Blizzard has shared a smattering of Diablo 4 details in its latest "quarterly update" about the game, giving PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and PC players a taste of what's awaiting them when the highly-anticipated dungeon looter releases in the future. Further, the update confirms the development team has been working from home, however, it sounds like this hasn't drastically altered development, which is good news for those hoping to see the game sooner rather than later.
On the details front, Blizzard begins by jumping into how it's approaching storytelling with the game. For Diablo 4, there are conversations, which is different than Diablo 3 which relied on UI panes with a character's name and portrait. With this, the development team is experimenting with what it describes as a mix of tool-generated and manually choreographed cameras. For simple interactions with NPCs, the camera is brought in closer, though it's still an isometric view. This is coupled with a library of animations. However, for more complex and salient conversations, the same camera approach is used, but the character movements and animations are less generic and more deliberately hand-crafted.
Real-time cutscenes are also being used, which obviously use a more cinematic camera. That said, this will only be used for the game's most important story moments.
Blizzard also talked about the game's open world, which it's been making changes to as a result of playtest feedback. Interestingly, Blizzard notes that the open-world and the content that is stuffed in there adds a considerable amount of playtime. On average, when players engaged more with the open-world and the side content, it took them twice as long as players just focusing on the main story, per region.
Speaking to this side content, Blizzard notes that "Camps" has been the most well-received.
"While we have many open-world activities, such as crafting, events, world PvP, and side quests, perhaps the most popular open-world feature was Camps," said Blizzard. "These are locations of importance that have been overrun by enemies, which once cleansed turn into friendly outposts with NPCs and a waypoint location. While there is a backstory to each camp, most of the storytelling is visual and quests don't directly send you to them. For example, one of the camps in the zone was a town afflicted by a curse that turned villagers into piles of salt. Another was a crypt, haunted by a spirit that possesses the bodies of various undead—jumping from skeleton to skeleton until you defeat him."
Continuing on about the game's open-world, Blizzard noted there will be mounts that change the experiencing of exploring Sanctuary. Meanwhile, it sounds like there will also be mount customization and progression.
Moving on, Blizzard also talked about multiplayer, and admitted it's been a challenge for the team. The goal is to incorporate elements from shared world games without the game ever veering into the MMO territory. Blizzard wants players to feel alone sometimes, and it also wants the world to feel dangerous, which is hard when there are other players afoot.
Speaking to this, Blizzard confirmed dungeons and key story moments are always private for players and their parties. However, areas like towns will be more social hubs. You also may run into players on the road. And of course, there are social events that will require players to come together. In this regard, the game sounds a bit like Destiny. That said, the game will never force players to join a party for anything.
"It's worth calling out that while some coordination is helpful during these events, you are never forced to join a party," said Blizzard. "Solo players can walk in, help complete the event, and claim a reward. We think this seamless approach to multiplayer is working well and look forward to sharing more about this approach with you. In our tests so far, the world feels alive and dynamic without compromising the feel of Diablo. And for players that do want to party up against the minions of Hell, we have new tools available to find a group, whether by activity or proximity in the game world."
Lastly, Blizzard confirms the game is still in the "very early" stages of development, noting that it is not even in an Alpha state yet. That said, the team will have more details to share later this year.