Exclusive: Diablo 4 devs explain campaign’s new structure with non-linear Acts

Liam Ho
Lilith and Elias in Diablo 4

Developers on the highly-anticipated ARPG Diablo 4 explained their reasoning behind the new non-linear structure for the beginning campaign Acts in our recent interview.

Blizzard’s newest action roleplaying game Diablo 4 is fast approaching its full release on June 6, 2023. The long-awaited sequel takes place in Sanctuary, with players able to create their own character, pick their own class and play through the game’s many acts at their own pace.

Like previous games, Diablo IV also features a lengthy campaign for players to engage with. This campaign has you meeting key characters, completing quests, exploring dungeons, and slaying demonic enemies all the way through.

However, Diablo 4 changes up the formula somewhat, instead opting for a more open-world structure. This new campaign format allows players to complete certain acts in any order, giving you more options on how you’d like the story to progress. Dexerto spoke with Diablo 4 developers Naz Hartoonian and Harrison Pink about the decision of this monumental change.

Diablo 4 Lorath in a Cutscene
Players will encounter Lorath in their journey through Diablo 4.

With Diablo 4 being released quite a while after its third installment, the developers were aware that this would be the first game for many players. As such they attempted to ensure that the game would appeal to both veterans and newcomers alike.

“We wanted something new, something that would get both long-time veterans of the franchise and new players to be really interested in because it’s something we haven’t really done before,” Hartoonian spoke.

Outside of shaking up what we were used to, Pink spoke further about the developers’ vision in creating the open world of Sanctuary, and how the free-flowing nature of the campaign resonated with it.

“Because we were doing an open-world game, we knew we wanted to empower players to explore big swathes of Sanctuary the way that they wanted to. We didn’t want to lead them in a specific route.”

Pink, a senior quest designer on Diablo 4, was in-tune with the world of Diablo and understood that the themes of the story resulted in a slower early game, allowing players the time to do their own “detective work.

“We also knew that in any sort of dark story about these types of creatures and demons and angels and stuff, there’s always this period at the beginning of the story that’s exploratory where the characters are trying to figure out what’s going on. They’re doing some detective work, they’re trying to figure out the big bad’s plans, and the stakes and the momentum is a little bit slower and lower. So we felt like the early parts of the story were the perfect time to let the player kind of do that detective work.”

The campaign does eventually tie in together, with the opening acts converging and pushing players along a path toward the end of the campaign, as Pink explains.

“As Lilith’s plan is uncovered and you figure out what the stakes are and we figure out what she’s after, you kind of put it all together and realize the clock is ticking, we have to go. Then it starts to converge again and we make sure you’re pushed along a certain path.”

Diablo 4’s campaign is full of surprising twists and turns and with the more open path of progression, you’ll be able to play your way when the game releases in just a few days.

About The Author

Liam is a writer on the Australian Dexerto team covering all things gaming with an emphasis on MMOs like Destiny and FFXIV along with MOBAs like League. He started writing while at university for a Bachelor’s degree in Media and has experience writing for GGRecon and GameRant. You can contact Liam at liam.ho@dexerto.com or on Twitter at @MusicalityLH.