Blizzard's latest quarterly update is takes us deep down into the hellish environments and dungeons of Diablo 4, showing off various biomes that we'll be exploring in-game (whenever it launches).
In an extensive new blog post, Blizzard shared a series of videos exploring the world of Diablo 4 – a world that's clearly living up to the grim and oppressive vibe of its predecessors.
As you may be able to tell from our video above (which merges all the Blizzard gameplay clips into one easy-to-watch montage), the development team is using the "old masters" you may know about from the art world as inspiration for its visual aesthetic.
But what has Rembrandt, for example, got to do with Diablo? Well, per art directror Chris Ryder, it's the artisan painters' controlled use of detail, tonal range, and expert use of color palettes that the studio has been looking at in order to enhance the world of Diablo 4... and we think it shows (at least if the videos the studio shared are anything to go by).
Ryder also notes that the company wants to focus on a "return to darkness". This pillar of design philosophy embodies the idea that Sanctuary is "a dangerous and dark medieval gothic world" and that Blizzard intends to "play to the iconic Diablo game camera, choosing where to add or remove detail to help the readability of the gameplay space or accentuate visual interest as needed".
The result, Blizzard hopes, is a game that feels dark and oppressive, yet also beautiful and readable, too. Ryder says Diablo 4 targets "for believability, not realism" – which makes sense for a game playing up to its high-fantasy elements as much as Diablo 4. As such, you can expect "weather and lighting play a more prominent visual role" than you'd see in Diablo games in the past.
In the video, we take a tour through the Scosglen Coast, the Orbei Monastery, the settlement of Kyovoshad, a couple of the dungeons of Sanctuary, and we get a glimpse at some 'forgotten places in the world', too. Using these visual stimuli as a springboard, associate art director Brian Fletcher notes that Diablo 4 will deliver more varied dungeons "than ever before." Should be good for replayability, then.
"In order to support over 150+ dungeons, we’ve had to shift the way we make environment art so that it's flexible enough to be used in multiple locations and not just in a single dungeon," Fletcher says – and the way the team is going about making sure the new environments are made to support that certainly sounds interesting.
"New dungeon features such as seamless floor transitions or traversals are exciting, but my favorite new feature is what we call tile-set transition scenes: these are scenes that allow us to connect two different tile-sets together in the same dungeon. Imagine running through a crypt, only to find a hole in the wall that seamlessly leads you deeper into a vast underground cave network. All while keeping the randomized layouts that change with each dungeon run."
Diablo 4 was announced in November 2019 at BlizzCon, alongside Overwatch 2. Neither game has a release date at the time of writing.
The game's development has been overshadowed by a wealth of stories about Activision Blizzard in the wake of reports the company fostered a toxic culture. These allegations came to light due to a lawsuit brought on by the state of California over bullying, harassment, and sexism in the workplace.
To combat future issues at the company, Actvision has plans to take on workplace abuse and improve its hiring practices.
Since the announcement of the titles, Microsoft has agreed to acquire Activision Blizzard in a deal that's worth an eye-watering $68.7 billion.