Tuesday 19 April 2016

No More Expansions for Diablo 3? Diablo 4 in the Works Instead?

Diablo fans are more and more convinced that Diablo 3, the most popular and successful iteration of the series, has reached the end of the road expansions-wise at least...there's still plenty of mileage left in the game obviously, but we are dealing with an engine here that is a decade old, even though the game it powers is just 4-years old. Fans have been expecting a second expansion to the game for a while, but their expectations have been dashed time and again last year and unfortunately, announcements-wise things don't exactly appear any more sunny this year either. Those keeping an eye on Blizzard's inner workings and on the job announcements put out by the company, have long suspected that Diablo 4 was in the works, even if at a rather incipient phase, but they also figured work was ongoing on the second Diablo 3 expansion too. A major announcement in this respect was expected to be made at the 2015 Blizzcon, but the event came and went and nothing transpired. Nowadays, it has become somewhat likely that the company will skip the expansion road and will instead go straight for Diablo 4, unless the new, as yet unnamed project they're currently working on, turns out to be something else.

The clues pointing to a direct jump to Diablo 4 are numerous: first of all, instead of putting together a team for another expansion or just keeping the current team going, Blizzard are taking people off the project. Leonard Boyarsky, Diablo 3's lead world designer, has left Blizzard to work for Obsidian, while John Yang and Don Wu have been moved to the WOW Legion team. The crew that currently mans the Diablo 3 battle-stations is a skeleton one, probably just enough to put out patches for a while.

On the other hand, Blizzard are hiring new people, among them someone handy with PBR workflows and "current surfacing techniques". PBR is short for Physically Based Rendering, which is a technology used to create photorealistic objects in a game environment. Diablo 3 is obviously not in need of such techniques, so it's obviously something for the new project. Whether that mystery project is indeed Diablo 4 or not, one thing is certain: it will definitely look like a million bucks!

Philip Thalberg works for the best eSports news portal, Gosugamers.net.