Blizzard Entertainment has explained how the open-world layout and nonlinear campaign in Diablo 4 will work.
In an interview with Diablo 4‘s associate game producer Naz Hartoonian and associate game director Joe Piepiora, NME learned how the upcoming game will branch out with an act-based, nonlinear campaign and an open world for players to explore.
Hartoonian explains that the game begins with a prologue that “introduces all of the basic elements that make up the combat system, and basic enemies, that you’re going to see” in the game, before the campaign branches off in different directions.
“Eventually, you’re at this point where there are three major things that you can follow up on – and it’s entirely up to you which one you want to pursue,” explains Hartoonian. “That takes you to different areas in the game, and eventually once you do all the things that are available to you as the player, the story will eventually converge and go from there.”
While Hartoonian confirms that Diablo 4 will stick with the series’ traditional act-based story layout, Piepiora adds that “the player has a choice on the order in which they want to tackle certain elements as they go, but eventually, they arrive at a pretty epic conclusion toward the end of the campaign.”
As for Diablo 4‘s open-world format, Hartoonian shared that the team consulted with Diablo “historians” on Sanctuary’s various biomes and cultures, which helped them create new areas in 4.
“So a lot of our different zones are actually very culturally diverse and unique,” explained Hartoonian. “Within those different biomes you have different stories within the towns and local communities there, you get to learn about their own personal struggles – and while we have all of these unique threads, we also have a larger, more cohesive story that we’re trying to tell.”
Hartoonian added that Diablo 4‘s range of environments is reflected in the game’s dungeons, of which there will be over 150 at launch. Hartoonian points out that each dungeon is “entirely unique” and offers ways for players to learn more about Diablo 4‘s regions.
“Each of them has lore books that you can collect and find throughout the dungeon to better understand the world of Sanctuary,” she says. “Depending on what zone you’re in, and the dungeon’s in, you can better understand what the regional conflicts are and what folks are going through in that particular area.”
Elsewhere in the interview, the pair discussed how Diablo 4‘s tone will be “darker” than previous entries in the series.