Diablo IV is an online-only action role-playing game developed by Blizzard Entertainment and the fourth main installment in the Diablo series. Announced at BlizzCon 2019, the game was released on June 5, 2023, for PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One and Series X and S, and Microsoft Windows. Players can choose from one of five playable classes and embark on quests utilizing a combination of skills and equipment. This article from Royals Blue will explore the gameplay, character classes, environment, plot, development, reception, and sales of Diablo IV.
The core gameplay formula of Diablo IV revolves around gradually obtaining stronger equipment by defeating increasingly difficult enemies. Different character class skills can be customized by equipment and talent trees to progress through the story and quests. Enemy combat is fought using different character class skills which can be customized by equipment and talent trees. This concept is used to progress through the story and quests. Enemies are divided into monster families that are defined by a theme, combat-style, and their location.
Each family contains different archetypes that hold different roles, allowing for synergies of specialty abilities between family members. To differentiate between them, they have unique silhouettes, stances, and weapons. Creative director Sebastian Stepien explained that the goal was to create a more “grounded” story than Diablo III. That means the plot revolves around simple folk rather than “politics, kings, or another high-fantasy theme.”
The playable character’s effectiveness in combat is determined by their attributes and their boosts from equipped items. Offensive attributes include attack and critical chance, which increase damage output. Defensive stats include elemental resistance and defense, which increase how much damage can be taken. Diablo IV introduces three new attributes: Angelic, Demonic, and Ancestral Power. Angelic and Demonic Power alter the duration of beneficial and negative effects, respectively. Ancestral Power increases the chance of effects being applied to another entity.
Weapons and gear have increasing rarity which are a general indicator of their power. The rarest items have unique effects that alter more than just the character’s parameters. In an interview with lead game designer Joe Shely and senior producer Tiffany Wat, it was revealed that trading and crafting will be available in the game, but will be limited to resources outside of the most powerful items. Limited-time seasons return to the game, which alter legendary powers to shift the meta-game.
Microtransactions are included in the game in the form of cosmetic items. The game cannot be played offline and requires an internet connection.
Diablo IV features five available character classes for players to choose from – Barbarian, Druid, Necromancer, Rogue, or Sorcerer. Each class has unique skills, attributes, and boosts that can be customized. Character appearance can be customized outside of class abilities. This section will explore each class, detailing their unique abilities and the ways that they can be customized by players.
The Barbarian, voiced by Ray Chase and Laila Berzins, is a popular character that appeared in Diablo II and Diablo III. This class has the ability to switch between weapons while in combat, enabling it to dish out a lot of massive damage. Barbarians are a close-range class that deal incredible amounts of damage with their strength and crushing blows. Barbarians hit hard and usually operate by being in the middle of the action.
Barbarian Class Skills
The Barbarian class has three skill categories: Combat Mastery, Warcries, and Combat Skills. Combat Mastery skills are passive and focus on enhancing the Barbarian’s inherent abilities or improving their combat stats. Warcries are active skills with short durations, which provide boosts for the Barbarian and their party. Combat Skills are active offensive and supportive abilities that can deal colossal damage to enemies or provide tactical advantages to the Barbarian and their allies.
The Druid, voiced by Andrew Morgado and Courtenay Taylor, is a playable character class that returned from Diablo II. This class can shapeshift between human, werewolf, and werebear forms, which is a unique ability in the game. A Druid is a versatile class that can take on different roles depending on how they are customized. They are great for experiencing the more natural aspects of the game with elemental and storm magic at their disposal.
Druid Class Skills
The Druid class has three skill categories: Shape-Shifting, Elemental, and Summoning. Shape-Shifting skills allow the Druid to transform into different animal forms for combat. Elemental skills are active abilities that deal elemental damage and provide crowd control
Necromancer Class Skills
The Necromancer class has three skill categories: Curses, Summoning, and Poison. Curse skills are active that inflict a negative status ailment on enemies. Summoning skills allow players to summon different types of undead allies. Poison skills are active skills that deal damage over time to enemies.
The Rogue, voiced by Andres Williams and Anna Koval, is a quick-moving combatant that alternates between bladed melee or ranged combat with a bow. This class has been returning from the first game and allows players to experience a fast-paced gameplay style.
Rogue Class Skills
The Rogue class has three skill categories: Traps, Ranged, and Melee. Traps are active skills that allow the Rogue to prepare the battlefield for combat. Ranged skills are active abilities that allow the Rogue to attack from a distance, while Melee allows them to fight up close and personal.
The Sorcerer, voiced by Joseph Balderrama and Maya Saroya, is a returning character from Diablo and Diablo II. This class is an elemental mage-type character wielding fire, ice, and lightning magic. Sorcerers are fragile but deal tremendous amounts of damage from range and also have some decent crowd control abilities.
Sorcerer Class Skills
The Sorcerer has three skill categories: Elemental, Magic Mastery, and Familiar. Elemental skills are active skills that allow the Sorcerer to use elemental magic. Magic Mastery skills are passive skills that increase the Sorcerer’s magical abilities. Familiar skills allow the Sorcerer to summon familiars to help fight in combat.
Diablo IV is set in the Diablo series world of Sanctuary. There are five regions of Sanctuary that players can traverse – Scosglen, Fractured Peaks, Dry Steppes, Hawezar, and Kehjistan. Each region has a distinct feel and layout, providing different environments for the players to explore.
Diablo IV received generally favorable reviews from critics, with an average score of 86-91 across platforms, according to Metacritic. Reviewers praised the game’s atmospheric story and the inclusion of staple features from previous installments such as replayable, procedurally generated dungeons, and loot-focused character-building while also featuring mechanics new to the series, including an open world and player versus player combat. Critics also praised the game’s visual design.
PCGamesN praised the visuals and aesthetic, saying “It’s creepy, yet somehow beautiful.” While praising the endgame, Ars Technica felt the skill trees presented fewer options for upgrades than in Diablo III.
Alessandro Barbosa of GameSpot wrote that the game’s story was “moving and engrossing,” particularly praising the handling of Lilith, the game’s main antagonist. Barbosa thought that the game put a larger emphasis on companions than in previous Diablo installments, and highlighted the moment-to-moment action of the game as one of its strongest points. However, he criticized the boss fights in some of the game’s more common dungeons for lacking in complexity, calling them less interesting than those encountered in the main story.
Polygon disliked the dungeon-crawling aspect of the game, feeling that it became repetitive fairly quickly, saying “The procedurally generated dungeons don’t vary much in layout and feel like missed opportunities to have fun with randomized architecture.”
VG247 praised the game’s soundtrack as “exceptional; equal parts haunting and daunting, just like its traumatized world.”
Diablo IV became the fastest-selling game in Blizzard Entertainment‘s history on its release day, generating $666 million in revenue within the first five days after launch. By August 2023, the game had reached 12 million players.
Diablo IV is an impressive addition to the iconic Diablo game series, featuring an engaging storyline, five distinct character classes, an immersive game atmosphere, and procedurally generated dungeons. While the game does not come without its flaws, it is a fantastic game with a wide range of features that will appeal to both loyal fans of the Diablo series and new players alike. Whether you are looking for an immersive open-world experience or a fast-paced action role-playing game, Diablo IV has something to offer everyone.