Diablo 4 gets a new game director

Joe Shely
(Image credit: Blizzard)

Diablo 4's new game director is Joe Shely, a longtime Blizzard veteran who previously worked as a designer on multiple World of Warcraft expansions before becoming a senior game designer on Diablo 3. Shely has been on the Diablo 4 team since 2017, serving as the "overall caretaker" of the game's combat design, and also headed up development of the playable Diablo 4 demo seen at Blizzcon in 2019.

"As a design lead who has been working on this dark, shared, open world action role-playing game from the beginning, I’m honored to continue the vision of Diablo 4 as its new Game Director, and I’m humbled to represent the team pouring their hearts into this game," Shely said in today's update. "Like many of you, our team has been reflecting upon recent events. A lot has happened since our last blog and the hard work of practicing the values we aspire to must continue. In parallel with that important work, development of Diablo 4 continues too."

Those "recent events' began with a lawsuit filed against Activision Blizzard in July by California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing over allegations of "constant sexual harassment, including groping, comments, and advances" due to a "frat boy workplace culture." That led to further public revelations about pervasive abuses at the company that eventually resulted in the departure of multiple high-level employees, including former Blizzard president J. Allen Brack and Shely's predecessor, Luis Barriga. Here's the full timeline of everything that's happened since the Activision Blizzard lawsuit went public

But the focus of Shely's statement remained on the game itself. He reassured fans that Blizzard has "a strong team with incredible passion" working on Diablo 4, and promised that "our commitment to the game is unwavering."

"Sanctuary should always be items glittering in dark dungeons," he wrote. "Tales of powerful heroes standing against the onslaught of hell. Lands where trials, treasure, and terrible monsters lie around every corner, equal parts familiar and boundless in its possibilities. Doing this world justice is a solemn responsibility."

As well as announcing Shely as the new game director, today's update also digs into Diablo 4's audio, "a sometimes underappreciated yet integral element of the game's design."

"Crafting Diablo's sound requires science, art... and the occasional ball of fire," Shely wrote. "Sound Supervisor Kris Giampa and his team have fascinating insights to share in this behind-the-scenes look at how it all works."

Here's a look at the audio team doing some recording out in the unforgiving harshness of Death Valley:

And here's a "gore" recording session, which is disappointingly lacking in actual gore.

Diablo 4 still doesn't have a release date. Sometime in 2022 is a possibility, but a 2023 or 2024 release continues to look more likely: Shely didn't hint at a target in his update, but said the game still has a "ways to go" before it's ready for launch.

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.