DIABLO 4 is set 30 years after the last game in the series and feels largely disconnected from the larger world.
Sanctuary has now flourished, filled with towns and camps scattered throughout the gorgeous landscape.
The world feels lived in, and that’s a big change from other games in the series. The human touches make the world feel fresh.
Despite improved world-building, the story still leaves a lot to be desired. While it’s not bad, it’s clear that it copies beats from other games in the series.
We see the same character archetypes playing out the same storyline from the first three games, without much change.
On the upside there is Lilith, one of the deepest antagonists the series has ever seen.
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While many series make the villains black or white, Lilith is shades of grey which makes for a compelling character.
One of Diablo 4’s best achievements is its huge continuous open world with no loading screens between overworld map areas.
It can make it harder to stick to the places that are relevant to where you are with the story, the world scales with your level, meaning you can go anywhere you wish.
Despite this, it is clear that it was built for multiplayer play, which the devs explained in an interview with GLHF.
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Enemies appear in large groups, which can overwhelm solo players quickly even if they are at the appropriate level.
Playing with strangers online is pretty much as you would expect.
Even if you jump in to help others participating in world events, most are unlikely to do the same for you.
Teaming up with friends is the best solution here, but that obviously requires having a group of Diablo 4 playing friends.
When you unlock more abilities it does get easier to take on by yourself, but there’s always the chance of a surprise encounter.
To Blizzard’s credit Diablo 4’s multiplayer is hassle-free, and cross-play as well as cross-progression work seamlessly.
Some classes have great synergy with each other, making theory-crafting builds in groups even more exciting.
The combat is as good as it has ever been, and perhaps even better. It takes the basis from Diablo 2, and is more deliberate and impactful than Diablo 3.
This is best shown in the boss fights, which are the best in the series, and there isn’t a single fight you won’t have to try twice.
The new sense of challenge comes from positioning. Between managing potions and your skill cooldowns, there is a lot of strategy that goes into each fight.
Our one issue with the combat system is that it forces you to choose a path from the very beginning when it comes to classes.
This gives you a better sense of your abilities and how they work together, but removes a lot of freedom.
All of this is nothing compared to the issues with monetisation and microtransactions.
It’s important to remember that Diablo 4 is a full-price game. One that strongly encouraged players to purchase the deluxe edition for £90.
While the shop is only limited to cosmetics, and nothing that can increase your progress, the pricing is absurd.
It feels as if the game is pushing you to pay these absurd prices as in-game armour has very little variation.
Each set looks and feels similar in an obvious attempt to push players towards paid cosmetics.
It also hides the price behind its premium currency Platinum, which is only purchasable by using real money.
There is no way to earn it in-game, and pricing things in Platinum helps to hide the real price from players.
It also means that players have to buy Platinum in bundles which is rarely exactly the same amount as the item you want.
This encourages you to either purchase more, or to leave unspent currency on your account.
Diablo 4 is probably the best the series has ever been, even if it is a little more difficult in single-player.
The aggressive monetisation makes it difficult to recommend, and practices like this cannot be allowed to become the industry standard.
Written by Georgina Young on behalf of GLHF.
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