Everything we know about Seasons in Diablo 4
With today’s Diablo 4 update, we now know that Diablo 4 will continue Diablo 3’s Seasonal content model — but in a significantly expanded form. That means each Season will launch with sizable content patches that include new gameplay mechanics as well as new quests and stories. But these Seasons will also include a Season Pass system, which brings up the thorny issue of live service monetization and how Blizzard plans to make money off the game long-term to support ongoing development. ggWith Diablo 4 coming out sometime next year, it’s good to finally see some concrete details on how Seasons — and associated monetization — will work.
What are Seasons in Diablo 4?
New Seasons are more than just new gameplay mechanics: they’ll also include quests and story content, opening up new parts of the world. They’ll feature new quests, new characters, and live events.
But expect much of Seasonal gameplay to work more or less as it does in Diablo 3. Each Season you’ll start with a fresh character to level, and there will be new gameplay features to give the Season its own flair. The Season Journey is returning as well, and will be a major part of how you can min-max and push content faster — nothing in the Journey can be bought for real money, it’s all down to how you want to play it, but it has to be played.
When you finish a Season, your character will be moved to standard realms where you can keep playing them — again, just like Seasons work now in Diablo 3. I hope there’s a Rebirth feature that will allow us to take the same character back to level 1 and start over on the next Season, because that’s how I play the game currently and I think it’s an excellent design.
Basically expect Seasons to be like Diablo 3 Seasons but with a lot more content. I’m intrigued by the statement that the Seasons will also bring older characters and new stories to the game — could we see heavy hitters like Baal, Mephisto or even Diablo himself making a return as Season bosses in Diablo 4?
Look for the first Season to start shortly after Diablo 4 itself drops, and expect new Seasons quarterly.
Don’t expect Diablo 4 to be a static game
While Seasons in Diablo 3 give players something new to do, Seasons in Diablo 4 seem to significantly expand the game. The developers are aiming to make this a living game by shaking up gameplay (something Diablo 3 Seasons don’t always manage), adding new stories, new gear, new Paragon boards, and ongoing balance and class updates. Again Diablo 3 does some of this, but Diablo 4 plans to take it to a new level with more of everything.
Seasons aren’t just a way for players to start over, as they are in Diablo 3, but also as a way to keep the entire playable world of Sanctuary up to fresh. Joe Piepiora, the associate game director responsible for game systems and live service explained: “With each season we’ll be looking into ways to simply improve the player experience.”
The Season Journey will also make a reappearance, and it sounds like it may also receive significant shakeups each Season with new pinnacle-level difficulty challenges. Diablo 3’s Season Journey feels is very similar Season to Season, so it will be interesting to see how the Season Journey will work in Diablo 4.
So far I find this all really exciting — I’m a huge fan of Diablo 3 Seasons and I’m excited to see how D4 learns from and expands them as a system.
How will the Diablo 4 Season Pass work?
If you’ve played any other game with a Battle Pass system, you’ll understand how Diablo 4’s Season Pass works. Basically, you’ll progress through a Rewards Track as you play the game, unlocking of rewards. There will be a free track available to all players, which includes gameplay boosts, as well as a premium tier that you’ll have to pay for that only offers cosmetic items and currency to buy cosmetic items. None of the paid options for it will allow you to get stronger or kill monsters better — the rewards that come from real money purchase are only cosmetic. Even though you can pay to advance to the next tier of the Season Pass, it won’t unlock gameplay rewards until you play the game.
That is to say that yes, Diablo 4 will have microtransactions, including a Cosmetic Shop and a pay-for Season Pass, but just speaking as a layman, it feels to me that the complaints over Diablo Immortal’s in-game purchases have been heard and processed. All power upgrades are earned through gameplay, and purchases are purely cosmetic. Beyond buying the game initially — and yes, you will have to pay for the initial game —there are no required purchases.
Here is everything you can expect to find in the Season Pass:
The Season Pass has Free Tiers and Premium Tiers. Throughout the pass players can earn a variety of rewards for free, just by playing. At any point during the Season, players can purchase the Premium Pass to unlock the ability to earn Premium rewards tiers containing seasonally themed Cosmetics and Premium Currency.
The Season Pass awards cosmetics. Like the Shop, these don’t affect gameplay. Additionally, certain cosmetic types are exclusive to the Season Pass.
The Season Pass awards Premium Currency. Players can spend this currency on cosmetics offered in the shop.
The Season Pass awards free Season Boosts. Boosts accelerate players’ progress for the duration of the Season. For example, a Season Boost might accelerate XP earned to make leveling multiple characters within a season faster. Because they affect gameplay, Season Boosts are free rewards for all players. We want to be clear that players can’t unlock Season Boosts more quickly through purchases–there is no way to unlock more boosts, or boosts at a faster pace, by spending money.
Players can purchase Tiers-but they won’t speed up getting Season Boosts.Players can’t upgrade Season Boosts just by purchasing Tiers, because they’ll also have to earn level milestones to apply them. All other Tier rewards can be unlocked instantly by purchasing Tiers. In other words, there’s no way to shortcut getting Season Boosts by buying Tiers; they must be earned.
The Season Journey accelerates Season Pass progression. While any play style can progress through the Season Pass, min-maxers can focus on Season Journey objectives to advance more quickly.
The in-game shop also won’t be selling power boosts, only cosmetic items. And there are no loot boxes, either: you’ll get exactly what you pay for.
In short, all of these purchases are designed to be optional. I understand the trepidation that many players have expressed about Diablo 4 after the Diablo Immortal monetization felt very predatory, but it feels like the developers are aware of those problems and working hard to keep them out of Diablo 4.
I’m personally very keen to dig into Diablo 4 once it’s out and I hope that happens sooner rather than later.
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