Diablo IV’s campaign promises dozens of hours of button-mashing chill time across multiple character classes, but the real longevity of the action-RPG looter will be based around its seasonal content updates. Blizzard shared a bit more about how those will work in a new blog post, and the whole post-launch experience is sounding a lot like one of live-service gaming’s few success stories: Destiny 2.
Years ago, Bungie’s loot shooter pivoted from semi-annual DLC add-ons to quarterly seasons that build out the sci-fi lore, introduce new gear, and add more challenges. Diablo IV’s post-campaign end game will apparently be quite similar, with four updates a year that each bring new rewards, have distinct themes, and tell smaller stories within the grim fantasy world of Sanctuary.
There will be battle passes, cosmetic shops, and even seasonal challenges that can be completed to speed up progress. The core of this grind will be what Blizzard’s calling the “Season Journey,” a gothic-looking report card where you track your progress.
It will consist of chapters with lists of objectives. Completing each chapter will earn seasonal rewards like crafting materials, Legendary Aspects used to upgrade the Codex of Power, a post-game skill tree, and Favour, a special type of XP that ranks up the seasonal battle pass.
Speaking of battle passes, there will be three. A regular one will be free and contain 27 rewards spread across 100 levels. The premium battle pass will be $US10 and have a new reward for each level. Finally, a third battle pass, called the Accelerated Battle Pass, will cost $US25 and let you skip the first 20 levels instead of grinding them. You’ll also get a special Wings of the Creator Emote.
Editor’s note: To be clear, most Battle Passes offer a level skip tier for a few extra bucks. Fortnite has been doing this for yonks. — David.
But wait, there’s more! To dig into the nitty gritty of battle passes for a second, some rank-up rewards will contain cosmetics while others offer a resource called Smouldering Ashes. These can be used to purchase various Season Blessings that let you earn extra XP, Gold, or Obols (used to purchase loot from the Purveyor of Curiosities merchant). If you’re a normal person this is all probably sounding a bit much, but if you’re a sicko looking to play the hell out of Diablo IV until your body turns to dust you’re probably going, “yes, ha ha ha, yes!”
How will Diablo IV’s microtransaction shop work?
Blizzard’s latest development blog post also shed some more light on the microtransactions shop. While the battle pass rank-up regards will include some cosmetics, others will be exclusive to the Cosmetic Shop and cost real money. The studio stresses, however, that nothing of gameplay value will be sold there. It’s all purely for player expression. Diablo IV also has a cross-purchase feature linked to your Battle.net account, so any premium currency or money spent on one platform will carry over to the other.
Like the betas we’ve played so far, it’s all very familiar to anyone who’s played Destiny 2 these past couple years. Franchise general manager Rod Fergusson and associate game director Joseph Piepiora told Forbes’ Paul Tassi in an interview that these seasonal updates will happen alongside paid expansions, though it’s not clear if those will be annual or less frequent.
“It’s not like I can say, ‘hey we stole this feature,’ but I think [Destiny 2] is a great inspiration to look at,” Fergusson said. “They’ve been successful. You have like a Season of Defiance which has a theme and a sort of narrative wrapper to it and provides context for new mechanics…so that’s the notion that Joe is really focused on, what’s the seasonal theme and how does everything reinforce that?”
Diablo IV’s first season won’t arrive until “mid to late July,” but the game itself drops on June 6 with early access beginning on June 1 for those that buy the Deluxe or Ultimate editions. If you want to start playing sooner for free, however, there’s one last beta going live the weekend of May 12. Sure, that’s the same weekend as The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, but you can multitask can’t you? Can’t you?