Season 1 Malignancy explained - Diablo 4

Diablo 4 Season of Malignance brings new ways to build your character and fresh rewards.


Diablo 4 Season 1 brings big changes to Blizzard's RPG, including new build options, frightening new enemies, and a fresh story. You can't transfer your character data, but you can send over other progress to give your new character a head start in their big adventure.

Our Diablo 4 Season 1 breakdown includes everything you need to know, including the Season of Malignance start date, what new content you can expect, and how data transfer works.

Diablo 4 Season 1 date

A man wearing robes is holding a writhing heart in his hands, surrounded by demons and monsters

Diablo 4 Season 1 begins on July 20, 2023, and it runs for three months, ending around October 20, 2023. The season patch will be available to download starting July 18, 2023, and the non-seasonal changes it brings, such as class tweaks, will show up in your game at that time.

How long is Diablo 4 Season 1?

All of Diablo 4’s seasons will last for three months, as Blizzard’s goal is delivering four seasons each year. You can expect season one and its battle pass to stick around until October 20, 2023, or thereabouts.

What’s new in Diablo 4 Season 1?

A figure of ambigious gender with no discernable facial features is holding their hands up, with a squirming, writhing heart exposed in their chest

Diablo 4 Season 1 introduces a new storyline that Blizzard describes as a side story, which takes place after the campaign events and you resolve the conflict between Lilith and Inarius. Your season guide is Cormond, a former priest at the Cathedral of Light who’s on a mission to rid the world of Malignance, a strange corruption that’s turning beasts, humans, and demons alike into bloodthirsty monsters.

Diablo 4 Malignant Hearts explained

The Malignancy is also behind the season’s new mechanic: Malignant Hearts. These items are similar to gems and come in four varieties – three color-coded Hearts that fit into slots of matching color in your rings and other jewelry – and a fourth, universal Heart that can go into any slot.

Malignant Hearts grant your character specific buffs and abilities that Blizzard says will help open new build possibilities. One example the team showed in the reveal livestream was a Heart that imbued enemies with electricity when you land a critical strike, which also has potential to change what role your character plays in multiplayer sessions.

Season 1 has 32 types of Malignant Heart to find, with multiple types of gear that has a chance of dropping with slots of different colors. You’ll find stronger Hearts the further you progress in the season story, and you can salvage Hearts you don’t want anymore to get crafting materials.

How to get Malignant Hearts

A warrior dressed in golden armor with a winged helmet is standing in the center of a dark room.

Getting Malignant Hearts involves tackling tough new Elite foes. Defeating an Elite exposes their corrupt heart, and if you use a Cage of Binding on it, the Elite will respawn as a more challenging foe with new spawns fighting alongside it. Defeat that version, and you’ll acquire their Malignant Heart.

Certain areas will also have Malignant Tunnels after you finish the season’s story. These mini-dungeons have a Malignant Outgrowth at the end. You can use invokers – special items crafted from salvaged Malignant Hearts – to activate one of the growth’s nodes, spawn an Elite, and get a Malignant Heart that matches the node’s color.

Will my Diablo 4 character carry over in Season 1?

You have to start a new, seasonal character to take part in most of Season of the Malignant’s new challenges, but quite a bit of your character data from the Eternal Realm – official Blizzard speak for Diablo 4’s endgame – will carry over.

The data that transfers includes map exploration, regional renown points earned, and Altars of Lilith that you activated. Aspects in your Codex of Power, XP, and gear will not carry over.

After the season update patch goes live on July 18, Blizzard recommends you log into whichever character you’ve made the most progress with. Diablo 4 will save that progress to your account and apply it to every character when you sign in as them, including characters on the Eternal Realm and seasonal characters.

For example, if you have a Barbarian who explored all of Scosglen and maxed out renown there, then you’ll have those renown points and that map progress already unlocked when you log in to your brand-new seasonal character. Say you also have a Sorcerer who’s covered all of the Dry Steppes. If you log into that character, their data will apply across your account as well, so your new seasonal character will have a significant head start with renown, potions, and skill points.

The same is true for any new characters you make in the Eternal Realm to play the campaign again.

Diablo 4 Season 1 Journey explained

A menu screen showing available battle pass rewards in Diablo 4 including armor and mounts

Each season will include a Journey, a set of chapters with objectives you can complete to earn progress toward your battle pass. Journey objectives encompass a variety of activities, such as clearing cellars or defeating a certain kind of enemy. You don’t have to clear every objective to progress the Journey, so if there’s an objective you don’t care for, you’re free to ignore it.

Completing Season Journey chapters will also earn you rare items, including new Aspects that you can’t normally get in your Codex of Power by completing dungeons.

Diablo 4 Season 1 Battle Pass

Diablo 4 Season 1 includes a battle pass with dozens of tiers, a free track, and a paid track. Neither track includes items that affect gameplay. You’ll only be earning cosmetics, mounts, and armor for your mounts, and many of the character cosmetics are usable by every class.

Favor, the currency used to level up your battle pass, comes from completing objectives and quests, defeating enemies, earning XP – essentially, everything you do in Diablo 4. If you have a seasonal character, you can also earn battle pass favor by playing in the Eternal Realm again.

Contributing Editor

Josh is a freelance writer and reporter who specializes in guides, reviews, and whatever else he can convince someone to commission. You may have seen him on NPR, IGN, Polygon, or VG 24/7 or on Twitter, shouting about Trails. When he isn’t working, you’ll likely find him outside with his Belgian Malinois and Australian Shepherd or curled up with an RPG of some description.

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