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Diablo > LoreJun 19, 2020 10:00 am CT

Will Diablo be in Diablo 4?

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It seems like it should be a “duh” moment, right? A Diablo game should have the titular character. To be honest, we haven’t seen or heard any news about the Lord of Terror in what has been released so far by Diablo 4‘s team. Will Diablo raise his ugly mug in D4, or will our focus be on Lilith’s rampages throughout Sanctuary?

A brief history of the Lord of Terror

Diablo — more formally Al’Diabolos, Lord of Terror — is one of the three Prime Evils, the most powerful demon lords of the Burning Hells. Like his siblings, Diablo spawned from one of the seven heads of the dragon Tathamet — the original Prime Evil, cast off from Anu, who sought a state of total purity. He rules over the Realm of Terror in the Burning Hells, which players of Diablo 3 are ported to during their Act 4 fight against the Prime Evil himself.

We, as players, are first introduced to Diablo during Diablo 1, released by Archbishop Lazarus from the soulstone hidden in the Tristram Cathedral. His original attempts to possess Leoric failed, leading him to use Leoric’s younger son Albrecht as his vessel who we fight as the game’s final boss. D1 ends with the victorious warrior (Albrecht’s older brother Aidan, heir of Leoric) slaying Diablo and removing the soulstone fragment from the demon’s forehead, revealing Albrecht’s dead body. Aidan then seats the gem in his own as an attempt to control the Lord of Terror.

After he adopts the soulstone, the corrupting Aidan does not linger in Tristram and heads east under the new guise of the Dark Wanderer. Diablo 2‘s opening cinematic contains these events, narrated by Aidan. We spend the bulk of D2 in pursuit of the Dark Wanderer, fighting him as the Act 4 boss at his seat within the Chaos Sanctuary and eventually destroying his soulstone. Without the soulstone trapping him, Diablo returned to the Black Abyss (the Void) and left a bit of his demonic essence in Sanctuary.

Twenty years after his defeat, Diablo’s servant Adria is going around Sanctuary to collect these demonic essences from the slain Great Evils. The player unwittingly helps Adria with her plans, obtaining the Black Soulstone as the supposed key to defeating the two remaining Lords of Hell and defeating Azmodan and Belial to store all seven essences. Adria stabs Leah with the now-filled Black Soulstone to rebirth Diablo as the Prime Evil, with the powers of all seven Lords of Hell. We defeat Diablo in the Silver Spire of the High Heavens (and the Realm of Terror, as noted earlier) and return his essence into the Black Soulstone.

Diablo is the main antagonist in all three Diablo games. First as the final boss in Diablo, and then as the Act 4 boss in both Diablo 2 and Diablo 3 (making Diablo the final boss before expansions). The fact that he managed to bounce back does make one wonder — is he our Big Bad in D4?

Lilith holding Diablo's skull

Will Diablo show up in D4?

Diablo, from a lore perspective, is available for a fight. Per Blizzard’s official story guide, Malthael’s defeat releases all his consumed souls — including Diablo’s. But was Diablo released back into Sanctuary? The Burning Hells? Or did he return to the Black Abyss?

It may not matter. A sneaky little bit in the February 2020 D4 developer’s blog that makes me wonder just a bit. The quote is actually in the Monster Family section: “Since we have everything from serene ocean cliffsides to the gaping maw of Hell itself, what does that mean for the bestiary?” Hello, Portal to the Burning Hells and hello as well, potential entre to the Lord of Terror.

We have the potential access, but will Diabo be there for us to kill? In the D4 Unveiled blog post, one of the first images is of Lilith holding a red demon skull with massive horns. The BlizzCon 2019 Art Studio panel for the Diablo franchise featured a progressing drawing of the Lord of Terror himself that looks very similar to the skull Lilith bears. Coincidence?

Another notable item in its omission is the lack of the Lord of Terror in the BlizzCon announcement video. It may have been brief, but he did have an appearance in the original D3 announcement (check out the 1:43 mark for Prime Evil Diablo). All of this to say — did the Mother of Sanctuary take down Diablo?

Let’s get a little “tinfoil hat” here. Lilith could be on our side, in which case she may help us take down Diablo (hence the artwork). After all, she may have tried to turn humanity into her army, but we descend from her and her followers. On the flip side, Lilith could be against humanity for whatever reason (we’re not exactly kind on the Balance after all), at which point Diablo may prove to be in her way. Or it could be something else entirely, and the picture is just that — a picture.

Should Diablo have a role in D4?

Yes.

Oh, was that anti-climactic? Sorry.

The game is called Diablo. Not having Diablo in a Diablo game is just confusing. As a sequel, there are specific elements to be expected. The Butcher and Diablo both show up in the first and third titles, with the rest of the Great Evils showing up in D2. Technically speaking, we don’t see Lilith in any of the previous games; she had already been trapped in the Void for centuries by the first Diablo game. The player’s introduction is through her story in the lore books scattered around D3’s Act 5 Pandemonium Fortress and the stories of others throughout the game.

But the game isn’t called Lilith: A Diablo universe title. It’s called Diablo 4. Whether we’re fighting alongside the Daughter of Hatred or against her, I fully expect Diablo to show up along the way in all his terrifying glory, and I look forward to stomping his demonic self back to the Burning Hells again.

What do you think? What should we see, if anything, of Lord of Terror in the next Diablo title? Or will Lilith’s shenanigans keep us fully occupied for the next 8-10 years?

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