"We knew that we needed to build out the endgame, we've heard you — the endgame is important" Diablo 4 is taking us back to Hell for Season 5

Diablo 4 Season 5 Infernal Hordes
(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

What you need to know

  • Season 5 PTR (Public Test Realm) starts on Tuesday 25 June and will run for one week, ending on 2 July. It will be available to players with a PC Battle.net account. 
  • Season 5's theme will be a "return to Hell" bringing a brand new endgame activity, Infernal Hordes, and The Eyes of the Enemy questline.
  • A bunch of new Uniques are being added, as well as huge quality-of-life updates, such as no need to reset Boss dungeons and color changes for Mythic Unique items.
  • Season 6 has been officially confirmed to start on the same date as the Vessel of Hatred expansion, so Season 5 will be a short season running from August 6 to October 8. 

Despite Season 4 of Diablo 4 still being in full swing until August 6, and still going strong with more players than ever, today we got a developer live stream full of information on what to expect from Season 5. When the announcement was made that Season 5 would be getting a PTR (Public Test Realm) I knew we were in for something good, and boy was I not disappointed. 

Season 5 PTR starts next Tuesday, 25 June and will run for a whole week, where players can test a brand new endgame activity. Diablo 4 is taking us back to Hell to slay infernal hordes and bosses that some players may remember from Diablo 2. There will be a new questline, a bunch of new Uniques added to farm, as well as some pretty huge quality of life changes the community have been begging for. Without further ado, lets jump into what we learned. 

Season 5 PTR 

The PTR for Season 5, as with the previous PTR for Season 4, will only be available for PC Battle.net players. In our interview with Rod Fergusson, we did discuss if the team were looking at this for console players, and they are talking about the possibilities, but right now, it's still on PC.

There have been a few changes to the PTR since last time. There is now a character copier so you can test the patch with an existing character, and the Codex of Power will not reset every time you start a new one.

The developers also finally confirmed a question we've been debating in the community: whether Season 5 will be shorter due to the Vessel of Hatred expansion launching on October  8. We can now confirm that, yes, Season 5 will be a shorter season than normal, running from August 6 to October 8. Season 6 will commence with the expansion. 

Return to Hell in Season 5

"We knew that we needed to build out the endgame, we've heard you — the endgame is important" said Dan Tanguay, game designer. For Season 4, activities such as The Pit were added as a late endgame activity but the developers want to expand on this even more. Their aim with Season 5 is to add an activity with LOTS of monsters, high stakes, and covetable rewards. "We really wanted to return to Hell."

The Infernal Hordes

This will be a wave-based gameplay mode with survival-like choices in between waves, culminating in a final boss encounter. The rewards will build on top of the itemization that came in Loot 2.0 with Season 4. The activity begins in World Tier 3 in Zarbinzet, which will also be the location of a new 'The Eyes of the Enemy' questline.

You'll need a new type of key, that works similar to a nightmare dungeon sigil, called a Compass. All 'Compasses' have a starting monster difficulty and a limited number of revives, with 8 levels of difficulty, escalating challenges, and rewards. You'll be able to level your Compass up with a new consumable 'Abyssal Scrolls'. Hell Compasses can be found by defeating Endgame Bosses, Helltides, Nightmare Dungeons, and Whispers.

Dan later confirmed in the Q&A that we can expect a monster difficulty of 180-200 in the 8th level. A Hell Compass will be granted to you upon completing the newest Eternal quest.

Wave 1 of an Infernal Horde level (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Infernal Hordes has time-limited waves, lasting 90 seconds each. Enemies will drop a new currency named Burning Aether which is only for use in Hell, and you will spend on the Spoils of Hell after defeating the final bosses.

At the end of each wave, you are offered a choice - what will be your destructer? You need to pick a Boon and a Bane that will impact the rest of your run. 

Diablo 4 Campfire Season 5 Livestream

Which infernal offer will you accept? (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Choose wisely—Infernal Offers will stack across the duration of your Infernal Hordes run. Many can be active at the same time!

The Fell Council

The Fell Council are the final Bosses you must defeat in the Infernal Horde activity. These are hellishly resurrected versions of the council from Diablo 2 — who those familiar with the Diablo lore know were former high priests of the Zakarum. Trusted to watch over Mephisto's soulstone, who inevitably fell to corruption. There are 5 Fell Council Members in total, each equipped with different unique abilities. Every time you face the Fell Council, there will be 3 different members to fight you – each three will be selected to fight you at random. Be wary of their unique abilities in the various combinations you’ll encounter them.

