Blizzard reveals how it plans to prevent death by disconnect in Diablo 4 Hardcore mode

Diablo 4 screenshot
(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

Death in Diablo 4 is generally not a big deal—a minor setback at worst—but in Hardcore mode it's something else entirely: You stay dead. That makes for an intense challenge, but it can also result in some deeply unfair moments. A crash or an internet disconnection is clocked as a death, and suddenly everything you’ve accumulated over dozens or even hundreds of hours of playing is gone. It is not cool, but hopefully it’s not something players will have to worry about for much longer.

During the first Diablo 4 Campfire Chat stream today, game director Joe Shely said developers are aware that a teleport bug has resulted in some Hardcore player deaths—that could be what got streamer Quin69 earlier this week—and "potentially" some bugs that have caused Hardcore mode deaths in cases where players should have been immune.

"We're investigating both of those cases, and once we have identified the root cause, we'll tackle fixes for that," Shely said.

Disconnection deaths are a different matter. They can’t really be “fixed” like bugs because, as Shely said, they can be caused by problems anywhere between the player and the remote server. So instead, Blizzard is planning to add a trigger to Scrolls of Escape that will activate them automatically when the game detects that a player has disconnected.

Scrolls of Escape are a rare, Hardcore-only item that are intended to enable players to get out of situations that would otherwise result in their death. Even in the midst of the game's toughest boss fight, you can use one to immediately teleport back to town. They're essentially a "Get Out of Jail Free" card (as long as you remember to bind them to a button) but Shely said their presence actually opens the door to more "exciting moments" in the game because they enable players to take risks that they might otherwise shy away from.

The plan, then, is to simply add disconnection detection to Scrolls of Escape, so that if your link to the Diablo 4 servers drops for any reason, you'll automatically be blasted back to the safety of town. It's not foolproof—Shely said the process of determining disconnections is actually "very complex," implying that some might go undetected and therefore unprotected—and because the scrolls will remain rare and consumable, players won't be able to abuse the system by pulling their ethernet cable to get out of danger as much as they want.. But it does mean that unfair, terrible deaths caused by bad luck or bad choices of internet providers should be cut way, way back. That's a major improvement.

Unfortunately, all of that is still a ways off, as Shely said the disconnect protection is expected be rolled out sometime in season 2. Diablo 4’s first season doesn’t currently have a solid start date but is expected to go live in mid to late July, and will run for about three months; that puts the rollout of disconnection, at best, somewhere in mid to late October. Immunity and teleport bugs, on the other hand, “could be sooner than that” (and hopefully will be).

One point that went unanswered in the session is whether or not Blizzard will (or can) do anything to bring back Hardcore characters who have already died due to bugs or disconnects. I've reached out to ask and will update if I receive a reply.

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.