PSA: You can play Diablo 4's massive season 4 update early

Diablo 4 character Lilith with a pleased look on her face
(Image credit: Tyler C. / Blizzard)

Diablo 4 is about to dramatically change as an action RPG, and you'll be able to play this massive update early via Blizzard's "PTR", or public test realm, starting today.

From April 2 to April 9, PC players using the launcher (not Steam players, sadly) can get their hands dirty testing out Blizzard's redesigned loot progression, including two new crafting systems that let you customize your items to your liking.

The PTR won't have every change coming in season 4—like the unique seasonal mechanics—but there are new items, class balance changes, and a new endgame dungeon to test out and provide feedback on before the finished update goes live on May 14.

PTR release times

Diablo 4 season 4 PTR release times 

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Blizzard gave us the dates for when you'll be able to play Diablo 4's season 4 PTR, but it hasn't specified the exact time it'll go live. My best guess is that you'll be able to download and play it around 10 am PDT / 1 pm EDT / 7 pm CEST, which is usually when patches go live.

Currently, there's no way to preload the PTR before then.

How to access and play the PTR

How to access and play Diablo 4's season 4 PTR 

(Image credit: Tyler C. / Blizzard)

Anyone who owns Diablo 4 on PC through or Game Pass can download and play on the season 4 PTR. All you have to do is change the game version in the app and download it.

Here's how to download and play the Diablo 4 PTR:

  1. Open the app (via the Windows Xbox app for Game Pass users) and select Diablo 4 in the list
  2. Next to the Play button, open the drop down menu that says "Diablo IV" and swap it to the PTR option
  3. Click install where the Play button used to be
  4. Click Play and select one of the test servers to make characters on

How to level boost a PTR character

How to level boost a Diablo 4 PTR character

(Image credit: Tyler C. / Blizzard)

The focus of the season 4 PTR is to test how you obtain and improve your loot at max level. To save everyone time, Blizzard will let you instantly boost any character to level 100 via an NPC in Kyovashad simply named "PTR boost".

You'll first have to complete the game's prologue and skip the campaign via the option on the character select screen. Blizzard said this might not be required in a few days when a PTR update comes out. Then head to Kyovashad in the Fractured Peaks and talk to the PTR boost NPC. Then, select the dialogue option to boost your character to max level.

Every boosted character will receive a bunch of bonuses to help you test stuff, including:

  • 100 million gold
  • 1,000 Obols to gamble for loot at the Purveyor of Curiosities NPCs
  • Two random sets of Ancestral gear
  • Upgraded potions and unlocked Paragon Glyphs
  • Up to 10 Tempering Manuals for applying stats to items
  • A "base amount" of consumable materials excluding those used for Tempering, Masterworking, and to enter The Pit dungeons
  • A fully revealed map

Blizzard also points out that you can keep making new characters to stack these rewards to your PTR account.

Any extra skill points, paragon points, or potions unlocked from completing the regional renown objectives will carry over from the regular game, as well as your cosmetic unlocks. And remember: nothing in the PTR carries back over to the live game. 

The biggest PTR changes

The biggest changes in Diablo 4's season 4 PTR 

(Image credit: Blizzard)

There are over 10,000 words in the Diablo 4 season 4 patch notes, but I suspect you'll find even more changes as you play. You can't upend how loot works in an action RPG without causing ripple effects for everything else in the game. Your gear, class, and builds will be very different than they were since the game's launch and even in the last season, effectively jettisoning Diablo 4 into its 2.0 era.

Here are biggest changes you'll see in the Diablo 4 season 4 PTR:

  • Loot will drop less, but each item will be more powerful (PTR has doubled Legendary drop rates, too)
  • You can trade Legendary and Unique items (not Ubers) with other players
  • Tempering and Masterworking will let you apply stats to your items and upgrade them
  • The Codex of Power will house all your Legendary powers as you find them
  •  Helltide events are available in all world tiers with way more enemies and a new summonable boss
  • The Pit will let you enter timed endgame dungeons with over 100 tiers of difficulty
  • Andariel will be a new boss who will drop the same loot as Duriel
  • All bosses will have a level 200 "Tormented" variant for better rewards
  • You will be able to zoom the camera out further than before through a new option
  • Barbarian nerfs will hurt, but necromancer buffs will make minion builds finally powerful

The PTR will end next Tuesday, April 9. And then, on May 14, season 3 will transition to season 4. Blizzard hasn't announced what will be unique about the season yet, but I assume you'll hear about that by the end of the month.

Associate Editor

Tyler has covered games, games culture, and hardware for over a decade before joining PC Gamer as Associate Editor. He's done in-depth reporting on communities and games as well as criticism for sites like Polygon, Wired, and Waypoint. He's interested in the weird and the fascinating when it comes to games, spending time probing for stories and talking to the people involved. Tyler loves sinking into games like Final Fantasy 14, Overwatch, and Dark Souls to see what makes them tick and pluck out the parts worth talking about. His goal is to talk about games the way they are: broken, beautiful, and bizarre.