I’ve been looking forward to diving into Diablo 4 for a long time, but my excitement for the next installment in Blizzard’s popular ARPG has been much more muted than it should have been. Nobody likes change, and the news I’ve been hearing about Diablo 4 over the past year has me worried: can you see more players in the world? Will there be open world PvP? Reworked skill system? No thanks – give me a nicer Diablo 3 and we’ll be good. Fortunately, that’s exactly what Blizzard seems to have done.
I’ve been playing for almost 9 years through many seasons of Diablo 3. I enjoyed the story when I first played the campaign, I love the combat, and most of all I love mindlessly running around dungeons or rifts, vaporizing hordes of demons that stand in my way while listening to the game’s classic soundtrack.
I’m also aware that this isn’t a universal opinion, and that some people prefer the grittiness of the earlier games because they feel Diablo 3 was too arcadey. I only have Diablo 2: Resurrected for comparison, and I’ve only played a bit of the early campaign, but I understand the appeal. It felt like what I expected from a Diablo game, but the first few levels were pretty painful to get through. I was worried that Diablo 4 would be made to mirror the difficulty of the earlier games, or worse, that it would try to incorporate too many complex systems in an attempt to compete with the likes of Path of Exile.
At first glance, Diablo 4 seems quite different from Diablo 3. The whole game has a much darker tone to it – something that the opening cinematic effectively communicates with the visceral demonic ritual that frees Lilith and the ominous sound that accompanies it. Once you get into the game itself, the skill tree is much larger and looks more complex; healing potions have charges rather than cooldowns, and once you reach the first town you can see and interact with other players. However, beneath the surface, I was surprised to find that it shares more with the previous game than I originally thought.
I picked up Warlocks to try out during the open beta, mostly because I usually play Wizards, and while I didn’t recognize the names of the signature abilities, once I got a handle on my character, it was a quick run through the rest of the skill tree. revealed some familiar names: Teleport, Hydra and Meteor were all there to name a few. Skill Runes are still a thing as well, albeit implemented in a slightly different way.
There’s even a Kadala, though she was replaced in Diablo 4 by an NPC named Purveyor of Curiosities. You can also extract powers from equipment like you can with the Kanai Cube, although this time a specific vendor will perform the service for you.
Of course, the game looks much better than its predecessor, and this is especially well shown in the creation of characters. It’s not an elaborate system compared to other ARPGs, but it’s nice to have some control over how your character looks. The only real downside is that you never get to see your character up close in the game without heading to the wardrobe and changing your gear. RIP the Esc key to give you quick access to your character’s appearance. Diablo 3 Tier List 2023: Best Character Classes and Builds
Combat is pretty much the same and I’m thankful for that too. Killing demons wouldn’t be nearly as much fun if you didn’t suffer from the repetitive strain of endless mouse clicking after an hour or so.
In all seriousness though, I’m glad Diablo 4 feels so familiar. Change can be a good thing, but I feel like developers can find themselves trying to keep a game relevant by reinventing it to the point where it can lose some of what made it popular – yes, I’m looking at you, Final Fantasy.
Diablo 4 seems to be holding on to its Diablo-ness. If I wanted to learn how to play a completely different ARPG where each class has around 67,000 skill tree nodes, I’d choose Path of Exile. I’ve heard good things about Grinding Gear’s take on the genre, but it’s just not for me. That’s okay because I’ve always had Diablo. And thank goodness I still seem to have it with Diablo 4.
That said, it’s hard to judge a game by its first 25 levels when most games take place after you’ve reached the endgame, you’ll have access to all of your skills, and you can start fine-tuning your gear. That’s enough for now – the open beta finally allowed me to get really excited about Diablo 4 for the first time, and the June release can’t come soon enough.