In partnership with Blizzard Entertainment
Diablo IV was officially announced back in 2019 during Blizzcon and, the next chapter in the iconic action role-playing series is finally released next month.
Available for Playstation and Xbox consoles as well as PC, Diablo IV is set around 50 years after the events of Diablo III: Reaper Of Souls and tasks players with saving the world of Sanctuary from the previously exiled Lilith, daughter of Mephisto AKA the Lord Of Hatred.
Players will be able to battle depraved demons and corrupted wildlife in the open-world title, but also take on fellow players in specific PvP areas. From carving up those hordes of villainous creatures to exploring the warped landscape of Sanctuary to an entirely new level of customisation, here’s why we can’t wait to play Diablo IV.
It’s the darkest Diablo story yet.
Diablo IV takes place around 50 years after the cataclysmic events of Diablo III:Reaper Of Souls, which saw millions slaughtered by the hands of the renegade Archangel of Death, Malthael . With humanity shattered and a power vacuum created by the fall of Malthael, the desperate denizens of Sanctuary are turning to darker means of sanctuary and have paved the way for the return of previously exiled demon Lilith.
Lilith “awakens burning urges in the hearts of those around her, be it demon, human or beast. Profound fears, unchecked rage, repressed impulses, sinful desires—all are brought forth violently and irresistibly by her mere presence,” which obviously causes all sorts of issues across a heavily scarred world of Sanctuary. Your job? Stop them.
For this next chapter in the Diablo series, Blizzard wanted to create a story that would appeal to both hardcore Diablo players and newcomers. Diablo IV game director, Joe Shely said in a recent developer video: “We really wanted to return to our darker roots. It’s the darkest story we’ve ever told, and it spans the mythos of Sanctuary and the lore of the series like never before.”
“With Diablo IV, you’re very much watching a tragedy unfold,” added associate writer Eden Trujillo with the game focusing on people, not just the apocalyptic elements that surround them.
Combat has been carefully balanced
After a series of beta tests, Blizzard has refined the various classes available to deliver the best possible Diablo IV experience. Speaking to NME earlier this year, Diablo’s general manager Rod Fergusson explained: “There is a lot of balance there, but the trick around balance is that it’s a balance over time — not a balance of the moment. Not all classes at level five should have the same power.”
Joe Shely, game director for Diablo IV, added that “when you’re balancing something to be equal, you can make the mistake of balancing it to be the same”. It means players have to think carefully before selecting from the five classes available in Diablo IV.
The Barbarian has unparalleled strength and expertly wields an entire arsenal in battle, with a weapon for every occasion. He bellows intimidating war cries and unleashes ground-shaking slams to send approaching hordes reeling.
The Druid is a savage shapeshifter, fluidly transforming between the forms of a towering bear or a vicious werewolf to fight alongside the creatures of the wild. He also commands the power of earth, wind, and storm, unleashing nature’s wrath to devastating effect.
Necromancers are cunning summoners that conjure vengeful hordes of the undead. Their Essence flows into three powerful bastions of Bone, Blood, or Shadow to bring low their enemies.
The Rogue is an adaptable, agile warrior who can specialise in ranged or close quarters combat. They can best any foe using imbued weapons, perform powerful combo attacks, and can augment their arsenal with deadly poisons, crippling frost, and shadow magic to slay demons with impunity.
The Sorcerer shapes the elements into whatever form is necessary to ensure victory, from hurling bolts of lightning, impaling foes upon jagged spikes of ice, and raining flaming meteors down from the sky.
The scarred Sanctuary makes for one epic setting
Diablo IV is an open-world ARPG with five distinct regions to explore; Scosglen, Dry Steppes, Kehjista, Fractured Peaks and Hawezar. “How you choose to make your way through this vast world is up to you,” said lead environment artist Matt McDaid, with many different routes and hidden corners to uncover.
“The Art and Design teams have constructed a contiguous world where you can roam from coast to coast, or high up into the glacial ridges,” he continued. “For the Environment Art team, we want to ensure each handcrafted location is distinct and immersive.” There’s also over 120 replayable dungeons across the land that can be augmented into challening Nightmare Dungeons with unique twists that shake up the gameplay..
