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Video Game / Diablo IV

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Return to darkness.

"By three they come. By three thy way opens. By the blood of the willing, we call thee home. Hail... Daughter of Hatred... Creator of Sanctuary... Hail... Lilith."
Curate Symon, Opening Cinematic Cutscene

After the destruction of the Black Soulstone, the defeat of the Prime Evil, and the fall of Malthael, Angel of Death, countless lives were lost and the people of Sanctuary struggled to rebuild through the darkest of days. 50 years have passed and, as some semblance of normal life returns, a threat as old as the land itself begins to stir and a legendary name resurfaces.

Diablo IV is the newest entry in the Diablo series, revealed at BlizzCon 2019. It was released on June 6, 2023 for the PC, Play Station 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X And S. The game features five playable classes, all returning from previous games: Barbarian, Sorcerer, Druid, Rogue, and Necromancer.

The game's first Expansion Pack, Vessel of Hatred, was announced at BlizzCon 2023, although little was revealed other than the title, that the setting will be the jungle of Nahantu, and it will feature a brand new class that has never appeared in the series before. A more in-depth reveal is planned for summer of 2024.

Official Gameplay Trailer, Official Cinematic Announcement Trailer, Official Release Date Trailer.

This game provides examples of:

  • Absurdly High Level Cap: The max level in the game is Level 100. Levels 1-50 are normal levels note , and levels 51-100 are "Paragon Levels." While getting to level 50 is fairly easy, the amount of XP required to gain a level increases sharply after 50, and skyrockets after level 70. To put it in perspective, it takes about 100,000,000 total XP to go from Level 1 to level 70. Going from level 70 to level 100 requires about 400,000,000 XP. It is only somewhat mitigated by higher World Tiers giving more XP for monster slaying, with a larger bonus each tier you go up. But you won't be getting any increase for quests or renown, so you will be grinding for a lot longer on the second half then the first half. For a little bit of perspective the XP required for leveling 1-80 is the same amount required to level 80-100.
  • Action Bomb:
    • As in III, Fallen Lunatics charge at enemies and explode as their only form of attack.
    • The Howl From Below legendary causes a Necromancer's Corpse Explosion to spawn a skeleton at the targeted corpse which runs at any nearby enemies and explodes.
  • Action Survivor: Prava somehow manages to survive demon attack and escapes from Hell with Donan's help.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Occultist and Jeweler prices go up based on the power level and quality of an item, meaning an end-game legendary will cost vastly more to modify than a lower level rare. Enchanting in particular costs more each time you use the service, even if you keep the original stat.
  • An Adventurer Is You: Just like the previous games in the series, there are five classes to choose from: Barbarian, Sorceress, Druid, Rogue, and Necromancer.
  • Agony of the Feet: Reverend Mother Prava steps in lava, barefoot, when Inarius's forces invade Hell and doesn't react at all despite her feet being horrifically burned.
  • Amputation Stops Spread: The Drowned possess a necrotic venom that quickly spreads and destroys living flesh. The only way to save a victim is amputating the infected limb as Lorath does with Neyrelle's hand.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • You can spend gold to re-allocate your ability points at any time you're not in combat. The cost of gold to do this is relatively cheap, meaning you're free to play around with builds until you find something that suits you or respec if you find a Legendary item that you really like. There's even a way to refund all of your skill points at once, in case you'd like to start over. In addition, refunding skills early in the game costs nothing at all, so you can try different abilities without being locked into anything due to lack of money early on.
    • Should you for some reason accidentally leave a legendary or unique item behind somewhere it will be transferred to your stash automatically. You can of course do this on purpose when grinding gold and mats, instead of trying to find space for the legendary just leave them and pick them up at your stash once back in town. You can do this with up to ten items. It also works on quest items and rewards.
    • One added about a month after release is the ability to teleport directly to Nightmare Dungeons, which makes it far easier to chain dungeon runs, when before in order to be time efficient it was best just get a lot of copies of the same one and run it over and over, which many found both boring and mind numbing. It also helps that there was a significant buff to the XP (around 80%) given for running a nightmare dungeon, which makes doing multiple dungeons in a row much more rewarding than it was in the past and the grind from 80-100 feel less of a slog.
    • In the event that you somehow die after clearing a Nightmare Dungeon with no revives, the game will let you revive infinitely, so you won't get kicked out if you still need to loot the place or upgrade glyphs. You will still suffer 10% durability loss, however.
    • On completing a Nightmare Dungeon, the glyph upgrade altar spawns with a protective barrier which protects the player from any negative modifiers that might damage or interrupt them. This allows the player to review glyph upgrade options in peace.
    • Starting a boss fight as a Necromancer will automatically spawn any missing minions without requiring a corpse. This is especially helpful if the player dies fighting a boss with no usable corpses to restock before trying again.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: In the village of Marowen, you can listen in on a conversation about how a woman spent the last of her coin on a supposedly magic hen who lays a golden egg once a year. The man she's talking to calls her a fool who'd been swindled, but the woman defends herself by pointing out how demons and magic are a real thing in Sanctuary, so why shouldn't a magic hen be real?
  • An Arm and a Leg: Ealda, leader of the Crane Tribe, had her left arm nearly bitten off by a demon in a past battle. Rather than let it kill her while she was pinned, Ealda forced the demon's jaws shut to sever the arm. She still wears the demon's skull as a trophy over her missing arm.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "Tell me, did they rejoice?" Lilith says this to Inarius once he confronts her. Lilith confirms that Inarius killed their son Rathma, but he did it because Inarius thought this would mean he "made it right to satisfy the Heavens". But when Lilith asks this question, Inarius is left speechless, since he got no answer from the High Heavens that this is what they even wanted him to do. Running Lilith through moments later also gets Inarius no answer, confirming to Inarius that his entire quest was All for Nothing and sending him into a Villainous Breakdown.
