Xbox

Diablo 4 is filling in the dark hole Diablo 3 left me with

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Diablo IV has now had its final open beta, and after playing through both tests on Xbox, it’s pulled me back to the series in a way Diablo III couldn’t.

We’re now around three weeks away from Diablo IV unleashing Hell on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One when it launches on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the full release. Why? Because the dark undertones and gritty storylines are feeding me with enough diabolical gratification that I’m finally ready to return to the series after Diablo III didn’t hit my sweet spot.

Diablo IV makes Diablo III look like child’s play

Now to make things absolutely clear, I’m not saying Diablo III was a bad game, because it’s absolutely not, but it is a far cry from the decayed version of Sanctuary in the original Diablo games, which I have fond memories of. I loved the gameplay of III, which can be seen in the DNA of Diablo IV, but its visuals were a little too… Blizzard for me. Visually it felt more akin to Warcraft’s lighthearted style than Diablo’s gritty foreboding atmosphere, and with a storyline light enough to match its visuals, I was left only really enjoying the gameplay, which I’d say was worth every second!

As a bit of backstory, I have many childhood memories of sitting in front of my dad’s computer in the early 2000s with my brother, slaughtering creatures in Diablo II — we were that bad, we had to have a side save from my dad’s main playthrough so we could play anything but the first section, but they made fond memories nonetheless.

It does, however, seem like Diablo IV is going to rekindle the nostalgic magic I’ve cultivated for the original games in the years following the launch of Diablo III. From the earliest gameplay reveals and cinematics, it has been clear that Blizzard has been crafting a darker Sanctuary again, one where blood runs freer than its inhabitants and ritualistic killings are the entertainment of the day.

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I put in a ton of hours during both Diablo IV tests, the open beta in March, and the Server Slam this month, and while my brother could only join me for the initial beta, it was enough for me to know that Diablo IV is exactly what I want from the series.

Immediately upon starting the game, the snow-covered lands of Fractured Peaks felt weighted under the oppressive forces plaguing it. Whether it was packs of Wargs or a swarm of demonic creatures, blood would be splattered all over the frosty environment. Even on Torment II, Diablo IV didn’t feel overly difficult, but it’s the gritty nature of its locales that makes the combat much more exhilarating. Dungeons take you to decaying castles and dark cavernous complexes strewn with bodies, necromantic offerings, and the like — all set pieces that I felt its predecessor was lacking in any meaningful way. Even the story beats themselves are far darker than Diablo III, with earlier missions introducing Lilith, the Mother of Sanctuary, as she casually murders anyone but her devout followers, or another side mission that sees a young boy possessed by a demon — he survives, but the intent is the same.

It’s that return to Diablo’s core theme that had me exploring every nook and cranny Diablo IV has to offer within its huge map. With dungeons, cellars, world events, world bosses, side quests, and a buttload of lore to uncover, I’m excited to see what other dark wonders Diablo IV might hold. As I said before, the combat itself feels reminiscent of Diablo III, but more medieval in its portrayal. Don’t get me wrong, you’re still slaughtering hordes of enemies in unrealistic ways, just as you would hope from a Diablo game worth its salt, but it has shrugged off any form of goofiness to feel contemporary within the world it’s being performed. Combined with the game’s grittier style, gothic undertones, and darker enemy variants, I’m so pleased to say that Diablo IV can’t come soon enough!

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In other Diablo IV news, Blizzard recently detailed how Diablo IV’s post-launch content will work and the prices of each Battle Pass — yes, there’s more than one on offer. We also know that there will be a “pinnacle boss encounter” to test the hardiest of adventurers.

Did you play either of the open betas? If so, I’d love to know what your thoughts are on Diablo IV at the moment. Drop a comment below and let me know!

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