The archetype from the original Diablo returns, although with much more flexibility.
The original Diablo included a bow-wielding Rogue, but she didn’t reappear by name in Diablo 2 or Diablo 3. Over 24 years later, she’s finally making a comeback. The Rogue will be one of the first available classes in Diablo 4, joining the previously announced Barbarian, Sorceress, and Druid. Blizzard revealed the news during the BlizzCon opening ceremony today.
In the original Diablo, the Rogue was a ranged combat expert. That’ll be one possible build with Diablo 4’s Rogue, but series regulars will also recognize shades of the Assassin from Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction and the Demon Hunter from Diablo 3. If you want to go with traps and shadow magic, those will be viable options. As far as weapons go, Rogues can use swords, daggers, bows, and crossbows.
Earlier this week, I briefly spoke to Diablo 4 game director Luis Barriga about the class. It’s a high mobility class, as you’d expect, with several abilities that involve movement, such as the Dash melee ability.
“You dash forward, hit everything in your way,” says Barriga. “It’s not the most damaging ability, but because you move so much with it, it’s a very versatile ability. It lets you reposition, it lets you enter combat, it lets you wait for the enemies to do their big attack and then move in, and then get out of the way.”
It’s also possible to take the Diablo 1 “keep away” approach with a ranged build, and although Diablo isn’t the sort of RPG that involves stealth in the typical way (you’re there to kill everything), the Rogue does have some sneaky flavor.
Rogues have three possible specializations in Diablo 4. One of them is Shadow Realm, an ultimate ability which is literally used to escape into the Shadow Realm, where the Rogue becomes stealthed. It can also be used to separate enemies into manageable groups by pulling some of them into the shadows with you, where you get one second of invulnerability and deal 50 percent extra damage.
Another specialization comes from The Diablo 2 Assassin class: the Combo Points system. Combo Points are gained by using certain abilities, and spent with certain other abilities, which get an effectiveness boost from them. It’s a system that keeps players cycling abilities, and it’s also seen in World of Warcraft’s Rogue, as well as Valeera in Heroes of the Storm.
The final Rogue specialization is Exploit Weakness, a new “high skill, high reward” system which “lets you take advantage of more twitch-based gameplay,” says Barriga. With Exploit Weakness enabled, an icon will appear over the heads of enemies when they initiate certain attacks. Counter-attack when the icon appears, and you’ll get a big damage bonus.
These specializations will involve class-specific quests, too. “You will work with one of the world groups of Rogues around the world in Sanctuary,” said Barriga during a Diablo 4 stream following BlizzCon’s opening ceremony. “Whether it’s the Sisterhood of the Sightless Eye—the remnants of that Order—that you choose to work with, or the mercenaries of Kehjistan, or the outlaw smugglers of the swamps of Hawezar.”
(Note that the Sisterhood of the Sightless Eye is the group the original Diablo 1 Rogue was a member of.)
During that stream, Barriga and art director John Mueller also talked about the imbue system, which allows Diablo 4 Rogues to modify their attacks with elemental and other modifiers, such as Frost or Poison.
“Rain of Arrows with Frost and Rain of Arrows with Acid is completely different,” said Mueller. “You’re essentially freezing the battlefield [with the Frost imbue]. And then, I just love Poison imbue because of the gruesome deaths that all the monsters experience. And we’ve had a ton of fun making that art, so, it’s always fun to see a field of goat men melt into nothing. You just kill everything on the screen in a gory mess, which never really gets old.”
As someone who almost always picks a rogueish character in RPGs—the thieves and assassins are always the coolest—I’m glad to see her show up again in Diablo 4.
Diablo 4 was announced at BlizzCon 2019, but no release date was set back then, and no date has been announced here. It’s expected to be in development for a while longer, and will feature a big open world which contains other players, with horses to ride and PvP zones to brave. We’ll continue to update our guide to everything we know about Diablo 4 so far as we learn more this weekend.