Diablo IV, the highly anticipated demon-slaying action RPG from Blizzard Entertainment sees players return to the realm of Sanctuary after an 11-year hiatus. This time around, the player returns to Sanctuary to protect a realm under threat from a resurrected Lilith, daughter of Mephisto, and one of the creators of Sanctuary as she plans to unleash chaos across the world.
Diablo IV sees the player take on the role of “the Wanderer”, a character sharing a deep connection to Lilith due to actions undertaken by villagers corrupted by the main protagonist. The player begins the journey by selecting one of five distinct, and well-known classes from the Diablo universe in:
- Barbarian: The Barbarian is a fearsome melee warrior who specializes in brutal close-quarters combat.
- Sorceress: The Sorceress harnesses the raw power of elemental magic to obliterate her foes.
- Druid: The Druid is a shapeshifting nature-based class, attuned to the primal forces of the wilderness.
- Rogue: The Rogue is a swift and agile class that excels at precision strikes and swift maneuvers.
- Necromancer: The Necromancer is a dark and sinister spellcaster class that specializes in the manipulation of death and the forces of the undead.
Selection of this class is an important decision. Not only is it about fitting the player’s playstyle but it is also the class that the player takes right through the journey with them. Whether the player prefers to unleash devastating melee attacks as a Barbarian or rain down destruction from afar as a Sorceress, Diablo IV offers deep customization and satisfying progression systems to cater to the players unique playstyle. So, select a class, get comfortable and enjoy the battle that the 20+ hour campaign brings.
Once the player has selected their character, and customised to their hearts content, it is headfirst into the 20+ hours of campaign experience, and while that may sound long, it is definitely a campaign that needs to be experienced at least once. There are many parts to Diablo IV’s campaign experience on offer that players will enjoy as well. There’s the intriguing story, the varied and detailed regions, and the amazing and beautiful cutscenes that provide players with an all-immersive journey that sees Diablo take its leap into the next generation of consoles.
While skipping ahead in the long journey that is Diablo’s story may sound like a good way to reduce its length, I would suggest that the player fully immerse themselves in the game’s captivating storytelling and cinematic presentation in their first playthrough. I won’t go into spoilers, but I will say that there are parts of this story that will have the player invested in its outcome, and this is very well supported by the amazing and beautiful cutscenes throughout. While this amazing story is a long one, and many Diablo players that have grown up with the games may find themselves in the same position as I, lacking the 20+ hours for another playthrough for multiple characters to experience it as another class. The positive is that Blizzard has acknowledged and addressed this in Diablo IV by allowing newly created characters from the same player to skip another story playthrough altogether.
At its core, Diablo IV retains the addictive hack-and-slash gameplay that fans of the series have come to know and love. Providing a straightforward control scheme, making every battle about the player and their reaction, and not about which excuse for defeat to use next. The control scheme sees an individual skill mapped to each button on the controller based on unlocks within the character’s skill tree, allowing the player to approach the battle exactly how they want to. This also includes the unmappable buttons on the D-Pad offering the player’s health potion, town portal and ability to call a mount, as well as the ability to evade with the B button. The combat is fast paced though, and not mapping complementary skillsets will see regular failures through the higher difficulties. Don’t worry though as there are many supporting guides out there, or co-op partners to take along for each battle so there is always a possibility for success.
These mapped abilities, and complementary passive skills can be found in each character’s skill tree. The skill tree system has received a significant overhaul, providing more freedom and customization options than ever before. As the character levels up, they earn skill points that can be spent across various nodes of the characters skill tree, allowing the player to fine-tune their character’s abilities. Once you hit level 50 and build the foundations of the character through skill selection, further experience earns points to insert into the characters Paragon system. This is a separate upgrade system allowing players to select additional abilities and buffs to further customise their playstyle. This adds a further layer of strategy to the gameplay, as the player can tailor their character to excel in certain areas or experiment with different combinations to find an ideal playstyle. Couple this with the perks on offer from each and every item equipped, and the player has a recipe for success with every increase in difficulty. On difficulty, the game currently has 4 tiers on offer, with the first two available from the first playthrough. They are:
- Adventurer (World Tier I) – For those looking for a light challenge or wanting to just enjoy the story.
- Veteran (World Tier II) – Those seeking a tougher challenge from the start.
- Nightmare (World Tier III) – Unlocked by completing the campaign and a specific dungeon within the world. This brings tougher challenges, a new rarity of items and more.
- Torment (World Tier IV) – Unlocked by completing the requirements for Nightmare and a specific dungeon within the world. This brings a new rarity and unique items.
Once the main campaign is complete, Diablo IV offers a wealth of content to keep the player engaged. The endgame experience is enormous and features a variety of activities for players to enjoy including everything in the two above listed World Tiers. The content on offer includes:
- Capstone Dungeon – These are the 2 dungeons, each assigned to a World Tier and the completion of each allows the player to increase the corresponding World Tier difficulty.
- Tree of Whispers – Completing various open-world tasks located around the map for the tree provides Grim Favors. These Favors can be used by the player to purchase random reward caches.
