BlizzCon 2019: Hands-On Impressions with Diablo IV

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The long awaited Diablo IV announcement may have been the biggest one to come out of BlizzCon 2019. The introduction cinematic trailer (featured at the bottom of this article) with Lilith was a gory beauty. The return of druid class received thunderous cheers and applause during the keynote and the line for the Diablo IV demo was filled throughout the convention. It is safe to say that people are hyped for this game.

As I mentioned in my predictions article, I did not play a lot of Diablo growing up. I was too immersed in World of Warcraft when Diablo III was released and I never found it compelling enough to play for more than a dozen levels. After the Diablo: Immortal debacle last year, and the lack of updates to Diablo III, I wasn’t sure if I would ever get into the franchise. If the cinematic for Diablo IV wasn’t enough to change my mind, the demo certainly was.

Attendees were able to choose to play as one of the announced classes: sorceress, druid, or barbarian. There was also the option of grouping up with those near you based on their computer or you could play alone. I chose to play as a barbarian and grouped with my wife who played as the sorceress. We were dropped in the middle of dungeon and were prompted to kill things, which we did..a lot. We were given preset talents and abilities which we both picked up very quickly. By the end of the first dungeon, I was jumping around smashing demons while my wife was zipping around with her lightning abilities.

Items continue be an easy thing to find. The tool tips showed what was an upgrade and wasn’t which may help new players deal with the ever present min-maxing of gear. Walking out the first area, we both had a bit a new look and new weapons that allowed for passive abilities. Exiting the first dungeon, we were able to see Diablo IV‘s take on the open world system.  Once outside the dungeon, nothing changes. We were the same clean character models with full range of our abilities.

For example, I was able to use the barbarians jump ability to cut across the map faster. Further, we were opened to what appeared to be non-linear quest progression. We had the option of choosing where to go and what quests to do. There were random mobs off the beaten path and other players running around to interaction with as well. One quest followed a mother scared for her son who was seeing visions that are driving him mad. By the end of the investigation into a near by crypt, we watched the young boy choke on his own blood. This game will not be for the faint of heart.

Through the Diablo IV panel, developers announced a plethora of new things coming to Diablo IV that wasn’t in the beta. Diablo IV is going to be online across all platforms in what Blizzard described as a shared open world. Players may not be forced to group but there will be open world events for players to come together to defeat. With this focus on open world play, Diablo IV will have mounts that are customizable. The talent system looks to be fairly straight forward and nothing that fans of the series won’t be able to pick up quickly. Further, dungeons will be randomly generated to keep players guessing what is around the next corner.

Diablo IV looks to be getting back to its roots. I am looking forward to uncovering the story that Sanctuary has to tell with friends and on my own.  No word yet on release date or beta access. However, if you have been looking to get into the Diablo series or are looking for a reason to believe in the franchise after Diablo: Immortal now is the time. And dark times they are.