As readers might have guessed already, we here at Gaming Instincts are excited and ecstatic at the idea of Diablo IV being in development.
Perhaps even more thrilled than the rest of the staff are site owner Leo and editor/news writer Jennifer, who are both long-term, hardcore fans of the Diablo franchise. While both prefer a solo, competitive playstyle, they also have differing opinions on some aspects of the game, in particular when it comes to Diablo III. Leo disliked the lighter and less ominous artistic style in D3, and felt that while it had somewhat in-depth gameplay systems, leveling had little to no meaning, and paragon levels felt as if they overshadowed player skill. Jennifer, however, enjoyed the grind of paragon levels and Greater Rifts, and found the story presented in the Reaper of Souls expansion fascinating, as the dark angel Malthael is one of her favorite characters in Diablo lore.
To help whet player appetites even further in the wake of Diablo IV’s official announcement, Leo and Jennifer collaborated on this list of the things they are most excited about experiencing when the game finally launches.
What Leo is most looking forward to in Diablo IV:
The return of druids:
Druid is a class I’ve been wanting for a long time—being a primal, shape-shifting, animalistic class that turns into werebear or werewolf to tear apart the evil horrors threatening Sanctuary sounds absolutely amazing to me. Not only that, but how Blizzard has portrayed the Druid class in Diablo IV, with its dark gothic medieval horror and a combination of tribal aesthetics is just an absolute marvel.
The spells and animations look superb, and considering the game is in very early development, it’s only going to get better—thanks to the improvement and updates to the engine over time.
What’s most impressive about the druid to me is that everything transitions smoothly. This is what Blizzard refers to as “seamless shape-shifting,” where skills that require a particular animal form will not interfere with other skills that require a different animal form. Instead, it will just go straight into activating your skill, transition super smooth, and provide satisfying gameplay without any kind of weird disruption or awkward animation transition.
Whoever came up with the concept, coding, and design of this is an absolute genius, and deserves a raise. Not only is it exciting for the druid, it’s also exciting for gamers to see where this type of technology can go next, and what it means for future classes and content.
The hundreds of dungeons for leveling and end-game:
Dungeons are one of the core parts of any RPG, whether it’s a single player RPG, MMORPG like World of Warcraft, or a loot based ARPG such as Diablo or Path of Exile. Dungeons are where you will spend a lot of your time, so it’s important that they are varied, exciting, and interesting. Blizzard is promising over 100 dungeons and 100 legendaries to collect and find, and all of this sounds like a massive undertaking.
The dungeons will be randomized, but they all have a name and a particular tile set, which means there is a lot of variety to be had. They’re each located in specific parts of the world, but when you go into them, everything else is randomly generated. Once you enter a dungeon, you will be tasked with some sort of an end goal objective that has a reward at completion.
The most exciting part for me is finding keys from monster drops, and turning a regular dungeon into an endgame dungeon. The endgame dungeon has more powerful monsters, is a lot more dangerous, and of course, the rewards are much greater as well. This also lets solo players become the best they can be, and obtain the most powerful items in the game possible. This will be fantastic for seasonal leaderboards and replayability.
PvP at launch, seasons, and Hardcore mode:
Let’s be real, PvP was basically missing from the Diablo franchise for an entire 8 years or so, since the release of Diablo III. While Blizzard did attempt to add a PvP area in Diablo III, no one used it much, and it ended up a complete waste of resources. Seasonal play also took forever to launch, and instead was later added after the release of Reaper of Souls. Seasons have added a ton of replayability to Diablo III and made it much better. However, the game needed all of this from the beginning, and that obviously didn’t happen.
With that being said, it seems that seasons will be an important part of Diablo IV going forward, and Blizzard learned a great deal from Diablo III. It’s exciting to know that seasons will indeed be coming to Diablo IV, and that Blizzard plans to make them work and give the community something to do besides just playing the game and leveling characters.
I absolutely can’t wait to jump in to Diablo IV on launch day, start a Druid, and play strictly a self-found, solo, hardcore character during the first season, seeing how far I can get without getting killed, or better yet—I can ruin the day for other players.
Another interesting aspect is that Blizzard said with the number of legendaries, skills and build variety in the game, players will be able to have different gear sets for both PvE and PvP. This will give the game a ton of replayability, competition, and excitement. I am really looking forward to experiencing all of this, and seeing where it will take the game going forward.
What Jennifer is looking forward to the most about Diablo IV:
Mounts and a contiguous world:
When I was watching the Diablo IV reveal at BlizzCon, there was so much awesome information being thrown my way that it was hard for me to stop for a second and marvel over any one thing. Everything was exciting, everything looked good to me. Then they came out and said we were going to get mounts. Horses. Fire horses. Ice horses. Dead horses. Horses with no faces, and maybe even horses with two faces.
Not only will mounts let me run over the game world quicker, but they will be highly customizable. You can change your mounts armor, coat color, saddle, and more. Mounts can even carry trophies attached to the saddle or barding, so if you feel like showing off, or if you’re like me and you just enjoy carrying skulls around, you can do that.
Throughout my career playing Diablo III competitively, there were always two things that I wished for, deep in the back of my mind. Those things were: the ability to traverse the map on foot faster, and for the pesky loading screens and zone transitions to go away. Diablo IV will give me both of these, as the mounts that I can earn will carry me from one end of Sanctuary to the other without a single loading screen. Even better, the contiguous world and no loading screens extends into dungeons. This means if any end-game content has a timed mode, you won’t lose a few precious seconds here and there to some silly loading screen reminding you for the millionth time that you’re playing a Diablo game.
