For those not in the know, time-gated content refers to features or missions in-game that won’t appear until a real-world date. No matter how much a player plays, the next mission in the story won’t unlock until the following week. Or, the harder version of an activity that’s already playable won’t be available until weeks or even months later. Destiny 2 and World of Warcraft both do this multiple times a year.
But in a group Q&A session with Blizzard developers about Diablo 4’s first season — Season of the Malignant — assistant game director Joe Piepiora confirmed to Polygon that the team has no plans to add time-gated content to season 1 or future seasons. Players can jump into Season of the Malignant on July 20, play as hard or as much as they want, “beat” the season, and come back when the next season starts. Similar to Diablo 3 seasons, there is no waiting a few weeks until all the content is in-game.
However, Piepiora did add two caveats to his answer. The first is that, while players won’t need to stop playing and wait in Diablo 4, there are certain seasonal mechanics that players must unlock by playing the game or reaching a certain level. So the entirety of Season of Malignant will take many hours of leveling and in-game progression to actually uncover.
Piepiora also mentioned that potential in-game events could launch at a different time from a season. He speculated that an in-game holiday event, for example, would appear around the real-world holiday it’s based on, rather than the start of a season.
Just as an example, if Diablo 4’s second season starts October 12 — 12 weeks from July 20 — it’s not hard to imagine that Blizzard could launch a Halloween event a few weeks later, closer to the 31st. But while players would need to wait for the event itself, the seasonal content would be fully playable on the 12th.
Piepiora did not specifically confirm a Diablo 4 Halloween event, or an event for any other holiday. Blizzard has yet to announce any kind of special events for Diablo 4.