Diablo IV’s much-awaited season 1 update will release July 20, nearly a month-and-a-half since the game debuted to rave reviews. Dubbed ‘Season of the Malignant,’ the update was shown off during a developer live stream, held early Friday, detailing new quests, items, and further focus on its battle pass.
As the title suggests, the upcoming season introduces a brand-new questline where the realm of Sanctuary is slowly getting corrupted by a plague, turning all living things into Malignant Monsters with new powers. The chapter is set after Diablo 4’s main campaign where you bested Lilith, Daughter of Hatred, to rid Sanctuary of evil, and serves as a side story within the open world. The season starts at 10:30pm IST/ 10am PT.
As a festering curse widens its reach across Diablo IV’s Sanctuary, the player will be summoned back to Kyovashad at level 1 to meet a new character Cormand, a former priest from the Cathedral of Light, who assigns us the new task of ripping the infected hearts out the Malignant creatures and using them to raise our power. Elite monsters you find in the world have a chance of spawning as a Malignant version, who upon defeat, drops an exposed Malignant Heart.
You can interact with this item to start a ritual that spawns an even more powerful version of the elite enemy, surrounded by a group of corrupted mobs. Once you kill that — yeah, it’s double the work — you earn a Caged Heart, which essentially functions like a gem that can be slotted into rings or amulets to tremendously boost your power. It’s a way for you to create “stupid, new broken builds” that the developers hope are rightfully balanced.
During Diablo IV’s season 1, all ring and amulet drops will come with coloured sockets — red, blue, or yellow — that will only accept similarly coloured hearts’ powers. You cannot pair a red heart in a blue socket, as the game directs players to look for specific colours of items. Maybe if you’re lucky enough on your hunt, you will uncover a mysterious fourth colour of heart, which can be socketed onto any jewellery.
There are a total of 32 Malignant Heart powers to collect, albeit you will run into even stronger versions of those as you keep playing the game. Any old, now useless hearts can then be broken down into crafting material that can be used to create Invokers. These can be used once you finish the Diablo IV season 1 campaign, at a Malignant Tunnel, where you can hunt for guaranteed hearts. Remember: Malignant Hearts are quite rare when looking for in the overworld.
The season 1 journey will be spread across seven chapters, each with its own set of objectives and rewards, by way of new items and Favor. The latter is crucial to progressing Diablo 4’s battle pass by helping you unlock rewards — the more Favor you earn, the more tiers you unlock.
It is also worth mentioning that there are two kinds of battle passes here — a free tier where everyone can earn in-game boosts and a paid Premium Tier, where the rewards are all cosmetics. Upon launch, Diablo IV merely featured an in-game shop that simply contained skins, with the game never luring you to buy any of them. Hopefully, the trend continues as Blizzard Entertainment focuses on expanding the game in the years to come. The studio already has two expansions in active development.