As a result of me being locked at home (covid infection, no symptoms thankfully) without pc, I've been thinking of how Hell might look in Diablo IV as a way of fighting the boredom, and I decided to write it down for some fun.
I'm aware of the fact that there's no information on Hell in Diablo IV, apart from the confirmation that we're going into Hell. This post doesn't pretend to accurately predict anything from the final game, but to have some fun while we wait for news (and while I wait to get back to normal life).
First: are we actually going to Hell? In Diablo 2 we took a portal that would lead to Hell itself, thinking of it as a realm completely separated from Sanctuary. In Diablo 3, we did basically walk into it, as a portion of Hell seemed to emerge from the crater Arreat. To my understanding, in D1 an D3 we do not get out of Sanctuary: Hell is invading Sanctuary. We have no clues about this in D4. I like to think that "Hell is coming" might be a literal prediction of what's going to happen, but being honest, it looks like a literary device that just sounds cool.
Second: how/when will this incursion happen in the story? Since D4 will be non-linear, it makes sense to have a portion of land reserved for the conclusion of the campaign. This way, we would be able to complete the content of any of the 5 regions in any order, keeping a "final area" inaccessible and separated from these regions to make sure we will visit it at the very end. Hell would be a perfect fit for this role.
This doesn't necessarily mean that there won't be any more campaign content in the surface after finishing Hell (we actually must consider that future expansions will add new regions and story content). But I think our visit to the burning realm will be kept out of our reach until we fulfill a number of campaign objectives in the initial 5 regions.
Third: dungeon, or new region? This probably depend on the length of this part of the story. If the incursion into Hell is just meant as an scenario for the final boss, then 2-3 levels of random dungeon might be enough before the encounter. But if they implemented Hell as it own region (probably smaller than the rest of regions of the game, let's think of D2's Act IV), we might even get a fixed map with it own dungeons, quests, pvp zones and endgame content.
A different approach would be implementing Hell as an endgame mechanic itself. The possibilities here would be endless: Hell as a place to fight uber bosses, Hell as a set of endgame dungeons that appears randomly, Hell as an endless dungeon with increasing difficulty, etc.
Finally: how will it look? The art we were shown at Blizzcon points to the classic rivers of fire and magma, and I'm pretty sure we'll get that. The question is: will there be more regions? In Diablo 2 we visited a grey and foreboding City of the Damned, while in Diablo 3 we descended through the imposing Towers of Azmodan, both good examples of new and unexplored landscapes that might take place within an environment with such a design potential. After seeing how D4 scenarios and dungeons look in it new engine, I can't wait to see what the art team will bring for our descent into the Burning Hells.
I've been wondering about other questions and possibilities related to this place, but I just wanted to share these in order to, hopefully, know more about your ideas and wishes.
Thanks for reading. Stay safe and have a great weekend.
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