Diablo 4 will not have an offline mode and will require an internet connection to play, Blizzard said during an interview at BlizzCon today.
We asked lead designer Joe Shely if it was possible to play Diablo 4 offline. "There's a large, seamless, connected, and shared space in the world, going down into dungeons, being able to group with your friends, trading and PvP. We feel that the best way to experience that is in a world that is online," Shely responded.
The "shared open world" essentially gives Diablo 4 the form of an MMO, so it's not surprising that it will require an always-on internet connection in order to populate the world with other players. You'll be able to play solo, but not offline.
Detailed during the Diablo 4 Unveiled panel, Diablo 4 will feature world events, towns that act as social hubs, PvP zones, and a persistently populated open world. The decision makes sense for a more social Diablo 4, and has become the norm in the years since Diablo 3's release, which was one of the first games to adopt the then-controversial always-online approach.
During the panel, Blizzard also said that Diablo 4's release is a long ways off. "We are not coming out soon. Not even 'Blizzard soon'," said director Luis Barriga.
As one ponders an always-on Diablo, one can't help but remember the legendarily bad connection issues Diablo 3 experienced when it debuted in March 2012. Even so many years later, the specter of "Error 37" hangs over the series: Diablo 3 was inaccessible to some players for days following launch, after which Blizzard implemented a login queue system. Another much-criticized element of Diablo 3, the real money auction house, closed in 2014 and does not yet show signs of being revived for the sequel.
Head over to our BlizzCon 2019 hub for more news from this year's convention.