Posted November 4, 2019 by Peter in News

Diablo 4 – the logical sum of 2 + 3?

Diablo IV logo
Diablo IV logo

It feels like a long time ago, but it’s only been a year since the announcement of Diablo: Immortal was met by jeers and ill-judged responses at BlizzCon – Blizzard’s own event for announcing their upcoming content. People didn’t want a mobile game – they wanted Diablo 4. Be patient, came the message. A year later that patience paid off.

Of course, Blizzard still have an uphill struggle to satisfy the two main branches of Diablo fans, those who think 2 was as pure an experience as could be hoped for and hate 3 as a lightweight power grind; and those who enjoy 3 as an exercise in trying out new builds, freely swapping through skills and equipment to see what might achieve that power grind…

Diablo IV screenSure, there are plenty of fans who fit down the middle and have enjoyed the whole series – I’ll count myself in this bracket. But, on the initial announcement it would appear Blizzard have tried to draw in both extremes of the fandom. The three initial classes named – barbarian, sorceress and druid – are all returning from Diablo 2, as are runewords (loot that creates effects depending on what they are used to spell) and the mixed blessing of PvP. Hopefully we’ll have a fairer system than low level players being farmed to oblivion by their high level equivalents in online games…

This does also open the door to friendly interaction, of course. The press release accompanying the announcement hints at this too, suggesting players may wish “to tackle bigger challenges”. The first thought that crossed my mind here is “public events”, and when combined with the emphasis on online play where players may encounter each other randomly in a “shared world” – as well as the general movement in modern gaming to online services – it suggests to me that Diablo 4 will be a more open, online gameworld. This is something to keep an eye on with future announcements.

Diablo IV screen

A multiplayer group facing a world boss [based on the title of the release image]

Of course, Diablo 3 was a more accessible game, with more freely dropping loot (after the major 2.0 loot patch, that is) and the ability to re-spec character with few limitations. There is a promise of customisable skill trees, and just how customisable that may be is of interest. Diablo 3‘s skill system – each skill have several variants to use, often having different synergies with different gear – encouraged tinkering, in contrast to Diablo 2 where re-specing at all was a big deal.

The announcement has also specified that two further classes are to be announced (both Diablo 2 and 3 released with five classes, and both games added more with DLC), and it’ll be interesting to see if they draw inspiration from the classes in previous games – and if so, which ones. There is also a description of “keyed dungeons”, promising that players can “specify the types of challenging dungeon crawling experiences they want to take on”. This sounds like it is looking to develop the rifts and greater rifts of Diablo 3, which allow players to create timed dungeons at their choice of difficulty level. For a lot of players, the end game of Diablo 3 was to see how high a level could be reached in the greater rifts, and it seems logical to build on this. But again, this is a feature that needs clarification.

It’s the sort of announcement that poses questions as well as answers, although if that is a way of attracting interest then… well done, Blizzard. And this is before I fully geek out at the playable characters again seeming to be powerful humans rather than the almost godlike Nephalem of Diablo 3; or of the trailer including brief images of Inarius and the appearance of Lilith – the angel and demon who rebelled and created the world of Sanctuary together… I foresee a lot of new lore adding to the backstory on release.

Plus, if it has anything like the hook of the previous games I think it has planned a few hundred hours of my life. Here’s hoping nothing messes up a winning formula.


Peter can be described as an old, hairy gamer, a survivor of the console wars of the 1990s, and a part-time MMO addict. He has an especial fondness for retro gaming and observing the progressions in long running gaming series. When scandalously not caught gaming, he can also be found reading comics and fantasy fiction, or practising terrible photography.