Welcome, Skkawliens, to our Diablo IV playtest experience! As one of the most hotly anticipated Blizzard games of this year, I was really looking forward to playing this game! And sure enough, Diablo IV did not disappoint. For context, this post will focus on my impression and experience playing the Diablo IV demo at Blizzcon 2019. Unlike other reviews, my goal is to share the aspects of the game that I enjoyed the most being a long time Diablo fan. With that said, you may want to look elsewhere if you’re looking for a more technical review of the game (there are plenty of which online). And now, onward brave wanderer, to the depths of the Sanctuary!
At Blizzcon, I was lucky enough to have played all three character classes available at the demo (there will be 5 character classes on release). Now During my first playtest, I choose the Sorceress class to start. Playing the Sorceress was like catching up with an old friend. Her attack and power felt familiar and natural. And to me, they should, as the Sorceress is a character class inherited from Diablo II – which I spent countless hours playing in my youth.
The Sorceress’ abilities are ranged attacks using fire, ice, and lightning. The gameplay was pretty straightforward as any Diablo game, point, click destroy. Right-click Fire Bolt, left-click Frost Bolt and you get a mix of special abilities to start including Blizzard, Lightning Spear, Meteor and Conduit. You activate these abilities by pressing numbers 1-4 on the keyboard.
If you want a detailed breakdown of each spell and ability you can check out Dantics Sorceress Breakdown via YouTube here.
Now after choosing my character class and doing the obligatory intro level and cinematics/cutscenes, I just went out into the Sanctuary (the world of Diablo) and made my own path. What I mean is, I didn’t talk to any of the NPCs or follow any of the quests. I just went wandering! You see that is what’s great about Diablo IV, it’s now an open world. You’re no longer limited by linear gameplay. You can do what you want when you want to. I found it fun not having to tackle mandatory quests and just do my own thing, exploring the world of Sanctuary on my own. This is in contrast to Diablo III where the first you have to do is follow one quest after another to get a point where you can go exploring (and even then you could still feel tied down by the plot).
But I wasn’t alone for long! After a bit of exploring, and a few random encounters later, I had stumbled upon what is called a World Event. An event where players can band together and fight one big HUGE monster. I mean:
Right. One minute, I’m wandering the sanctuary just minding my own business and then suddenly I’m smack in the middle of what felt like a total warzone. I couldn’t even begin to tell what was happening because I had one goal: to survive. But ASHAVA, THE PETTILENT, the big baddie pictured above, had other plans:
Yup. My character died 3 times. 3 times. They did not make this easy and I loved it. It definitely made me feel the risk that went with dealing with these World Events. But, after a few more re-spawns our group was able to deal with ASHAVA. We were victorious!
The World Event was definitely a whole lot of fun to play. Maybe next time I’ll be able to survive a bit longer..
But wait, there’s more! I was then able to playtest the Druid class.
Druid’s Our Guy!
I have to say, the Druid was certainly was the con favorite. What makes this character so special is that he can transform into an animal to beat your enemies. For one example, he can transform into a bear. Check out the short gameplay clips below as they show the sheer awesomeness of the Druid in action:
They really were able to make the gameplay feel fluid between transforming your character into a bear and into its human form. And if that wasn’t enough here’s another short clip:
Who doesn’t want to hurtle a giant rock at some skeleton warriors? Winner.
Another thing I really appreciated about Diablo IV, is the attention to detail. In previous Diablo games you could interact with the environment. Like let’s say destroy a bench or search through a bookcase. But here the world just felt a bit more interactive, take for instance the clip below. Basically, I took a moment from my busy adventuring to stop and just watch my wolf buddies.
You can see them nibbling like an ordinary wolf and the swaying of the grass just completes the effect. It’s kind of hard to see but the wolf behind my Druid character even does a little shake!
Also, similarly, there was another moment I couldn’t help but take stock of the waves as the water hit the coast. See below:
I had to let my companions do all the work and deal with all our undead counterparts as I took a moment to take in the world around me. I really just enjoyed taking a moment and enjoying the scene.
Speaking about companions, it was great that they let us play together in groups. Basically, some computers were linked together. They set it up so we could invite other players, see below:
I’m not sure if this is going to be the same interface we’ll use in the final game to invite other players to play, but it certainly was useful during the demo. I had no problem inviting one of my buddies to join my game and start playing together.
Lastly, I played as the Barbarian class. Below is a shot from the cutscene of the demo.
Barbarian and Multiplayer Fun
Speaking about cutscenes, they definitely went in a much darker direction for this game. at one point, your character is basically crawling out of a cave and he/she looks into what you initially think is water and your character’s reflection. But nope:
Shudders. This game definitely took a turn for the dark, but for a game that literally takes you to Hell for the end boss battle, it works. The land of the sanctuary is a dangerous place, good thing they got us to save the people (they are all doomed, haha).
For this playtest, I actually went to town and talked to the townsfolk to receive my quest. Again, since this is an open-world environment, you have to be proactive and find the right NPCs to speak to to get your quest. One of my buddies from Blizzcon tagged along with me, she was playing the Sorceress above. See below a short clip of my Barbarian and my buddy’s Sorceress questing together.
Also, obviously the Barbarian himself is just a fun class to play. See below a short gameplay clip for the Barbarian just plowing through enemies. No complaints here.
And there you have it! From the moment I selected my first character class to the time I found myself fighting the first hordes of the undead, I was impressed. It felt like the Diablo of old but fresh, relevant and new.
I also went around the convention hall asking people what they thought of the Diablo IV demo if they had any issues or concerns with the game. I was really trying to play Devil’s advocate, but there weren’t any takers, no one had anything negative to say about the game.
Everyone I spoke to at Blizzcon about Diablo IV seemed to have the same consensus as me: Diablo IV is shaping up to be a really good predecessor of the Diablo games of old.. And from what I heard from the Diablo Developers on the show floor, they’re really getting a lot of their inspiration from Diablo II and Diablo I (not that Diablo III wasn’t as good but going back to the roots of the game feels right). For example, pictured above is Brom’s original art for the cover of the Diablo II game. In my opinion, this photo alone show’s there’s so much to pull from for this game. With that said, I for one cannot wait for when this game will be released. Only time will tell when though Blizzard will be ready to release this game to the public, but until then we’ll just have to wait and see.
We hope you enjoyed our first impressions and gameplay experience of Diablo IV. Do let us know what you think in the comments section below. Until the next time brave wanderers, keep safe during your travels in the Sanctuary!