After a disappointing BlizzCon 2018, gamers finally know what happened to Blizzard's Diablo 4 and what the long-awaited sequel was supposed to be about. Diablo is one of the developer's best-known franchises, but a fourth mainline entry has been left in development hell since Diablo 3 release in 2012.
Prior to BlizzCon 2018, rumors circulated that Diablo 4 would finally be announced. Blizzard repeatedly told fans that the fourth game wasn't on the horizon, but it's unlikely that developers expected such a negative backlash to the reveal of mobile-only Diablo Immortal. Although Diablo 4 is tentatively in production and could have been announced at BlizzCon, it turns out that the current game isn't what Blizzard had originally planned
Kotaku's Jason Schreier spoke to eleven current and former Blizzard employees to get a clearer picture of what happened to Diablo 4. According to sources, Blizzard started work on Diablo 4 in 2013, but was forced to completely reboot its plans in 2016. When Blizzard wasn't happy with the direction the title was going in, Diablo 4 replaced director Josh Mosqueira with design director Luis Barriga. The first iteration of Diablo 4 was confirmed to be a third-person game in the style of Dark Souls and was working under the codename, Hades.
By the sounds of it, Blizzard is working on the darkest Diablo yet and trying to live up to the adult themes of the first game while taking the series somewhere new. Diablo 4 was imagined as an atmospheric dungeon crawler that would ditch the isometric camera angle of the first three games. Hades faces a troubled development process and sources can't confirm or deny whether Mosqueira left because of his Diablo 4's reboot or if his Diablo 4 was canceled because he left.
As it stands, Blizzard is still trying to recover from the Diablo Immortal announcement. Anyone who tuned in for BlizzCon will remember the iconic "Is this an out of season April Fool's joke" moment, as well as the aftermath of memes directed at Blizzard's principal game designer Wyatt Cheng. Even other companies have cashed in on Blizzard's embarrassment, with the official Twitter account for Wendy's poking fun at the largely unwanted mobile game.
Then you won't be playing the new Diablo— Wendy's (@Wendys) November 16, 2018
The news of what happened to Diablo 4 comes alongside the reveal that a second expansion to Diablo 3 was also canned. Thankfully, the "new" Diablo 4 is still going down a dark route and will apparently move away from "anything that was considered cartoony in Diablo III." It's likely that there has been no big reveal of Diablo 4 in case Blizzard is forced to do another U-turn and change tack again. Looking back, the company faced some serious embarrassment when Titan was canceled - admittedly, Overwatch was born from the ashes of Titan - and wants to avoid a similar state of affairs.
Diablo 4 is currently under the codename Fenris and is tentatively scheduled for a post-2020 release. Embracing the darkness of Diablo's core is a wise move to make, but only time will tell how Diablo 4 slots in next to Diablo Immortal and whether players are ready to forgive the BlizzCon blunder. Diablo 4 may not be coming any time soon or follow the original route Blizzard planned on going down, but rest assured that Diablo 4-related hellfire is blazing somewhere.