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(Pocket-lint) - Diablo 4 is on the way - there's plenty more hacking and slashing to be had, it looks like. The next game in Blizzard's mega-popular franchise was unveiled a good while ago, and its release is drawing ever closer, albeit very, very slowly.

The fourth in the action role-playing series will be darker than the last iteration - a return to the grittier roots of the original Diablo. So, here is everything we know about Diablo 4 so far.

Diablo 4 release date

In terms of release date, Blizzard has spent a few years remaining tight-lipped. Indeed, for a long time the only thing it had said was that it won't be coming anytime soon: "A game of this scope takes time. We’re not coming out soon, not even Blizzard soon." said Barriga (as reported by Forbes). The playable demo at Blizzcon 2019 was apparently just the "first early step in the journey".

That's obviously now a couple of years behind us, only in June 2022 did we finally get a proper release window - the game will be coming out in 2023.

What's the story behind Diablo 4?

"The first thing you will notice about Diablo 4 is we are going back to the franchise's darker roots," said Blizzard game director, Luis Barriga, during the opening keynote of BlizzCon back in 2019.

When Diablo 4 hits stores, it will have been years and years since Diablo III first came out, although Blizzard has released downloadable content and updates since. Indeed, the last release of the game, Diablo III: Eternal Collection, came out for Nintendo Switch in late 2018.

However, it's about time we got a new one - after all, this will only be the fourth mainline Diablo in 26 years,  so it's long overdue.

Diablo 4 gameplay

In terms of the gameplay it will be a similar experience to Diablo III, it seems, with a bevvy of skills to use and plenty of gory, bloody combat. The most up-to-date showcase is from Xbox's presentation in June 2022, which you can see right here:

It contains glimpses of loads of locations and enemies, as well as explanations from its developers not just of how the story is shaping up, but also how the endgame will be kept fresh with challenging content and rich rewards for the most dedicated players.

This includes the welcome confirmation that only cosmetic rewards will be available for purchase in its item shop, ensuring that the best gear is only open to those who've actually earned it in-game.

Looking further back, even in 2019 Blizzard showed a playable demo during Blizzcon so, and you can watch video of a one-hour playthrough that was posted online by Phillip Chu Joy. This is obviously way out of date but gives a good sense of what is being aimed at in Diablo 4.

The demo version highlights three of the final five playable character classes: the barbarian, druid and sorceress, and Blizzard has since also taken the wraps off a fourth and fifth - the rogue and necromancer.

The barbarian is naturally a hardcore fighter, capable of using a greater variety of weapons than other characters. The druid can shapeshift (with both werewolf and bear form factors in the demo). The sorceress has a large amount of magic to play with, while the rogue specialises in ranged fire and subterfuge and the necromancer summons wraiths and zombies to help them fight.

There is a new skill system plus, according to Eurogamer, a talent tree. While the biggest change between Diablo 4 and its predecessors is that the entire game will be set on a persistently online open-world map. You will be able to wander where you like, while other players can pop up in your game from time to time.

There will be shared raids, boss battles and the like, although you can also opt to play the game alone. As before, while it will be a loot-based RPG, there will be a focus on fast-paced action.

At the end of March 2022 Blizzard shared a major update on the game's progress, including a number of snippets of footage of some of the locations that players will be visiting in Diablo 4.

It looks just as moody and downbeat as fans could want, especially in comparison to the controversially-colourful pre-release imagery that preceded Diablo 3.

What formats will Diablo 4 run on?

Diablo 4 has been confirmed as coming for PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC. There is no word yet on a Nintendo Switch version, which might have something to do with the persistently online game world.

You wouldn't be able to play it offline on your travels, for example - something nigh-on mandatory for successful Switch games.

Diablo 4 pre-order deals

As there is no date for release and unlikely to be for a while, there are no pre-orders open for Diablo IV at present.

We thoroughly recommend you check out the Diablo III: Eternal Collection if you haven't already though. There are a few great deals for that knocking around.

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That should keep you going for a while. Until we find out more from Blizzard, at least.

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Writing by Rik Henderson and Max Freeman-Mills.