Blizzard has published a blog post detailing their upcoming closed beta for Diablo IV, which will focus on the end game (thus avoiding any possible story spoilers!) and will be invite-only. While they haven’t given any specific date for the start of this beta phase, we believe it will start the latest sometime in late November, followed by a public beta test early next year.
Since this is a closed beta, this means access to the game is invite-only; you cannot apply for it or just casually download the beta client! Beta participation will also be possible only under an NDA, meaning you cannot share any details of the game you will learn of during the test phase.
The beta invites will all be sent before November 18th, to players who have actively played either Diablo III or Diablo II: Resurrected and spent a significant amount of time in the end game. While we don’t know when the invites will start rolling out, you might want to begin no-lifing either of these two games if you want to maximize your chances of getting into the closed beta!
So, What’s In The Beta?
The beta will set out to test five end game major features, alongside the usual systems like itemization and power balance.
Helltides are region-wide events that occur when a player has reached the end game. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Servants of Lilith (assuming this is a fancy name for ‘regular monsters’) become empowered, increasing their difficulty and the quality of their drops.
- Her mightiest minions are also out in greater force, which sounds like increased Rare and Unique monsters spawning.
- The very ground of Sanctuary morphs as a result of the Helltide, which sort of just sounds like Path of Exile’s Scourge or Elder/Shaper-influenced maps.
- Monsters drop Cinders, a new currency that is spent to open Helltide Chests scattered throughout the affected region.
- Helltide Chests ‘boast bountiful boons’ exclusive to a singular item slot such as Torso, Legs or Two-Handed Weapon. Unsure if these boons are temporary boosts to an item’s power or something akin to World of Warcraft’s item upgrade system, where you can slowly increase the stats on a piece of gear at a cost.
- Cinders drop upon death, much like Stygia in the Maw in, yes, again, World of Warcraft and must be reclaimed, which sounds like the ol’ corpse run is back.
I’m not too sold on the Cinders + Helltide Chests part of this event. Cinders dropping on death is either going to be irrelevant (if Helltide Chests don’t provide significant loot to bother opening them) or at best frustrating, in a franchise that’s long abandoned the corpse run concept since Diablo III launched in 2012.
It’s also a bit weird seeing Diablo borrow concepts (at least, this is what it looks like to me) from World of Warcraft. WoW took Diablo III’s bounties and turned them into the World Quest system back in Legion, to great success (it is still the best implementation of that system, with BFA and Shadowlands doing it worse). Mythic+ dungeons, also introduced in Legion, share many similarities with the endless Greater Rifts offered in Diablo III.
I am however unsure if Diablo taking things from World of Warcraft works. Diablo III’s itemization was designed by developers who had worked on WoW’s itemization, and was abysmal at launch. Systems being taken from ARPGs and made to fit MMO’s can work, but I cannot say the same for the opposite. We’ll see!
Well what do you know, Nightmare Dungeons are more similar to WoW’s Mythic+ dungeons than they are to Diablo III’s greater rifts! If you’ve played both games, the way you access Nightmare Dungeons might sound very familiar:
- Nightmare-difficulty dungeons unlock upon locating your first Nightmare Sigil.
- These sigils only work for a specific dungeon.
- Using these sigils will add special modifiers to the dungeons, increasing its difficulty and providing higher-rarity loot.
- Completing Nightmare dungeons award more powerful sigils, which keeps the Nightmare Dungeon farm wheel spinning.
I can see this system working for Diablo IV as well, though I do worry about the special modifiers they mentioned. Path of Exile’s end-game maps can roll dozens of modifiers, many of which can make the map completely un-runnable for a variety of builds (always avoid damage reflection!), but Path of Exile is tailored towards a more hardcore audience than Diablo IV. These modifiers will have to achieve several things at once, which may be complicated to balance:
- Increase the dungeon’s difficulty through interesting ways. Think monsters that spawn more monsters upon death rather than giving every monster a chance to stun you for one second.
- Somehow be interesting and hard but keep the dungeon doable for any well-thought-out build.
- Ensure these modifiers are engaging in a way that forces you to change the way you play without leading to frustration.
Whispers of the Dead
Whispers of the Dead is basically Diablo III’s bounty system (or WoW’s world quests if we’re still comparing the two):
- There’s several rotating tasks on your map for you to complete.
- Each task awards experience, gold and Grim Favors.
- Some tasks award more Grim Favors than others (most likely based on the difficulty of the task).
- Once you’ve collected 10 Grim Favors, exchange them at the Tree of Whispers for a nice chunk of loot and experience.
Fields of Hatred
Fields of Hatred are the PvP counterpart of Helltides. Here’s what happens during a Field of Hatred event:
- Demons in the area drop Seeds of Hatred.
- Bring the seeds of Hatred to the Altar of Extraction where you can smash them into Red Dust.
- If a player kills you before you grind those seeds, you drop them! If you’re a PvP god, you might as well just camp those Altars and farm other players!
- Red Dust is not lost upon death and can be spent at the PvP Cosmetic and Mount Vendors for ornamental rewards.
Paragon Boards are unlocked upon reaching level 50. This system is a big expansion over Diablo III’s paragon system, adding some much needed complexity to your end game progression akin to Path of Exile’s gigantic passive trees. Once you hit level 50, any experience you earn will count towards earning Paragon points. Paragon points can be spent to unlock new tiles, Sockets and more boards.
I would suggest you read more about Paragon Boards in this previous blog update, but here’s a quick rundown:
- There’s four types of tiles (passive nodes) you can invest your points into: Normal, Magic, Rare, Legendary.
- Normal tiles provide a small stat boost and are generally there just to bridge the gap between the tiles you’re really interested in.
- Magic tiles are still quite simple and abundant, but provide more specialized stats such as elemental resistance.
- Rare tiles are more specialized and provide effects that you actually want.
- Legendary tiles are the rarest passives. After your first board, each subsequent board contains only one Legendary tile, located in the center. These are the passives you really want. Which boards you pursue and how you place them around your first board will likely be heavily influenced by whichever Legendary tiles you’re looking for.
- There’s also Socket tiles, which can contain Glyphs. Glyphs drop all around the world and their effect is either directly dependent on surrounding allocated tiles, or directly affects them. Glyphs can be leveled up through doing dangerous dungeons (we can probably now assume that means Nightmare Dungeons).
While I do see some potentially problematic design decisions from the way these systems were presented, I do think their general direction for the end game experience is promising. We’ll have to wait until the open beta early next year to find out what sort of iteration and polish these systems will go through during the closed beta.
If you’re a Path of Exile player, a lot of this might sound very familiar. There is definitely some cross-pollination going on, with the complex Paragon Board system and a focus on an ever-changing endgame – which, to be fair, is sort of the main thing a live service game has to do. With the disappointing launch of Lake of Kalandra, we can only assume Grinding Gear Games are watching closely to see how Diablo IV’s systems turn out!
The beta will be playable on PC, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4. Do you think you will make it in? What do you think of Diablo IV’s end game offering? Let us know in the comments below!
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