The Diablo IV World & Lore panel is a quick run down on the influences and goals for the tone of the game, as well as a quick recap of how we got to this point in the story and some little tidbits of workings of the world of Sanctuary.


Influences

  • The development team took influences from lots of sources. Comics, pop culture, and lots of tabletop roleplaying games.
  • One of the talents of the team is to see something cute and through their lens turn into something dark and horrific. Like a cute little pig that becomes a massive, horned, demonic boar.
  • In the development area they would blast heavy metal music and make it a part of the experience. 'Metal' became a common way to describe things in Diablo IV.

Tone/Mood

  • Diablo IV isn't just about darkness, it's about bringing back a very specific feeling from the earlier games.
  • The developers wanted to take a more grounded approach to the development of Diablo IV compared to Diablo III.
  • There will be more chances to interact with villagers and common folk, with over 100 villages or towns within the game.
  • Diablo IV isn't about big heroes or politics or high fantasy, it's about the regular people and the evil that surrounds them.
  • The essence of Diablo is being alone and wandering through the darkness, wondering what's out there looking back at you.
  • Visual storytelling to reinforce that dark feel is very important to development. Lots of small details spread throughout the world will help build the mood of the game, but it's up to the player to notice those details or ignore them. It all depends on how much those things are important to the player.
  • The end of every road ends in evil. They showed a new boss called the Blood Bishop. The Blood Bishop created many evil things and overtime became warped and twisted by those acts of evil and is now a monstrosity composed of bothing but blood and veins,
  • The development team took lots of influences from the Middle Ages and a gnostic take on religion.
  • General story game flow approach was you'd encounter a villager who has a problem, you'd take a journey to where the trouble was coming from, and finally encounter some great evil thing at the end.
  • The game will be dark, gnostic, with a little bit of crazy and dark humor thrown in.
  • And to reiterate: a grounded story is important to Diablo IV.

Lore

  • Diablo III recap: Diablo used the Black Soulstone to create the Prime Evil by merging the souls of all the Great Evils. Diablo then went on to devastate heaven, but was ultimately defated. Tyrael tried to hide the Black Soulstone, but it was taken by Malthael. Malthael then used the Black Soulstone's power to slaughter the population of Sanctuary. Malthael consumed the Black Soulstone and Evils contained within, but was defeated. With Malthael's defeat the essence of those Evils was freed and released back into the world.
  • The history of Sanctuary: Lilith is the daughter of the Lord of Hatred, Mephisto. Lilith fell in love with the angel Inarius and together they created the world of Sanctuary and subsequently the Nephalem.
  • The setup for Diablo IV: Malthael's campaign was a genocide across the entire face of Sanctuary. This genocide left a huge power vacuum that groups like the Zakarum or the Church of the Triune are vying the top spot. There's not a lot of hope left in the world.

Worldbuilding

  • The world of Sanctuary that we know was introduced as just Tristriam and the first Diablo game. Most of the story was in the manual, but not so much in the game. Things like Inarius, the Crystal Arch, the Sin War, etc were all introduced in the original Diablo.
  • Diablo II gave us our first map of the world and started to show other places. We got see oceans and places with names we didn't understand, but inspired our imaginations.
  • Waypoints were also introduced in Diablo II as a form of travel and later expanded upon in Diablo III.
  • Reaper of Souls gave us adventure mode and added more maps of zones, but some places didn't fit or make sense. The Shrouded Moors, as an example, were just kind of thrown into a map without regards to where it actually existed in the world. In Diablo IV the maps are far better and areas will be more fleshed out and connected within the world.
  • The demo area for Diablo IV is pretty big for demo, but is incredibly tiny compared to the rest of the planned game map.