There are several chests available once you've defeated the Fell Council, named the Spoils of Hell. You'll use your Burning Aether to open these.

Choose from the Spoils of Hell (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Choose which you want whether that be

  • Spoils of Equipment
  • Spoils of Materials
  • Spoils of Gold
  • Spoils of Greater Equipment
    • This Spoil of Hell guarantees an item with a Greater Affix!

New Uniques added with Season 5

Part of the new endgame activity, is the ability to farm brand new Unique items. These can drop anywhere in the game, as with other Uniques, however the Infernal Hordes will be your target farming location. 

  • Rogues- The Umbracrux - Unique Dagger 
  • Barbarian - The Third Blade - Unique Sword
  • Necromancer - Mortacrux  - Unique Dagger
  • Druid - The Basilisk - Unique Staff
  • Sorcerer - Vox Omium - Unique Staff
  • All classes - Rakanoth's Wake - Boots

There will be 10 Uniques in total and over 20 legendaries to farm. In addition there will be more new unique and legendaries added to the entire game (over 50 was mentioned). Those will not be available in the Season 5 PTR but they will be available at launch. 

More Unique updates

You can now target farm Uniques from 3 additional sources:

  • Obol vendors
  • Helltide chests
  • Whisper Caches

 - Example. if you want a specific Unique weapon, you can simply target weapon from the Obol vendor and have a chance to get Unique weapons for your class This is also true for Mythic Uniques! However, if you get a Mythic Unique from a non-slot target, then you'll get a random one

- Example. You want Harlequin Crest. You can get that or Andariel's Visage from Helm chests in Helltide. If you got a Mythic Unique from a Gloves chest, it would give you a random one instead.

The chance to find Mythic Uniques through all non-boss drop locations has been increased.

Uniques will be improved overall 

The developers said they want to address the issue of Uniques no longer being as attractive an item since the Loot 2.0 update, as you can Masterwork and Temper legendary items to be so powerful now.

Uniques should be powerful exciting items that direct players to builds. Once you pick up a Unique, they want you to know if it's a good one or a bad one, and they want them to be rare chase items that players don't see very often. The goal with Season 5? Players build their Legendaries. Players build around their Uniques.

Ideally want players to run 2-4 Uniques in their build, you shouldn't need a full build of them, but right now players are using 0-2 and they'd like this to be more.

The general idea is to move away from generic "fits all builds" style of Uniques. They only want Mythic Unique to fit this role, In general, Unique doesn't want to be the best in the slot for absolutely everyone, and they should encourage players to target exactly what they want to be good at. This will be implemented in a few ways: 

  • Increasing the upper power of Unique effects and the roll range from an average of 10 to 20 rolls
    - Example: Old Unique that increased damage dealt was between x40-80%, now can be x40-100% or x40-120%.
  • Updating stat affixes. Changing stats to fit with Season 4 updates.
    - Simplify stats when appropriate
    - adding stats you would normally get from Tempering
    - Example. A 2H Weapon Unique will more likely have bonus Projectiles to compete with Tempered weapons
  • Update stat power levels and effects
    - Stats that fit the theme of the Unique are better (ex. + Fire damage on a Fire Unique)
    - Stats that are generically good and don't fit the theme of the Unique don't have higher values (for example +Damage)

Mythic Uniques will now be Purple, hurray!! I was personally overjoyed as I've accidentally salvaged at least two Mythic Uniques during the course of my Season Journey. They will also make a new sound when they drop, so it will be glaringly obvious to the player that they have one. 

Improvements to Helltide whisper activities, and Tempering rolls 

(Image credit: Jennifer Young - Windows Central)

Helltide & how Whispers interact

Ideally they wanted these to be an opportunity for players to drop in and gain a bunch of value in 15 minutes. Instead, they have been about 30-45 minutes to complete (the Whispers), which missed the goal. Helltide Whispers will now be chunkier (the devs word not mine).

We’ve now made it so that there are always enough Whispers to earn 10 Grim Favors within a given Helltide, should now take significantly less time to complete. Additionally, icons have been updated to be consistent with other Whispers.

Baneful Hearts

We made some adjustments to the Heart drop rates used to summon the Blood Maiden. These were dropping a bit too frequently, and while maybe not a QoL thing in some players' eyes, we want them to feel more valuable.

