No matter what verdict I write at the end of this review, no matter what rating I give, in any case, there will be dissatisfaction. We’ve seen this in comments on other Diablo IV posts. Therefore, I suggest that you just accept the fact that some people like this game, and some people don’t. It’s natural. Personally, I like Diablo IV. For now, this is my personal contender for the title of game of 2023 and possibly the next few years, because I intend to return to Diablo from time to time. But let’s start from the beginning.
|Platforms||Windows, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One / Xbox Series X|S|
|Developers||Blizzard Team 3, Blizzard Albany|
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to Diablo IV. Especially after Diablo Immortal and Overwatch 2 that disappointed and upset me. Blizzard is not surprising anymore. So when the first beta test of Diablo IV started, I didn’t even really care about not getting an early access key to the beta (hello European PR Blizzard, we remembered that). But when I finally tried the game, I was hooked, as they say. It was just what it needed to be – a dark, proper, adult Diablo, and with almost flawlessly tested combat mechanics. The servers were lagging a bit, but that was understandable.
So to the second test, aka Diablo IV Server Slam I was already prepared. I quickly upgraded the character, received an award, and walked around the world a little. Well, of course, I finally decided that I will still buy Diablo IV on release (a second salute to Blizzard’s European PR), although I haven’t decided on the version of the game yet, because Blizzard’s prices are, as usual, inhumane.
The Server Slam ended on May 14, and the very next day I started missing it. The soul demanded a sequel, and the game was still two weeks away. Gradually, I started to lean towards the more expensive version of Diablo IV to get the 4 days early start.
In the meantime, I was playing other action/RPGs in the spirit of Diablo to occupy myself with something. It is interesting that Diablo IV was replaced better than others (sorry Path of Exile fans, well, not my cup of tea) by other Diablos – the still-alive Diablo III and actually not so bad Diablo Immortal, if you play a little bit and don’t pay money.
And finally, on June 1, 2023 (in Kyiv it was the night of June 2), Diablo IV was released!
The Big Game
I didn’t try to get to level 100 faster than everyone else level, I enjoyed the game at a leisurely pace, enjoying every cutscene, every tape of dialogue, exploring the world, looting, editing the character’s appearance, leveling up additional heroes, etc. I was playing the game, not speeding through it for hype or writing a review.
Therefore, it took me more than a week to complete the Diablo IV story campaign. At the same time, a large part of the Sanctuary map remained unexplored, additional dungeons with aspects were not completed, side quests were not completed, and all altars of Lilith were not found. Diablo IV is a really big game, physically huge, there is just a lot of everything and it takes a lot of time to explore the world. Some people think that this is a flaw of Open World games, but I don’t.
So if you’re looking for something about the End Game, correct builds for different classes, or going through nightmare dungeons, this is not the place. My best character is only level 48 and I’ve only glimpsed what Diablo IV has to offer to those who have completed the campaign. But I’m definitely going to look at everything that is already there and everything that is yet to come in this game.
So far, the main thing for me in Diablo IV is the story. It is very well told, you really sympathize with its characters. And this is probably the most mature story not only for the entire existence of the Diablo series but in general for the entire genre of action/RPG. This is no longer banal – this is Primal Evil, it is bad because it is Primal, kill it! In this story, the line between good and evil is blurred, and the so-called forces of Light are really just as crazed fanatics and murderers as the forces of Darkness.
Every character, even your enemies, has their own motivation here, and even the most devious and bloody of them have good intentions. Sort of.
I just want to sympathize with Lilith. She is an unloved daughter, a betrayed woman, and a mother whose son was taken away from her. She craves revenge, retribution, power, and strength. She is very convincing and seductive. But, in the primordial conflict of angels and demons, people must be on their own side, although in the future it may bring even more grief to the Sanctuary.
Blizzard traditionally works very cool with video inserts, some of which are made in the game engine and do not have transitions. The camera simply tilts and a video begins, featuring your character as you created it, wearing the same armor and jewelry. This seems to be a trend already, videos of several recent games are made the same way, for example, Miasma Chronicles and Dead Island 2.
In addition, the story continues in dialogues in side quests, in NPC lines (by the way, they change when the status of the whole world changes), in diaries, and in the environment. Altogether, this creates a very powerful cohesive picture of the game world that we haven’t seen in any action/RPG yet.
It would seem that graphics are not the main thing in action/RPG, where the camera hangs somewhere above, and the character cannot be seen. Hold my beer, Blizzard said, and use the same character in gameplay, as a dress-up doll, and in videos. So the graphics of Diablo IV from the very beginning focused on the quality of the videos, which is traditionally very high at Blizzard. And the graphics turned out really cool.
It’s not even about the style, which is not just gloomy, but sometimes even depressing (hell was clearly painted by one of Giger’s fans), but about the graphics. It really is the best action/RPG we’ve seen. In terms of models, animations, camera work, lighting, detailing, etc. Locations, characters, armor, weapons, and some small things in the environment are simply pleasant and interesting to look at, and the lighting creates the right mood for each of the levels. There is no real change of day and night here, but sometimes when teleporting and returning from dungeons, the time of day changes. Day and night levels look really amazing.
