As a long-time fan of the Diablo franchise, I was eagerly anticipating the release of Diablo IV’s early access (yes, I pre-ordered the game already) and open beta held over the weekends of Mar 17 and Mar 24. It was like an early return to Hell. And I am happy to report that my first impressions of the game are overwhelmingly positive.
For this beta, you can only choose from three classes: Barbarian, Sorceress and Rogue. I choose Barbarian, as it is the closest to my favourite melee class – Paladin (or Crusader). When released, you can also choose from Druid and Necromancer.
Unlike previous iterations, you actually get to customise the face, body and skin tone of your character. It is a good start already. When I jumped into the game proper, I was simply awestruck. The game’s graphics and visuals are simply gorgeous, even with my eight-year-old gaming rig (though with upgraded graphics card). It goes to show that Diablo III has indeed aged…
The dark and gothic aesthetic of the Diablo franchise has been captured on point, and the attention to detail in the game’s environments as well as character designs is really impressive. Every area feels distinct and atmospheric, and I found myself constantly stopping to take in the sights and sounds of the game world.
Like previous games, the game world, be it the open world or dungeons, are randomly generated. So, no one gamer will be playing the same game world. But now, you have the option to regenerate the game world as and when you like. I like the game’s vast environments that offer plenty of opportunities for exploration and discovery, with secrets and quests hidden throughout the game world. Even for a beta whereby my character will be wiped out, I found myself spending hours exploring every nook and cranny of the game world.
And unlike previous versions when there is practically only the main quests and a rigid linear storyline, there are actually side quests that you can partake. The non-linear nature of the game allows for a lot of flexibility in how you approach different challenges.
In terms of gameplay, Diablo IV offers a nice balance between classic Diablo mechanics and new additions. Combat feels fast-paced and satisfying, with a range of abilities and play styles to choose from.
The new skill tree system allows for a lot of customisation and strategy, and I found myself experimenting with different builds to see what worked best for my play style. But you can always reset the skill tree, at a considerable cost of course.
Of course, no game is perfect, and there were a few minor issues that I encountered in the beta. Some of the game’s systems, such as the crafting system and quest log, could use some refinement and streamlining. For instance, there are some quests that just cannot be cleared. Or when I reach the quest area, it cannot be activated.
In addition, the story felt a bit thin and underdeveloped. You only have a glimpse at the chief antagonist Lilith. Diablo is no where to be seen. But the beta only lets you play Act 1 and I think there are a total of four Acts in Diablo IV. So, hopefully, things will improve by then.
Overall, my first impressions of the Diablo IV open beta are extremely positive. The game looks hellishly good and plays fantastically like hell. I am really excited to play Diablo IV when the game is released on Jun 6!
If you’re a fan of the Diablo franchise, or just a fan of hack-and-slash RPGs in general, I highly recommend pre-ordering Diablo IV and join me in Hell!