Diablo 4 will follow in Diablo 3’s footsteps with a seasonal model, albeit with a few modern bells and whistles attached. Blizzard’s plan for Diablo 4 seasons, outlined in a new quarterly development blog, sounds much more ambitious than what it did seasonally for Diablo 3, giving player more to do than just restart the game with a new character every few months.
According to Diablo 4 game director Joe Shely and associate game director Joe Piepiora, players will start each season by creating a new character from scratch. Players will then level up their character like normal, playing through a variety of Diablo 4’s activities, gaining gear and getting stronger. When the season comes to a close, seasonal characters will move to the “Eternal Realm,” where players can continue leveling up and getting stronger — albeit outside of the seasonal pool.
In Diablo 4, players will get “up to four seasons a year.” Each of these seasons will not only shift the meta like they do in Diablo 3, but also add new content. Diablo 4 will get new features and quest lines each season, which Piepiora says players should be able to experience within only an hour of playtime. The quest lines will also flesh out the world of Sanctuary, and offer new stories to discover.
The added content is a significant shift from Diablo 3, which has been operating on a seasonal model since 2014. Blizzard rarely adds new features or maps in Diablo 3’s seasonal updates, instead focusing on balance changes and gear reworks to keep the game fresh. Diablo 4’s planned approach seems similar to games like more modern games like Destiny 2 or the Diablo series’ indie contemporary, Path of Exile. Those games change up class balance season-to-season while also giving players new story beats and activities to engage with.
Diablo 4 will also see periodic “full story driven expansions,” Diablo franchise general manager Rod Ferguson said in June. How often these expansions will be delivered and what they’ll bring is still unknown. Diablo 3 only had a single full-sized expansion, Reaper of Souls, which added the Crusader class in 2014 — the Necromancer was added in a non-expansion character pack three years later.
Blizzard is taking an interesting approach with Diablo 4’s seasons, melding what’s worked for nearly a decade with some modern innovations developed by its predecessors. And while it’s unclear how successfully the studio will be able to merge past and present, it’s clear that Diablo fans will have plenty to do each year once Diablo 4 drops sometime in 2023.