Diablo 4's first season has been revealed, and it kicks off rather imminently, on 20th July. It's called Season of the Malignant, and in a new post-campaign quest line, players will face off against Malignant monstrosities born of Lillith's corruption. Revealed as part of a developer live stream, a short trailer was revealed that is suitably eldritch, and we learned a little more about how the game's seasonal structure will all work.
In Season of the Malignant, players will investigate a mysterious illness plaguing the people of Sanctuary, with the aid of Cormond, a former priest of the Cathedral of the Light. Cormond, versed in all kinds of unsanctioned practices, will teach you how to harvest Malignant Hearts and convert them into build-altering powers.
These Malignant Hearts (of which there are 32 across four categories) can be placed in special Infested sockets in Jewelery, providing powerful new abilities to build around. Tracking them all down should keep players busy for a little while, and they can do so in the new Malignant Tunnels, replayable Dungeons full of fearsome foes that feature a new boss, Varshan the Consumed.
Now we get to what may or may not be a tough sell for a lot of players: Seasonal Characters. In order to take part in Diablo 4's Season of the Malignant, players will need to have beaten the Eternal Realm Campaign with at least one character. Further, they must start a new character on the Seasonal Realm (although you can skip the Campaign as per usual) from scratch to take part.
Once Season of the Malignant ends, characters on the Seasonal Realm will be transferred to the Eternal Realm, taking with them all items (including everything in your Seasonal Stash), but season-specific mechanics like the Malignant Hearts will no longer be active.
Blizzard explained the rationale behind this system, stating: "Seasons provide us with an opportunity to introduce innovative gameplay mechanics into Sanctuary for a limited time. Because Seasons reset, we can create crazy, fun Season themes in a vacuum without needing to worry about balancing it with the mechanics introduced in past or future Seasons—we start from a strong Eternal Realm baseline and build on top of it. Seasons are also a place for players to explore and tinker. We encourage you to try a new Class or different builds for a Class you’ve grown fond of—our Seasons are a chance to get creative while demolishing demons."
Season of the Malignant kicks off at the below times, depending on where on this mortal plane of existence you reside.
- North America: 10am PDT / 11am MDT / 12pm CDT / 1pm EDT
- UK/Ire: 6pm BST
- Europe: 7pm CEST / 8pm EEST
- Asia/Oceania: 2am JST / 1am AWST / 3am AEST
Will you be taking part in Diablo 4's Season of the Malignant? Begin a series of arcane rituals in the comments section below.