Blizzard Entertainment's biggest release for this year, Diablo 4, is already making waves and it's barely launched yet. But, as a live-service title, most fans are wondering if Diablo 4 will forgo the usual expansion route. And, while it would've been the standard route, Blizzard wants everyone to know that it has forgotten the series' roots yet.
Diablo's general manager, Rod Fergusson, recently sat down with Kinda Funny Games and shared what the Diablo 4 team's been up to in the days leading up to the game's launch.
According to Fergusson, the guys behind the scenes are already "finishing up season one" and "working on season two." But, more importantly, Fergusson confirmed that work on "expansion one" and "expansion two" have already started.
It's clear that Blizzard wants to buck the trend for how companies can handle post-release content for live-service titles with a simultaneous development approach to expansions and seasons.
The live-service format is a relatively new take for a mainline Diablo entry. This strategy allows the company to introduce a substantial amount of content split into seasons, which is a marked shift from how Blizzard handled Diablo 3. On top of the introduction of new mechanics and balancing them, Diablo 4's expansions will also incorporate rich narrative questlines to provide more context around the seasons.
TLDR; Diablo 4 players are getting the best of both worlds going forward.
In terms of the sheer quantity of content, what Blizzard is planning for Diablo 4 puts it way ahead of its predecessors. Both Diablo 2 and Diablo 3 received only one major expansion. Yet, Blizzard's strategy isn't all about quantity. Fergusson wants to emphasize that Blizzard's approach to Diablo 4 is focused on sustainability, highlighting how important it is for the team to avoid burnout and acknowledging the need for a structure that allows the team to continually ship content without reaching the point of exhaustion.
Blizzard has already demonstrated its commitment to ongoing support for Diablo 4 with multiple patches and hotfixes out during the game's early access phase.
Fans can look forward to this cadence of updates to continue post-launch, with live service patches forming a key factor in Diablo 4's roadmap.
Along with its commitment to regular content and patches, Blizzard is operating on a quarterly cadence for game seasons, aiming to give casual players sufficient time to play through content and earn rewards. This philosophy also extends to the game's already-controversial but cosmetic-only microtransactions. Fergusson asserts that no one can "pay for power" in Diablo 4. This is a clear mantra to ensure that all players start on equal footing.
The best-case scenario is for this development strategy to position Diablo 4 as a behemoth in terms of content, promising a steady stream of new stuff for players to experiment with and discover.
While Fergusson couldn't quite confirm what other classes are coming in Diablo 4 or if the not-so-secret cow level will be in the game, it's clear that he sees the value in keeping players entertained and on the hook for the long-term.
Ultimately, Diablo 4 has started on the right foot. It reviewed well and dedicated players have nothing but good things to say after reaching level 100 in Hardcore Mode. The game's unique blend of world-building, class builds, and commitment to ongoing content sets Diablo 4 apart from its predecessors and shows the game's promise for the future.