Yes, we have already seen the graphics of Path of Exile 2 and maybe it won’t be worse, but it’s just a video for now, let’s wait for the release.
About the mood that lighting creates. In addition to it, the composers also worked well on the emotional component. Diablo IV’s soundtrack is truly impressive, and this is a case where it’s best to hear for yourself. Here it is on Youtube, and here on Spotify.
Diablo has always been called a “mouse killer”, implying that in this game you just have to “click” on enemies. Yes, but no. If you do not play at the very first level of difficulty, which seems frankly simple and uninteresting, then you will not be able to do with the usual “clicking”. Diablo IV has to be played thoughtfully, watching the amount of resources (mana, rage, etc.), the timers of abilities, and remembering exactly what your weapons and armor improve. Especially at the end of the campaign, in boss battles, and in End Game activities.
Each of the classes, and here there are five of them (Rogue, Barbarian, Druid, Sorcerer, and Necromancer), has its own interesting features. Each has its own specialization, which is unlocked through a chain of quests after level 15. Only the Necromancer does not have a special quest, he seems to be very intelligent from the very beginning and, by the way, very imba, in my opinion. The Druid’s most interesting and difficult specialization quest and first he must liberate the ancient Stronghold of the Druids.
Stronghold is a new type of game challenge, abandoned fortresses with very powerful enemies, usually 2 levels above yours, and very evil bosses. After liberation, strongholds become settlements with teleporters. So, the druid specialization task is not only almost on the other side of the world, according to the second act (the first three acts can be passed in a free sequence), but it is also very difficult: this is probably one of the two times when I had to go to an easier level of difficulty.
By the way, do not forget to return to the very first game location, there are a lot of interesting things that appear after passing the prologue. During the course of the campaign, some locations change significantly, and some of the levels in the campaign are completely unique, for example, a snake in the jungle or an underwater temple.
As for game mechanics, this is Diablo, everything just works as it should. Destroying hordes of monsters is easy and pleasant, the gameplay is smooth, and the talent tree is not very big, but the choice is there. PC gamers, of course, complain that 6 skill slots are not enough, but let’s not forget that Diablo IV was also released on consoles, and the number of buttons on the gamepad is limited.
But now it has become very convenient to reset all progress and reassemble a new build. It doesn’t cost much, it’s easy to do. So you can experiment as much as you want, even if you change the build before each boss.
Comfortable is the word that best describes Diablo IV. There are convenient mechanics, a convenient interface, and a convenient transmogrification of things. By the way, resources, aspects, transmogrification, and bonuses are shared by all characters, and that’s also… convenient.
As I already said, Diablo IV is a game where everything works exactly the way you expect it to. Which has a very low entry threshold (say hello to Path of Exile), but considerable requirements for mastering the game at high difficulty levels. So, both casual and hardcore players will find something for themselves here.
Yes, Diablo IV is not perfect. Personally, I’m a bit bothered by the initial network lag in cities and during events with world bosses. As soon as there are two dozen players in the city, expect lags. I hope it gets fixed. And although the constant online is convenient and from time to time other players help each other, during air raids you can’t play in the bomb shelter, unless, of course, you don’t connect the Internet there in advance.
In addition, I had the game bug a few times. Once, it “froze” the entire PC during the fight with the world boss, and the second time – during the descent into Hell in the fifth act, due to which I had to replay a rather large section. Another time, the quest for specialization did not work, because of this I had to restart the game. Once the character was simply stuck in the middle of the city and could not move. That’s all in 50+ hours of gameplay. Not very much, and besides, it’s all treated with patches.
But what is really a bit frustrating is the armor in the in-game store. It looks really good, but its cost… in a game that already costs $70-90… There is no other way to get this armor, unlike, by the way, the latest Assassin’s Creed. Yes, we understand that this is an additional source of income for Blizzard and no one is forcing you to buy cosmetics. And in general, there are games that live solely on cosmetics. On the other hand, they don’t cost as much as Diablo IV. But yes, it’s just cosmetics, it doesn’t affect anything, so… that’s fine.
Personally, I am looking forward to the opening of the whole world, clearing dungeons, transition to the Third level of difficulty, and End Game content. And in mid-July, the first season of Diablo IV will begin, which will last three months. With its own storyline, with new rewards and modifiers, adventures, themed cosmetics, and more.
If we take Diablo III as an example, then in about two years, Blizzard will offer players content DLC with an additional character and a new act, because the scenario already has the ability to easily expand the map. Who will it be? The Witch of the Wastes, which is actually already in the game, looks interesting, although there are already enough mages in Diablo IV. Maybe a crusader again? Is it a monk?
In another two years, we are waiting for the second DLC. In general, there is a feeling that Diablo IV will be a convenient platform for Blizzard to expand the Diablo universe for the next 10 years. So everything is just beginning.
Instead of an epilogue
It seems that I am ready for what will begin in the comments, but still, please respect each other. Someone likes one game/movie/book/clothes, someone else. This is not a reason to behave like russians in the comments.
By the way, who is ready to write a review of Path of Exile 2 when will it finally come out in a year or two? Write. It looks like it will be a good game too. And which of these two yokozunas wins, we will see somewhere in 10 years. IMHO – both. Mark my word.