  • Artifact Title: Up to the launch story's ending, this is the only Diablo game in the series where Diablo himself does not appear. The closest that the Lord of Terror gets to an appearance is Lilith warning the Wanderer that Vagueness Is Coming after defeating her as the Final Boss, where Diablo is shown in extremely quick cuts as she describes his return, and that the Arc Villain of the Season of the Construct is one of Diablo's lieutenants.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The Pathfinding of followers and player minions has a tendency to get stuck on corners and in doorways.
  • Badass Normal: Several characters in the game are like this.
    • Neyrelle only has a limited grasp of Horadric spells, but she still is a skilled fighter and seals Mephisto in a soulstone.
    • Iosef. He only uses a club and is able to wipe out the whole village with the Wanderer's help.
    • Vigo is a normal human with a sword. Still, he helps you defeat the act boss, while piloting a suit which ultimately killed him.
    • The whole Cathedral of Light is based on this concept. They're just regular human (although skilled in a fight), without magic or artifacts and they manage to slay hundreds of demons and be the first human army to invade Hell. Subverted when Inarius fell in Hell and the army was slaughtered.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • When the player first meets Lorath, it's with his Face Framed in Shadow and carrying a deer to make him look more ominous. As he approaches, Lorath says "If you're going to come into my home and rifle through my things..." while tense music is playing. However, right after that, Lorath puts the deer down, with his face illuminated by the fireplace and the music fading out. He finishes his thought as "then at least have the decency to join me for supper. I'm bloody hungry."
    • Given the Darker and Edgier nature of the setting of IV compared to III, one could be forgiven for thinking an early-game sidequest series is going to end with a lot of pain and misery. But, that's not what happens. Eventually, Sister Octavia is possessed by one of the demons she exorcized from a human victim. The way the third quest is set up, it seems all but certain that Octavia will lose the fight against the demon, and you'll have to kill her. This seems especially true since you not only have to remake her holy chalice, but perform the ritual to exorcize the demon, despite having never done it before. But, thanks to a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work, you manage to perform the ritual correctly, the demon is extracted, and Sister Octavia lives. She even tells a member of the Corrupt Church to Get Out! just moments after she's been freed from the demon's control, and is likely in a lot of pain.
    • A similar twist occurs with the "Flesh and Blood" side quest. Yonca was sent away from her home as a child and returns now having not heard word from her father in years. A letter reveals that her mother had undergone some transformation that horrified the father and he drove her away from their home before committing suicide. During the final step of the quest, a woman's voice can be heard in the distance, seemingly setting up a battle with the transformed mother. Except the mother was only infected by the swamp and, while in pain, remains largely lucid and sane. Mother and daugther reunite and resolve to live together from now on.
  • Bald of Evil: Elias and Prava. They are both bald and are Co-Dragons of main antagonists.
  • The Beastmaster: The Druid, as he was in Diablo II. Wolves and Ravens are available as summons.
    • Astaroth also counts as one. He can summon Werewolves and rides a Cerebus-esque mount.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Iosef saves The Wanderer moments before Oswen attempt to sacrifice them to Lilith.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Inarius and Lilith are killed, which stops the invasion. Neyrelle has lost a hand and is on the run with Mephisto's soulstone, leaving for parts unknown to hide it away while Mephisto's scheming presence hangs around her. She sends a letter to Lorath letting him know of her intentions, so that he can stop her if it comes to that and he can help with the fallout of her actions. Donan is dead, with Lorath dragging his body out of Hell so he might be buried next to his wife and son. With the deaths of their leaders, the Church and Lilith's cult fall into disarray, preying on people in warbands. The Church in particular declares the Wanderer a heretic due to Prava framing them for Inarius' death. It's also stated a few times that killing Lilith isn't any more a permanent solution than it is for anyone else in her family, so there is a good chance she will come back again.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The aptly-named Eternal Conflict of angels and demons seeps into the focus here, with Lilith attempting to take over Sanctuary for her own ends and being willing to cause murder and mayhem to do it, up to and including a complete genocide of the human race so she could rebuild it in her own image. On the flip side, Inarius is so self-centered on his journey to get back in the good graces of the High Heavens that he created an entire Corrupt Church worshipping him so he could build an army for his war against Lilith without caring one iota for any humans beneath him. And the Cathedral of Light's own morals are dubious at best, such as sentencing Vigo the guardsman to an iron maiden-like suit of armor for taking a bribe that unwittingly let Lilith through his fingers and got his men killed. But considering they're the only hope humanity has against the imminent war, the Wanderer doesn't have much choice. Though any nuance in their morality is quickly thrown out the window after sacking Caldeum, with the Cathedral doubling down on their fanatic zeal and hatred of all things demonic. They even declare the Wanderer a heretic despite stopping Lilith and her demonic army, because the Wanderer didn't do it the way they wanted them to.
  • Blood Magic: As Lilith herself puts it, 'blood is the key'. Pretty much everyone recognises the magical value of blood, and everyone makes use of it in their own ways - not just Lilith and her demonic minions, but the necromancers of the Cult of Rathma, the druids of Scosglen, and even the Cathedral of Light. A player character is able to experience Lilith's memories thanks to ingesting her blood at the start of the game, and you can put its power to full use with spears, waves, and even golems of blood if you choose to play as a necromancer yourself.
  • Body Horror: The swamp of Hawezar infects people, causing their flesh to bulge in enflamed pink pustules across their entire body. As the infection progresses, more and more of the body is converted into swamp. The final stage of the transformation has the person literally put down roots as their body slowly and painfully transforms into plantlife.
  • Boss Arena Urgency: During the second phase of Lilith's fight, at health break points she marks a section of the arena and destroys it, progressively whittling it down to about a third of the initial size. This leaves less and less room to dodge her various area of attack spells later in the fight.
  • Bounty Hunter: In the post-game, you can take up this profession for The Tree of Whispers. You kill off those who made a deal with them but reneged, and in exchange they'll tell you about the locations of hidden legendary caches.
