Date: July 2, 2021
The most recent Quarterly Update for Diablo IV focused on the game’s character art, and featured three members of the DIV art team showcasing features and explaining their design processes. Art Director John Mueller talked about their goal with Diablo IV characters, and all the work it took to create the tools they’re using to craft game models. Lead Character Artist Arnaud Kotelnikoff showed off some character customization options, and covered some of the technical aspects of creating armor. Lastly, Nick Chilano shared some monsters, and explained in some detail the process the team uses in creating the fearsome foes you’ll face in DIV.
Apparently, the rendering engine and authoring tools used for Diablo III were completely rebuilt for Diablo IV, allowing for “massive improvements” to the level of detail that can now be applied to characters. Effects like cloth simulation and even rivulets of perspiration are now possible. Perhaps most exciting, your custom character will now be rendered in most of the story cutscenes. All that time you spend choosing eye-makeup won’t be wasted!
It was also great to see in the Quarterly Update that the art team hasn’t forgotten that the game is mainly played in an isometric point of view. From what the team said in the update, it sounds like they’re making sure all the customization options will look just as good in-game as they will in the dressing room.
DIV will have Physically-Based Rendering, which is just a fancy way of saying stuff will react to light realistically. This adds an extra challenge for the team’s 3D artists, who need to make sure that characters look good both in sunlight and darkness. This also affects the customization options, as certain material/color combinations might look strange, or hard to read.
This matters because there are so many ways to customize your armor in Diablo IV. Every part of your armor can be dyed, and each piece can be dyed a different color if you so choose. Needless to say, people who take 2 hours to make a new Skyrim build should block out extra DIV time for making their character look perfect.
Nick Chilano gave some insight into how his team designs the monsters you’ll face in Diablo IV:
…it starts with the player feeling satisfied in killing it. That means the monster needs to visually match its gameplay and have a gory/demonic twist to it.
It’s a subtle thing, but having enemies in a game behave the way you expect they would is an important part of player experience — when you see a monster with long limbs, you expect it to try to smack them with you at some point, and it’s almost weird if they don’t. Chilano showed off a few different enemies, including the Blood Bishop (pictured below) and the Skeleton Lord. They all look suitably creepy, to say the least.
The afore-mentioned Physically-Based Rendering also helps with the monstrosities the art team is creating. PBR allows for fur, bone, flesh and blood to react appropriately to various lighting situations, as our fleshy friend the Blood Bishop demonstrates with his slick, shiny exterior.
If what the art team shared is any indication, Diablo IV is shaping up to be a worthy addition to the Diablo franchise. Let us know what you thought about the Quarterly Update in the comments!