season of the malignant

Season of the Malignant Mechanic Explained

The much-anticipated first season of Diablo 4 - Season of the Malignant - will introduce a new powerful item type called Caged Heart!

The much-anticipated first season of Diablo 4 - Season of the Malignant - will introduce a new mechanic related to a brand new type of an item. These items will be called Caged Hearts and they will replace Gems on Jewellery. They will be obtainable through special content when the Season starts, and will grant an unprecendented level of power to your characters.

Some details of the upcoming mechanic still remain a mystery, but we already have learned a lot about it. The game designers have shared plenty of info on the recent developer stream, as well as on the official website.

The mechanic will be available for all players on the Seasonal Realm starting July 20. You must finish the campaign to access the Season of the Malignant content - but remember, if you have finished the main story at least once on any character on the account, you can skip the campaign entirely and jump straight into the Malignant questline!

In this article, you'll learn all about the Season of the Malignant core mechanic, including ways to obtain and equip Caged Hearts, their powers, and new content types that come with the update. Continue reading below, and make sure to check out our Season Overview article to catch up on all the other news regarding the first-ever Diablo 4 Season!

Malignant Elites & Hearts

During Season of the Malignant, any Elite enemy you encounter in the Open World on in Dungeons has a chance to spawn as a Malignant Elite. Once you've defeated it, it will drop a special interactable object called Malignant Heart.

Click on the Malignant Heart to start a new encounter - the Elite will respawn and it will be even stronger than before, often enhanced by new buffs and other minions helping it. Complete this encounter to obtain an ultimate reward - a Caged Heart.

Caged Hearts & Malignant Powers

Caged Hearts are a special type of Gem that grants the character a unique ability and can be slotted only into a dedicated Infested socket on Amulet or Ring gear. Hearts come in four types: Vicious, Brutal, Devious, and Wrathful.

Infested sockets on gear come in three color variants - Red, Blue, and Green - each color corresponding to a certain type of a Caged Heart. Vicious Hearts can be slotted only into Red sockets, Brutal - into Blue, and Devious - into Green. Wrathful Hearts are special, since they can be inserted into any socket color, and the power they grant changes depending on the color!

All Jewellery items during Season of the Malignant will drop with special Infested sockets instead of regular Gem sockets. Jeweller vendors will also be able to add a randomly colored Infested socket to your gear. Once inserted into a piece of gear, a Caged Hearts cannot be removed - only replaced by another one, and that will destroy the currently slotted Heart.

When talking about the power level of Caged Hearts and abilities they grant, the developers have stated that Hearts will offer "an enormous amount of power - think Legendary item, maybe even a little bit more than that". There will be a total of 32 Caged Heart powers, and so far we've seen three examples:

Caged Heart of The Picana Vicious HeartCritical Strikes electrically charge the enemy for 2.89 seconds, causing lightning to arc between them and any other charged enemies dealing 64 Lightning damage.
Caged Heart of Focused Rage Vicious HeartAfter spending 68 Fury within 2 seconds, your next Non-Basic Skill's Critical Strike Chance is increased by 34% (Barbarian Only).
Caged Heart of The Malignant Pact Wrathful HeartVicious: Gain 22% Attack Speed.
Devious: Core and Basic Skills have a 17% chance to fully restore your Primary Resource.
Brutal: Every 19 seconds, gain a Barrier absorbing 88 damage.

Malignant Ichors & Tunnels

In Season of the Malignant, a new type of currency will be added to the game - Malignant Ichors. They come from disenchanting Caged Hearts that players are not planning to use, and they can also drop as random loot in various Seasonal content.

Similarly to Caged Hearts themselves, Malignant Ichors come in four types - Vicious, Devious, Brutal, and Wrathful. Ichors are regarded as Crafting Material and will be stored in the corresponding tab without occupying any Inventory or Stash space. However, it seems that Caged Hearts do require Inventory space as any other regular item or Gem in the game would.

Invoker is a new special type of an item that can be crafted with Ichors. Invokers are used in special Dungeon areas around the world called Malignant Tunnels that serve as a way to target-farm the Caged Hearts of the needed colors that fit your Jewellery.

Once you've completed a Tunnel, you will enter a special Invoke the Malignant event, where you will be presented with a choice of two differently-colored Malignant Hearts to interact with. Defeat the encounter to receive a Caged Heart of the chosen color!

There's also a chance that a new Special Boss will spawn in the Malignant Tunnel called Varshan the Consumed. It is currently speculated that it has either a random chance to spawn in a Malignant Dungeon (similarly as to how it currently is with The Butcher), or can appear during the Invoker Event.

That's everything we know about Season of the Malignant mechanic as of now! Stay tuned for more news and reveals as we are getting closer to the official Season start on July 20!

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