  • Burn the Witch!:
    • It's standard protocol for the Cathedral of Light to burn the wicked (criminals, demons, and those possessed) on a tall pyre, both to burn out their evil and to set an example to any would-be criminals of their own fate. It should also be noted that what constitutes a crime worthy of death isn't exactly strict or proportionate to the crime, such as one condemned prisoner who stole a loaf of bread.
    • Zakarum crusaders in at least one Hawezar village attempted to burn the local witches due to perceiving them as evil. Unable to find the local witch, they began burning random villagers to death to scare them into compliance. After filling a mass grave, a villager finally caved and the witch Eriman was burnt at the stake, with dire consequences.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Act 2 focuses on Lilith's attempt to acquire the soulstone containing Astaroth's essence. Act 4 sees Lorath conclude the soulstone is the Horadrim's best weapon against Lilith and it plays a critical role for the rest of the game.
  • Church Militant: The Knights Penitent are the standing army in service to the Cathedral of Light, trained to stand by Inarius to battle against the forces of Hell.
  • Continuity Nod: A side quest has a merchant reveal that as a young man he stalked a treasure goblin, hoping to use its portal to reach Greed's Domain as in Diablo III. Instead, the goblin knocked him out and stole his gold tooth.
  • Corrupt Church:
    • To say the Cathedral of Light and their worship of Inarius makes them the good guys would be an extremely generous exaggeration. In truth, they care very little for anyone that doesn't worship Inarius. Said people are tithed into poverty and left to fend for themselves as demons ravage the countryside. To the Cathedral, all non-believers are heretics, and any form of sin is met with torture and death. The more you learn and interact with them, the more it becomes obvious that they aren't much better than the demons they claim to fight.
    • In the Rogue announcement trailer, a priest hires the rogue to kill a number of targets and bring back their ears as proof. He claims they were a threat to his flock, but she doesn't seem impressed. Considering the cupboard full of severed ears he keeps, she might have a point.
    • Sidequests show that the Zakarum, a precursor religion to the Cathedral of Light who worship Akarat instead of Inarius, are a bit tamer and older than the Cathedral. But the quests you follow will show that at the extremes, they are not much better than Inarius' followers when it comes to dealing with non-believers and sin.
  • Crapsack World: Sanctuary was never a pleasant place, but by the time this game takes place, its reached a whole new low. It turns out that, between the Demonic forces and Malthael's Reapers, literally over 90% of all life on Sanctuary was wiped out, leaving the scant few remains to regress into a new dark age. What little remains of civilization is under the command of a fanatical, narrow minded Corrupt Church whose "god" couldn't care less about mankind. And this is all before Lilith appears.
  • Cursed with Awesome: The Season of Blood seasonal quest starts with the Wanderer being bit by vampire Lord Zir, giving them the ability to use potent vampiric magic. Normally this would leave the Wanderer subject to control by Lord Zir, but since the Wanderer was already corrupted by ingesting Lilith's blood, the Wanderer can use the magic with no downsides.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Donan is a capable and experienced combatant who fights alongside the Wanderer against literal armies of demons. Yet he is badly wounded in a cutscene by a barely animate damned soul, and dies from the resulting injury.
  • Darker and Edgier: This is one of the bleakest entries within the Diablo timeline. After the post-medieval fantasy of III, the death and destruction wrought by the Lord of Terror's army and his Prime Evils, as well as that inflicted by the ravages of Malthael and his Reapers, has plunged the world of Sanctuary back into the dark age. The atmosphere is also much darker, and corpses are considered a common sight and decorated around the wilderness or inside of dungeons and caverns (either impaled through stakes, or are tied up and dangling by their wrists). It's much more reminiscent of older, pre-Diablo III titles tone-wise.
  • Deal with the Devil: The Tree of Whispers is an ancient entity fond of offering deals. It can give you any knowledge you desire, but in exchange, when you die, a crow decapitates your head which then becomes a part of the tree for all eternity. This deal can also work in reverse: if you provide the Tree with constant knowledge, it will give you Complete Immortality.
    • A more literal case happens in the story where the Wanderer agrees to work with Mephisto against Lilith since they share a common interest.
  • Death by Materialism: In the cinematic announcement trailer. After having to travel to an abandoned town, enter a massive catacomb, be chased by a horde of ghouls, and use a blood sacrifice to get through the door, the treasure hunters are more concerned with coin than escaping. It cost them their lives when they're used as sacrifices to revive Lilith.
  • Defector from Decadence: A postgame sidequest chain involves a former Knight Penitent who abandoned the Cathedral after it descended into Knight Templar insanity following Inarius' death.
  • Devoured by the Horde: Reverend Mother Prava is torn apart by countless demons as Inarius's forces are overrun in Hell. Eventually subverted, as she survives and escapes Hell.
  • Dies Wide Open:
    • In the cinematic announcement trailer, the final shot of Symon is of his bloodless corpse suspended upside down, his face still frozen in a wide-eyed stare of mingled wonder and horror at the emergence of Lilith.
    • Donan dies with his eyes open while talking to Lorath.
  • Early Game Hell: While classes mostly even out as the game progresses, a few classes suffer a lot more in the early game then others.
    • If there's one class generally agreed to struggle during the early game, it's the Druid. On paper, a melee-ranged hybrid class that can turn into a Werebear is damn cool, and they can very well rack on the damage with the right gear aspects or affixes. In practice though, their skill tree requires a lot of synergy and without a decent drop to improve them, their overall damage output is leagues behind even the Barbarian. Most players started calling them the Hard Mode class as a result. Though once they actually start going, get the synergies and the legendary aspects, they go from struggling to kill a single Elite to mowing them by the dozens. It also doesn't help that one of the biggest reasons for the Druid's lackluster early performance is due to the fact their Class Masteries quests are not only a lot more difficult than the others (read: having to clear a Stronghold AND grind quest items after that), but you have to travel into Act II territory to get them, while most of the others either start with their masteries or get it somewhere in Act I.
