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Review: Diablo IV


Posted on May 30, 2023 by Michael Merchant

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  • 9.5/10
    Total Score - 9.5/10
9.5/10

Summary

Diablo IV will usher a new generation of action RPGs into the modern era with its brilliance.

Developer – Blizzard Entertainment

Publisher – Blizzard Entertainment

Platforms – Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Playstation 4/5, PC (Reviewed)

Review copy given by publisher

Review written by Michael, with Rebecca assisting and giving notes on accessibility.

Diablo IV, developed by Blizzard Entertainment, is the newest entry in the Diablo series, and it is a glorious return to its roots. Diablo 2 was a core gaming experience for my childhood, and I spent countless hours playing it with my family and friends. I was so excited when Diablo 3 came out, and while I spent a lot of time playing it, but it lacked something special that Diablo 2 had. Diablo 3 was a much more arcadey experience than Diablo 2, and it wasn’t as dark or foreboding. The great thing about Diablo IV is that it brings some of the advancements of Diablo 3 while summoning what made Diablo 2 so great.

The game starts with a unique cinematic that sets the tone for the rest of the campaign. The quality of the visuals, music, and sounds is top-notch and eerily beautiful. The main demon we are following through this adventure is Lilith. She is the daughter of Mephisto (Thanks for all the great loot in Diablo 2!), the mother of the first Nephalim, and the creator of the world Sanctuary. She has all the traits of a great villain. She is evil but also has a side to her that has a spark of warmth in her darkness. It’s that little spark that keeps you from completely hating her. She has a motive for her evilness and isn’t just evil for the sake of being terrible. I can’t reveal too much without getting into some spoilers, but just know the story is well told. 

Another aspect is that we get narrative cinematics that uses our character, we aren’t always a step behind, and we are active participants in the game’s main plot. We don’t hear the story from someone else, but we are causing the story to unfold. It’s refreshing to see our characters have an impact on current affairs. While we have had dialogue and in-game scenes of our characters involved with the story, none have gone this far into making us intertwined.

In terms of gameplay, we have a core group of 5 classes. Unfortunately, nothing new with this batch of heroes, as they all play similarly to classes we have seen before. We have the Barbarian, Necromancer, Sorcerer, Druid, and Rogue. Each class can be male or female, and you have many customization options here to make the character your own. Skin color, makeup, accessories, tattoos, hairstyles, etc., all allow your character to be unique from everyone else’s. 

Special notes on Accessibility

Diablo IV takes great strides in achieving a new level of accessibility for all players. For one, all platforms support cross save and cross play, and even better, multiple inputs. This allows players with various disabilities the option to control the action with an input method comfortable to them.

The recent accessibility blog released by Blizzard details everything in great detail, and as somebody who loves this franchise but has struggled to play it comfortably, many of these options are a godsend. I was able to play the experience in co-op, and never felt like I was missing much, outside of audio due to my disability, but the player and item object highlights, and the lock-on were very useful in helping my campaign.

Furthermore, in game animation and enemy tells are very easy to follow, even during hectic moments. This was crucial as the exaggerated enemy animations made it easy to dodge attacks since I couldn’t hear off-screen ranged projectiles or special moves. Bravo to the development team for stepping us for the accessibility crowd in this regard.

End of Accessibility notes

Of course, you will be covered head-to-toe in armor most of the time, so thankfully, they have an entire transmogrification system in the game. As you come across different types of armor and weapons, you can dismantle those pieces to unlock the individual looks in your wardrobe to swap them for free. You can also choose a color pallet to customize the armor’s visuals further. I love that they have made this readily available from the start of the game to allow you to take charge of your aesthetics. Nothing is better than not having to worry about the visuals of your gear, so you can focus on your character’s statistics and still look amazing.

Speaking of weapons and armor, there are many options for customizing the items regarding their powers and stats. You can change individual stats and special abilities and upgrade an item’s stats. Across characters, you can utilize various gear with a few exceptions for class-specific items. Building my first character made building my next ones easier because I could pass my older equipment over to my next characters.

One of my favorite aspects of Diablo IV is how vast the world feels this time. Instead of splitting up the world into individual acts set in different regions, the entirety of Sanctuary is accessible from end to end in one open world map. Littered across the maps are caves, dungeons, side quests, towns, and hidden statues dedicated to Lilith. It’s a different feeling after seeing how the world fits together. As you travel across Sanctuary, you will find many people needing help. You can participate in varied quests, such as finding specific items, slaying certain enemies, and quelling spirits. These provide excellent boosts in your experience and items to help you further. Aside from these, some events spawn randomly in the world that offer similar benefits, and mastering these events by achieving additional quest goals will boost your rewards. As you complete more of these objectives and clear the map, you gain extra bonuses such as different skill points and an increase in your characters’ statistics.

I love the way skills trees are structured as well this time. You can choose many ways to structure your build in terms of specific passives and skill sets and create great builds that suit your play styles. I ran the Necromancer for my play through, creating an army of skeletons with giant scythes, cold spell skeleton mages, and a huge blood golem. They have also made some additional changes to the traditional way you can build characters. For instance, as a Barbarian, you gain increased stats with weapons as you play with them, or the Necromancer can choose what types of skeleton mages, warriors, and golems to summon. You can even choose to sacrifice the ability to summon an army to increase your stats.

I am so pleased with how Diablo IV has turned out. It embraces its roots, taking some gameplay advances of Diablo 3 and features of Immortal to give us a proper next-generation entry to the series. I can’t wait to see the seasonal content and add to the game over time, as this will usher a new generation of action RPGs into the modern era.

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