It’s rare that a game comes along that I can’t stop thinking about, even when I’m not playing it. There are plenty of great games out there, don’t get me wrong, but very few stick in my head even after stepping away from the PC. As you may have already guessed, I can’t stop thinking about Diablo IV. Even in its current unfinished state (Blizzard wouldn’t let us record our own gameplay, probably due to my build audio and other normal development stuff that doesn’t make for a pretty video, so what you see here is stock footage that we have prepared), Diablo IV is absolutely packed with story, content, beauty, character customization and much more. I’ve played about 12 hours of Act 1, taking my barbarian from a barely clad level 1 bodybuilder to a level 25 brute force trauma inducing powerhouse by the time I reached the end of this build’s content.
One of the first things that struck me in the first two hours of Diablo IV was the amount of history it contains. Compared to previous games in the series, you’ll spend a lot of time watching both cutscenes and gameplay (the former are, as is Blizzard tradition, always gorgeous, and the latter are impressively varied in both camera angle and length). To be honest, I think the frequency of early-game cutscenes, combined with the inevitable feeling of being at the bottom of the power curve when you’re just starting out, makes Diablo IV seem a bit slow during the first game. or second hour. This isn’t really a complaint though, as I applaud Blizzard’s effort to add more story to Sanctuary. It’s good to give it more life and more history. Also, you will spend most of your time killing monsters in combat.
As you may have already heard, Diablo IV is more open world than ever, and Blizzard’s implementation works fine. Sure you can wander wherever you want, but the regions outside of where you’re supposed to be in Act 1 are at a significantly higher level, enough to squash you like a bug for wandering into lands you’re not already in. Welcome. (For context, the regions you visit in Act 1 appear to be a remarkably small portion of Sanctuary’s total land mass.) But we wholeheartedly encourage you to explore the zones you belong to, as you’ll earn Renown for discovering new zones, collecting and completing side quests, and much more. The more Renown you accumulate, the better the tangible rewards, especially in the form of skill points. Also, as you level up, you will be able to do things like visit the Alchemist to improve the healing ability of your health potions. Exploring both the cities and open fields of combat will earn you frequent blue exclamation points on the map, designating another side quest. The layers here are wide and deep, making Diablo IV feel like an extremely content-rich experience.
The layers here are wide and deep, making Diablo IV feel like an extremely content-rich experience.
The skill tree is insane in this game, in the best of ways.. It meanders throughout the game, and at each point along the way there are between 4 and 8 options, some of which are one or the other. I’m sad that I don’t have any footage of my own barbarian to share, but since it’s my preference in Diablo games, my goal is to be able to deliver the maximum amount of pure pain at any one time. I put several points into Burst, my shock-inducing, rage-generating secondary attack, while using Bleeding as my main attack and adding Whirlwind, Leap, and Mortal Strike as my three specials, plus Berserker’s Rage as my ultimate, which I unlocked near the end of my time with this preview build. In the meantime, you can trade at any time for a reasonable amount of in-game gold. I only ended up undoing one point, around level 25, to choose a different branch of the skill tree to spend my action point on. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of any of this.
The heart of any Diablo game is, of course, the way you use your skill points. My general strategy, depending on what I was fighting, was to go after the most annoying and/or dangerous baddie in the raid first, stunning him with my Bash attack until he was stunned, allowing me to switch to my main attack and lower his bar. of life to zero If someone gave me trouble from afar, my Jump attack invaded their personal space, which I also spent several skill points on for its usefulness. Oh, and the sadistic pleasure it took me to see my enemies crushed under my feet as the ground collapsed around me as I landed.
In this regard, I must congratulate Diablo IV for how beautiful it is. It has exquisite lighting and deliciously violent effects. The aforementioned jump seems like a devastating action, almost superheroic. Likewise, whirling through a dozen monsters at once and watching them explode into a crimson paste one by one is a hellish power trip. And using all of your attacks in one battle (as you’ll have to do quite often in no time) makes Diablo IV feel like a demon-slaying orchestral performance that you’re conducting.
While I was tearing apart the minions of Hell (except for the times they were tearing me apart!), the time I spent in Sanctuary never bored me, not only because of the excess of side quests that appeared frequently (even some of the random dungeons without side quests were so big that it took me half an hour to clear them), but also because of the seemingly random events in the game, both public and private. I rarely saw other players due to the relatively small group of people playing this preview build, but you did, and that means it’s probably easier for you to participate in those public events than it is for me. In most cases I managed just fine, although I confess that the Fortitude event, marked on the map with a red skull, hit me mercilessly. It’s a multi-step torture chamber where I ended up getting torn apart by the final boss of the encounter. I had intended to come back later after leveling up a bit more, but sadly ran out of time.
It’s going to be a huge game no matter how you look at it.
As a last resort, Diablo IV looks like a massively improved version of Diablo 2, which is the best possible scenario for him, in my opinion. It’s not that I’m ignoring Diablo 3, because clear notes have been taken from the best of that game as well, but tonally and artistically, it leans more towards the Diablo 2 playbook. In any case, it’s going to be huge game by any measure – the initial campaign is about 50 hours long, based on my experience with Act 1, plus the endgame content that Blizzard has specifically focused on that we haven’t seen yet, the opportunities to play with different classes and with different builds within the same class, and the promise of the development team to keep feeding the community with new content for years. Heaven help any game that comes out close to Diablo IV, because I know I’ll be too wrapped up in my adventures in Sanctuary to care about anything else.