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The Diablo 4 release date is days away, and Blizzard hasn’t been shy in their communications in the months running up to launch. Developer interviews, character videos, blog posts, and data from the recent beta and server slam periods are everywhere. As a result, it’s safe to say we have a good idea of what to expect when the full launch rolls around. However, post-launch content is unfamiliar territory, so we sat down with John Mueller, Art Director, and Joe Piepiora, Associate Game Director, to chat about everything to do with Seasons.
According to Piepiora, Diablo 4 has “tons and tons of quests, over 100 dungeons, tons of things to do. And we want to really meaningfully add to that pallet over time, with new side quests, dungeons and things along those lines. Certainly new legendary items and nuke items.” Which leads us to believe the recent hands-on access has been just a small part of what’s in store.
The recent beta and server slam focused on the Fractured Peaks area, which is actually the smallest region in the game. “The region that is in the North, which is Scosglen, is three times the size of Fractured Peaks, and there are three more regions after that…” according to Mueller. So, there is a lot of content coming to Diablo 4 on launch – enough to keep you playing the game for weeks to come, especially when you consider world bosses such as Ashava. However, one thing that holds a lot of mystery and excitement is the post launch content: Seasons.
Though Piepiora would not reveal what exactly the first theme of the first Season will be, he did talk in depth on how they go about theming each of the quarterly seasons. Seasons are meant to have a theme and storyline running through them, but are ultimately optional content.
“It’s a seasonal questline that embraces the theme, I want to introduce a protagonist that helps exemplify the theme. We want to create gameplay mechanics that help touch on the theme as well. We do this so that we have one really clear message.”
Having a clear message and theme all synced together to tie together a Season in Diablo 4 makes a lot of sense, as these individual Seasons won’t be replayable once they’re over – items will not carry over to the main campaign or to another season. It’s an individually wrapped way to play, outside of the main campaign, and will be heavily driven by the themes. If you see a theme you don’t like, there isn’t much reason to play.
“When a player is excited about the theme, they know what they are going to get when they come back to play Diablo IV’s next season. When they come in, we want them to be able to experience it by the end of the first session.” explained Piepiora.
Wanting your players to be excited is always a goal, but how does Blizzard plan a season from start to finish? How does it tie together with Diablo 4, with such a dominant theme running throughout?
“If we are going to have a season of zombies, then we want to try and find, what is something cool about the zombie fantasy that we can have the player express? Well, maybe the player can get their own zombie horde or something. So then, how do we do that? How would a player get a zombie horde? What would that mean with progression? How would that work with the necromancer? We go through and start figuring out all of those things. That would be how we approach it.
“So we say, maybe the zombie season is about a necromancer’s apprentice who cast a spell badly, and now there are zombies everywhere, and he is like “Now I don’t know what to do” and can you help the apprentice with this situation. We try to find ways to thread the general theme and thesis of the season into all these components, so we basically give the player, when they come in and do check out the Season, there is one discrete path they understand.”
The addition of Seasons in Diablo 4 is not meant to feel random. Rather than being a bunch of extra bits that the developers haven’t found a way to implement into the main game, shoehorned in as extras, everything is intentional while simultaneously being a new experience for players.
Seasons are optional story lines, so if you miss one, and it’s gone forever, you shouldn’t feel like you’ve missed out or that you’re behind in any way. The idea of getting something in a Season then having it replaced in a Realm adds a layer of non-permanence and it opens Seasons up to having themes that might not even really fit in Diablo 4, and because it’s removed at the end, there is no real consequence. There are some extra points that you can bring back as a part of discovering and completing seasons, but there actually isn’t a lot of power that can be taken back into the rest of the game.
Seasons won’t be in Diablo 4 from the get-go, because there is a lot of content in the game on launch. However, it won’t be too long before players make their way to the end-game, so Seasons won’t be far behind. Keep your eyes peeled on VideoGamer for all your Diablo 4 guides on launch, and more information about Seasons as soon as we hear. In the meantime, why not read up on what we know about the Diablo 4 season pass, which as you’d expect, will tie in closely to Seasons.