Diablo IV, the review: angels and demons in Blizzard’s new open world

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Blizzard’s long, tortuous, and incomplete journey of rebirth passes through Diablo IV, a fundamental crossroads for a label that has been plagued in recent years with errors that go far beyond the video game dimension, and which – coherently with the series’ narrative themes – can send it straight back. to hell or offer her a chance at heavenly redemption.

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The success of a game does not erase the horrors we recently heard from Irvine, California, and should certainly be accompanied by a process of sound analysis in order to better start again, rhetoric aside. We’re here to talk about Diablo IV and won’t get into it any further, but if you’re not aware of the cultural issues that have long reigned at Activision Blizzard, we invite you to do so here.

And it’s a project, that of Diablo IV, that immediately gives the idea of ​​being more ready, centered, and not the fruit of cutting (especially) and sewing as it was instead with the immediate predecessor. A title, this one, that certainly hints at the tradition of a successful chapter like Diablo II, but isn’t afraid to capitalize on the good things done in the post-launch of Diablo III and some of the foundations of the isometric RPG series to its foundations.

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The story, to begin with, is much deeper and more nuanced than D3’s paradigmatic narrative: it’s full of intrigue, interchangeable roles, drama and sacrifice, and uses some narrative gimmicks implemented by the developer to “bring” the player. to the game. First of all, our character exists in the world of Sanctuary and in the story he has a well-defined role and a voice through which he communicates with others as well as with the world around him.

The decisive and gory enthralling artistic direction aims to translate the computer graphics, of which Blizzard has always been the standard bearer, into spectacular cutscenes made with the game engine and narrative moments that are well in-game: the entry and exit of these scenes are always fluid, to give the idea of ​​a passage of the game and not of a foreign body as happened in the past.

Console gameplay

The gameplay plays a role in this approaching process. You immediately notice a greater freedom of choice from the player: the player becomes more involved in the action and no longer has to be limited to the exuberant clicking of a single mouse button, with prompts to crouch, jump, climb.

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In the fact that for the first time Diablo IV will be available simultaneously on both PC and consoles, with PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo users accustomed to a more varied interactivity, and it is no coincidence in this sense that playing with a controller it feels quite natural.

And speaking of naturalness, the open world of Sanctuary seems like a natural extension of what we’ve seen in the saga so far – as if what was previously just unspoken, intentions, aspirations have now seen their full realization, without necessarily being revolutionized. bringing in a type of game that didn’t really need “spatial” revolutions.

The open world of Diablo IV

The open world itself is one of those of MMO, quite static in its conformation but full of both live activities (including some of the most varied in terms of interaction, by the way) and scripted. In general, the side content uses this new architecture to its advantage: you enter a location for a side mission and begin an event or expedition that seamlessly ties into the event or expedition you already started.

When we talked about MMOs, we also meant the construction of everything that can be done, except continuing the story: there are many retrieval missions, which require you to collect certain resources in a certain area, but there are also more structured assignments – not only multi-step missions, but also some that take you to a point to start others that stem from the simple movement and are well justified story-wise.

In the medium and long term we will, of course, be looking at high ranking content, but in the meantime it is nice to be able to delve into the state of the Sanctuary by turning around and reading the stories full of superstitions and miseries, moral rather than economic, of what is often resembles Robert Eggers’ video game The Witch – and not just because of the aesthetics.

Progress and campaign

The sub-30 hour campaign at a leisurely pace is easy enough even at World Tier II, even if the difficulty of the boss fights is a highlight of the experience: they require you to study the patterns and calibrate the timing properly with what potions and skill to use – it’s a bit capricious. However, going off the main path, between Expeditions and Strongholds, there’s the maximum level of challenge, and it’s here that Diablo IV gives its best start today – which, if nothing else, holds promise in the medium term, in a post op perspective start and co-op.

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However, the continuous scaling has left us quite perplexed. The fact that the world and enemies level up with you takes away a lot of the usefulness of side quests, especially not rewarding your efforts by making you feel stronger when you return to the golden path. Blizzard seems to be aware of this risk and naturally compensates for it with the loot – which remains the main engine in such a production – and with the dynamism of Fame, which unlocks additional potion slots, XP, skill points direct and currency in regular episodes for each region .

Progression takes a similar detour when it comes to accessing the higher difficulties: it’s no longer necessary to complete the campaign over and over to get to the last one available, just complete specific expeditions at any point during your gameplay. Of course, each world level has a recommended level for the character, but these two elements certainly shake up the traditional model, push you to explore more of everything and invite you to take some risks.

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Our protagonist, the Necromancer (a class that is now very powerful: nothing but beta) Baldr, has given us sensations of great power and utility, instead shifting the focus to skills and many small details that feel nice. For example, the Necromancer can summon skeletons from corpses. The skill does not consume any essence, so in theory it is limited, but 1 corpse of a defeated enemy on the ground = 1 skeleton, and it is this type of healing that betrays how much work goes into the whole project.

Diablo IV, the verdict

The endgame offers three different types of activities that are unlocked after completing the campaign plus the remaining levels of difficulty: it’s not exactly huge, thanks to the new progression that refers to everything (almost) immediately and therefore most of the content already accessible during the first run, but there’s no shortage of content to enjoy with friends while you wait for season 1, even without counting the work done on the various characters – with the Excellence levels available immediately. The battle pass and the real currency cost of the objects will have to be kept an eye on: the shop was closed in the assessment phase, but from the materials delivered to us on time, we could see disturbing prices for some aesthetic elements.

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Leaving aside considerations about launch – let’s pray the servers can withstand the impact – and about managing the service going forward, the Diablo IV arriving in stores is a mature product capable of learning from the highest point of the saga to date (Diablo II) and from the lowest (Diablo III): complete and solid in every aspect since day one, with a campaign with a captivating look and feel, it’s the breath of fresh air that Blizzard needed to put the last years behind the dark.

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Source: Gazzetta It

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