Ahead of BlizzCon 2017, Blizzard said there would be no Diablo-related announcement at the show. "There will be a time for that at some point in the future," community manager Nevalistis explained, "but that time is not now." It appears to be approaching, however. Multiple job listings on the Blizzard careers site say the studio is seeking environment, technical, and "dungeon" artists for a new Diablo game.
"The minions of Hell are growing stronger," the Dungeon Artist listing says. "We're working on a new, unannounced Diablo project. Are you a skilled Dungeon Artist? Come work with us, and together we will build something exceptional."
The other positions open in the same way, and my first impression is that they point to something entirely new, rather than a port or remaster of one of the existing games.
The Dungeon Artist position, for instance, requires working directly with the level design team "to build atmospheric dungeons with a focus on composition, detail and mood, while ensuring that the gameplay space is readable," and an "exceptional understanding of form, shape, structure, composition and silhouette as it relates to world building and modeling."
The Technical Artist "will help the environment and prop teams define, create, maintain and streamline the modelling and world-building pipeline and processes to bring to life the world of Sanctuary," with responsibilities including "forging tools, educating artists in the use of technology and helping them hit visual targets."
Diablo designer David Brevik poured cold water on the idea of a quick Diablo 2 remake last year, saying that it might be a trickier proposition than anyone expects—in part because he believes most of the original assets are long gone.
"If they do a Diablo 2 Remaster, it’s going to be difficult to make it feel exactly like the same game," he said at the time. "They could do it but they will have to go out of their way to ensure that they are simulating the way that the game works in 2D instead of making it 3D, if that makes sense."
So maybe that's what all this artist-hiring is for—not a Diablo 4 (which would be great), but a tough-to-pull-off Diablo 2 do-over (which, for the record, would also be great). Blizzard, unsurprisingly, isn't inclined to spoil the surprise: "We’re always exploring different ideas at Blizzard," a rep said. "That includes Diablo, which is one of our core franchises."
Whatever it turns out to be, I wouldn't recommend holding your breath for an announcement at E3, which is just a few days away. But BlizzCon 2018? Cross your fingers.