Yes, Diablo 4 is in development. And thus concludes your No Shit Update of the Week. Indeed, the news that Diablo 4 is being made shouldn’t blow your hair back with shock. However, a recent and expansive investigation by Kotaku has brought to light its rocky development. From management concerns to cancellations, Diablo 4‘s development is rife with surprising changes. In fact, it apparently started out as something akin to a Dark Souls-inspired dungeon crawler.
Kotaku’s Jason Schreier spoke with 11 current and former Blizzard staff members about Diablo 4. All of these confirmed that the game is definitely in development. The current version, code-named “Fenris,” sounds like the wish list of every old school fan. Dark, “gross,” and removed of any “cartoony” aesthetics, the team’s aim is now to make Diablo 4 the Diablo II successor that so many wanted.
What’s more interesting to me, however, is what could have been. The original build of Diablo 4 was shaping up to be an over-the-shoulder dungeon crawler, according to the report. Led by Reaper of Souls director Josh Mosqueira, the impetus of the game was to make an action-RPG much like Dark Souls. In fact, the game looked so “not Diablo,” that Blizzard even considered calling it something else entirely.
The macabre love child of two of my favorite franchises was sadly never meant to be. This title was cancelled two years after starting development in 2014. According to the report, the reason for the cancellation is unknown. Mosqueira did leave the company in 2016, so his departure may have had some effect.
On the other hand, Blizzard has made a history of salvaging greatness from disaster. After all, one can’t remark on the success of Overwatch without mentioning Titan. Billed as the MMORPG successor to World of Warcraft, Titan failed to meet expectations and was canceled. Blizzard recycled characters and themes to create the massively popular Overwatch.
The current iteration of Diablo 4 reportedly goes back to basics. It will revitalize the dark and frightening look made popular by the originals, while maintaining the isometric camera angle. However, the report does mention an unexpected twist on the formula. Apparently, the team is aiming for a more social experience. Instead of going back to a town on your own, the burg will be a sort of hub town with other players shopping, trading, and forming parties. The philosophy behind the idea is to give it a more Destiny-like feel. But it’s still early in development, and with a possible release within two or three years, things could still change.