    • The Barbarian early game doesn't fare much better. The classic Whirlwind Barb still tears mobs up like paper, and their overall damage is notably higher than Druid. But when a good number of the bosses are a "Get Back Here!" Boss where ranged combat is needed to even try to survive, and the sheer amount of damage you soak up just to get close didn't make up for your output, it turns what should be the Mighty Glacier into a nigh-suicidal Glass Cannon. It also doesn't help that a lot of enemy abilities punish the player for being too close, meaning you need to take certain passives and gear abilities just to maintain any kind of offensive momentum. Barbarian Arsenal, the ability to assign certain weapons to certain skills, is also pretty essential to understand, but it's unclear how to use it since there's no tutorial for it. And much like the Druid, the Barbarian's Class Masteries quests are in Act II, meaning you've got to play for a good while before you can get to them.
    • In the exact opposite of the trope, Sorcerer will sail easily through the early game. With even a barely optimized build you will destroy mobs, elites and bosses with little trouble. Then come the late game you will hit a pretty big wall that will require not only perfect optimization of secondary states on gear, such as Cool Down Reduction or Lucky Hit Chance, but you will need to have all your defensive skills on the tool bar just to hope to stay alive, and you will need to have the Firebolt enchantment equipped at all times so that you can actually do a decent amount of damage with the Devouring Blaze passive. Any builds not doing this are considered niche and for very specific reasons.
  • Eldritch Location: Hawezar, a swampy marsh land filled with monstrous snakemen and undead, is suspected by many of the denizens to be older than Sanctuary, that the swamp itself is some Eldritch being who while not evil, isn't good either.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The priest of Nevesk serves as this for the Cathedral of Light as a whole. He summons the populace of a small town to service, all of whom file in obediently with smiles, and then immediately launches into a tirade about their sinfulness and lack of gratitude. This focus on hatred for humanity's imperfections defines their religion.
  • Evil Weapon: In a Fractured Peaks side quest, you are sent to retrieve the axe wielded by a serial killer known as the Woodsman. It's soon revealed the axe is actually host to a demon called the Woodsman, who twists anyone who holds the axe into a murderous madman.
  • Eye Scream: In the Kyovashad stockades, there is a man name Vilek who had his eyes plucked out of his head by a woman named Theya. She put his eyes on a necklace and, somehow, he is still able to see through the eyes despite them not being in his skull. You can get his eyes back for him and he pops them back in the sockets, at which point they catch fire due to Theya's infernal magic.
  • Face–Heel Turn: In the postgame, with Inarius dead and the prophecy they based their entire religion around proving to be a crock, the Cathedral of Light abandon any and all pretenses of ostensibly being on humanity's side and descend into roving bands of murderous Knight Templar little better then the demons themselves. And they especially have it out for the Wanderer due to Prava having framed them for being involved in Inarius' death.
  • Failed State: Kehjistan was already struggling in III, but a near constant demonic siege of the kingdom eventually led to Hakan II abandoning everything except Caldeum. The city's sacking likely means the end of Kehjistan as a single nation.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Each of the five areas you travel across have their own distinct cultures that draw very heavily off of real life.
    • The Fractured Peaks- A very heavy Eastern European/Russian styled culture who dress in heavy furs and speak in thick accents, of the regions they are the most fundamentally religious.
    • Scosglen- A mix of Irish and Scotland, they have a very deep connection with the Druids and don't like the Cathedral presence attacking their beliefs and traditions.
    • The Dry Steppes- Mongolia has the strongest influence as a strong and hardy people who don't take to kindly from outsiders trying to change their way of life.
    • Kehjistan- The Middle East, especially evident when the Cathedral sacks Caldeum in a holy crusade, but they are a nomadic people who make a living being the center of trade.
    • Hawezar- It's a swamp full of Witches, so, of course, you're going to get a lot of Louisiana-styled Voodoo culture.
  • Fission Mailed: On acquiring Elias's finger, the Drowned Temple begins to fill with water. The player can make a dash for safety, but inevitably is swept away by the water and seemingly drowns, only to wake on the coast.
  • Foreshadowing: During Act I, the map in Kor Valar shows the Cathedral positioning forces for the sacking of Caldeum in Act V.
  • Genius Loci: Hawezar is this. A local saying goes "The swamp always wins", and implies that the region is somehow sentient.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere:
    • The Butcher can randomly spawn in any dungeon, regardless of what other enemies are present. It will make a beeline straight for the Wanderer and attack relentlesssly until one of them dies, despawning if victorious.
    • In a nod to his infamous status as this in Diablo II, Duriel is once again this, encountered beneath Caldeum without in-game context or justification for his presence (a common guess is that Lilith got him to become a guard dog ala Baal back in II). The player even wonders what the hell he is. Once defeated, no one comments on it or brings it up again.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Cormond attempted to save his priest and mentor Varshan by drawing out Lilith's corruption with a Cage of Binding. Instead, the imperfect Cage caused Varshan to transform into the first Malignant who spread his plague to everyone he touched.
  • Grand Theft Me: A disembodied Vizjeri attempts to steal the Wanderer's body as a replacement, but is stopped either due to a malfunction in the spell or the Wanderer's will.
  • Great Offscreen War:
    • Implied. Multiple paintings inside Cathedral-affiliated castles depict Knights Penitent fighting against Zakarum Crusaders, although the nature of this conflict is never explained.
    • The Days of Ash was a period of time where the demon Astaroth and his minions ravaged Scosglen. Even decades later, reminders of that time are deeply painful and the site of Astaroth's defeat is a burning wasteland.
  • Guide Dang It!: The game has a few mechanics that it never explains. Standout offenders are:
    • The Barbarian Armory system. By default, the game auto-assigns which weapons your character uses with their skills, but it is possible to manually assign certain weapons to your skills, and knowing how and when and which weapons to assign is key to maximizing your DPS output as a Barbarian. The game never explains this system.
