Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo 4 is set to break new ground by modernizing itself with the aid of an effective live-service model. One of the ways the game intends to achieve this is by elevating the craft of storytelling within an action-role-playing game (ARPG). For Diablo 4’s general manager, Rod Fergusson, the secret sauce to delivering an immersive story is the technological advancements that allow the character the player has crafted to appear front and center in cinematic cutscenes.
Fergusson believes that in Diablo 2 or 3, the beautiful pre-rendered cinematics tend not to involve the player’s character, making it impossible to put them in the scene. However, in Diablo 4, the use of real-time cinematics will allow the player’s character to appear in the cutscenes, making the story more personal and immersive. The prospect of seeing their character star in a Diablo 4 cinematic is only part of the puzzle when it comes to allowing players to immerse themselves fully in the game.
Character Customization and Personalization
In previous Diablo games, players were defined by their class, race, and gender, which limited their ability to personalize their characters. However, in Diablo 4, Blizzard has opened up personalization and customization so players can choose their character’s ethnicity, body paint, hair color, piercings, and facial structure. Characters are also now separated by body type rather than gender, allowing for greater inclusivity.
While this change was welcomed by most players, some resisted the change, particularly the stockier appearance of Diablo 4’s druid. Fergusson insists that the appearance of each class will remain unchanged, as the team wanted to have a diverse range of body types while still allowing players to identify the character’s class through their silhouette.
Accessibility and Inclusivity
Another area that Blizzard has sought to improve upon in Diablo is accessibility and inclusivity. As the developer explains in a blog, modernizing Diablo 2 into Resurrected required catching the classic game up with advancements made in the field over the past 21 years. Fergusson notes that the job is never done when it comes to making games more accessible, but the company will continue to build on its foundation with seasons, expansions, and quality-of-life and accessibility features.
Blizzard has also reached out to players with disabilities to ensure that the game is inclusive and accessible to everyone. Fergusson notes that the team has addressed issues that have held back players who want to play the game. He believes that subject matter experts are crucial to inclusive design, and the industry is learning from each other about what works and what does not.
Continuity and Accessibility for Newer Players
Set 50 years after the events of Diablo 3, Diablo 4’s story keeps it accessible to newer players less familiar with the series while providing a sense of continuity for older fans. Blizzard understands that as a 26-year-old franchise, its community is aging with it, and the company wants to bring in new players who have not experienced the game before. The developers want to make sure that players are not scared off by the number “four” and believe that the game’s story will draw them in.
Diablo 4’s modernization focuses on elevating the craft of storytelling, character customization, accessibility, and inclusivity. The game’s timing ensures that it is accessible to newer players while providing a sense of continuity for older fans. Blizzard’s approach to inclusive design involves reaching out to players with disabilities and subject matter experts. With Diablo 4’s live service model, the company will continue to build on its foundation, adding seasons, expansions, quality-of-life and accessibility features, making it more accessible to everyone.