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Everything you need to do before Diablo 4’s season 1

Season of the Malignant is almost here, but you have homework to do first

A hero of Sanctuary captured a Malignant Heart in a cage in Diablo 4 season 1 Image: Blizzard Entertainment
Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

Diablo 4’s first season, Season of the Malignant, is nearly here, and it will bring with it a host of new mechanics for you to check out. But before the season launches on July 20, there are some non-seasonal things you should complete first in Diablo 4.

In this Diablo 4 guide, we’ll list out everything you need to finish before the launch of Season of the Malignant later this month.

Complete the campaign

Diablo 4 - concept art of Lilith, the daughter of Mephisto. She is a horned woman with massive wings and an intimidating expression. Image: Blizzard Entertainment

The most important thing for you to do in Diablo 4 before season 1: Complete the campaign. If you’ve unlocked the Tree of Whispers and seen the credits, you’re in good shape. If not, get back in there and finish up the story before July 20.

There are a couple reasons for this. First, you literally need to complete the campaign in order to access any of the new seasonal content in Season of the Malignant or any future seasons. Second, and almost as important, is that the story for this season takes place after the main campaign. And while Blizzard has confirmed that seasons will just be side stories, there will likely be spoilers for Lilith and Inarius’ lovers quarrel.

Finally, finishing the campaign once on any character will give you the ability to instantly skip the campaign on all subsequent characters. That includes seasonal characters, so you can jump right into the new stuff at level 1 when Season of the Malignant starts.

Unlock your horse

If you’ve finished the Diablo 4 campaign, chances are you already have the horse and can bypass this section. But while you do get the horse quest from the campaign, unlocking your steed is technically a side quest, and you can miss it if you aren’t paying close enough attention.

Much like the campaign, unlocking your horse on one character will allow you to use the horse at level 1 on all subsequent characters. You’re going to need a fast way around Sanctuary when you’re leveling up in season 1, and the horse is easily the best way to travel in Diablo 4.

Uncover the entire map

A blank map of The Dry Steppes in Diablo 4 Image: Blizzard Entertainment via Polygon

Blizzard made some big changes to its original plans when it comes to the region-wide Renown system, and some aspects of your Diablo world will actually carry over from the Eternal Realm (the non-seasonal part of the game) and seasons.

The biggest and most important thing here is the map. When you first start Diablo 4, you have to spend a bunch of time riding around the map and uncovering every area in order to make your map functional and collect a bunch of Renown.

Starting in Season of the Malignant, your map progress will carry over to your seasonal characters. So if you’re missing a few spots on your map, that’s something you can fix now to make navigation a little more convenient and give yourself a significant bump to your Renown on July 20.

Grab every Altar of Lilith

A Barbarian grabs and Altar of Lilith in Diablo 4 Image: Blizzard Entertainment via Polygon

In a similar vein to the map, any Altars of Lilith you find will carry over into the following season. This is another pretty significant change from Blizzard, as originally the permanent buffs to stats from the altars would propagate to your entire account, but the Renown would not.

Starting in season 1, however, all Altars of Lilith will remain unlocked when starting a new character. This means that you can find all of them now to ensure that you start out with a massive chunk of Renown for your seasonal character on day one.

These are absolute must-have collectibles for any serious Diablo 4 players, as they actually do increase your character's power. Consult our guides if you need help finding the Altars of Lilith in the Fractured Peaks, Scosglen, the Dry Steppes, Kehjistan, or Hawezar.

Pick a class

This is something you won’t be able to do in-game, but is equally important as everything else on this list.

One of the best parts about the seasonal reset and making a new character every three months is the opportunity to check out a different class or playstyle. Maybe you played Barbarian at launch, and now you want to mix it up as a spell caster like the Sorcerer. Maybe you’re sick of being a squishy Rogue and want to get dangerous with the shapeshifting Druid. It’s good to have an idea of what you want to play before July 20 rolls around so you’re not stuck with class choice indecision on the big day.

Of course there’s absolutely nothing wrong with sticking to the same class every season. If that’s what you’re all about, it might be a fun idea to theory craft some different builds you’d like to try on your character just to shake up your experience as much as you can.

If you’ve already done all of this — you beat the campaign ages ago, you’re riding around in style, your map looks immaculate, and you’re ready to roll Druid next season — you’re as ready as possible for what’s coming to Sanctuary. Now all you have to do is stay hydrated once you log in for a marathon session on July 20.