A weekend with the devil: Thoughts on Diablo IV’s first open beta

Thoughts on the Diablo 4 open beta from a Diablo 3 fanatic.

A weekend with the devil: Thoughts on Diablo IV’s first open beta
Lilith via Blizzard

Editor’s note: Blizzard announced another open beta May 12-14. Check it out for yourself, and post your comments below.

A few weeks ago, Blizzard opened limited access to their upcoming game Diablo IV. People responded by playing over 61.5 million hours of the game.

I was one of those people, playing roughly 10 hours of the upcoming game. As a huge fan of Diablo III - playing over 700 hours of the game - I decided it was worth checking out its successor. Could it excite me in the same way? Or would it be different enough where I decided to skip its release in early June?

It was not surprising that the queue for the open beta was at 45 minutes when it went live. However, it moved much quicker, and I was in before the originally quoted time. The game opens with a dramatic cutscene that lasts roughly 10 minutes. Once it was over, I was thrown into the world of Diablo IV.

One of the main complaints about Diablo III was how light it was compared to the second game. It’s obvious that Blizzard took these criticisms to heart when creating DIablo IV. Throughout the early part of the game, everything is in dark, hazy tones that made me miss the well-defined world of Diablo III. It felt like the developers were told they could only use colors from the gray pallet. This did however make cutscenes pop when encountered within the game.

After playing a few hours on day one, I stopped and returned to Diablo III. I tried to figure out why I had deserted the new version for the old, and apart from the color dullness the question I kept asking internally was when does Diablo IV get fun?

It didn’t take long into day two for that question to be answered. Stumbling into dungeons, turning into a bear to fight enemies and evolving the new skill tree had me sucked into the game. Still, when I reached the first city of Kyovashad, the game unexpectedly turned into what felt like an MMORPG. It took me a while to realize I wasn’t playing Lost Ark, and part of me thought I should just jump into that game. But, time with Diablo IV was limited, so I powered on.

Gameplay via Blizzard

Combat and the skill tree feel good. At one point, I moved away from mouse and keyboard to give the controller a try. Diablo IV plays great with a controller, something that cannot be said about its predecessor. While I did enjoy the new way of choosing skills, respecing could be annoying, as players need to reassign individual points instead of just choosing a different skill. I was also more than a little concerned about the addition of crafting. I am not a fan of this in many games, and the addition here felt even more unwelcome, as it feels like it will just slow down play even more.

Diablo IV does a lot right. The new character classes are fun. The story beats I hit were fantastic. Being able to create a distinctive character instead of relying on a default male or female model like in Diablo III will make many players happy.

One area where Diablo III is a massive success is in bringing players back after they completed the main story. The quarterly seasons bring a new dynamic at each release, bringing players back to the comfort they know with a new twist and possibly a different character class. Not a lot is known about Diablo IV’s postgame, but it is anticipated there will be some similarities. Blizzard developers released the following video.

Is Diablo IV a game worth picking up day one? I am still undecided. Diablo III had more than its share of issues at launch, including a real-money auction house, but the team at Blizzard kept working on it and turned it into the incredible game it is today. I hope and believe Diablo IV will follow a similar trajectory.