Blizzard reveals Diablo 4 seasonal plans and battle pass

Diablo 4 wallpaper detail
(Image credit: Blizzard)

With Diablo 4 now less than a month away—June 6 is the big day—Blizzard has unveiled the details on its post-launch plans, including its seasonal structure, cosmetic microtransactions, and the "completely optional" battle pass.

Diablo 4 will have four seasons per year, each running roughly three months and featuring its own unique "season journey." Seasons will not expand upon the story of the campaign—that will happen in future expansions, so I guess you can consider Diablo 4 expansion plans confirmed—but will instead offer standalone seasonal questlines with their own "self-contained stories" featuring new characters and narratives.

"Ideas around the seasons are not bound by the campaign," Diablo general manager Rod Fergusson said during today's developer stream.

Along with the new story content, seasons will also feature "fresh gameplay," associate game director Joe Piepiora said. 

"We want to introduce new mechanics and gameplay for players to engage with over the course of that season. This comes down to things like new power for players to earn, or ways to experience the growth of their character," Piepiora explained. "this goes beyond meta changes or balance and tuning and things like that. It really comes down to wholesale new features and things that are going to be available for the duration of that season for players to experience."

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When each ongoing season ends, those new gameplay features will be "retired," Piepiora said, but may be brought back in the future depending on how well they go over with players. Seasonal characters will be merged into the "Eternal Realm" at the end of each season, where they'll remain playable but outside of the seasonal structure. The first season, which will apparently definitely not be about zombies, is expected to begin in mid to late July, and players will need to have completed the campaign with at least one character in order to access the seasonal content.

The Diablo 4 battle pass will feature three tracks: free, premium, and "accelerated," which is basically the same as the premium track but with a 20-tier head start. The free battle pass track has 27 reward tiers and is mainly made up of "Smouldering Ashes," which is essentially an in-game currency used to unlock various seasonal buffs: Boosts to XP, gold, rare salvage, and that sort of thing. 

(Image credit: Blizzard)

The premium track, on the other hand, has 63 tiers and is all about cosmetics: It will include two full sets of armor for every class, each set themed to the current season, plus a seasonal mount and mount armor, "roleplaying clothing," and other cosmetic items. Importantly, the premium track does not include any Smouldering Ashes. 

"All the things that affect gameplay are only in the free track," product management director Kegan Clark said. The premium track will sell for $10, while the accelerated track with the 20 tier unlocks will go for $25.

(Image credit: Blizzard)

(Image credit: Blizzard)

The Diablo 4 shop will offer a range of rotating cosmetics that will enable players to outfit their characters in various "class fantasies," such as "a thunder goddess as a sorceress, or if you want to be a big barbarian that rips the tongues out of your enemies and puts them on your armor," Clark said. 

"The shop is going to help provide a lot of this diversity in the types of fantasies. And then you can take all those pieces and mix and match them with the cool stuff that you find in the game to express yourself all kinds of ways."

Interestingly, Diablo 4 will not have leaderboards for season 1, and possibly not for season 2 either. Blizzard knows players want leaderboards and "it's definitely on our backlog," Fergusson said during the livestream. "But it's not something you're going to see in season 1, and potentially not in season 2."

Client downloads for the upcoming Diablo 4 beta "server slam" are live: If you missed the previous playtests you can start downloading the client now, and if you still have it installed from any of those past tests, it will automatically update. The server slam will feature a reduced legendary item drop rate and other gameplay and balance changes that Fergusson said will provide "a more accurate representation" of the full game experience.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.