Diablo’s lore isn’t necessarily the popular action-RPG series’ main appeal. When you’re in the thick of it, hecticly chasing endless streams of glorious loot, it’s very easy to forget the details of where you’re fighting or who even lives in this world. Even so, Diablo IV’s developers think it has an interesting story to tell in its fraught world, and a senior quest designer recently took to Twitter to highlight some of his team’s world-building techniques at work.
8 Minutes Of Diablo IV's Character Creator
Diablo IV is expected to land on June 6 of this year. Its arrival will spell the end of a decade-long wait since the last main entry in the long-running franchise. People who preordered the game got a first look in March 17’s weekend beta, followed by a general public beta the next week. An RPG set in a rich fantasy world, Diablo IV is set 30 years after the events of Diablo III and features Lilith as the primary antagonist. And the open beta has given us a taste of the coming game’s narrative approach.
Taking to Twitter on March 27 to talk about a small but important moment of storytelling and worldbuilding, Diablo IV Senior Quest Designer Harrison G. Pink dissected an early moment from the demo in which your character and an NPC, Lorath, try to enter a city and get stopped by the local guards. As it happens, this beat plays out like it does due to a number of decisions from the designers.
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When you arrive in town, guards ask your character and Lorath to perform a ritual before entering. This conveys the deep importance of religion to these folks, according to Pink, but it also gives us insight into Lorath as a character, as he simply cannot be bothered with such behavior and barges right through. We also learn that he’s known to the guards, who’ve come to tolerate such insolence from him.
Further, this small sequence sets realistic expectations for the importance (or lack thereof) of your player character in this world. “We teach the player that even though they are the protagonist and hero of the story, they are not omnipotent,” Pink wrote. “There are other people, cultures and groups in the story that have their own desires, and you don’t get to just blow them off because you’re the main character.” (Tabletop game masters take note.)
Last but not least, Pink explained that the whole reason this sequence came about at first was due to the game needing to separate your character from the NPC. This narrative beat allows a natural departure for Lorath, while also informing you of the world and its people. Win-win.
While I am very much looking forward to the “head empty, kill shit” experience that Diablo IV promises, I’m also eager to see if the game can tell a fresh story in this beloved universe. We’ll all find out how well it can deliver in just a few more months.