Associate game director Joe Piepiora says seasons will have themes and questlines to explore them, but their stories exist in isolation.
Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo 4 is out on June 6th worldwide, but it’s only the beginning of years-long support for the action RPG looter. The first season goes live in mid to late July and will present new questlines, Legendaries, and characters with seasonal challenges to complete and cosmetics to earn.
However, seasons won’t extend the campaign’s story. Associate game director Joe Piepiora explained to Eurogamer, “We have two different kinds of releases after the game launches. We have our quarterly seasonal releases. Then we’ll have our expansion packs. While we’re not talking about our expansions today, it’s important to realise they’re a part of the ecosystem of what we support the game with moving forward.
“Now seasons, though, when we think about the story, we know that we want to continue to build upon the world of Diablo 4 and the world of Sanctuary, but we do not want to extend the campaign into seasons and then make seasons required reading for the expansions, for that to make sense.”
Of course, other reasons exist for taking a more isolated approach to seasons. Instead of building towards something with a season, the team wants it to be great alone. Seasons have themes, and their questlines explore those.
“It might introduce new characters, it might bring back old characters, but it is a self-contained canonical story set in Sanctuary that is going to persist for the duration of the season and will also introduce new gameplay mechanics and other things that will be available during those three months at the same time, only for it to be replaced in the following season, where we will now introduce a new seasonal questline, a new seasonal theme, new seasonal gameplay, rewards to chase, monsters to fight, new boss encounters, things like that.”
Art director John Mueller wants players to consider Sanctuary a “canvas” for future seasonal stories. “Once it’s established we can now use that for all kinds of things, all the little side stories and the things that are going on that aren’t the Eternal Conflict, that are still really interesting and dark and macabre and have that Diablo feeling we want to come across. It’s already really fun to be working on that type of content.”
When asked if seasons could expand Sanctuary’s map or if that’s something only expansions will do, Mueller replied, “We don’t have a hard line there.”
Piepiora then added, “Speaking frankly, being able to build more of Sanctuary for our seasons is a thing we would like to do. There are technical considerations, and these things take time. But these are the sorts of things we aspire to as part of our seasonal content. We don’t want to leave it off the table. Expansions, obviously we will be able to explore a lot more of Sanctuary. But seasons, I like the idea of delving deeper into some areas and revealing new space.”
Diablo 4 will be available for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5 and PC in the coming weeks. However, Deluxe and Ultimate Edition owners get early access on June 2nd.