Diablo 4 devs deny pay-to-play rumors: “We’ve been very clear and consistent about it” during Campfire Chat where we learned more about the upcoming Abattoir of Zir and Midwinter Blight events

Diablo 4 Campfire Chat November 30
(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

What you need to know

  • Abattoir of Zir starts on December 5 with the srop of Patch 1.2.3 through until the end of Season of Blood and will be more difficult than a Tier 100 Nightmare Dungeon.
  • Midwinter Blight, the first holiday event starts December 12 through to January 2 and will be an opportunity for players to beat the Red Cloaked Horror and earn cosmetics, aspects and elixirs.
  • Diablo 4 has no plan to introduct 'pay to play' mechanics like purchasing stash tabs.
  • Helltides will now be an hourly event. 
  • Itemization changes are a priority, and will be arriving with Season 4.

The holidays are nearly here and you know what that means, more bludgeoning demons. At least if you're a Diablo 4 player. Diablo 4 devs sat down for another Campfire Chat to discuss what to expect from Abattoir of Zir which releases on December 5, and the game's first holiday event, Midwinter Blight which drops on December 12 amongst other updates coming to the game.

Will 'pay for power' come to Diablo 4?

Developers Joe Shely, Joe Piepora and community director Adam Fletcher, before diving into other updates, wanted first to address a common question that they have been receiving on social media and in the live chat, will 'pay for power' come to Diablo 4? Joe Shely was quick to respond with an unequivocal "No."

"We've been very clear about this, throughout, and very consistent about it." The question comes after weeks of speculation over what the cost of Vessel of Hatred. Diablo 4's first expansion will be, which has led to rumors it will include extra stash tabs. Extra stash tabs being only for players that have paid for extra DLC would be classed as paying for advantage, but Shely directly addressed this in his response to the question by mentioning stash tabs specifically, and that the devs consider a player having enough space to be basic functionality and not something they would want people to pay for. 

Everything you need to know about Abattoir of Zir

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

The Abattoir of Zir was first mentioned at the Diablo 4 Blizzcon 2023 and introduced as an end-game pinnacle dungeon event. This will be an extremely challenging activity that can only be started by players who have completed their season journey. Therefore you'll need to have finished Chapter 7 of the Season of Blood before you can start the Abattoir of Zir when it drops on December 5. To kick the event off, you'll need to craft a Bloodforged Sigil at the Occultist, in the same way we have to craft a sigil to enter the Glacier Fissure and fight the Beast in the Ice. 

(Image credit: Diablo 4)

The Abattoir of Zir sounds familiar in the gameplay loop to the Greater Rifts of Diablo 3, in that it's a timed event. You'll need to race against time to fill up the progress bar by slaughtering everything in your path until a boss spawns which you'll need to defeat. We got our first look at the gameplay in this Campfire Chat and you can see the timer ticking and the progress bar filling as this Sorcerer tears through the dungeon.

Completing the Abattoir of Zir will award the Tears of Blood Glyph. This incredibly strong glyph boosts rare nodes within its range on your paragon tree, but unlike other glyphs which cap at level 21, the Tears of Blood Glyph will cap at level 210.

You'll be rewarded with a Tears of Blood Glyph by completing the Abattoir of Zir which you can level up to 210, ten times the amount of normal glyphs. (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

You'll also receive a recipe for another Bloodforged Sigil, for one level higher than the one you crafted last at the Occultist, meaning you can head back into the Abattoir of Zir at the next highest level and fight even harder enemies. There are 25 difficulty levels in total, and the difficulty spike between each level is much higher than you would expect from your average nightmare dungeon. Monster scaling in the dungeons is not just based on damage, but their health scaling will also increase as you climb the difficulty tiers. Piepora emphasized that the intention is not to make monsters hit so hard that it one shots the player, as that isn't fun gameplay, but instead the focus will be on whether you can kill the monsters fast enough to be able to complete the dungeon. The Tears of Blood glyph will help with your damage output.

If you die in the Abattoir, you lose your chance at completing that particular dungeon and you'll need to reforge another sigil to enter. This is perhaps where the Abattoir differs the most from Greater Rifts, as deaths in Diablo 3 simply meant your time to complete was increased, but with the Abattoir it's one sigil, one chance. This is true whether there is one player or four within the Abattoir, so don't let your party down!

Abattoir of Zir goes live with Patch 1.2.3 on December 5. The event will end when Season of Blood ends on January 26, 2024, but we can look forward to further challenges coming with Season 3.

Will other Season abilities come back in other seasons like the Malignant powers?

