Blizzard’s quarterly update on Diablo IV reveals the minds behind the game as they explain the development going into this gothic-medieval world.
Blizzard Entertainment just released a quarterly update for its much-anticipated Diablo IV and this one’s heavy with reveals.
Posted on Blizzard Entertainment’s blog, Game Director Joe Shely, Art Director Chris Ryder, and art direction team members Matt McDaid, Chaz Head, Ben Hutchings, and Brian Fletcher all took turns describing their work on the new entry to the Diablo series. The primary focus centered on Diablo IV‘s graphics and art design, which Ryder describes as “a darker and more grounded interpretation than earlier installments.” Some of the highlights in the reveal include 150+ dungeons, dynamic weather, lighting and objects, and a vast, contiguous world spread over five zones.
The team primarily focused on making the world seem believable rather than realistic. “Believability comes through our use of materials and deliberate construction of architecture and artifacts you will come across as you play through dungeons and the open world,” Ryder explained. “In addition, regional weather conditions, varied local biomes, and a sense of history set the foundation of how an object or place should look visually in a medieval world like Sanctuary. After all, Sanctuary is full of history, struggle, and conflict, giving us many opportunities to depict a diverse world full of compelling locations in a dark gothic-medieval setting. Even the wealthiest areas in Sanctuary are challenging to exist in.”
Ryder explained how the goal is immersion, making players experience the world as they play. He described the world as tangible in places, where players can see crevises filling with water when it rains and even feel it when the ground gets muddy. The team also ensured each location feels unique, with a history and richness players can explore. Ryder described the lighting as based on two central pillars: “old masters” and “a return to darkness.” “Old masters” refers to viewing Diablo IV‘s artwork through the lens of classic artists when developing the lighting system, naming Rembrandt as a major influence, while “return to darkness” describes the dark, gritty vision of a gothic-medieval world.
McDaid expressed particular enthusiasm for the design of the five zones. “Each region is fraught with dangers of their own kind. Many routes, and hidden corners to uncover,” he explained. “How you choose to make your way through this vast world is up to you. The Art and Design teams have constructed a contiguous world where you can roam from coast to coast, or high up into the glacial ridges. For the Environment Art team, we want to ensure each handcrafted location is distinct and immersive.”
For the dungeons, the team promises players can still expect completely randomized content as before. However, Fletcher explained the team broke the dungeons down into small tile-sets which can be configured to suit numerous environments, enabling the previously boasted 150-plus dungeons. The results are dungeons that are handcrafted, varied and procedurally generated.
Diablo IV is a long-time coming, having been announced back in 2019 at BlizzCon. There’s little known about the upcoming installation in the Diablo series, though previously, Blizzard released the Rogue, Sorceress, Druid and Barbarian as Diablo IV‘s playable characters at launch. Whether more will join them is uncertain despite previous indications of five classes to start. It also confirmed that Diablo IV will support full character customization, aiming to make the latest installment the most inclusive title in the franchise. Blizzard announced a delay in the release of Diablo IV in November last year, but its yet to announce a new expected release date.
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