit a new version of the iconic world that presents a much more challenging environment.
According to game director Luis Barriga, “We’ve only seen glimpses into Sanctuary in previous Diablo games, but those glimpses have enthralled us and captured our imaginations,” The world of Sanctuary is impressive and steeped in lore, so the team wants to explore it, seems alright to me. This vision of the game world is being expanded in Diablo 4, as Barriga puts it, “With Diablo 4, we want to put the world of Sanctuary front and center. We want every character, every monster, every faction to have a sense of place.”