It’s been over a decade since Diablo III gave players the opportunity to return to the world of Sanctuary. While Blizzard Entertainment experienced a somewhat mixed response at launch, Blizzard Entertainment has spent this time correcting course and refining the series’ core gameplay loop.
Diablo III’s release week was plagued by a plethora of bugs, to the point that “Error 37” has become a recurring meme over the years – and not just in the Diablo community. This was followed by backlash after the real money auction house went live, a system that allowed players to sell or purchase gear for their characters. After dropping the RMAH into space and developing an overhauled loot system to match the new endgame content, Diablo III’s Reaper of Souls expansion put the franchise back on track.
With Diablo IV, Blizzard has taken these learnings to heart and returned with a vengeance. The developers don’t repeat the same design mistakes of the past and put more emphasis on endgame content in this new, dark and twisted world. The good news is that Diablo is back and it’s the best thing we’ve seen.
Diablo IV key details
- Developer: BlizzardEntertainment
- Platforms: PC over Battle.net, PlayStation 5And Xbox Series X|S
- Release date: Early Access – June 2, 2023, Standard Release – June 6, 2023
- Costs: $69.99
A new queen is coming
Having wiped out half the population before the events of Reaper of Souls, Sanctuary hasn’t really changed and has become a thriving place to live – things seem to have gone the other way. While Diablo III has been mocked for being too colorful, Diablo IV is dark. I remember one particular moment that stuck in my mind when the camera panned down to survey a region I had been exploring. The endless field of brutality before me was shocking and showed that this was a very different look that Blizzard was going for.
In the 50 years since our last foray into Sanctuary, Diablo IV has faced a new great evil in the city. Players are introduced to Lilith, the daughter of Mephisto, who causes all sorts of chaos after being summoned into the world. While we’ve had an evil entity or two lurking on our shoulders in previous Diablo titles, there’s nothing quite like what Lilith delivers here. Every time you see a new cutscene with her, you’re left wanting more.
To stop this demon queen, you must choose a hero from five characters. For my main run, I chose the villain. This melee and ranged combat machine annihilated hordes of enemies who dared to invade my personal space. Armed with poison and frost traps, nearby monsters would explode after being frozen and hit by a barrage of magic-infused arrows. I found this to be a satisfying combat loop that continued to evolve even after spending 40+ hours crawling through dungeons and caves.
Diablo IV’s skill tree allows adventurers to specialize in different playstyles that might suit their combat needs. I didn’t have to choose a mix of melee and ranged combat; I could have just focused on ranged skills to keep anything that got in my way at a distance. This is amplified by the range of gear you obtain throughout the game. Equipping the right armor to power up certain abilities can mean the difference between winning a boss fight or returning to a respawn checkpoint – something I’ve had to do multiple times after getting completely trampled.
Searching for legendary gear and watching the golden ray shoot into the sky as it falls is a dopamine rush that I think never gets boring. There’s a variety of dungeons, side quests, world events, and strongholds to clear, along with a collection of other quests scattered across the massive map, giving you a wave of new items to inspect on an ongoing basis. It was stunning how big the map of Sanctuary is to explore, and even though I completed the main campaign, there was still about a quarter of it covered for me to roam.
The final game
Blizzard has paid a lot of attention to Diablo IV’s endgame content, and players will have a lot more to do once they’ve completed all of the story acts. Helltide is an event that boosts local demon residents for a specific area. In Whispers of the Dead, you collect favors that you can exchange for legendary gear. Dungeons can be upgraded to Nightmare Dungeons for higher rewards, or you can dabble in Fields of Hate and fight other players to unlock cosmetics. There was always something to do for me, and additional content will follow as the season concludes after launch.
As you complete all of these extra quests, you’ll also strengthen your character at the same time. Once you reach level 50 you will start earning Paragon Points which you can spend on the Paragon Board. It’s a similar system to Diablo III, but this time you’re not just increasing certain stat points, you’re now moving along a series of unlocks that boost your hero. It’s not just limited to stats either. Finally, certain nodes on the Paragon board can change the behavior of your abilities, introducing another level of customization to your character’s development.
Beyond the release of Diablo IV
As of this writing, there are some unknowns regarding the release of Diablo IV. There is a chance the servers will melt again due to the onslaught of players trying to connect. But hopefully the staggered Early Access launch and server slam weekends have helped prepare for the imminent strain that will be unleashed on these bad pieces of hardware. We also don’t know exactly what to expect from the season’s content when it begins – about a month after launch.
In my experience so far, the servers have held up well to the stress tests Blizzard Entertainment ran during the playtest sessions. I ran the whole time without any errors or crashes – which is a relief considering the quality we’ve been achieving with certain triple-A titles lately.
As someone who has played every Diablo game upon release and spent untold hours endlessly clicking around on-screen monsters, Diablo IV is absolutely the most refined and complete experience of the series yet. With an eerie and brutally gritty world to explore, the game is packed with content while taking everything we loved about the previous Diablo games and making them even better. Diablo IV has set a new benchmark for the series, in which players will battle their way through a true nightmare – and in a good way.
A game code has been provided to Gamepur for verification purposes. A rated review will be posted once Diablo IV is released.