Character customization options:
One of the few things I disliked about Diablo III through its entirety was the lack of customization for my personal character. Customization of character model has always been absent in Diablo games, and for a long time I felt this was okay, because technically your character was actually a specific character in the game’s lore. In Diablo III, for example, canonically the wizard and demon hunter were the female versions of those characters. There was a reason for the lack of customization, but that didn’t make it any less disappointing. It’s a lot easier to invest yourself in a game if you enjoy the way you look, and if your avatar fits whatever fantasy you’ve conjured up for yourself.
I would have loved it if I had been able to give my monk long black hair, and face paint or tattoos showing her dedication to Ytar. It always kind of sucked to open up the leaderboard, and see that I looked like every other monk in the top 200. We all had the same face, the same hair, the same skill build, the same gear build. Heck, we even mostly all transmogged our appearances the same. Individuality was greatly lacking in the Diablo franchise until now, and being able to change skin tone, hair color, eye color, as well as add tattoos and body paint will let me create a character that looks the way I want it to look, not the way Blizzard has dictated to me that it should look.
Blizzard’s promise to not sell power:
Gaming has become oversaturated with microtransactions. They’re everywhere, and while some are more innocuous than the rest, microtransactions that give players a power edge against others are, quite frankly, immoral and wrong.
Historically, gaming has been the one place where having wealth in the real world doesn’t give a person an advantage over those who don’t have much in the way of disposable income. The playing field is and should be based on skill and skill alone, with players separated only by their dedication to a certain genre or title in particular. So, when Blizzard developers at BlizzCon emphatically stated that they will not sell power in Diablo IV, I actually teared up a little bit. It was a relief to hear that the franchise I love so much will not fall down that abyssal rabbit hole and start handing out extra dungeon keys for a few dollars, or potions that buff your damage or experience gain.
Microtransactions will exist in Diablo IV, of course, but they will all be cosmetic, and serve as a means of generating income for future expansions and content updates. I find this to be a perfectly acceptable type of microtransaction, like the Cartel Market in Star Wars: The Old Republic, where all items are cosmetic only and have no effect on actual gameplay. You buy lootboxes in Overwatch to support the game, and you’ll buy cosmetic gear and mount embellishments in Diablo IV to support that game. Seems perfectly reasonable to me.
What both Jennifer and Leo are looking forward to the most about D4:
Nothing in D4 requires a group:
Both of us are primarily solo players who enjoy pushing our limits in a competitive environment, climbing leaderboards and seeing just how much we can take on by our lonesome selves. That means we feel a little bit of worry whenever a game we’re looking forward to has a large amount of group content, because we may be denied some necessary gear or item that’s required for progression but locked behind grouping.
There are many reasons to solo in a game like Diablo IV. The feeling of challenge is more intense, you don’t have to worry about what other people can or can’t do when making decisions of what content to tackle, and you can go at your own pace, whether that’s slower or faster than the norm. Sometimes a person just doesn’t feel like grouping up, or doesn’t want to accomplish a specific goal, but rather wants to mess around and relax for a while without any pressure to do anything in particular.
That the BlizzCon team stated no content in Diablo IV will be locked behind grouping offers players like us a sense of relief. We may occasionally decide to join a group to tackle a world boss, but we will be under no obligation whatsoever to do so, and that kind of choice is what makes Diablo games appeal to such a wide audience.
A visual and atmospheric return to the franchise’s dark, gothic-horror feel:
Diablo games should be dark. They should be full of occult symbols, blood, shadows, and a feel of both wonder and dread at what might be around the next corner. The cinematic trailer for Diablo IV is a dark masterpiece that both of us watched with dropped jaws and pounding hearts. Everything about it was perfect, from the frantic, panicked breathing and whispered chants, to Lilith’s appearance as she was birthed through a veil of blood into the world she helped create so long ago.
Diablo III wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but visually it was a far cry from the appearance of the first two games. Diablo IV seems to promise a return to darkness in a literal fashion, not only bringing back more blood and grit and gore, but also filling each dungeon with dark, shadowy corners that conceal enemies from sight. The overworld itself is dim, bleak, and apocalyptic, bringing back that medieval, gothic-horror feel that the franchise was built on.
Diablo games contain fantasy elements, but they have long been inspired more by the occult rather than the fantastical. The themes have historically been polarizing extremes—Heaven versus Hell, angels versus demons, good versus evil. And in Sanctuary, darkness tends to win more often than not, which should be reflected in the art style of the game. Thankfully, the Diablo IV development team has sworn to give us just that—a world full of blood, pain, torment, and shadows, where anything and everything is out to kill you.
So far, Diablo IV is shaping up to be the game that all fans of the franchise have been waiting for. The development team’s passion and dedication to the project showed in their presentation at BlizzCon, and if they stick to their promises, D4 just may live up to the name of the series. With the game still in very early development, it’s hard to come to concrete conclusions, but everything shown so far indicates the team is moving in the right direction. Let’s hope they keep it up, and fans of Diablo can look forward to Gaming Instincts covering further game development of Diablo IV as it progresses.