When does Diablo 4 S1, Season of the Malignant, start? A much-loved feature from Diablo 3 makes its return in D4 with the (re)introduction of seasons, adding everything from new questlines to items, gameplay mechanics, and more. In order to expand on the rich, gothic world of Sanctuary, Blizzard will make sure players have plenty to sink their teeth into, whether you’re a fresh-faced player taking their first steps into Sanctuary, or a grizzled veteran of the Burning Hells.
When Diablo 4 Season of the Malignant arrives, a new, post-campaign story begins, alongside the first D4 Battle Pass and Season Journey, with loads of new content to discover. Since you need a new Diablo 4 character to enter the seasonal realm, it’s the perfect time to try out one of the other Diablo 4 classes, so here’s everything you need to know before you decide who to pick.
When is the Diablo 4 Season 1 start date?
Blizzard has confirmed that Diablo 4 Season 1, known as Season of the Malignant, is out now on PC, PlayStation 5 and 4, Xbox Series X and S, and Xbox One.
Each season will last three months, with four seasons a year. During its last developer livestream on July 6, Blizzard confirmed the new storyline introduced with the Season of the Malignant, which takes place after the events of the D4 campaign, is planned to continue via DLC. To that end, you must have completed the campaign before you can experience the new, seasonal story. You can, however, complete the campaign in the seasonal realm if you are new to D4, and your usual slaying of beasts and clearing of dungeons will add to your Battle Pass progress.
If you aren’t new to the game and have already started your adventure in Sanctuary, you’ll need seasonal characters; each one is a fresh start from level one, which gets you to level up, experience the seasonal content, and get great loot – don’t forget that the skip campaign option becomes available once you have completed it once. Once the season ends, you won’t lose your character, as every seasonal character is transferred to the Eternal Realm to allow players to keep slaying and looting to their heart’s content, though you’re going to be waiting a while before the Diablo 4 Season 2 release date.
Season of the Malignant story
Diablo 4, Season 1 introduces us to a new character whom we meet in the season trailer above. An ex-member of the Cathedral of Light, Cormond is trying to stem the infection of malignance in Sanctuary, a new threat taking over the hearts of beasts, humans, and demons alike, turning them into blood-thirsty fiends and he’ll aid you in your quest to stop the corruption.
Once you have completed the Diablo 4 campaign and enter the Seasonal Realm, each beast you encounter now may be a Malignant variant, which you will know from the growths on its body, and the word “Malignant” in its name. These foes are harder to take down and get even harder once you do so, as picking up a Malignant Heart brings them back, stronger, alongside an army of Malignant allies. Defeat them all to gather a Caged Heart, which can be socketed into items for new, powerful boosts.
Caged Malignant Hearts
Caged Hearts vary in color and can only be socketed in new items of the same color. Both Caged Hearts and the season-exclusive socketed items can only be collected in the Seasonal Realm during D4 Season 1, but remain available to you after the season ends.
We spoke to Madeline James, the quest designer for season one and the base game, and associate game director Joseph Piepiora. When speaking about the content in season one, Piepiora said that they are adding new legendary aspects and unique items, including Malignant powers.
There are 32 Malignant powers available from collecting these Malignant Hearts, which, in Blizzard’s own words, give “extremely powerful”, and “crazy, crazy combinations”, such as dealing incredible amounts of additional damage with critical strikes; they’re also more powerful than legendary items.
An example of these powers is a heart that can be used when you critically strike an enemy, that the creature absorbs the hit and the hits over the next two and half seconds; at the end of the timer, the creature explodes, dealing that damage to itself and surrounding creatures. You can learn more about these powers in our D4 Malignant Hearts guide.
In the Seasonal Realm, and once you have completed the campaign, there is no guaranteed way of finding Malignant monsters, as they randomly replace enemies. However, one of the best places to increase your chances is in Malignant Tunnels, new seasonal dungeons bursting with malignant energy and terrifying foes.
Within this system of tunnels also lies a new Diablo 4 boss to confront: Varshan the Consumed. We recommend gathering as many Caged Hearts and new malignant powers as possible before you take them on.
Diablo 4 season objectives
Everything you do in the season is part of the season journey; a map along the way to greater and greater rewards. Players will be set objectives to complete, such as a dungeon (with them also refreshing each season), collecting items, or completing a particular event or challenge. All of these will feed into the season journey, with players earning renown that they can use to earn 90 tiers of unique cosmetic rewards, including ones introduced with each new season, and granting progress on the battle pass system. Season journeys are split into chapters that you need to complete to progress through the story, such as in the Diablo 4 Holding Back the Flood quest.
You can also collect Smoldering Ashes, which can be used in turn to redeem against one of the five urns. These urns boost XP from monster kills, gold earned from vendor sales, the chance of rare materials appearing from salvage, the duration of elixirs, and the chance of powerful Malignant Heart drops.
All in all, there’s a lot to be excited about for Diablo 4, not just for the huge, sprawling campaign upfront but the ongoing seasonal story that’ll see us delving deeper into the cast of characters and the dark, bloodstained mythos of Sanctuary than ever before. Check out our in-depth Diablo 4 review for a full rundown of what to expect if you’ve not started the campaign yet, and considering you need a new build for your new character, be sure to check out the best Diablo 4 builds as shared with us by Blizzard.