Tempering

We believe it's important that items have an end point so that players aren't hoarding tons of them forever on the chance that they can all be good.

- Currently the RNG is completely out of players hands, which we agree doesn't feel great. We're looking at ways for players to have more control over the RNG in the future.

For Season 5 we get plus one tempering roll per Greater Affix. This won't be in the PTR but will be in for Season start. This will be retroactive to all gear in the Eternal Realm, so if you have kept bricked items, you will get the extra rolls on your eternal stash stuff.

New inherent damage on weapons

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

We’re now allowing more classes to use different weapon types. This includes updating innate affixes to be more useful across classes and adjusting their conditional requirements. For instance: 

  • Sorcerers will now be able to use One-handed Swords and Maces.
  • Druids will be able to use 2 handed pole arms, 1 handed swords and daggers
  • Necromancer  can now use all swords and axes

This also opens up some Uniques to other classes, for example, Butchers Cleaver for Necromancer and Doombringer and Azurewrath for Sorcerer.

Huge quality of life changes to the Boss Ladder

You no longer need to reset dungeon to farm Duriel (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Something I didn't think we would see for a while, a huge improvement to endgame farming, is the ability to just place Boss materials in the cauldron to summon the boss after each fight. That's right, no more leaving dungeon > reseting dungeon > entering dungeon again. My character's feet can finally rest!

Additionally, Beast in the Ice has been improved.

  • You no longer have to make a sigil to summon the Beast In Ice
  • The Beast now lives in a standard dungeon
  • The crawl to find the boss has been removed

The body parts to summon Varshan has now been reduced from 4, to 1. It was taking up too much stash space. 

Q & A 

The developers finished as ever with a short Q & A, which I've paraphrased here:

Q: Are there any new class buffs coming to Season 5? Specifically Druid and Sorcerers?
A: Yes. We hear the feedback on these classes. The short answer is yes we are looking at beefing these up. Barbarians are notoriously difficult to balance because of the arsenal system and how thats impacted by the other changes we implement. We are looking at the other classes to give them the same treatment as we did with the Book of the Dead with Necromancers.

Q: Infernal Hordes - can I play this on Eternal and Seasonal, is it ongoing?
A: This is for building out endgame specifically so yes it will be available for both Eternal and Seasonal. The version of it being tested in PTR will be the Eternal version.
Q: What is the equivalent Pit or Nightmare dungeons level of the 8th level in the Infernal Hordes?
A: 180-200 monster level

Q: Do you forsee changes to group play in The Pit to make group play more efficient?
A: There will be changes but these won't be in PTR. We're aware it doesn't feel great to receive 50% rewards and we will have an update before Season 5 start.

Q: What's the teams philosophy on rate of power gain? It seems that Tempering makes players too powerful too quickly removing the tension of levelling up, is there any plans to add more friction? For example adjusting Tempering cost?
A: The leveling experience has been sped up because we want people to get to endgame activities as quickly as possible and enjoy that content, but we have heard the feedback on early Tempering recipes being strong. It will be looked at but not for Season 5.

Q: Did you say we can Temper Uniques? Are you open to letting us imprint affixes? Even if only once?
A: Right now no. But we won't say never. We want Uniques to have a very different identity to Legendaries.

Q: How is the dev team feeling about Season 4 and is that making them rethink plans for future seasons?
A:  We've been hearing a lot of great feedback and people have been enjoying it, and a lot of that is because we had a PTR. We know the PTR is important when introducing huge features. We knew how much the quality of life changes that were made were impactful and would be received well.

Q: What is the Seasonal theme?
A: We haven't announced the name for the season yet, but we will be going back to Hell and that is pretty much the theme. The Infernal Hordes and their rewards are just one part of this. When we have our Season 5 live stream we will go into more detail on what to expect from Season 5. The focus for this stream was just what players can expect from the PTR.

Q: Can we expect loadouts?
A: We are still working on this.

There are no plans for an Auction House right now. 

The PTR starts next Tuesday via Battle.net. Please provide feedback using the forums, Reddit, social media, the community discord, etc. Full patch notes for Patch 1.5.0 are here.

Diablo IV Campfire Chat - Season 5: PTR | June, 2024 - YouTube Diablo IV Campfire Chat - Season 5: PTR | June, 2024 - YouTube
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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.