- World Bosses – These massive and difficult bosses spawn within the world of Sanctuary are a challenge for a well-equipped group of players.
- Nightmare Dungeons – These are dungeons that you can revisit after completing the game and modify with Sigils which alter play style and intensity of the dungeon. These dungeons bring additional objectives and modifiers called Affixes.
Diablo IV also offers a full PvPvE experience called Fields of Hatred. Fields of Hatred offers players the ability to test their strength and skill against the abilities of other players, and a harsh and deadly environment and AI-controlled enemies. This is offered across 2 districts (Dry Steppes and Kehjistan) of the map and players must mark themselves as hostile within the district to take part in its festivities. Once marked, the player can kill and be killed, and must remove the mark or leave the district to end the battle. The goal is to kill monsters, bosses, and other players to earn Seeds of Hatred. These seeds can be purified into Red Dust at the Altar of Extraction. Red Dust can then be used to purchase special rewards such as transmogs, mounts, and weapons from vendors in Alzuuda and Denshar. However, purifying Seeds of Hatred will alert other players to your location who can then try to stop you and steal the loot. Also, the more kills the player gets, the more they become a Vessel of Hatred, which marks the player as a threat on the map and increases the bounty on their head. Fields of Hatred are a risky but rewarding way for the player to test their skills and gear against other players and enemies in Diablo IV. Field of Hatred can only be accessed once the player finishes the campaign, hits level 50 and are playing in World Tier III or higher. An area that is worth the challenge, but it can definitely be a challenge. All of this and a whole heap more provide players with endless replay-ability, further immersion into the lore, and the opportunity to obtain rare and powerful loot.
The massive campaign and endless endgame content would not be possible without a suitably sized map and this map is huge. The map itself is broken down into 5 major regions that are broken down into approximately 8 to 10 districts each which all offer key points including fast travel points, various vendors and more. Each offers a unique setting including environment, enemies and more to make the journey more of an adventure as you discover every part of it with their settings as follows:
- Fractured Peaks: A snowy mountain range with ancient temples and monasteries.
- Scosglen: A lush and wild land of forests, swamps, and bogs, inhabited by druids, werewolves, and primordial creatures.
- Dry Steppes: A barren and arid desert with nomadic tribes, bandits, and scavengers, as well as the Fields of Hatred PvP zones.
- Hawezar: A tropical jungle with poisonous plants, insects, and reptiles, as well as ancient ruins and cultists.
- Kehjistan: A rich and exotic region with palaces, bazaars, and temples, as well as the seat of power for the Zakarum faith and the Triune cult.
This map also includes many areas that can be discovered right from the start of your playthrough including hundreds of dungeons, Alters of Lilith (which grant temporary buffs to players on the server), Stronghold’s (areas that have been overrun by the enemy and become towns to explore when cleared) and more. The map is huge, and definitely isn’t something that you can explore in a day.
One of my most important aspects of gaming is co-operative and Diablo IV offers a great and seamless co-operative experience, be it with three other players online or with one other in local couch co-op. Both are a blast, easy to get into and will see the player through many hours of carnage with friends. It is also a drop-in drop-out experience that allows anyone to join at any time seamlessly.
Diablo IV also allows players to experience their game in each other’s version of Sanctuary, scaling enemies, and allowing character progression and loot to carry between games. Story progression works differently in that the progression of the players story only occurs when they are at the same part of the campaign as the host. Anything earlier and this doesn’t occur, anything later and the player would already have received the rewards. Therefore, make sure that the host is the person that is at the earliest point of the campaign to ensure that everyone progresses the story where they can.
On the family friendly side of this one, the game is rating MA15+ and is not targeted as a game for the younger audience which is something to be mindful of when the little ones ask to play.
* A digital code for Diablo IV was kindly provided to Xbox Gamer Dad for the purpose of this review. Diablo IV is available right now *
Diablo IV is a demonic masterpiece that delivers on every front. From its breathtaking graphics, beautiful cutscenes and immersive atmosphere to its addictive gameplay and robust co-op experience, this game has something for everyone. Add in its visceral combat, deep character customization, and the ability to team up with friends or family seamlessly, Diablo IV takes the franchise to new heights. Tie it all together with a story worth playing and there is a full package on offer. Whether the prospective player is a long-time fan of the series or a newcomer to the world of Diablo, they’ll find something to keep them entertained for hours to come. So grab your weapons, rally your allies, and prepare to descend into the depths of Hell in Diablo IV. The battle against the legions of darkness awaits!
- Stunning graphics and atmospheric visuals.
- Addictive hack-and-slash gameplay with precise controls and impactful combat.
- Deep customization and progression systems.
- Endgame content offering a wealth of replayability.
- PvPvE mode, Fields of Hatred, adds a unique and exciting twist to player versus player combat.
- Seamless co-op multiplayer experience with dynamic difficulty adjustments
- A huge map to explore
- A lengthy campaign that may deter gamers short on time.
- Endgame content may feel repetitive for some players after extended playtime.