With set to , 2023 will be a big year for action RPGs. But there’s more to look forward to beyond this year. On Thursday, – an indie studio founded by Phil Shenk and Peter Hu, two former Blizzard North developers – announced the hiring of Diablo series co-creator Erich Schaefer. In an interview with , the studio said Schaefer will serve as lead creator director on a new action RPG. Details on the project are sparse, but what Moon Beast shared with Schaefer was reportedly enough to convince him to come out of retirement.
“We have ideas for changing the genre with a different approach to progression and trying to solve some of the problems that are beholden to PvE games, especially games, like the Diablo franchise has dealt with,” Shenk told GamesBeat. All three men worked on Diablo II. Notably, Shenk is credited as the game’s lead character artist, and was responsible for designing the appearance of a few of the game’s character classes, including the necromancer and assassin. Lord of Destruction, Diablo II’s excellent 2001 expansion, features a tribute to Shenk in the form of a monster you must slay to complete one of Act V’s quests.
Schaefer told GamesBeat Moon Beast currently employs about 12 people, making it smaller than many of the other studios working in the ARPG genre. The good news is Schaefer has plenty of experience leading small teams. At Runic Games, he made Torchlight with a team of about 25 people. "I want to work on projects that are fun and genuinely try to do something different," Schaefer said. "It’s impressive what the Moon Beast team has built in such a short time. It fired up my imagination with possibilities, and that's a huge part of why I wanted to come aboard."