The state of Diablo is turbulent right now following a botched reveal of Diablo Immortal, a mobile game. A new report sheds some light on what work is being done on a mainline Diablo game for PC and consoles but even that project appears to have hit some rough patches.
Kotaku spoke with various sources with past and present relations with Blizzard to get to the bottom of the mainline Diablo game that's in-development. The one that can be called Diablo 4. But while there is such a Diablo project in the works, it comes at the heels of major cancellations and possible future changes.
According to the report Diablo 4 began development after the surprise cancellation of Diablo 3's second major expansion following Reaper of Souls. Team 3, the development team at Blizzard in charge of Diablo, was caught off-guard after what they thought was a major course-correction for Diablo 3 thanks to the first expansion.
Instead Blizzard apparently considered Diablo 3 a lost cause and began work on Diablo 4. Reaper of Souls director Josh Mosqueira led what was called Project Hades and it was a drastic new direction for the series. Described as a Blizzard take on Dark Souls, Project Hades apparently went third-person hardcore dungeon-crawler before it was also cancelled.
The new Diablo project, codenamed "Fenris," is apparently a return to form visually with a key pillar being, "Embrace the darkness." Sources say Fenris is supposed to be "gross" and "dark" and basically a modern version of Diablo 2 that does away with the cartoonish elements of Diablo 3. "Make what people were afraid of in Diablo 2, but modern."
However, Fenris is still early in development and questions regarding whether the game should be isometric or third-person, or even how the game will monetize in the long-run (which a big Blizzard focus for new games) is remain. The report suggests Diablo 4's final design is still up-in-the-air.
Diablo Immortal kicked off a firestorm of controversy following its reveal at BlizzCon. Blizzard teased a Diablo announcement months before the event before walking back just days before BlizzCon tempering expectations for Diablo 4. Instead Blizzard ended its keynote with Diablo Immortal and the disappointment of a lack of mainline game led to uproar and confusion.
Diablo Immortal it turned out was a co-development project between Chinese game company NetEase and a new Incubation division at Blizzard that's focused on smaller games, according to reports. Diablo Immortal was initially meant to capitalize on the popularity of the IP in China before Blizzard decided to make Diablo Immortal a global release.
Blizzard also had to clarify that Diablo Immortal is an original game after it was accused of being a reskin of existing NetEase mobile games due to the similarity of the UI. Either way the Diablo Immortal controversy definitely took a toll on the Diablo brand at Blizzard and it will be interesting to see how a future Diablo 4 reveal will help the series.
Check out our Diablo Immortal guide for everything we know including trailers, details, and release date.