In its latest quarterly developer update, Blizzard breaks down Diablo 4’s open world, environments, and all of the places you’ll be able to visit in Sanctuary. Check out a preview of these locations below, along with videos showing off these new locations for Diablo 4.
In this new development update, Chris Ryder, the game’s Art Director, along with the Environments Team, discuss Diablo 4’s open world – from the many places you’ll find yourself in Sanctuary, to some of the dungeons that the players will poke around.
Diablo IV’s environments cover much of the game’s territory and visual real estate: five distinct regions and hundreds of dungeons for you to discover. This is where all the monster slaying, loot collecting, and exploration takes place. Of course, none of this would be possible without the collective efforts of our talented designers, world builders, engineers, environmental artists, lighting artists, and technical artists.
For the Scosglen coast, the Environment Art team set out to tell the story of wild and untamed shores and headlands. As you head towards the shores from inland, the coastal biome is first highlighted by the longer, more directional grasses that react to offshore driving. the winds. The beaches are dark and littered with seaweed, kelp and rotting carcasses. Steep cliffs rise high while headlands are carved by the continuous pounding of the waves below. Through the process of creating our biomes, the Environment Art team set out to communicate that this coastline is in peril.
For the major settlements along the coast, it is important to us that they feel deeply intertwined with the fabric of the coastline. Dwellings with deep foundations line the cliffs. In a vain attempt to withstand the harsh elements, these structures are made up of every material the inhabitants could get their hands on and are in various forms of disrepair. Stone walls, reclaimed wood and thatch for the roofs. A place of consolation for the brave fishermen who sail these treacherous seas.
The Orbei Monastery is an isolated and secret feature of the rural dry steppes. While Zakarum’s presence has diminished, Orbei Monastery bears proof that Zakarum’s places of worship can still function quietly. Since the location here is in the parched plains of the dry steppes, we aim to push the notion of dusty grasslands with sparse vegetation. We made the conscious decision to add dark rocks that complement the pale, rusty blonde grasses. Poplars and Saxauls grip the ground which really helps provide parallax motion on screen. This contributes to greater depth as foreground elements move faster than those further in the scene.
To help provide additional visual interest in the area, the Environment Art team created a salt pan biome. Being able to have blue alkaline lakes lined with salt-encrusted tuffs and vivid geothermal pools really helps to add pockets of vibrancy to the dry steppes and create fascinating natural landmarks.
Our goal with Kyovashad is to really convey that this medieval settlement is oppressive, freezing, and harsh. However, we have yet to convey that it is a place of refuge offered to those who reside within its boundaries. This is a militaristic colony, so it’s important that we give it a heavily defended presence from the start. We believe it is appropriate to provide a gradual buildup of smaller defense structures as you approach the colony. Doing this tells you that something greater is waiting for you. Upon reaching the gates, you are faced with craggy stones, boundary walls and a deep cavernous moat that keeps unwanted visitors away.
As you enter the town, you see typical Fractured Peaks architecture. Using wood from the region’s many forests, the structures here are clad in natural pine planks and birch shingles. As with most housing in Sanctuary, these buildings are very functional rather than formal.
The forgotten places of the world
This set of tiles is an example of how we have “returned to darkness”. We want to take you deep underground to the darkest recesses of Sanctuary, where a mysterious (and gross) corruption has taken root. This ancient temple is a great place to push some primordial horror vibes. The fixed camera is one of our best tools since it allows us to place assets in the foreground without blocking the playable space. Because we always know where you are looking, we can compose and customize layouts, views and foreground elements to ensure there is a good composition. Spider legs are placed in specific spots for their unnerving silhouettes twitching in the background. Our dungeon design counterparts give us great layouts to play with, allowing us to push the depth of each scene. We want you to feel like the dungeon drags on forever and you only see a small part of a large underground labyrinth.
The world of Diablo IV is incredibly large, using many unique tile sets to cover all the different areas, biomes, and cultures. In order to create so much high-quality content, we’ve found clever ways to reuse our tile sets and add enough variety to cover over 150 dungeons. While offering new experiences every time. One way to do this is to dress sets of tiles with different themes. This next dungeon is a hidden resting place for druids overrun by demons. As you walk through the dungeon, you will see that it is covered with many Druidic cultural objects, such as talismans and charms. We place many of these elements on a layer that can be turned on or off, depending on the dungeon theme. In one dungeon it is a druid burial place, in another it is a dark, uninhabited cave. Adding this kind of detail is a great way to add lots of visual interest as well as visual storytelling. These assets were created by multiple teams, so this is a great example of many groups coming together to contribute to a final environment.
New dungeon features like floor transitions or smooth traversals are exciting, but my favorite new feature is what we call tile game transition scenes. These are scenes that allow us to connect two different tilesets in the same dungeon. Imagine running through a crypt, only to find a hole in the wall that seamlessly leads you deeper into a vast network of underground caves. While keeping the random layouts that change with each dungeon run. In this latest video, we show two tilesets joined by a tileset transition scene. The first floor of this ruined dungeon remains dry and relatively untouched, but as you progress through the dungeon you’ll find that the lower levels have decayed due to endless floodwaters. This swampy ruin is perfect for drowned people. and strengthen themselves deep within. You’ll have to fight your way through their defenses and climb through the rope to get deeper into the flooded ruined tileset.
Finally, as an added bonus, Blizzard also showed off some more environmental art, and you can check it out in a video below.
You can read the full quarterly update via the official blog on Blizzard’s site. With the game still in heavy development, it will be interesting to see when Blizzard finally releases Diablo 4 globally, as it looks to be their most ambitious Diablo title yet.