Diablo IV Beta Thoughts

Saw that the Diablo IV open beta was available this past weekend, and after some internal debate decided to give it a shot. Over the years I’ve put a bunch of hours into Diablo II and III but don’t consider myself the most hardcore fan. But I do love a good ARPG with loot, so I spun up the game and played enough to get to level 17 (which is very mid compared to others players, I’m certain). Here were some takeaways, keeping in mind this is a beta and not the final product:

  • Played on an Xbox Series X and performance was good. No noticeable hiccups, graphics looked good, and no crashes during my time with the beta.
  • The darker, gothic vibe better fits the series, and I very much enjoyed it. I don’t hate Diablo III‘s more colorful aesthetic, but this is more in line with the horror roots of the series.
  • I’m not sold on the shared world, MMO-lite nature of Diablo IV. I’m not against it, but in the time I played the beta, I casually teamed up with others for maybe 2 or 3 world events? It’s not something I actively sought out and it didn’t feel particularly impactful. An imperfect analogy is thinking of the other shared world game, Destiny 2. Teaming up with people in that game “feels” like it carries more weight because of how content and mechanics play out. In Diablo IV, it just doesn’t feel the same. “Oh, neat, someone else is here.” I don’t feel particularly bothered or encouraged to be playing with others. I tend to run solo in ARPGs anyway, so outside of being more convenient, I just don’t see the point. If the game implements something like raids down the road, then I’m sure the possibilities will begin to open up. For now, shared world / always online feels like a contrivance.
  • Free re-speccing of abilities through level 15 is a brilliant idea and should be widely adopted in the genre.
  • Not crazy about the right stick no longer being for rolling. Having only a “Dash” option for the character’s mobility is a step back.
  • Hot take: the story presentation is more interesting than anything the series has done so far.

I’m reserving judgment until after release on whether this is worth getting. I’m curious what the endgame will look like and how Blizzard will support the title. For many reasons I’ve been passing on Blizzard’s offerings as of late, and I’m not sure Diablo IV warrants forgiving their multitude of sins. Aside from the more important things, a weak endgame and microtransaction hell could finally torpedo this franchise. After seeing how Overwatch 2 played out, I’m not holding out a lot of hope.

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