Blizzard bets on a more “down to earth” approach to the franchise

In its quarterly post on the progress of Diablo IV, Blizzard gave the floor to members of the artistic team who spoke about their design choices, with supporting images.

Between two attempts to promote Diablo Immortals, the mobile edition whose announcement was received like a hook in the liver by early fans, Blizzard still continues to reassure its fan base with some communications on the future Diablo IV. Today we were treated to the first quarterly announcement of 2022; an opportunity to look at the novelties of this highly anticipated title.

The majority of the elements relate to the artistic direction of the title. The studio has opted for an approach that is always inherently fantastic, but darker, coherent and “down-to-earth” than in previous episodes. This includes particular attention to the overall atmosphere, materials and architecture that will give its visual identity to the world of Sanctuary.

A modern graphics engine

To achieve this, Blizzard has imposed a major overhaul of its graphics engine. As we already saw during the gameplay video last December, it now incorporates all the modern technical arsenal, starting with physics-based illumination. This detail in particular allows Blizzard to offer a new, more modern and elegant interpretation of the graphic style characteristic of the franchise.

Matt McDaid and Chaz Head, members of the art team responsible for bringing the world of Diablo 4, took the time to offer a long introduction to the different biomes they lovingly designed.

They begin by describing the Coast of Scosglen, an inhospitable and macabre shore where a few hardy villagers try to survive as best they can. The two friends explain that they paid particular attention to the coherence of this area, in order to transcribe the intransigence of this biome where survival is earned.

This involves many dynamic elements such as variations in the weather; it can quickly turn from bright sunshine to real pea puree with very different visual atmospheres as a result. They also take the opportunity to unveil a whole new system for destroying the environment. Another gadget that should make the world of Sanctuary even more immersive.

New look for a new life

They then concentrated on the town of Kyovoshad. It is an area they describe as “cold, oppressive, and harsh”; and it is clear that these are indeed the first words that come to mind when you look at this military stronghold. Again, there is a work of staging; we therefore hope that it will be the same in the four corners of Sanctuary.

Between the fog, the mud, the darkness and the imposing walls that surround it, we feel that the artists have made it a point of honor to make it an area that is certainly uncomfortable, but almost reassuring compared to the darkness that surrounds it. . Special mention to the superb soundtrack which finishes installing this deliciously depressing atmosphere.

A denser world than ever

The two artists then lingered on the dungeons in the company of artistic director Brian Fletcher. First announcement: the good old formula is still valid. “Dungeons are still based on that randomized content found in previous titles”, affirms Fletcher.

But this recipe has also been expanded and modernized. For example, there will no longer be any transition between different areas of the same dungeon; it will therefore be possible to walk around in complete fluidity, without interruption.

We’ve also added new systems that allow us to do even more dungeons than before.”, he specifies. Indeed, the world of Sanctuary will hide more than 150 dungeons; a formula that already promises long hours of exploration. But it is not free of challenges for developers and artists.

It will be particularly interesting to observe how Blizzard will manage the reuse of the various elements of the scenery. This sleight of hand seems inevitable in the context of such an ambitious project. But that’s not a deal breaker; other games, including the excellent Elden Ring recently proved that this concept can work perfectly. However, each element must be intelligently recontextualized; we will see later how Blizzard will negotiate this aspect of the design.

In essence, then, we don’t learn much groundbreaking in relation to the game; but these few elements continue to show that Diablo IV has everything to be a great game. Suffice to say that Blizzard will be expected at the turn.

Be that as it may, these few elements actually show that a lot of substantive work has been done on the visual identity of the series; and if we trust the first images, the studio seems to have hit the bullseye. The style is certainly modernized, but remains faithful to the codes of this legendary franchise. It remains to be seen if Diablo Immortal will be enough to make us wait despite the controversy while waiting for this release which is slowly but surely beginning to become clearer.

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