Diablo IV: 4 Reasons why it shows great promise on console
We've played the highly-anticipated game on PlayStation 5 and can't wait for more.
Diablo II is the game that gave me the reflex of perking up as soon as press releases or trailers mention a loot system and/or gear rarity. Not just because Blizzard's beloved classic implemented this aspect in a great way, but also because I have such amazing memories tied to everything surrounding those things. Quite a feat considering I barely played/play games on PC. That's why Diablo III was an easy day-one purchase when it launched on PlayStation 3 back in 2013. It made the already great loot system even more engaging, took the combat to another level by adding the dodge mechanic and brought the fascinating universe to life with its highly detailed hordes of cool enemies roaming around the gloomy catacombs, fiery pits of hell and colourful forests. All this of this is still true to some extent, as Blizzard has kept on updating and adding more content through the years, but it's not difficult to see that the game is a decade old. Fortunately, Blizzard has been kind enough to let me play an early version of Diablo IV on PlayStation 5 the last few days, and it delivers more of what I love about the predecessors - while also making some interesting and needed improvements and changes. Let me highlight four of the things that have made the wait for the launch all the more difficult.
A graphical leap
This is obviously expected when the last game is ten years old, but it's still nice to see just how much better Diablo IV looks than Diablo III. Every single thing is far more detailed, making the world feel far more believable and immersive. Whether it's how the rain hits different crevices and uneven surfaces you see while traversing a mountain pass, your armour or cloak reacting to your every move, fire spells lighting up everything around them or the fluid movements of your mount. Blizzard still knows how to make beautiful games that are sure to lead to astounding cosplay and fan-art.
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An open world begging to be explored
Still, many games look great these days. That's probably why the developers added another devilish cherry on top by taking some inspiration from so-called open world games. You shouldn't go in expecting something like Grand Theft Auto V or The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, however. It's more like a notch below God of War and Gears 5 where you can find hidden areas, treasure and such by exploring nooks and crannies of the environments that are far bigger than it's predecessor while being as dense with stuff to see and do. The fact that these can be seamlessly traversed with no loading screens makes it far more tempting to see what awaits in these "sidepaths"...even if you might come across some of the biggest and most dangerous enemies in the franchise's history.
Will you join the pack?
Because I've come across some wanderers that probably know me from working out at the same gym. The extra power of today's consoles and PCs isn't just used to throw even more enemies at us at once. No. That would be too easy, so these nasty hordes of skeletons, demons, bugs and/or whatever are sometimes accompanied by something that could eat some main bosses from other games for breakfast. While I have my concerns about Diablo IV requiring a constant online connection, I'm not complaining about that when coming across one of these scenarios as it also means other players are running around the same world as you. What an amazing feeling it is to see another traveller or two join the fight when you're on the brink of death. Stuff like this has been the start of some life-long friendships for many through the years, while I've settled with thanking them and teaming up for a couple of hours more after besting these challenges. Doing this is far easier this time around, so even I'm tempted to go on more adventures with others. Not that I have to.
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Or be a lone wolf?
That's definitely a good thing, as I'm one of the weirdos that play Destiny 2, The Division 2 and the like by myself. Diablo IV makes this easier and more entertaining as well. One of the main reasons for this is that you can customise your characters in a whole bunch of ways. Some will probably spend a long time tweaking how their characters look beneath the armour, cloaks or whatever, but that's not what I what to highlight. Far more important is that you'll be able to tweak weapons, special attacks, spells and such to better suit your playstyle and/or gear. Does your barbarian have a greatsword? Then I suggest augmenting your whirlwind skill to do 10 percent of its base damage. If not, maybe choose another that does a 645 of bleed damage for 10 seconds after using it instead. Being able to transfer specific benefits from one weapon to another, upgrading your favourite equipment and improving your stats and skills even after hitting the level-cap are just some of the other possibilities that will make those of us who love to see numbers get higher and try out different tactics keep coming back for more. And the best, or maybe worst if you don't have a lot of time for gaming, is that you won't be able to buy better gear with real money. The microtransactions will only offer cosmetic changes.
All of this, and I haven't even mentioned the alluring story, promising endgame activities and even more impactful and eye-catching combat. Diablo IV doesn't seem to make any ground-breaking changes, but tweaks and improves upon stuff both fans and sceptics have been asking for for years, so count me in when it launches not too far into 2023.