A new Diablo 4 every quarter update delves deep into the graphic side of the game, with art director John Mueller, main character artist Arnaud Kotelnikoff and associate art director Nick Chilano sharing information about their stylistic goals and the ways in which they they got them.
The visual style of Diablo 4 will almost certainly be subject to intense control as the game continues to develop: one of the most persistent criticisms of Diablo 3 is that it was too bright and looked like a cartoon. The announcement of Devil 4 clearly promised a return to the "darkness" of the first two games in the series (although whether Devil 2 was actually as gloomy and dark as we remember is a matter of debate), and the shared images in this update, they certainly look darker than the images from the previous game. But it definitely doesn't lack color or style either.
“When I think about the beginning, I think at the highest level, our goal was to make the Diablo 4 characters look as artistic and as artisanal as possible with the latest tools and techniques,” Mueller said. “Over time, our ambitions around what we believe we could achieve evolved and really consolidated into what you see today.
"We wanted to use the latest tools and techniques, but we were concerned about opting for 'realism' in a way that didn't have that handmade feel that we thought was fundamental to a Blizzard game. We didn't want the characters. feel procedural or generic because of these processes ".
One of the focal points of the update is the Diablo 4 character customization system, which will allow players to equip their characters with hundreds of unique pieces of armor, as well as detailed body and facial features. An expanded dyeing system will also allow players to customize individual pieces of armor or entire suits, "in a range of colors that still feel grounded and realistic in the world we are building."
The process is not as simple as one might assume, at least if it is not versed in 3D rendering techniques. For example, artists need to consider how materials will appear in different lighting conditions.
Diablo 4 intends to have a reality-based look, and to achieve this we need to follow some basic color value rules, such as PBR (Physically Based Rendering), which means that our materials look like they react to light in a realistic way, ”Kotelnikoff said. "The challenge for 3D artists is to transfer the color of a conceptual drawing to a PBR value. For example, in PBR, silver is a very bright gray, almost white, and the reflection of the material makes it look darker. Devil 4 characters follow the rules of PBR to ensure that our characters look as good in daylight as in a dark dungeon.
Each armor in the game will be available in two body types, as seen in the Rogue and Barbarian sets below:
Blizzard has also shared a couple of video clips showing the level of detail of the armor, its movement and how they will interact with the game’s lighting.
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkesWlZM9mc (/ embed)
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJL-IAXYXCo (/ embed)
A handful of enemies also become protagonists, starting with Blood Bishop, a "high-level boss based on vampire blood and magic: who casts direct damage and area-of-effect spells:
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REBeP7erE58 (/ embed)
There is also Skeleton Lord, a melee-focused enemy built with bones and pieces of meat:
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fXjKo9mRNE (/ embed)
Probably the worst part of the group is what worries the spider:
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lozb6pkB2HQ (/ embed)
And finally, the Succubus, whose wings are fixed to the head for some reason, "a detail that needs a closer look but does not complicate the appearance of the different cameras":
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPkuF9XyBFU (/ embed)
Like everything else we’ve seen so far, all of these images are clearly labeled “pre-alpha,” but they look tremendously good and, in my view, at least definitely more in the Devil 2 line than Devil 3. I’m not convinced this will turn Diablo 4 into a new carrier of RPG standards; I’m inclined to agree with Fraser that the Diablo series faces more fundamental challenges that simply their visual style, but for fans looking to return to a more overtly gothic atmosphere, I suspect Blizzard is on the right track.
Diablo 4 doesn’t have a release date yet, and unfortunately this update didn’t offer any suggestions on when it might arrive. It may come out in 2022, but we think 2023 or 24 is more likely. Here is everything we know so far.