But don’t worry about spending hours walking between locations. Scattered throughout the world are a series of waypoints that you can instantly teleport to, and for the first time in the series players can unlock mounts as they progress through the campaign that you can call upon to traverse the world even quicker.
Every part of the adventure is up to you
As well as an open-world to explore, how you approach the storyline of Diablo IV is entirely up to the player through a non-linear story campaign, another first for the series. “The player character in Diablo IV is whoever the player wants them to be. Are they running from something, are they running to something, what kind of a person are they?” said developers in a recent video blog.
Diablo IV also introduces a new level of character customisation. “You will be able to change the face of your character, the hairstyle, the facial hair (beards and eyebrows), and add jewelry (nose piercing or earrings), makeup, and body markings such as tattoos or body paint,” Blizzard said in a developers update.
“You will also be able to change the color values of your character’s skin, eyes, hair/facial hair, and body markings. Some elements will be class specific, to support the classes’ unique backgrounds, but many will be shared between classes allowing more possibilities to mix and match.” Blizzard went on to say that a player’s unique character will get more close-up time than ever before in the series, in menus and cinematic sequences while items will also offer more meaningful choice beyond chasing the newest legendary.
Even your mounts will be customisable via a series of unlockable cosmetics.
Cutting down waves of vile demons never felt so good
Making your character look badass is one thing but the most important aspect of Diablo is still how good it feels to carve your way through scores of corrupted demons.
The range of item customisation through tons of legendary and unique gear that have extremely powerful skill enhancements as well as the expansive talent tree and paragon system means that every battle is a chance to test your wits. Players will also be able to earn or extract legendary powers and use them to craft their own powerful legendary items for even more customisation. Diablo IV introduces a familiar but expanded ‘evade’ mechanic into combat which allows players to strategically and agilely maneuver during combat to avoid powerful enemy blows or set up devistating offensive attacks. “We wanted to make combat feel a little bit more intentional, add a little bit more stakes, and increase the clarity of the battlefield,” Shely told IGN (via PCGamesN).
“Diablo is a power fantasy,” says Fergusson, “So if it feels too arduous and slow, too laborious, then it feels like just meat sacks of hit points and it’s not fun to kill things. If it’s too fast then [it feels] like everything’s made of paper and my strength doesn’t matter. It really is about dialling it in.”
The game doesn’t end with hopefully saving the world
Diablo IV does not end after you complete the epic story campaign. Some of the most intense challenges and ways to make your character even stronger will begin after the story concludes and players make their way into the lofty end-game features that Diablo IV has to offer..
Like Diablo III, Diablo IV will have its own Paragon system for post-game progression that has been vastly expanded on from previous iterations with massive amounts of customization options. Once players hit level 50 in Diablo IV, they’ll gain access to the Paragon system and unlock a variety of Paragon boards that can be rotated and placed strategically together.
As you earn Paragon points, you will choose a path through the boards you have laid out allowing you to target specific bonuses and skill upgrades for even further character customization possibilities. “The desired outcome is a personalized set of bonuses that will empower your hero and honor your dedication to their progression, that will remain fun to tweak and adjust over many playthroughs,” explained Blizzard in the 2021 end of year update.
As players approach the maximum level of 100 on their characters and they feel prepared, they can take on Diablo IV’s pinnacle end-game challenge by taking on a secret and extremely powerful level 100 boss encounter. The creature has been “balanced so that it’s extraordinarily, extraordinarily challenging,” Diablo IV‘s associate game director Joe Piepiora told Gamesradar, adding that even level 100 players will have an “extremely difficult time” defeating the boss, which will offer up cosmetic and “other” items as a reward.
“The expectation is that you take your class, you understand your build, you’ve maximized everything that you possibly can about it, and you really have learned encounters very well. And that’s going to be the way that you can maybe take it down,” he added.
For players looking for PvP action, Diablo IV is introducing dedicated PvP zones called the Fields of Hatred. Stepping into these zones allows you to face off against other players and earn Shards of Hatred through killing other players, monsters, roaming bosses, and looting chests. These shards can then be purified and exchanged for various rewards to enhance your character. But be wary! The more players you kill, you may have a bounty placed on your head which will incentivize others to track you down to take you out for a greater reward.