Malignant powers from Season 1 Season of the Malignant made their return on November 7 in the form of rings, and here's how to get a Malignant ring in Diablo 4 if you don't already have one. Devs answered a question in the intro about their intentions with season powers like this, and while they don't anticipate keeping all season powers as this would be overpowered, they are definitely constantly studying what in the seasonal themes resonate with players to make their decisions on what to keep, which is why they ultimately chose for 5 specific malignant powers to return as a permanent addition. 

Midwinter Blight starts December 12 and will be Diablo 4's first holiday event

The red cloaked horror's minions will erect snow sculptures all over Sanctuary in the Midwinter Blight. (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Festive fun is coming to Sanctuary! And by festive fun we mean more blood, more death, more demons.

A new character will join Diablo 4, Gillian the Bard who has probably the hardest job in Kyovoshad, trying to entertain and distract people from the misery and murder around them. Gillian comes telling tales of the Red Cloaked Horror and his minions. No, it's not Santa, it's new enemies for us to destroy and earn new cosmetics for our festive enjoyment. 

Defeating the Red cloaked horror and his minions will drop crafting materials to take back to Kyovashad to craft new cosmetics in the Diablo 4 Midwinter Blight. (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Defeating these new festive foes will reward exclusive cosmetics and a new elixir that gives a 10% boost to XP, which is double the normal boost given by elixirs in Diablo 4. This will be active in all areas, and not just the Fractured Peaks.

The elixirs, aspects and cosmetics collected during the Midwinter Blight will stay with the player when the event ends. The event commences on December 12 and ends on January 2, 2024.

Massive itemization changes

Developers agreed that the sheer volume of items dropping at high level is hard for the player to process and sort through to find decent upgrades, and they are looking at various ways to change this.

The developers acknowledge that the current system is too complex and random, making it hard to find meaningful upgrades and customize your build. They want to simplify and improve the itemization process, so that players can enjoy the game more and feel a sense of progression.

One of the main goals of the itemization overhaul is to give players more control and agency over their items. Blizzard wants to provide tools that allow players to modify and enhance their items, rather than relying on luck and RNG. They also want to reduce the number of affixes and factors that affect item quality, so that players can easily compare and evaluate their options. These changes are expected to make itemization more rewarding and engaging, as players can craft their own optimal gear.

Blizzard has already implemented some of these changes in Season 2, such as the introduction of new Vulnerable and Critical damage mechanics. However, they are planning to introduce more significant and comprehensive changes in Season 4, which is scheduled for next year. The reason for this delay is that Blizzard wants to test and refine the itemization system as a whole, rather than making isolated changes that could have unintended consequences. They are also working closely with the Diablo community and content creators, to gather feedback and suggestions on the itemization changes.

Itemization is one of the top priorities for the development team, along with endgame content. Blizzard promises to share more details and updates on the itemization system in the future, and will dedicate a whole developer stream to it when they are ready. The developers hope that the itemization overhaul will make Diablo 4 more fun and satisfying for everyone, and will be worth the wait.

In addition to the above, while farming bosses like Duriel and the World Bosses is encouraged, it's not the intention that these be the only place to consistently obtain i-level 925 gear, therefore some balancing is taking place around this.

Helltides will now be up every hour

Helltides will now be an hourly event in Diablo 4 (Image credit: Helltides.com)

In a direct response to player feedback about struggling for essential crafting materials like Forgotten Souls and Fiend Roses, Helltides will now be an hourly event.  This has also resulted from seeing the positive reaction to the continuous Blood Harvest that takes place in different places across the map for Season of Blood and is a welcome change. For myself as a parent who only plays at specific times and cannot necessarily get into a Helltide often enough to get the crafting materials I need, this is amazing news. 

Another great Campfire Chat

Overall it was another successful Campfire Chat for the Diablo 4 team, and again displayed an openess and honesty with the community I appreciate. Yes itemization changes are desperately needed, but the fact they are being worked on is enough information for us right now, and anything implemented needs to be done so with the right care and calculations — but it's great we get the chats to hear about what's being worked on behind the scenes.

I've been having a hell of a time in Season of Blood, though knowing Abattoir of Zir is just around the corner has given me the kick up the butt I needed to get my journey completed so I can take part. I hope to see you there!

Jennifer Young

Jen is a News Writer for Windows Central, focused on all things gaming and Microsoft. Anything slaying monsters with magical weapons will get a thumbs up such as Dark Souls, Dragon Age, Diablo, and Monster Hunter. When not playing games, she'll be watching a horror or trash reality TV show, she hasn't decided which of those categories the Kardashians fit into. You can follow Jen on Twitter @Jenbox360 for more Diablo fangirling and general moaning about British weather.