    • Silent chests are chests that you find dotted around the landscape that require a "whispering key" to open. So where do you get a whispering key? From the Purveyor of Curiosities vendors in major cities around the world. Not that the game ever tells you this.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The Blackweald Company of mercenaries were hired to fight against Astaroth's demons during the Days of Ash, but what they witnessed broke them. They became obsessed with fire and tried to continue the Days of Ash by pillaging and burning towns.
  • History Repeats:
    • Timue initially refuses to send the Wanderer to the Tree of Whispers because she has seen the same tragedy play out countless times before. A bargain struck, a life lost, and Timue forgotten by Lorath and Neyrelle, all of which come to pass.
    • Just as Diablo ended with Aiden becoming a hooded wanderer in possession of Diablo's soul stone, Diablo 4 ends with Neyrelle donning a hooded outfit and taking Mephisto's as far away as she can, her fate uncertain.
    • In III, Kehjistan was suffering from demonic incursions and the citizens seeking shelter in Caldeum were turned away when the demonically possessed Hakan II sealed the city and abandoned them. Prior to IV, the worsening incursions caused Hakan to seal the city and abandond the rest of the empire once again, this time of his own volition.
    • This is the second time Inarius has built an organization called the Cathedral of Light. When he led the first Cathedral, his conflict with Lilith who had recently escaped the Void led to the Cathedral's destruction, Lilith's banishment, and Inarius's imprisonment in Hell. The conflict between the former lovers this time leads to the Cathedral being greatly weakened, Lilith being slain and left to reform, and Inarius torn apart by the souls of the damned.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Curate Symon saw a kindred spirit in Elias due to their shared love of knowledge. As a result he constantly overlooked the signs of the man's true nature despite everyone else they met seeing the truth.
  • Humans Are Bastards:
    • The trio of treasure hunters plus a priest, who a sidequest reveals is named Symon, had gone to a tomb seeking great treasures, willing to let each other die if they could get more gold with the only good-natured member being killed for it; their selfishness and Symon's Despair Event Horizon unseal Lilith for their troubles. And this becomes a recurring theme throughout the game, as humanity are a creation of Lilith and therefore exposing the sin in their hearts is her way of taking control for herself, while the Cathedral of Light dangerously tread the line to being little better than tyrannical crusaders in Inarius' name, much like the Mephisto-corrupted Zakarum were back in Diablo II.
    • A recurring theme in general is people doing horrific things to other people. This is in fact, Lilith's specialty, to bring the worst out of people and turn them into monsters that turn on the innocent. But as mentioned above, she's not the only cause of this.
    • By the end of the game, with Inarius fallen, the Cathedral of Light has turned into nothing more than crusading marauders under a banner of faith, and Lilith's own followers were left to the proverbial wolves. Sanctuary is left vulnerable to demons taking their fill at the same time what's left of society are the towns and outposts still standing, as everyone else is out for each other's blood now.
  • Human Sacrifice:
    • In the cinematic announcement trailer, it takes the sacrifice of three humans to bring Lilith back to Sanctuary. Two go unwillingly, but Symon, already suffering from a gut wound, is broken enough to complete the ritual of his own volition.
    • In the Prologue itself, Nevesk's townsfolk seem like your average RPG town, right up until they drug you and drag you off to be sacrificed in the name of Lilith. Too bad a monk they had done the same to saves your unconscious ass, rouses you to fight back, and ends up making the Wanderer a Spanner in the Works.
    • Then there's the scene where Lilith's second-in-command is busy carving runes in a woman's skin, but needs blood to concoct the ritual. He looks to his bodyguard, who then looks to a random cultist, who then nods solemnly and slits his own throat.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: Prior to patches, the super unique rare monsters in the open world could drop items with power levels up to 840, where most items are capped at 820. In exchange, they had fixed secondary stats which limited their usefulness to specific builds.
  • Infinity +1 Sword:
    • The Harlequin Crest/Shako Head Armor Unique returns from Diablo II, except this time in lieu of the depreciated Magic Find stat it has a new effect: an unconditional 10-20% damage reduction and +4 ranks to all skills, roughly increasing all damage by 40%, which makes it the best Head Armor for every build possible without contest. The drop rate of the Harlequin Crest is appropriately rare: a week into the game launching, only one was found among the millions of players.
    • The Caged Heart of the Barber in Season 1 was recommended for every build due to its ability to massively amplify damage. After dealing a critical strike to an enemy, the enemy absorbs all damage suffered for a brief period which is then released as area damage. Against groups, this effectively multiplies the damage dealt.
  • Iron Maiden: A secret weapon of the Knights Penitent are massive suits of enchanted armor that can empower a man to fight on even footing with some higher class of demons. The torso of these suits is lined with spikes like an iron maiden, ensuring whoever pilots the suit will not survive after. Vigo submits himself to the suit to atone for his crime of letting Lilith pass into the ruins and claim a key to the Burning Hells.
  • Ironic Name:
    • "Elias" is a form of a name Elijah. In the Bible, Elijah fought with the cult of Baal. Elias, on the contrary, helps Lilith, who is related to Baal.
    • Prava also counts as one. Her name is a word for "righteous" in several Slavic languages. However, in Italian, it means "depraved". Every of these options match her in some ways.
  • Just Before the End: Sanctuary is in a major decline after Malthael's crusade. The mass death of much of humanity has caused many of the old kingdoms and institutions to collapse or lose most of their power. Survivors have fallen into a new dark age only worsened by the constant assault of demonic forces. The High Heavens have gone silent while the Prime and Lesser Evils are all free for the first time in centuries. Against this backdrop, Rathma's prophecy which foretells the end of Sanctuary is coming to pass.
  • Keystone Army: Inarius is the lynchpin which holds together the Cathedral's army during their invasion of Hell. His death so thoroughly demoralizes them that their forces near instantly rout.
  • Leaking Can of Evil: The Soulstones are constantly referred to as this. They are the only method of imprisoning an arch-demon even temporarily, and it is more reliable than simply killing them, as they reform in Hell in short order. However, the demons inevitably get out and corrupt the people carrying them.
