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Diablo 4’s open world lets you walk away from its main quest

Blizzard developers Joe Shely and Rod Fergusson talk about the Diablo 4 open world and Renown, explaining how the fantasy RPG game’s campaign structure works

Diablo 4 open-world - a female rogue looks down over her shoulder with a stern expression

The Diablo 4 open world offers a branching story that lets players tackle its major sections in whatever order they wish, and even lets you walk away from the main quest altogether and pursue side activities. This latest update comes from the fantasy game’s director Joe Shely and Diablo general manager Rod Fergusson at Blizzard, who discuss the way Diablo 4 implements its open-world game design and renown system.

“One of the concerns about putting ‘open world’ in a big neon sign and flashing that sign is that people have that notion of Breath of the Wild, oh it’s completely organic and I can go anywhere and do anything,” says Fergusson, speaking to IGN. “That’s not really our story. Our story allows for non-linearity, but there is a story – we wanted to have a beginning, middle, and end.” He explains that, once past the prologue, players will have the option to choose which order they tackle the acts in.

“You can actually not pursue the story for a while, that’s the nice thing about the open world,” Fergusson continues, “there’s a lot of side quests, a lot of things you can do that aren’t on the golden path.” However, he emphasises that “every inch [of the world] is built for combat… Anywhere in the open world, you could stop, a monster could attack you, and you could fight there.”

Shely responds with a laugh, adding that “In fact, at one point it was too dense, so we dialled it back a little bit. We wanted to have all the world have exciting and interesting things to do.” He explains that “We actually had so much stuff that getting through it on a mount was challenging,” so the team ensured that roads would allow players to get to their desired locations quickly but still “have the opportunity to go off the path and see interesting things.”

Also playing into this is the Diablo 4 ‘renown’ system. Fergusson explains that as players discover more of a zone, they can find hidden caches, complete sidequests, and clear strongholds – all of which will net bonus renown benefits. As an example of these benefits, he says players may earn skill points for future character progression, allowing alt characters to start the game with several skill points already available.

You can watch the full video below, courtesy of IGN:

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Other such snippets have revealed the way that Diablo 4 combat leans into player-made tactical decisions and the Diablo 4 level 100 boss gatekeeping the endgame’s world tier systems. While we wait for more news on the Diablo 4 release date and the anticipated rollout of public Diablo 4 endgame beta invites, we’ve got everything you need to know about the playable Diablo 4 classes at launch. If you’re desperate to grind out some loot in the meantime, check out the best games like Diablo on PC for some possible alternatives.