Fight against the spreading malignance in Diablo 4 season 1
As part of the Diablo Developer Update for July, Blizzard has revealed the details for Diablo 4 season 1, titled Season of the Malignant. The first ever season will include an all new storyline as well as new features and systems to improve character power. An update with balance changes and new items will release on July 18, but the actual season will go live on July 20.
You will have to create a new character to experience the seasonal content, which has become pretty standard for the action-RPG genre. At the end of the season, your character can be transferred to the Eternal Realm. In other words, it will remain playable even after the release of future seasons.
Those that have no desire to play the new season can still play their existing character. However, while existing characters can experience balance changes from the patch, they will not have access to the season-specific content. New players will be able to jump right into the new season, but they will have to complete the campaign to unlock the seasonal content.
Season of the Malignant features a new storyline
The theme of season 1 picks up where the campaign ended. Corruption is spreading in the hearts of creatures throughout Sanctuary. A new malignance is turning them into bloodthirsty fiends determined to destroy everything.
A new character, Cormond, seeks your help in fighting back against the new threat. As a former priest of the Cathedral of Light, he thinks he has found the source of the corruption.
With your help, he believes he can turn the malignance against itself. This quest line will start in Kyovashad and be available right from level one in the new season.
Destroy creatures to claim their powerful malignant hearts
A unique system is also being added to Diablo 4. Throughout Sanctuary, every elite monster can spawn as a malignant variant. Defeating a malignant enemy will cause it to drop its malignant heart. Interacting with it will cause you to use a cage of binding in an effort to capture the heart.
In doing so, more powerful malignant creatures will spawn and attack you to stop the process. Fending them off will allow you to claim the caged heart. These hearts can be socketed into jewelry.
In season 1, jewelry will have three possible socket colors: red, blue, and yellow. Malignant hearts will fit one of the specific color types, with a fourth version that can fit any color. Socketing these hearts will grant you Malignant Powers. There are over thirty of these powers being introduced, further expanding the ways to build your character. Higher world tiers will drop better versions of the hearts.
Even though grinding is a part of any ARPG, a system is in place to help you get the hearts you want. You can break down hearts you don’t plan to use and receive a material used to craft an Invoker to target a specific power. You can than take the Invoker to a malignant tunnel, a mini-dungeon that spawns across the world. Inside you will fight more malignant monsters until you reach a malignant overgrowth at the end. Using the Invoker, you can destroy the overgrowth and reveal a powerful boss inside. Slaying the boss will net you a heart with the power you are looking for.
Other new content includes the first Battle Pass
With the first season comes the first Battle Pass as well. It will feature a free tier for all players that allows you to earn Season Boosts to accelerate progress, in addition to a title and a few transmogs. An additional paid tier will offer exclusive cosmetics. As you play you will progress the Season Journey, a multi-chapter objective system. Doing so will earn you Favor that unlocks rewards on the Battle Pass.
Furthermore, the season will include a new boss battle: Varshan the Consumed. Players will also have six new Unique items and seven new Legendary Aspects to find.
Overall this looks like a solid first season. We get some new story, a big new system, and a much needed source for creating new builds. There is a bit of concern around adding more player power into the game this early. Typically such systems are not added to the core game after the season to prevent power creep and bloat of systems. We’ll have to see what Blizzard chooses to do.
For those looking to prepare for the Season of the Malignant, I have a few recommendations. First, you want to complete the campaign on at least one character. This will let you jump into the new content when it releases. Furthermore, try to fully explore the world map and find all of the Altars of Lilith. This progress will carry over into the new season, which will also start you off with a small Renown boost.
Diablo 4 Season of the Malignant releases on all platforms on July 20.