    • Astaroth's soulstone is implied to be the cause of many of Scosglen's current troubles despite Donan's best efforts to suppress it.
    • The denouement shows that Mephisto was barely contained by the Soulstone he was imprisoned in, with Neyrelle looking like his pawn more than his captor.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Necromancer minions can be very useful in the early game, both for the damage they deal and their ability to tank enemies while the player keeps their distance. However, by mid-game they are often killed by single hits from most enemies and their damage potential pales in comparison to what the Necromancer can dish out.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": The Cathedral of Light's reaction when Inarius is killed in Hell. They're overrun by demons shortly afterwards.
  • Mini-Mecha: The Penitent Armor used by the Cathedral Knights is a massive combat golem powered and piloted by the human sacrifice sealed inside it.
  • Newbie Immunity: The game will allow you to refund any skills you have, but for a gold cost. However, refunding skills early in the game costs nothing at all, so you can try different abilities without being locked into anything due to lack of money early on.
  • New Game Plus:
    • After completing the Campaign story at least once, anytime you create a new character you will have the option to skip the campaign and go straight into the world fresh. Mixed in with a bit of Anti-Frustration Feature, if you finish the renown goals every new character (per realm) will start out with the awards (10 skill points, 5 extra potions, and 20 paragon points). Same with the attribute powers given by the Altars of Lilith, you can still find them, but it just gives renown. Renown can still be earned but the only reward is gold.
    • Story wise, many NPC will have new conversations and dialogue options that take into account all that has happened after completing the Campaign. The popular Sister Octavia for example when doing her quest on a new character will have dialogue options talking about Inarius' death and the fact you are currently wanted by the Cathedral.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Donan inviting the Cathedral of Light into Scosglen has led to many locals converting and turning their backs on the Old Ways. Unfortunately, this has resulted in the destruction or defacing of the wardstones which kept the khazra and other monsters at bay. Many villages are facing starvation because their fields have been overrun and the Cathedral is uninterested in defending them.
    • Zakarum crusaders seeking to convert and "save" the residents of a Hawezar village burned the local witch Eriman. Doing so allowed the demon he had bound in his body to enact a ritual which destroyed the village and trapped its residents in perpetual agony.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • Donan convinces the party, mainly Lorath, to help Prava after finding her badly injured in hell, hoping this act of goodwill will lead to a Heel–Face Turn in the fanatical leader, and maybe make the church an actual force of good and not Inarius' vanity project. But after returning to Sanctuary it becomes pretty obvious that Prava did not appreciate Donan's favor. The Cathedral has changed their doctrine and stated that Inarius sacrificed himself to destroy Lilith, becoming even more fanatical in their purging of sin, and being little more than psychopaths in robes. Also, they hate you and the Horadrim now and try to kill you on sight.
    • There's also a sidequest named "No Good Deed", in which you free the Triune cultist from her cage, only to be attacked by her.
    • A man in a gibbet pleads with the player to free them and asks for help taking revenge on the bandits who had left him to die. He's actually a bandit himself and he tries to give you to his boss as an apology.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: In the cinematic announcement trailer, the tomb raiders leave one of their number behind without a second thought, and then act like he willingly sacrificed himself for them. One even says that "gold splits better three ways instead of four" and presses on. This returns to bite the trio HARD in their asses, as the one left behind is Elias himself.
  • Off with His Head!: In the teaser trailer for the Necromancer, she uses blood magic to resurrect a dead person then decapitates him, turning his skull into a totem which she later uses to summon skeletal minions.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The reaction of Symon in the trailer when he realizes they've entered a gate for summoning Lilith.
    • Elias has one in Act 5 when the player reveals they've found the source for his immortality AND have destroyed it.
  • One Curse Limit: In Season 2, Lord Zir is able control anyone he infects with his vampiric blood. The Wanderer proves immune to this corruption as the taint of Lilith shields them.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Some of the peoples' vague Russian accents tend to vanish, while some people are Not Even Bothering with the Accent.
  • Order Versus Chaos: The release trailer illustrates the conflict between the High Heavens and the Burning Hells, with an army of disciplined armoured knights, under the leadership of the archangel Inarius, maintaining an organized shield formation using massive pikes, fed through strategic gaps, to impale a charging horde of disorderly, rabid demons.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Sister Octavia, in comparison to the rest of her Corrupt Church. Most people who are subjected to Demonic Possession are simply killed as it's believed there's nothing they can do for them and that they are sinners. Octavia tries to actually save the lives of those who are possessed and even feels bad when she can't save all of them.
    • Rakhaan, whose questline brings you to various cursed artifacts and he has you put the souls to rest. It turns out though that he's actually possessed by a demon - who actually tells the truth when he says he intends for no harm. The Deal with the Devil actually turned out to mutually benefit both people.
  • Phlebotinum Rebel: After the events of the Prologue, the Wanderer was supposed to be another Human Sacrifice but was bailed out just after they'd been fed petals of Lilith's blood. This gives them the capability to reach into her "darkness", see memories of the past and begin to trail her. Now they have to stop Lilith, or lose their mind as one of her many human thralls.
  • Post-Final Boss: After Lilith's defeat, the Wanderer and Lorath return to their hideout and find out that Neyrelle's vanished with Mephisto's Soulstone, but before they can pursue her they are suddenly confronted by Iosef, who reveals that the Church has declared the Wanderer and the Horadrim heretics after Prava claimed that they helped cause Inarius' death, forcing you to kill him and his men.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Penitent Armor is a Mini-Mecha fielded by the Cathedral of Light. The interior is akin to an iron maiden, slowly killing the wearer in order to power the armor. The death of Vigo implies many of the armors may be worn by other penitents who would otherwise have been sentenced to death.
  • The Prophecy: The Cathedral Of Light and Inarius believe that the return of Lilith is the beginning of a prophecy that will end with Inarius killing Lilith and as he returns to heaven fully redeemed he will take his followers with him.
