The dust has settled on the Diablo IV beta and we’ll have to wait until June 6 to play it once more. But how do we feel about the beta? What impression has it left? The general vibe from the community seems to be mixed, though generally positive. The loot-based hack-and-slash had its share of performance issues but otherwise offered a technically sound experience.
Initial impressions are strong. The game immediately impresses with its slick visuals and responsive controls. The incredible fidelity of the game’s pre-rendered cinematics is certainly enough to get you in the demon-slaying mindset, while the small selection of classes on offer seems promising. Your first decision is whether you want to be a Barbarian, Sorceress, Druid, Rogue, or Necromancer, though not all were available in the beta. Although it’s somewhat disappointing that the game will only feature five classes at launch, Blizzard will surely add more to Diablo IV down the line.
Personally, I rocked a Rogue and had a pretty good time with it. The choice between – or a hybrid of – daggers and ranged options makes the class feel dynamic and potentially quite exciting. The new skill system, which makes a considerable change from Diablo III, brings back the skill tree and is like something reminiscent of Path of Exile. Time will tell whether this change will pay off, but it’s certainly interesting.
MMO Structure, Lost Ark Influence, No PvP
Another thing that Diablo veterans will notice is how different the game’s structure feels. There’s something more MMO-ish about the structure and pace of the game. The hub areas, focus on crafting and professions, and interactions with other players will be familiar to players of Lost Ark, or other massively-multiplayer adaptations of Diablo’s core formula. Ultimately, this feels like a smart change. The addition of world bosses, guilds, and other ideas that enforce connected gameplay seems like a good way to bolster the game’s inevitable end game.
Diablo III experimented with PvP with mixed results, so it’ll be curious to see whether Diablo IV gets the same treatment. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised. Furthermore, the temporary benefits of shrines are back once more. Already, they seem more nuanced and exciting than what we saw in the base version of Diablo III. Diablo II had some great shrines and they were always an exciting way to spice things up, so it’s nice to see them taking a front seat again.
Story and Diablo IV’s Campaign
Of course, we can’t forget the game’s story. The story of Diablo IV takes place decades after D3: Reaper of Souls, after Malthael’s campaign left 90% of Sanctuary dead and basically left the world in a mess. Heaven has closed its gates and the Angels have abandoned humanity. After a long exile, Lilith, the Daughter of Mephisto, Mother of Sanctuary and Humanity, has been summoned by a dark ritual by Triune.
The campaign offers a lengthy, non-linear experience that’s said to be between 30-40 hours. After the prologue, players will be able to freely choose between acts. Already, we’ve seen what feels like a more grounded world. The beta sees us exploring small, tightly-knit communities of ordinary people struggling to survive. It seems we’ll be getting smaller stories about poor folk and victims, as well as grand, high-fantasy narratives.
Ultimately, Diablo IV’s beta makes a strong impression. The game offers fresh ideas mixed with reinvigorated staples of the series. Time will tell how the game fares and whether its end-game can sustain people’s interest, but we’re optimistic. Bring on June!
Did you manage to play the beta? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!