There is no doubt that Activision Blizzard is looking to get more wins under its belt, and Diablo IV seems like the surest bet the company can have following the launch of Overwatch 2. With 2023 already set for blockbusters like Starfield and Final Fantasy XVI, the fight against Lilith has to be of high quality. Judging from our early preview of Diablo IV, Sanctuary is shaping up to be exactly that.
With access to the three classes of Sorceror, Barbarian, and Rogue, we were afforded the opportunity to jump in to experience the early parts of Diablo IV. The Fractured Peaks beckoned, and our journey to level 25 (cap of 100 in the full game) began in earnest.
Right off the bat, Diablo IV is definitely the darkest of the bunch in a narrative sense, not shy to show off the gruesome nature of our villains, but also of the world in general. The company has always been awesome at creating worlds, and through the various in-game cinematics, much love has been put into the storytelling bits that players will experience next year.
This is a world that truly needs saving, and heroes come in all shapes and sizes, thanks to the robust character creator options, adding to the already visually impressive nature of Diablo IV. Environments are detailed and diverse, linking together a fractured world that hides more secrets and darkness that yearn to be uncovered. This is the best-looking game in the franchise, and this isn’t even the complete build yet.
That same evolution seems to be applied to the gameplay as well, with Diablo IV bringing back the familiar and beloved ARPG aspects of things, but with some welcomed tweaks and improvements.
A new Evade function allows players to move swiftly to avoid danger, albeit on a cooldown. While it is definitely useful when trying to move away from mobs, it comes in handy the most against bosses and those that love AoE attacks. Make them regret their impunity and get out of the way, before unleashing your own hell on them.
Gone is also the reliance on hoarding potions, replaced by a number system that can be replenished with pickups. There are even upgrades that be purchased as you level up and find the right reagents, ensuring that players can always keep fighting with smart use of healing.
The skill system in Diablo IV has also been overhauled, making each of the classes feel more unique than ever before. Each level grants an ability point that can be spent on main skills, such as the Fireball of the Sorceror, but also for further enhancements that can alter the base function of said skills. Perhaps more critical damage is what you want, or you prefer sustained damage over time. Depending on how you like to play, the various paths can all be useful at some stage.
While chasing down the main story objectives will largely drive the Diablo IV experience, venturing off the beaten path and exploring often yield significant rewards as well. The first are dungeons and cellars, with treasures and quests content waiting to be enjoyed. Certain dungeons also reward Aspects, a collection of mods that will grow the deeper you progress, allowing for equipment to be further enhanced with additional properties, further specialising your build.
Strongholds are also part of the equation, places that are deemed more dangerous and thus more rewarding. Defeat the demons that lie within, and you might just see a new settlement spring into life, giving you more quests and opportunities to adventure in Sanctuary. As you explore, completing tasks and challenges, Diablo IV also rewards players with Renown, a separate system that can help with precious XP and valuable loot. Considering how large the play areas can be, there will definitely be much to do and more to gain for the completionists.
That’s likely only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Diablo IV, especially when there are still other options we haven’t had the chance to test out yet. Mounts should make for better travelling, the cross-play and cross-progression systems will make life even more convenient, and as a live-service game, we can expect Diablo IV to continually improve with player feedback.
At this stage, the freedom to enjoy everything the game has to offer is already staggering, and it bodes well for whenever the launch of the game arrives. While the development may have hit some bumps, it seems like everything will be worth it when Diablo IV finally arrives in players’ hands. Rest assured we will be right on top of that when it happens.