    "I saw a corpse and from my mouth crawled Hatred, a father burns his children on a pyre, a mother molds a new age from the ashes, I saw the weak made strong, a pack of lambs feasting on wolves, tears of blood rained on a desert jewel, and the way to Hell was torn asunder, then came a spear of light, piercing Hatred's heart, and he who was bound in chains was set free" - Rathma's Prophesy.
  • Prophecy Twist: Rathma uses Exact Words for his prophecy, and doesn't say exactly what it all means. Inarius, so angered at Lilith for his betrayal, contorts its meaning that he is the one that will kill the Daughter of Hatred via gaining the key to Hell, only to end up being the father referenced as being willing to sacrifice humanity for his ambitions as he's ultimately not The Chosen One. The desert jewel refers to Caldeum after it was ruined. The party grab a soulstone (a shard of the shattered worldstone, and effectively a spear of light in its own right) and plan to use it on the daughter of Hatred, but Neyrelle discovers Mephisto sealed in an incubation orb, and decides to switch her target to him. No telling if this has actually played into Mephisto's plans as the one who was (technically) chained, or if yet another like Diablo is to be freed from more literal chains.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Elias gives an absolutely brutal one to Lorath, leading to the latter swearing an oath to the Tree of Whispers in exchange for knowledge.
    Elias: "'Was it worth it?' That is a coward's question, Lorath. It suits you."
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Prava and Elias are the exact opposites of each other:
    • Elias is a pale, tall man, with thick black clothes and a lot of accessories, who serves Lilith.
    • Prava is a black, short woman, with thin white clothes, without any accessories, who serves Inarius.
  • Retired Badass: The innkeeper of the Under The Fat Goose Inn was once the strongest warrior of the Black Weald Company mercenaries, but left the group after they descended into murderous insanity during the Days of Ash and was forced to kill a good number of them when they burned an innocent village to the ground. In his questline, he's forced to take up his sword once more when the surviving members of Blackweald try to forcibly bring him back into the fold.
  • Scenery Gorn: The game has wonderfully detailed environments depicting a wide range of once-populated regions devastated by avalanches, fires, demons, bandits, and other mayhem. Even bastions of civilization are often festooned with gibbets, hanging bodies, and pyres built from human bodies.
  • Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can: The witch Eriman sealed a powerful demon in his body to protect his village. When Zakarum crusaders burned him at the stake, the demon enacted a spell which destroyed the village and trapped the residents as ghosts while Eriman's body burned perpetually.
  • Shoot the Dog: Rathma, the first necromancer and son of Inarius and Lilith, wasn't one to agree with his father's ambitions for redemption. Inarius subsequently murdered him to gain his key to Hell for daring to impede him as a desperate lashing out.. and then failed to realize Rathma's key was inside his own staff that Inarius impaled him with. This does not go over well when Lilith finds out, on top of the sheer pettiness of such an act becoming a cruel crime instead of Inarius being a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • Shoot the Medic First: Shaman enemies often join mobs of enemies and will resurrect them. As a result? Players oft keep their eyes peeled for them.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Unyielding Flesh quest features many references to Hellraiser. Featuring a man discovering pleasure from pain and bound by chains hooked into his flesh. The woman who helps him in this is named Yulia (much like the film's Julia) while Kristina is trying to stop this, much like the film's Kristi.
    • After meeting with the Tree of Whispers, the Wanderer is directed into entering an inconspicuous coffin to access a hidden location, which is met with substantial confusion by the Wanderer.
    • One sidequest is named "No Good Deed", which is a reference to Wicked.
    • The Vison of Sescheron has an Elite Barbarian enemy named Wulfgar.
  • Sidequest Sidestory:
    • Several sidequests begin a chain of quests which tell a small, self-contained story about the people of each region.
    • One of the more involved sidequests in Hawezar is trying to find Curate Symon after he leaves on a journey with a one-eyed swordsman. As you follow the questline, you will soon realize that you are actually learning about what happened to lead to the opening cinematic.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: During the invasion of Mount Arreat, a champion of the Crane Tribe fled rather than fight Baal's forces. For his cowardice, the entire Crane Tribe has been marked as outcasts by the other tribes.
  • The Social Darwinist: Lilith proves herself to be this; she believes that humanity has the highest potential of all races, but also that most of its populace has been made feeble and wretched. She admits she's not here to save humanity, but rather to empower them and let the strong kill off the weak, saying this as she watches a monk ripped apart by wolves.
  • Superboss:
    • Early in the game, the Butcher serves as a random form of this. It is significantly harder than any regular dungeon boss and can easily tear through an unsuspecting player, especially classes that rely on pets which it will ignore.
    • The Echo of Lilith is the only Uber boss of the game and is fought in the level 100 capstone dungeon. Taking what is already one of the hardest boss fights in the game and then ramping it up, she is widely acknowledged a the hardest fight in the game.
  • Survival Mantra: In the cinematic announcement trailer, as the summoner's magic breaks the bodies of the tomb robbers and suspends them against the pillars, Symon frantically prays "Eternal light protects me, eternal light protects me, eternal light protects me...". To his horror, the summoner simply says "There is no light here."
  • Swamps Are Evil: Hawezar is an exceptionally dangerous place to live. Aside from the insane cultists, venomous snakes, and Drowned, the swamp itself is partially sentient and hostile to everything other than itself. This most notably takes the form of the swamp's infection which slowly transforms its victims into parts of the swamp itself.
  • Take Your Time: Most questlines, including the main questline, will literally just sit around and wait for you to complete them in any order.
  • Technically-Living Zombie: Rakhaan, a relic collector in the Dry Steppes, is revealed to be this in his quest chain. Originally one of the countless victims of the Steppes' ancient Overseers, he was reanimated and possessed by a Demon who had decided to live in peace in Sanctuary after coming to enjoy the small pleasures of human society. The two now exist in a symbiotic state and work together to track down the Overseers' cursed relics, both to feed of their dark power to sustain Rakhaan's body, and to ensure their evil cannot threaten anyone else.
