Diablo IV Quarterly Update Tackles on Environments, Five Zones of Sanctuary and More

Take a look at how the environments are designed.

Diablo 4 Lilith

Blizzard Entertainment has released its Diablo IV Quarterly Update blog post and shared details about environments, the five zones of Sanctuary, and more.

The first Diablo IV Quarterly Update of 2022 just got posted on the official website and it focused this time on the environments of the game. Several figures working on the game have posted important details like Art Director, Environments Chris Ryder, Art Director, Environments, Brian Fletcher, Associate Lighting Director Ben Hutchings, Lead Exterior Environment Artist Matt McDaid, and Lead Props and Interactives Artist Chaz Head.

According to Ryder, there are five distinct regions of Diablo IV and there are hundreds of dungeons to explore. This is where players get to loot, kill monsters, and explore. He also revealed that in this iteration, these environments will have a darker and more grounded interpretation compared to previous games. Their sole aim for this design is for believability and not realism this time around.

These regions will also have regional weather conditions, varied local biomes, and a sense of history to set the foundation. The atmosphere in this regions is almost tangible in places and weather and lighting will play a major role in this game. For example, if it rains, the surfaces will get wet, the puddles will form in ruts and hoof prints, the ground will feel muddy, the atmosphere is heavy and damp, just like in real life. When entering a tavern with a fire lit, the environment instantly changes and it is easier to move around.

Ryder says their art in the game will be built with modern techniques and will utilize physically-based lighting. They also have two pillars the use to be more “mindful” of their approach to support combat, navigation, narrative intent, and stylistic direction and these are the “old masters” and “return to darkness”. These pillars have kept them consistent and aligned with the visual tone of Diablo IV.

“Old masters” as Ryder explains is a pillar that will give them a lens to filer their art through. He says this has been used by classical painters like Rembrandt with controlled use of detail, tonal range, and expert use of color palettes. The other pillar, “return to darkness” is all about how dungeons is supposed to look like in Sanctuary where it is dangerous and a dark medieval gothic world.

McDaid revealed that the Scosglen coast is the untamed, wild shorelines and headlands of Sanctuary. Players will know that they are nearby the coast by getting the hint from the grass on the ground. The grass reacts to the driving offshore winds. The beaches are bleak and littered with seaweed, kelp, and rotting carcasses. The clifftops are rugged and have been shaped by the continuous waves that keep pounding on it. The Environment Art team shows that the coastline is filled with dangers.

The Orbei Monastery is a region where the Zakarum once studied and worshipped here. Now that the group has diminished, the area looks rather dilapidated. It has dusty grasslands and little vegetation and complimented with dark rocks. The buildings are now starting to get ruined, but it still has those ornate details, beautiful designs, and more.

Kyovashad is a militaristic settlement, but it is also a place of refuge for those who are trying to survive. It is heavily defended with gradual buildup of smaller defense structures when approaching the settlement. It actually has an effect on the visitor as it gives them the idea that there is something rather interesting to investigate. When entering the settlement, players will be familiar with the architectural designs of the buildings. It also has many districts and each one has their own unique culture. At nighttime, there will be fog, which gives it a rather creepy vibe.

The dungeons of Sanctuary will still have randomized content, but in order to support over 150 dungeons, they had to shift the way they made environment art. It will now be flexible enough to be used in multiple locations and not just one dungeon. They now call it tile-set and they have shared three versions of them in this new blog.

The Forgotten Places in the world is big example of pillar “returned to darkness”. This is the deep underground of Sanctuary where there are mysterious and corruption have taken root in the game. One of the examples given was the ancient temple where players can feel the primal horror vibes in it.

Wretched Caves have various themes to it. It is actually a tile-set where the developers can reuse but also has variations which can give the players fresh experiences each time. They “dress” it up with various themes and one of those is the hidden druid resting site that gets overrun with demons. As players advance through the area, they will find various kinds of accessories, talismans, weapons and more related to druids.

Another type of dungeon the developers are working on are the ones where there are two different tile-sets that get meshed together, but they transition smoothly. One of the videos feature the Flooded Depths where the first area is dry and fairly intact, but when they find a hole in the wall and explore there, they will find that the lower levels are actually decayed and are flooded with water. While they mesh together, the two tile-sets also maintain the randomized layouts that will change with each dungeon run.

Diablo IV is still in development. It will be available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.