Kotaku is featuring a new article on the current status of the Diablo franchise in general, and the Diablo 4 development specifically. Eleven current and past Blizzard employees have spoken to the site on the condition of anonymity and have provided information about the canceled second Diablo 3 expansion, a Diablo 4 that's been started, cancelled and restarted as recently as 2016 and much more.
Nuggets of information from the article:
- The series is very popular in China, hence the Immortal announcement
- The specter of the painful Titan cancellation has had an effect on all Blizzard development.
- A big and ongoing discussion within the company is cost-cutting, though Blizzard remains largely independent of Activision.
- In late 2013 or early 2014 the second D3 expansion was canceled. "We think the best thing for the IP is to move to Diablo 4 in whatever form that'll be," said one of the sources. It was considered "a vote of no confidence".
- The initial name of Diablo 4 was "Hades" and was led by Josh Mosqueira. It was being designed to be "a Diablo take on Dark Souls" and as a "challenging dungeon-crawler".
- Hades was in development from 2014-2016 when it was abruptly canceled with Mosqueira leaving the company, though it's unclear if one affected the other.
- In 2016, the D4 project was renamed "Fenris" and is said that the team felt that art style had not hit the mark in D3 and now the aim was to "make it gross, make it dark and get rid of anything that was considered cartoony in D3".
- Fenris is not likely to be seen before 2020 or later and much will change in time.
- The team wants Fenris to be more social "taking inspiration from Destiny to add "light MMO elements" including a hub location.
- Fenris monetization has not been determined.
It's a fascinating article from an inside perspective and well worth the time to read and absorb both the statements of the informants and the official Blizzard responses to direct questions from Kotaku. Be sure to check it out!