  • A Thicket of Spears: the Knights Penitent form a phalanx to meet a charging horde of demons when invading the Burning Hells alongside Inarius. The knights' shields even have grooves built in so massive spears operated by several knights together can put in the needed force to pierce demon flesh while keeping the front line safe.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Within the clergy of the Cathedral of Light you will notice as you do various quests for them that there are two very distinct camps, the lawful who carry out mass executions and torture in an effort to purge sin from the lands no matter what, and on the other side there are those who use the Light to help people in need who bend and even break the law in an effort to help the unfortunate.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Nevesk, the town you first arrive in in the game, at first seems to be a Tristram-like town fallen on hard times in the desolation that Sanctuary has become. But after you clear out a demon-ridden ruin for them, they throw you a party in lieu of actual coin, and then proceed to drug you and have you hauled off to be sacrificed. Turns out everyone in the town except for the poor guy raving about demons are demon cultists dedicated to Lilith, and you're only saved when the guy in question kills the guy trying to sacrifice you, and you have to kill the rest of the town when they arrive en masse to finish you off. This immediately sets a much darker tone for this installment of the game in comparison to previous Diablo fare.
  • The Unchosen One: The Wanderer is a mere incidental vagabond of their culture, respective to class, wandering into the region and nearly dying by frostbite and demons in the process. They end up a key part of the hunt for Lilith thanks to ingesting some of her blood but holding onto themselves, and becoming the Cathedral of Light's new go-to for their upcoming fight. And an unknown demon taking the form of a wolf with its face split in half seems to be keeping an eye on them in hopes of Lilith's defeat, even before the blood infusion, who turns out to be Mephisto playing The Long Game against his own daughter.
  • Unwanted Assistance:
    • The Zakarum Crusaders' venture into Hawezar is seen by this as the locals, who do not appreciate the crusaders' attempt to "stamp out evil" in the swamps.
    • The Wanderer does not want Mephisto's help and tries to refuse it repeatedly, only accepting when they have no other choice.
  • Vagueness Is Coming:
    • From pretty much the moment Lilith arrives on Sanctuary everyone becomes hell bent on stopping her, but almost no one knows exactly what it is she is planning, Lorath thinks she is going to cause a war with Inarius, Inarius doesn't care and just wants to kill her so he can redeem himself, and the Bloodied Wolf who seems to be some emissary of the Burning Hells refers to her plans as "a little rebellion". About the only clue is Rathma's prophesy and Lilith's own words hinting she plans to change Sanctuary somehow, but how that will affect mankind as a whole is unknown. The irony here is that the situation is the exact opposite of something Deckard Cain once said about demons being straightforward in their intent, but Heaven always being a mystery; here it is Inarius, the representative of Heaven, whose plan is painfully simple and straightforward, while Lilith's plan is mysterious and unknown.
    • Elias and Lilith both interpret Rathma's prophecy as a warning that Sanctuary will soon be destroyed by the revived Prime Evils. However there is very little detail about how or when their return will occur.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: While you're in town, if you do your character's "hello" gesture near a dog, they'll pet it. D'aaawww.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Added to the game's overworld are random animals, namely deer. They're docile and flee whenever combat or the player gets near... but if you're feeling sadistic or just plain trigger happy, you can attack and kill them.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: The Wanderer turns to face the camera just so we can see them vomit out the meager meal they had and the petals of Lilith's blood they had been force-fed.
  • We Were Your Team: Tyrael's departure broke the new Horadrim. Donan left to pursue family and other worldly matters, Elias turned his back on the order because he felt they were not willing to do what was necessary to protect Sanctuary, and Lorath retreated to a hermitage.
  • Wham Episode: After Elias' death, you can start a questline in Zarbinzet. The local priest asks you to look for his missing curate, Symon, who went traveling with a one-eyed swordsman and never came back. Soon, you find out the swordsman was actually Elias, and he eventually hired a thief and barbarian to accompany him and Symon. Then you get to the last quest and see the name of it: By Three They Come. You're following in the footsteps of the poor fools Elias sacrificed to summon Lilith in the game's opening cutscene.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Timue bargained with the Tree of Whispers, extending her life in exchange for giving it knowledge. Having long since grown weary of life, she sometimes wishes the Tree would let her die but it won't allow her to escape their bargain.
  • Wretched Hive: Of the five regional "capitals", Gea Kul of Kehjistan is this. Swollen with refugees fleeing from Caldeum, the town is controlled by armed gangs. Issat, a gang member whom the Wanderer can talk to, explicitly extorts them for a protection fee, adding that if they do not pay, they are expected to defend themself.
    • Backwater in Hawezar is a light version of this, despite its residents being mostly criminals,. Its mayor, Lyndon from III, tells the Wanderer he'll do whatever it takes to keep the peace.
  • Xanatos Gambit: In the end, almost everything plays out to make Mephisto win no matter what. If the heroes imprisoned Lilith in the soulstone, then at least two of Mephisto's greatest threats are gone — his daughter and the soulstone. If the soulstone was used on him, he's relatively safe while in his most weakened state, and has the ability to once again start corrupting humans and orchestrating another attempt at summoning his brothers to Sanctuary. The only outcome in which Mephisto would have lost would have meant letting Lilith have her way, and thanks to her actions, there was no way the Wanderer was going to let that happen.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The Cathedral of Light and the Zakarum are a lot more welcomed in their home territories then outside of them. Scosglen barely tolerated the Cathedrals presence, and even then it was only because of how much the people loved and respected Donan. The people of Hawezar have a love hate relationship with the Zakarum, appreciating the healers due to the swamp always spitting out some new disease, but wishing death and worse upon the Crusaders, who terrorize and persecute them for heresy.


Video Example(s):


Hell Impale

Led by Inarius into hell to slay Lilith, the Knights Penitent form a shield and spear wall to meet a charging horde of demons.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / AThicketOfSpears

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