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Diablo > WoWMay 14, 2018 10:00 am CT

Speculation gone wild: Does this Baa’l pet hint at Diablo 2, Diablo 3, or Diablo 4 news?

To say Diablo fans are desperate for information on something — anything — new out of the franchise would be an understatement. While Diablo 3 did release the Rise of the Necromancer pack last summer, the biggest major update prior to that was the release of Reaper of Souls — a whole four years ago. So naturally, whenever fans see something that potentially points to Diablo news, they get excited and the speculation starts.

Which is why this recently datamined Baa’l pet from the Battle for Azeroth files has people’s hopes up yet again. Now, to be clear, this pet is literally the only thing anyone has to go off of. Sure, there’s a bit of flavor text from the pet journal entry — not much is known about this otherworldly minion — but that tells us nothing.

All the same, it’s a pet seemingly named after a Big Bad from the Diablo universe, so speculation isn’t entirely unwarranted. So what are our options in terms of what this could be cross-promoting? Let’s list ’em:

  • Diablo 3 on the Switch
  • A Diablo 3 expansion or new DLC content
  • A Diablo 2 remaster
  • Diablo 4
  • A BlizzCon promotional item
  • Baal arriving in Heroes of the Storm
  • Something else (or nothing at all)

There are arguments for and against every single one of the items on that list. If you have a little while to take an incredibly deep dive into those arguments, I have good news for you. We’re about to dissect these options more thoroughly than a dead frog in the hands of an overzealous 9th-grade biology student!

Where have we seen rewards like this before?

Let’s start with the items on that list that aren’t likely. As far as BlizzCon rewards go, the WoW pets have been exclusively Murlocs. The one time WoW didn’t get an in-game pet, Diablo 3 got one — and it was still a Murloc. In other words, I have a hard time thinking Baa’l will be related to BlizzCon goodies. Similarly, we’ve never had a World of Warcraft pet to promote the release of a Hero in Heroes of the Storm. The only thing that even comes close is Graves, and that’s a reward for playing Heroes of the Storm (since you don’t need to actually buy it).

When it comes to cross-promotional items, Blizzard’s only ever put a few Diablo-themed pets in World of Warcraft. Those exclusive pets are the Mini Diablo from the Collector’s Edition of the original World of WarcraftTyrael’s Hilt from the 2008 Worldwide Invitational, and the Fetish Shaman’s Spear and Treasure Goblin’s Pack from owning the Collector’s Editions of Diablo 3 and Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls, respectively.

The less-likely Diablo options

It doesn’t exactly narrow things down a ton, but it does point to Baa’l likely being a reward for purchasing a Diablo game of some kind. Here’s where it gets trickier, though. There are four items on that list related to Diablo games, and arguments can be made for all of them. I’m going to go ahead and crush your hopes right now, though, and say it’s doubtful Baa’l is related to Diablo 4. (Ed’s note: Hopes officially crushed.)

Blizzard hasn’t exactly been quick when it comes to pumping out new Diablo content. The chances they’d have released the Necromancer DLC less than a year ago and somehow still managed to produce an entirely new Diablo game? Not very great. And I highly doubt they’d already have a promotional pet in the Battle for Azeroth files unless they planned on announcing something this decade.

We heard rumors of Diablo 3 being ported to the Nintendo Switch a few months back. And while they’re only rumors, Blizzard porting a hugely successful series onto a hugely successful console just plain makes sense. However, while I do believe Blizzard is bringing Diablo 3 to the Switch, I don’t think that’s what this pet is about.

The Lord of Destruction, returned

The pet’s name is Baa’l. Baal (without the punny apostrophe) is the primary antagonist in Diablo 2 and one of the three Prime Evils. Blizzard recreated the Darkening of Tristram in Diablo 3 and seems to be on a remaster kick lately. Yes, we’ve technically only have a StarCraft remake, but Warcraft 3 recently started receiving its first updates in years, and rumors of its remaster have been hovering about as well.

I find it suspect Blizzard would name a pet after a Prime Evil without it actually tying into that Prime Evil in some way. Neither of the Diablo 3’s Collector’s Edition pets weren’t named after a Big Bad, nor were they exactly tied heavily to the games’ themes themselves. As such, I’m leaning against a Diablo 3 expansion, since the expansion would either have to not tie into Baal or the pet would have to break the tradition of not being tied to a major character. Admittedly, it’s possible — but it would still have to break tradition.

What’s that leave? A Diablo 2 remaster.

We’ve seen job postings related to a Diablo 2 remaster as far back as 2015 and as recently as less than a year ago. It was about a year-and-a-half between that first job posting and the announcement of StarCraft: Remastered. We’re coming close to that same length of time since the second sighting of that job posting. If Blizzard really has been working on a remaster for Diablo 2 (or Warcraft 3), we’re due for an announcement soon.

An argument for none of the above

There’s one aspect of the Baa’l pet that leaves me questioning everything I’ve said so far: It’s based on a pre-existing World of Warcraft pet model. Every single Collector’s Edition or cross-promotional pet ever put into WoW has been a unique model. They’ve all been something that could easily have been plucked out of their own game’s universe and plopped down into Azeroth.

Baa’l is very similar to Argi — not an exact recolor, but also not entirely unique. It would strike me as a little odd to have a cross-promotional pet that doesn’t have a brand-new model like all the others. At the same time, an in-game pet that could be captured like any other would be surprising, since Blizzard’s not in the habit of letting players get pets with similar models as those found in the Pet store. But we do know that this pet is obtainable through some means or another — as opposed to a unique model that can’t actually be captured — thanks to its existence in the pet journal.

Returning to uniqueness, many of the cross-promotional battle pets — though admittedly, not all — have at least one ability that is completely unique to that pet. Sure, the effect might be the same as other pet abilities, but the name and spell ID themselves are unique. Baa’l doesn’t have any abilities that are unique to it. This could very easily be temporary, but it doesn’t help any arguments at present.

All of which is to say, there’s a chance Baa’l has nothing to do with the Diablo franchise at all. Am I perhaps reading way too into things here? It’s entirely possible (really, it’s practically a certainty). But still, if you follow Blizzard’s previous cross-promotions, it’s not too far out of line. No, StarCraft: Remastered didn’t have a promotional pet, and that puts a slight hole in my theory.

But looking at all the options, the one that makes the most sense to me is a Diablo 2: Remastered bonus. That’s what I’m putting my money on. How about you?

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