Diablo 5 is one of the most highly anticipated upcoming games in development right now. As the latest entry in Blizzard’s iconic dark gothic action RPG franchise, fans have been eager for details on its release date, gameplay changes, platform availability, and character classes.
While Blizzard has been tight-lipped so far, there are many clues about what to expect from the 5th series based on development history, job listings, and comments from Blizzard developers. Here’s a comprehensive look at everything we know so far about the return to Sanctuary in this game.
Diablo 5 was officially announced with a dramatic cinematic trailer at Blizzcon 2019, Blizzard’s annual gaming convention. This announcement came over 8 years after the release of Diablo 3 in 2012, so fans had been anticipating a sequel for quite some time. The announcement trailer depicted Lilith’s return as she rises from a river of blood, hinting at the demon queen as a central antagonist in this series.
What do we know so far?
Details directly from Blizzard have been sparse, but the announcement trailer established the darker gothic tone of the art style and the likely continuation of Lilith’s story. Over the past couple of years, job listings have hinted that Diablo 5 will feature an open-world structure instead of discrete Acts, with social hubs and mounts.
Blizzard developers have also mentioned plans for highly customizable skills and talent trees, expanded co-op functionality, and endgame competitive multiplayer.
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Potential Diablo 5 Release Date
Development timeline clues
The early announcement likely means the upcoming series has developed for a few years. Major projects at Blizzard tend to have 4-5 year development cycles. If work began around 2016-2017 after Rise of the Necromancer DLC launched for Diablo 3, then a 2023-2024 release could be possible.
Blizzard’s update cycle
Looking at Blizzard’s history, they average about 5 years between major releases in a franchise. Diablo 3 was released in 2012, then the Reaper of Souls expansion in 2014. Diablo Immortal was released in 2022. So, 2024 would align with past Blizzard timelines.
Likely release windows
Realistically, Diablo 5 could launch anywhere between late 2023 and 2025, depending on development progress. With Microsoft’s newly acquired Activision Blizzard, they may want some big releases sooner than later. But 2024 or 2025 seem reasonable guesses for it to launch if more time is needed.
Setting and Story
Returning to dark gothic roots
The announcement emphasized the return to a grim, dark, gothic setting reminiscent of the first two Diablo games. Diablo 3 had a more vibrant color palette. For this upcoming series, expect to explore darker dungeons, towns, and environmental areas that capture the oppressive mood of earlier games.
New locations to explore
While no specific locations were named, the announcement trailer depicted fiery, hellish environments different from those seen before. Players may travel to new areas of Sanctuary or even Hell. Recent job listings referenced the creation of open-world zones.
Continuing Lilith’s story
Lilith, the daughter of Mephisto and a major figure in the Sin War novels, will likely be the main antagonist driving the story. Her motivations and end goals are still unknown, though. We’ll probably see returning characters reacting to Lilith’s resurgence.
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Open world structure
Rather than Acts, Diablo 5 seems to be structured as a contiguous open world with five distinct regions based on job listings. Players can explore wilderness zones freely between towns/hubs. Expect side quests besides the main story path.
Customizable skills and talent trees
Job listings referenced highly customizable skills and talent trees for each class. This suggests a more RPG-oriented progression where players can shape builds toward different playstyles. Less reliance on gear and items.
Gear and loot overhaul
Itemization is still essential to Diablo’s core loop, but set bonuses may be toned down to place more emphasis on skill tree choices. Expect lots of randomized loot with unique affixes and quirky effects to encourage experimentation.
Social features and town hub
Social areas and cooperative play will likely be expanded in this series. A main hometown was mentioned where players can interact and group up. Clans/guilds may be integrated directly for community building.
PC and console release
Diablo 5 will almost certainly launch on PC first. Eventually, it is expected to be on PlayStation, Xbox, and maybe even Nintendo Switch. Diablo 3 performed well on consoles, and that expanded market will continue.
Cross-platform and cross-progression
Blizzard will need cross-play across PC and consoles to support multiplayer and social features. Cross-progression also seems highly likely based on leaks, allowing players to switch platforms while retaining character progress seamlessly.
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Diablo 5 Character Classes
The fierce Barbarian returns after being featured in all previous mainline entries. This brute force melee class will certainly have some reworked Fury mechanics and skill tree options while retaining trademark Barb ferocity.
If the Barbarian is back, then so too will the Sorceress. This ranged magic DPS class will unleash devastating elemental attacks with greater build diversity, whether boosting fire, lightning, ice, or Armor damage types.
The Druid hasn’t been seen since Diablo 2, so their return to this title would excite many ardent fans. This class specializes in shape-shifting abilities and elemental spells, providing a unique playstyle emphasizing mobility and versatility.
The Rogue in Diablo 1 later became the basis for the Amazon and Demon Hunter classes. But based on nostalgic hints, the Rogue may come back in this as an agile bow wielder dealing physical damage akin to an archer or hunter archetype seen in other ARPGs nowadays.
Potential new classes
Adding one or two brand-new character classes beyond familiar favorites can bring something fresh to the table for this. Possibilities like a Necromancer-Warlock hybrid or melee Paladin have been rumored among fans.
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Multiplayer and Endgame
Diablo has always emphasized multiplayer, and the main campaign will support cooperative parties – likely with better-integrated mechanics beyond just increasing enemy health. Friends can adventure together through the story.
Once the story is completed, endgame PvP provides replayability. Competing players or teams in an arena deathmatch style mode allows for demonstrating mastery of skills. Leaderboards and seasons help sustain ongoing engagement, similar to Diablo 3.
Procedurally generated dungeons
The procedural generation of random dungeons, environments, and maps keeps exploration exciting on each playthrough. Plus, tailored level design can better balance difficulty for endgame challenges compared to story areas.
Ladder rankings and seasons
Seasonal ladders and rotations paired with leaderboards for different game modes offer a competitive, episodic structure to progression. After finishing the main campaign, regular resets and new rulesets maintain a fresh experience.
Diablo 5 has much potential to reinvigorate the iconic action RPG franchise based on what details have emerged so far. The return to dark gothic settings and Lilith’s story will appeal to longtime fans, while new open-world areas and co-op features provide modern appeal.
Overhauled skills, talents, and loot should offer rewarding character-build customization and experimentation. More concrete details will hopefully emerge soon, but the pieces seem to be falling into place for Diablo’s triumphant return.
Whenever the release date ends up being, it looks primed to suck players back into the engrossing, demon-slaying, loot-gathering mayhem Blizzard’s beloved franchise is revered for.
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Q: Will Diablo 5 be on the Nintendo Switch?
A: Nothing is confirmed yet, but Diablo 3 performed well on Switch, so there’s a good chance Blizzard will bring it to Switch, too. The portable platform aligns nicely with Diablo’s pick-up-and-play combat.
Q: Is it going to be free-to-play?
A: Almost certainly not – Diablo 5 will likely follow a standard $60-$70 retail pricing model like previous mainline entries rather than a free-to-play or mobile game monetization approach.
Q: Are microtransactions or NFTs planned for this series?
A: Blizzard has not indicated any plan to add microtransactions, NFTs, or pay-to-win mechanics to the game. The backlash against Diablo Immortal makes that seem unlikely.
Q: Will couch co-op be supported?
A: Local same-screen multiplayer hasn’t been confirmed yet, but it has been a popular feature in the series, so couch co-op will hopefully return in the game on consoles.
Q: Will this be on PlayStation or just Xbox/PC?
A: Blizzard plans to release it on both PlayStation and Xbox consoles in addition to PC. Exclusivity deals seem contrary to their cross-platform goals.