Today we learned a ton more about what to expect from Diablo 4 during the server slam, and post-launch when seasonal content begins to ship.
The server slam is a go for May 12th through May 14th. It was noted that during this special event, the level cap will be 20, down 5 levels from the beta. Item drop rates have also been adjusted to reflect what the leveling experience of Diablo will actually feel like on launch, so unfortunately we will not be seeing legendaries rain from the sky like it was in the beta.
Some clarification on crossplay and cross-platform account sharing was made. First, Diablo 4 is cross-play and cross-platform, meaning that you can play with friends on any platform, and you can access your Diablo 4 account across all platforms, provided that you have purchased the game for that platform.
It was carefully noted that if you wish to have early access you should purchase the special edition granting early access on the platform you wish to primarily play on, since early access is platform bound based on your purchase.
We got a ton of info on how seasons will shape up during post-launch. Players can expect Season One, theme unannounced (to be discussed in a post-launch developer stream), to launch shortly after the base game sometime in mid-July.
Each Season will feature a focus on
- A single Seasonal Questline
- Fresh Gameplay
- Long Term Progression
- Quality of Life
- Aspirational Challenges
The first, and quite possibly most important focal point of the seasons will be the Seasonal Questline. Joe Piepiora (Associate Game Director) mentioned that The story will evolve each season.
The Diablo team takes two approaches to this, first, the campaign story will not be expanded over seasons, rather it will be told over expansions later. Seasons will feature one engaging seasonal questline which will be its own self-contained story.
These will still be major events, but they won’t tie into or be bound by the main campaign. However, the world will change and things will be introduced to reflect the seasonal theme. Joe mentioned that there will be no information about the seasonal story until after launch so stay tuned!
Another focus of the seasonal model will be evolving gameplay by introducing new mechanics and gameplay loops for each season. Primarily players will find new features that will last only for that particular season so players will be modifying their builds and changing how they play the game as new seasons release.
Furthermore, it was mentioned that each season there will be chapters that have seasonal objectives, one main difference from D3 is that you don’t need to finish all chapter objectives to progress to the next chapter. For example, the first chapter had 9 objectives but you only had to finish 7 objectives to progress to the next chapter.
Seasons will feature a battle pass there are three levels free, premium $10, and accelerated $25. The accelerated grants some tier skips at an additional cost. When leveling the battle pass you get smoldering ashes, these are used as currency to gain seasonal blessings.
It was consistently stated that this is in no way a pay to win, or pay for power model. There are no smoldering ashes or anything that will impact gameplay in the paid portions of the track. In the premium track, you get 2 full armor sets, seasonal mount, seasonal mount armor, and then lots of other cosmetics, like roleplay clothing and emotes, etc.
Stressing again, as stated by the developers “You cannot pay for power in Diablo 4”.
A common question asked is “Should I make a new character each season?”. To this, the developers felt that their intention in designing the seasons is for players to make a new character each season.
The game is designed so that leveling from 1 to 100 is really fun, so making a new character each season won’t feel like a chore. To mitigate some of the burden in making a new character some features were discussed.
- When you complete the campaign on any character, from that point forward you can skip the campaign when playing that character, so, starting a new character in a fresh season you can immediately skip it and then jump right into the seasonal content. This is account-wide. However, when you skip the campaign you start at level 1
- Somewhere in the story, you unlock your first mount, once that is unlocked it can be summoned on every character regardless of whether they had reached that point in the campaign or even started the campaign.
- Once you find all the altars of lilith, granting a stat boost, that stat boost is unlocked for all characters. The altars will be hidden again but the stat boosts are retained.
- The entries in the codex of power will reset, and dungeon completions will as well.
Quality of Life
Seasonal content allows the development team to adjust when new features are introduced. Big changes will take time, but with each season small quality-of-life changes are guaranteed to be shipped to ensure that player experience continues to improve.
Customization is going to be a big focus in Diablo 4 and the development team talked extensively about how every player can make their character look as badass as possible. Each region will have its own vibe for its armor and weapons that can be found, this will ring especially true for legendary gear. The focus is on having looks for your character through armor.
There will also be a shop where players can purchase cosmetic armor and other things for real money. However, there are cool armor sets to be found everywhere, and it was stressed that the cool stuff will not be exclusively locked behind a paywall.
Gear can be further customized through dyes to really let players maximize their chosen theme. All armor purchased from the shop for real money will transfer between new characters so your money doesn’t go to waste!
The development team noted that the goal is to have new big pinnacle challenges for players to engage with each season. In doing this, and expecting players to make new characters each season, they do not want to make the game longer to play, so the focus will remain on pushing level 1 through 100. However, they want to add new optional challenges like bosses, dungeons, and major encounters. Further, seasons will be used to experiment with new endgame features, those that work well will be kept and those that don’t will be dumped.
Leaderboards will not be featured in at least the first two seasons, but the development team is looking to implement them in the future.
Regarding PVP, it was noted that it will be hardcore mode, so if you die that character is dead forever.
Finally, it was made clear that to earn the rewards for killing Ashava during the Server Slam players must be level 20.
That wraps up our coverage on the second developer livestream, we look forward to seeing you during the server slam!