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Diablo IV Season 1 breakdown and tips to get a head start

Blizzard has finally announced its plans for Diablo 4's first season. ARPG seasons work a little differently to seasonal content in other games, so if you're a first-timer, or have just never engaged in an ARPG season before, there are some important points you need to be aware of. Here, we'll break down all the Season 1 details and what you can do now to prepare and have an easier start. 

What is a Diablo IV season?

In Diablo IV, seasons are essentially a reset. Each season will introduce a handful of new items and a new gameplay mechanic for players to base a brand-new character around. To participate in a season, you will need to make a fresh ‘seasonal' character and you will need to do this for each season you want to participate in. Once a season is over, you will have the option to bring your character from that season to the  ‘eternal realm', so you can continue to use them in the standard game mode.

The fun of a season really comes in embracing the reset and getting experimental. Each season brings new items that can have a huge impact on gameplay, so the idea is you start fresh and experiment with new ideas to tackle content.

If you are a lore-head, then seasonal storylines should be a good pull. These will be self-contained stories that don't majorly impact Sanctuary, as Blizzard is saving the biggest story moments for future expansions.

If you decide you don't want to play a seasonal character, that does not mean there will be no updates for you in the standard game. While most content will be exclusive to seasonal characters, new unique items and legendary affixes will be available to all. Blizzard also reserves the right to bring a seasonal mechanic to the standard game after a season is over if it is particularly popular. This will not be happening with the first season's mechanic and will likely only happen in rare circumstances.

Diablo IV First Season Content Breakdown:

Diablo IV's first season is called Season of the Malignant. The story/theme has a malignant force invading Sanctuary, corrupting everything from wildlife to demons. We'll meet up with Cormond in Kyvoshad to figure out how to put things right. The season begins on the 20th of July.

The new seasonal mechanic revolves around a new type of item – the Caged Heart. This is essentially a new gem type that you can socket into your rings or amulet to enable brand-new effects. One early example shown is the Caged Heart of the Picana, which enables critical strikes to electrically charge enemies, causing lightning to bounce between nearby enemies. Blizzard has said there will be 32 Malignant Hearts to find, enabling new powerful builds. Blizzard has described some of the effects as ‘game-breaking in a fun way'. As I noted in my recent Diablo 4 review, these effects will hopefully shake up the meta and enable new types of builds and gameplay styles to shine.

To obtain Caged Hearts, you will need to defeat a Malignant Monster, which will then drop a Malignant Heart. You use the Malignant Heart to summon an even more powerful version of the monster. If you beat the boss, you get a Caged Heart.

Caged Hearts are separated into four types, three are colour-specific, while the fourth can be socketed into any slot. If you need a specific colour for your build, you can go to a Malignant Tunnel on the map, which will allow you to specify the coloured heart you want before summoning the enemy for you to fight.

As you play through the game, you will make progress on your Season Journey, which is split into seven chapters. You'll finish major objectives, like collecting a specific item, completing a dungeon or defeating a certain enemy type a number of times to complete a chapter and unlock the next one. These are just examples of early objectives, we would assume they will become a bit more difficult/meaningful later on. Finishing 7 of 9 chapter objectives will earn you a reward, including new legendary affixes for your Codex of Power.

Season Journey progress will fuel your battle pass progress. The Battle Pass has 27 free tiers, which unlock seasonal blessings, like bonus XP gain, or bonuses to currency drops. The remaining 63 Premium Tiers unlock cosmetic items for those who purchased the battle pass.

Each season will run for 12 weeks, so you'll have until the 12th of October to make as much progress as you want. As seasonal content is more experimental, you may run into situations where you just don't like the current seasonal mechanic. This is bound to happen to some players at some point in time, in those situations, you may just want to take a break and see if the next season can bring you back in.

That's all the information we have on the season for now. We'll have to wait until launch to learn more about the different Caged Heart effects, new unique items and legendary affixes.

How to Prepare for Season 1:

If you are planning on playing Diablo IV's first season, there are some things you can do now to prepare and have the easiest start possible for progressing a fresh character. Not all renown progress will transfer over to the season, but all claimed Altars of Lilith and world map progress will. You only need to have completed the map and Altars once and it'll unlock for all future characters, including seasonal ones. In order to ensure your progress is transferred over, you'll need to log in once on your highest progress character after July 18th. Unfortunately, Blizzard didn't have a more elegant, background solution prepared in time but the good news is, you'll only ever have to do this once.

Obtaining all of the map locations has an obvious benefit for future fresh start characters. Altars of Lillith may have been the thing you've been putting off, but the stat bonuses you get from obtaining all of them do really add up and will provide a big bonus for current and future characters you make. Doing all of this will grant the instant unlock of the first two Renown reward blocks. You'll earn the rest by completing dungeons, side quests and strongholds.

To participate in seasons, Blizzard requires that you have finished the campaign at least once on a character. You will still have the option to do the campaign again with a seasonal character. Completing the campaign once unlocks the option to skip the campaign on all newly made characters. Also, be sure to unlock all of your potions and your horse so you can start seasons (and newly made characters in general) with a bit of a boost.

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KitGuru Says: If you missed our KitGuru Games on Diablo IV's first month and our thoughts on the game up to now, you can check that out HERE

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