World

  • In Diablo II when you switch acts the zone and pallet transitions were very stark. You could go back into the manual and find the world map to see how far apart they were and it was left to your imagination to fill in the rest of the journey. Now we will get to walk the entire path between those places and see everything in game.
  • Scosglen: The home of the Druids. A wild, untamed place where beasts and monsters lurk everywhere waiting to pounce on you. Darkness is always closing in and the inhabitants of this area always live in fear, hoping that their numbers will keep them safe from the beastmen and other dangers lurking just outside of their village walls.
  • Dry Steppes: Salt flats and deserts filled with pools of boiling water. A very difficult place to live where you are either predator or prey. Lots of wars are fought in this area vying for power of the region. With Lilith's return people here are giving into the darkness within them. All humans are half demon after all.
  • Fractured Peaks: Gothic Victorian themed area. The people here always live with anxiety that something is always out there watching them from the shadows, waiting for them to drop their guard. When night falls in the Fracture Peaks, you better lock your doors as being outside at night is a death sentence. Blood suckers and other evil things lurk here while decadent priests sleep soundly, ignorant to the darkness continually drawing in around them.
  • Hawezar: Southern swamplands. Lots of poison gases and delusions plague this area and the dreams of those who live here. People travel here to be forgotten, thieves, exiles, and the like. The area is home to swamp witches that worship gigantic snakes and can offer arcane knowledge, but at steep prices.
  • Kehjistan: The remnants of the once massive empire.This is the last bastion of the Zakarum faith, which has suffered many setbacks in the few games. The Zakarum is decaying in it's own decadence. Kurast is here and that place has gotten even worse since we last saw it. This is an ancient area, the Sin Wars were fought here as well as the Mage Clan wars. The Church of Triune is also centered here, where they worship the Prime Evils and hope summon back their dead masters. The people of Kehjistan live in fear and are trapped by superstitions to try and keep the evil away.

Monsters

  • Monster design is about taking the lore and trying to have it kill you. Monsters tell a story by punching you in the face.
  • There exist all these monster of legends, terrors in the night that have been forgotten or that people just refuse to believe are real.
  • One of these are the Drowned. You've heard the tells of them stealing people away in the night and drowning them, sinking ships, and terrorizing the coasts. But they are real. With the light of the first full moon, they come ashore in droves and hunt their victims. Their approach is always heralded by the ever present ringing of a bell. But how do you tell this story in a monster?
  • The Drowned Juggernaut is an example of using the lore to create a monster. He's a big heavy punisher that shambles out of the ocean to try and drag you back down to the depths. His concept art has him holding a giant flail, but how does that tell a story? The monster designers changed the massive flail into a broken shipmast to reinforce his themes, as well as making some of his attacks summon a spectral ocean wave to supplement that.
  • Ashava is a world boss that exemplifies Diablo IV. Ashava is an always present threat, always lurking just below the surface and can appear anywhere in Sanctuary. She tougher than what you can fight on your own and reinforces that feeling of fighting against overwhelming odds.
  • Duriel is back! Duriel is the Lord of Pain & Maggots and while he's returning in Diablo IV developers don't want to spoil his impact on the story. In Diablo II Duriel was a brutal close quarters fight that had the feel of a two men enter, one man leave kind of fight and they want to pay homage to that while expanding on his lore. He can burrow underground forcing you fight his maggots or impale you and throw you into his belly/mouth which acts as an iron maiden, reinforcing his status as the Lord of Pain.

Q&A

  • When asked if Inarius will return the devs reminded us that there were more angel/demon pairs that had children than just Lilith and Inarius. Inarius was last scene being tortured by Mephisto 3,000 years ago and as far as they know he's still there.
  • Sanctuary will be a fixed world but will include outside dungeons with randomly generated areas.
  • When Malthael was killed the essence of the Prime Evil was divided and the souls of the Evils were separated and loosed back into the world including Mephisto, Inarius' jailer.
  • We've seen Duriel in the trailers and we know that the other Evils have been able to resurrect, so the threat of them returning is out there. But Lilith is here and active, the Evils may be a bigger threat on the horizon Lilith is in our face.
  • When asked if Tyrael will return as the narrator for Diablo IV the devs asked "Does the game need a narrator?", but they're not ready to talk about Diablo IV's timeline and how long after Diablo III it takes place, so where Tyrael is at or what part he plays is something they're not ready to talk about. Remember: Heaven is closed, we're on our own.
  • While it's awesome if fan favorites, like the Butcher, could return in Diablo IV their inclusion has to make sense. Those character have to fit, their lore has to matter to the game. The devs want to honor the legacy of older titles with monster that will murder you.



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