Blizzard has revealed its plan for Diablo 4 post-launch, detailing its approach to seasons, battle passes and the shop.
In a post on Blizzard.com, the developer said Diablo 4 will get a new season each quarter, and each will add questlines, battle passes, new legendary items, class balance changes and other tweaks.
Season 1 begins in mid to late July (Diablo 4 launches early June). To access it you have to complete the campaign.
To work through the season's battle pass you need to complete chapters that are comprised of objectives. Completing all the objectives in a chapter gets you seasonal rewards, such as crafting materials and legendary aspects for your Codex of Power.
Each objective also gets you some Favor, the resource used to level up through the tiers of the battle pass. You get Favor from completing quests, killing monsters and taking part in events, among other things.
Each season adds a new battle pass with its own rewards. The battle pass has 27 free tiers and 63 premium tiers. You can earn cosmetics and Smoldering Ashes from the free tiers just by killing monsters. Smoldering Ashes are a resource spent on Season Blessings, which give you a bonus to earning XP, gold or Obols (another currency!), depending on the Blessing you spend your Ashes on. The bonuses from Season Blessings only last until that respective season ends.
While Season Blessings affect gameplay, it's worth noting they're available from the free tiers of the battle pass. You also have to meet certain character level requirements to claim Smoldering Ashes. "This ensures they are earned by achieving gameplay requirements and there is no advantage gained from purchasing tier skips," Blizzard stressed.
The premium battle pass does not provide any in-game power, Blizzard said. Instead, it unlocks tiers that give you cosmetics unique to that season and the platinum currency, which can only be bought with real world money. Platinum is spent in the shop on new cosmetics, or you can put it towards buying future battle passes.
And there's a third tier of the battle pass (still with us?), called the accelerated battle pass. This includes everything in the premium battle pass plus 20 tier skips and a special cosmetic.
Blizzard confirmed US pricing for the battle passes: premium costs 1000 Platinum ($9.99), and accelerated costs 2800 platinum ($24.99).
As Blizzard has said previously, none of the cosmetics sold in the shop affect gameplay. "Diablo is a dark, gritty, fantasy game, and its purchasable cosmetics will reinforce this theme," Blizzard explained.
"In comparison to the class-agnostic cosmetics earned from the battle pass, the cosmetics offered in the shop are meant to reinforce class-specific fantasies, so there will be some cosmetics unique to particular classes.
"The shop is intended to be an avenue of self-expression for our players, and they can interact with it as much or as little as they desire during their time in Sanctuary."
As is normal for in-game shops, Diablo 4's will rotate cosmetics. Everything must be bought with platinum. Once you buy a cosmetic for a class, you can use it for all characters of that class on your account. They can also be accessed on any platform you play the game on.
You can also try on cosmetics before you buy them. "The shop has been built for transparency; using the preview function, you can thoroughly inspect any cosmetic you're thinking of purchasing to ensure it feels right for you," Blizzard said .
"Our shop is also intelligent; using your playstyle and aesthetic preferences, it will recommend cosmetics that support the wanderer you want to become."
All in all, Diablo 4's live service gubbins sound standard, something akin to the system employed by Bungie's Destiny or Activision's Call of Duty (thankfully without the pay-to-win elements - for now).
Diablo chief Rod Fergusson has confirmed Blizzard also plans to release expansions, which will hopefully echo the much-loved expansions for previous Diablo games.