Another BlizzCon has come and gone and left fans of the long-running series Diablo wallowing, once again, in their disappointment. The con came to a close and there was no mention of the next installment of the beloved game.
It’s not that there were no Diablo announcements at all. Blizzard put together a presentation for mobile game Diablo Immortal, which got a lukewarm reaction at best. It was not the grand reveal the fans were hoping for.
Back in August, Blizzard announced it had multiple Diablo projects in the works. Fans naturally assumed that one of these was Diablo IV and the announcement would come at the yearly con. Even after later clarification that they wouldn’t “be ready to announce all [of the projects],” fans thought the sequel was a definite. However, the only Diablo announcement at BlizzCon was for a mobile game called Diablo Immortal. The fans as a whole were displeased by the announcement. Some are even going so far as to call the mobile game a slap in the face. The clip was met with an uncomfortable silence at the con, and the Q&A session afterward did not go well.
Developed by Chinese company NetEase, Diablo Immortal is available for pre-registration on Android and iOS devices. Those who sign up now can potentially participate in beta testing as the project progresses. However, there doesn’t seem to be a release date yet.
The Start of Diablo IV
As for the main franchise, there may be hope yet. Jason Schreier of Kotaku has once again come out with some exclusive information. According to his article on the subject, his sources include 11 current and former Blizzard employees. His past bombshell leaks in the world of gaming make his opinion worth hearing, at the least. So what does Schreier have to say on the subject?
First and foremost, Diablo IV is indeed in development. The project underwent a reboot in 2016 but it is in the works for sure. It is believed that the project was in the works even before 2014 when Blizzard announced the cancellation of the second Diablo III expansion. That came as a shock after Reaper of Souls rebooted the love of the third Diablo installment. However, it seemed the executives were considering Diablo III to be a loss and were looking to put all effort toward Diablo IV. Fans and developers alike were understandably upset. After numerous overhauls, Diablo III became a critically acclaimed and much-beloved game. (Rated 9/10 on GameSpot, and 9.5 on IGN.com)
As for the company, they have an interesting, though not altogether wrong, view of game cancellations.
“As far as game cancellations, we see that as a strength—a reflection of our commitment to quality, and how we’ve always operated. Historically, we’ve launched about 50% of the total projects we’ve worked on over the past three decades—those are the ones we consider representative of Blizzard quality. Not shipping a game is never an easy decision to make, but it has always been the right decision for us. Cancelling Titan led us to Overwatch, and as another example, cancelling Nomad led us to World of Warcraft.”
After that cancellation, the Diablo team lost many of its members, and one member had some criticisms for the company. They felt that Blizzard made a hasty decision in their cancellation of the project. They believed it would have been much more Blizzard-like to see the project through before scrapping the game. In the end, they believe this decision caused the loss of “the strongest Diablo development team ever.”
However, Diablo IV was still in the works. Josh Mosquiera, who headed the Reaper of Souls team, led the development of project Hades. Rumors indicate that Hades was intended to overhaul the series for the fourth installment. It was to be a gothic dungeon-crawler, with an over-the-shoulder third-person perspective. It was going to be a Diablo-style take on Dark Souls, a brand new direction for the series.
Eventually, Hades was scrapped, with insiders saying it just wasn’t shaping up the way it was supposed to. At this point, Mosquiera left Blizzard, though whether his departure or the cancellation came first is unclear.
The Diablo IV Project Now
The next and current Diablo project, code-named Fenris, is currently in development by the team. A former employee identifies Luis Barriga as the head of the design team and has high hopes for the project. “Luis has a very strong vision for that game, one that a lot of people are excited about at Blizzard.”
There have been more leaks about the project, including the decision to lean back toward Diablo II’s style. “There’s a lot of people who felt like Diablo III got away from what made Diablo Diablo in terms of art style and spell effects. [….]They want to make this gross, make it dark, [get rid of] anything that was considered cartoony in Diablo III… Make what people were afraid of in Diablo II, but modern.” There is also discussion of making the game more social, and adding some light MMO elements to the gameplay.
Release isn’t expected to be until 2020 or later, so many things could still change. However, it is comforting to know that Blizzard is still invested in the franchise. The fans feel very strongly about Diablo and it seems Blizzard knows that, and is listening.
Lastly, an inspiring quote from Blizzard, reminding fans of their mission as a company:
“Blizzard has been and continues to be a developer-driven company. All of the games we create represent ideas our game developers themselves are passionate about. This is as true for Diablo Immortal as it was for Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, or Overwatch, or any game we’ve ever made. We believe that the best games to make are ones that our developers believe in.”