Diablo 4 had a lot to live up to, especially given the issues that plagued Diablo 3 and Diablo Immortal’s, well, everything. And at least at launch, Diablo 4 proved it was up to the task. The game is fun and addictive, but Blizzard Activision is nothing if not a company that follows current video game trends. That includes inserting a live service season system and battle passes into Diablo 4.
When Diablo 4 initially launched, the game featured neither season nor battle pass. Players could just explore open locations, participate in group events, and delve into the depths of hell for progressively stronger loot. However, Activision Blizzard promised that seasons and battle passes would eventually launch, and while that day isn’t today, during a recent dev stream, the company told audiences what to expect.
Diablo 4 Season 1: Start Time and Release Date
Shortly after Diablo 4 launched, Activision Blizzard posted a blog mid-to-late July. Well, now we have a more accurate release window.
Diablo 4: Season 1, dubbed “Season of the Malignant”, will release on July 20th at 10 am PDT, 10 a.m. PDT, 12 p.m. CT, 1 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. GMT, and all other corresponding global times. After this date, players will have several months to complete as much of the season as they can. There is also a pre-season patch scheduled to go live on July 18, but its current release time is unknown. Based on previous updates, though, you should expect it to go live either earlier that afternoon or perhaps later in the evening.
Diablo 4 Season 1: Battle Pass Costs and Rewards
Like many battle passes, Diablo 4’s pass is divided into two tracks: a free track and a premium track. The free one is, well, free, and will include 27 unlocks. The premium battle pass, meanwhile, will cost 1000 Platinum, which comes out to $10, and include a total of 90 reward tiers.
According to a recent blog post, purchasing a Premium Battle Pass will also net you the Coldiron Armor transmog set, Warded Mustang mount, and Coldiron Barding mount armor. Alternatively, you can spend 2,800 Platinum (approximately $25) to purchase the accelerated battle pass, which functions similar to the premium battle pass but also automatically unlocks 20 tiers worth of rewards as well as the “On the Warpath” emote, in addition to the aforementioned cosmetics. If you purchased the Diablo 4 Ultimate Edition, the game comes with an accelerated battle pass. Once the season star, just visit the Seasons section of the menu and hit the button to activate the pass.
Since battle passes will come and go with Diablo 4’s seasons, you will have to purchase a new one each season. Or will you? Many games with season passes dole out some premium currencies as battle pass rewards. For instance, progress through Fortnite‘s battle pass enough, and you can earn enough digital cash to buy a battle pass without using a credit card. Diablo 4‘s Premium Battle Pass will also reward players with Platinum, but only 666 coins worth. If you want to earn a free Platinum pass ticket, you will need to purchase more than one season pass. Moreover, even if you own the Diablo 4 Ultimate Edition, if you want access to the next season’s Premium battle pass, you will have to buy another ticket.
However, please note that you do not have to purchase a battle pass to access the rest of the Season 1 update. For that matter, you don’t have to purchase a battle pass to access the most substantial content on the battle pass. The only things that “free” players will not be able to unlock on the battle pass are the premium cosmetic items. All other unlocks will be available to all players. Even Smoldering Ashes (which unlock gameplay boosts) will be available to free and premium Battle Pass owners. However, because those Smoldering Ash rewards are tied to your Seasonal character’s level, you won’t even be able to unlock them early simply by spending money on the battle pass.
Diablo 4 Season 1: New Content and Additional Details
Each Diablo 4 season is meant to keep the game alive and acts as post-game content, and that is especially true with the upcoming season.
The Season of the Malignant will take place after the main Diablo 4 campaign, so in order to access seasonal content, you need to complete the main story first. That isn’t a recommendation; Activision Blizzard is locking out anyone who has yet to finish the main story. Still, players who participate in the Season of the Malignant will witness a malignant force (pun definitely and defiantly intended) corrupting the creatures of Sanctuary, twisting their hearts and turning them into bigger and more dangerous threats. Everything in the world, from regular animals to humans and even demons, can be afflicted. The season will also revolve around a new character, Cormond, who is trying to cure this plague.
Quite fittingly, the Season of the Malignant’s main gimmick will focus on this malignant threat. All elite monsters will have a chance to spawn as a Partially Corrupted variant, which is stronger than usual and also sports some malignant pustules. After (or if) you slay this creature, it will drop a Malignant Heart. Anyone who interacts with it using a Cage of Binding — which is obtainable through the seasonal story campaign — can spawn an even stronger monster, known as a Fully Corrupted enemy. Success will yield a Caged Malignant Heart, which can be socketed into equipment like a gem, but only if the item includes a special Infested socket. Once the heart is jammed into to an item, it will unlock some potentially broken (in a good way) builds and abilities. Unlike gems, though, once a Caged Heart is equipped, you can’t unequip it, only replace it with a new/different heart.
Plus, Caged Malignant Hearts follow a unique color pattern and can only attach to coinciding sockets. Players can collect over 32 Caged Malignant Heart abilities. Moreover, during the Season of the Malignant, players can acquire new Legendary and Unique items, as well as Malignant gear, which is more powerful than normal versions. Furthermore, anyone who wants a specific type of Caged Malignant Heart can use Invokers within Malignant Tunnels, which are special areas that spawn Malignant enemies more often in the wild, as well as a new boss, Varshan the Consumed.
The seasonal pass, the Seasonal Journey, will be divided into seven chapters, each with their own objectives and rewards. These include crafting materials, unique Legendary Aspects, and Favor. The first two are self-explanatory, but Favor is crucial to progressing through the battle pass. The more Favor you earn, the more tiers you will unlock in the pass. Many rewards will be cosmetic and include emotes, weapon and armor skins (that aren’t class-specific), and character titles. The battle pass will also include non-cosmetic rewards in the form of Smoldering Ash, which are a currency you can spend to either acquire or upgrade Season Blessings. Depending on the blessing you choose, you will see a marked increase in XP, gold, salvaged materials, and Obols. Unlike other rewards, Smoldering Ashes will be level-locked; players need to reach level 40 to use and acquire them.
Diablo 4 Season 1: Character Resets Explained
For the most part, Diablo 4’s seasons seem fairly standard, but they are already subject to controversy. Turns out you can’t use the character who saved Sanctuary during the main campaign in this or any season. Instead, you have to create a fresh-faced hero and select the “Seasonal Realm” during character creation instead of the main “Eternal Realm”. And again, you need to complete the main campaign with at least one before you can participate in seasonal content.
As a tradeoff, seasonal characters will begin their journeys with a mount and won’t have to trek through the campaign. You can only unlock battle pass tiers and access seasonal content with seasonal characters, and once each season draws to a close, they will be transferred to the Eternal Realm, progress and all. Them’s the breaks, but on the bright side, at least all cosmetic rewards are account-bound, so you can use them with your main character. Plus, this system will give you an excuse to try out different classes and builds.
Unfortunately, you can’t just make a new character when the Season of the Malignant drops. Starting July 18, you have to log into a character you already own. The client will read all of your game unlocks (cleared dungeons, Altars of Liliths, etc), so pick the one with the best equipment and most world progress. The game will then link all that progress to your account and be grandfathered into all future seasonal characters.