Since Diablo IV launched, I burnt out pretty quickly post the review period and so didn’t play through Season of the Malignant. However now that Diablo IV has launched on Steam on October 17 alongside Diablo IV’s second season, Season of Blood, I have spent the last few weeks diving back in and that levelling fire is back in full swing. It has helped that I have been levelling a Necromancer with curses and summoning minions, so I was sucked right into the new story quest and seasonal content. With Diablo IV also available on Steam, now is a great time to jump into the game with plenty of choice for engaging activities throughout Season of Blood that runs through to January 24, 2024.
Rolling a new seasonal character, I noticed some of the barriers to seasonal entry had been removed such that I could campaign story skip to get straight into the seasonal content which I greatly appreciated. If you want to start from level 1, you’ll play through the base game’s story campaigns as per normal, only now there are increased experience gains, so my character levelled much faster than at Diablo IV’s release. If you choose to skip the story campaign which I did on a new Necromancer, you’ll dive straight into a ghoulish story as you travel and fight alongside vampire hunter Erys, voiced by Gemma Chan. Erys recruits us to join the fight against Lord Zir, marking the beginning of the Season of Blood.
The story progression crosses over with seasonal objectives at times which is a clever way to get the players involved in the new content both from a story and gameplay perspective. The next thing I noticed was several quality-of-life updates around inventory. Gems no longer take up pack space and I could search my stash for items which is a godsend, and mark items as favourites or junk. Using the sell all junk option is so much faster now to empty my pack after a questing run and more towns have stashes now which is handy. Horses move faster now too and can finally charge through blockades which makes the horse dismount skill much more appealing.
The minimap has been zoomed out to display more of the surrounding playable areas and being Season of Blood, there is now a rotating Blood Harvest zone. Travelling to the active zone allows you to earn Hunter’s Acclaim reputation which unlocks tiered items on billboards in towns and collect blood lures and seeker keys. You need to turn in blood lures at designated locations to be able to summon blood seekers that drop potent blood and seeker keys. Seeker keys are even rarer drops and allow you to open seeker caches that contain pact armour, consumables, and potent blood.
Potent blood has become the hot new resource to farm as these power up some of the 22 new vampiric powers within the character menu, and pact armour is crucial to equip these powers. Mousing over a vampiric power shows three symbols which are pacts, ferocity, divinity and eternity, and their cost. The use of vampiric powers relies on you finding pact armour that will have some or all three pacts. For example, if a vampiric power requires 1 ferocity, you need to equip at least one amour piece that has 1 ferocity on it before you can activate that power. After learning a vampiric power, you can spend potent blood in the powers tab to take its might to the next level. Each power can be upgraded to a maximum of level 3, and up to five powers can be equipped to your character at a time.
While armour has a random chance of having some or all pacts on it, standalone pacts are used to add a specific type of pact to an armour piece of your choice. This is providing the maximum amount of that pact type isn’t already on that item. Similarly, cleansing acids are used to remove pacts from an item, allowing you to adjust and mold your vampiric powers and pact armour combinations on the fly. These items can be found by killing blood seekers in blood harvest zones, completing the season journey quests and within opulent coffins.
In terms of end game content outside of the seasonal story quests, some new end game bosses have been added in world tiers III and IV for players to work together to take down. Each boss has a variety of unique items they can drop, with some of those being exclusive to only that boss, as well as unique cosmetics to collect. Grigoire, The Galvanic Saint, requires you to gather enough living steel from the tortured offering in Helltide. The Echo of Varshan requires you to defeat grotesque debtors during Whispers of the Dead for a chance to receive parts of Varshan’s body. The Tree of Whispers guarantees a part of Varshan’s body. Once you have enough parts, including a Malignant Heart if you’re playing on World Tier IV, you can summon Varshan.
The Beast in the Ice (WT4 only) requires distilled fear while completing Tier 30 or higher nightmare dungeons. By the way, we can now teleport directly into nightmare dungeons as opposed to the entry point. After you have enough, visit the Occultist and craft the Glacial Fissure Nightmare Sigil, activate it, then you can fight The Beast in the Ice. Also in WT4, defeating a world boss or completing a legion event will net you exquisite blood. Once you have enough, you’ll be able to summon the Dark Master.
The last boss added with Diablo IV Season of Blood is the Echo of Duriel. Defeating both Grigoire, The Galvanic Saint and Varshan in WT4 allows you to collect Mucus-Slick Eggs and Shards of Agony. Once you have enough, you’ll be able to summon the Lord of Pain, Duriel. Out of this group of bosses, Duriel is the only one who has a chance to drop uber unique items including Doombringer (barb, necro, rogue), The Grandfather (barb, necro), Harlequin Crest, Ahavarion, Speak of Lycander (druid, sorc) and more.
I have been enjoying my time back in Diablo IV after taking an extended break from release burnout, and there’s plenty for me to do with Season of Blood content. I’m currently leveling a Rogue from scratch and the Necromancer. I am racing to get to WT3 and the extra experience gains with Season 2 is helping me get there much faster. The blood harvest zones are great as you’re bound to have other players help collect the blood lures and it’s exciting taking out the blood seekers. I haven’t yet ventured to the uber bosses yet but there’s plenty of time for me to get there as Diablo IV Season of Blood ends on January 24, 2024. If Blizzard can release additional story quests with each season, or at least every second season, I’ll happily keep returning to Diablo IV, especially if we end up getting a potential new class in 2024 with Diablo IV Vessel of Hatred.