At the BlizzCon 2019 Opening Ceremony, Blizzard finally introduced Diablo 4 – the players who raged last year on the debut of Diablo: Besmortal. From the very first moment of the trailer on Diablo 4, the fearsome new tone of Blizzard was noticed.
Diablo 4 is some kind of metal shit, a game filled with the spirits of Ronnie James Dio and Satan himself. This will not be Diablo 3 where Wimshisher, filled with literal arcs and unicorns, lurks just below the surface of Tristram.
The world of Diablo 4 feels just as gloomy in the game as it does in the BlizzCon cinema. But unlike cinema, there is a glimmer of hope in the world of the sanctuary. And that hope is as banal as it sounds, you and other players Diablo 4 .
A world in need of hope
Throughout my four times during the demonstration Diablo 4 at BlizzCon, Only once I dealt with the basic mission of history. In my first three runs, I sprinted around the world, ignoring glowing exclamation marks and exploring random dungeons.
Each of these tracks was different as other players would weave into my game and clear them, clearing some areas of monsters before I could reach them. But usually NPCs and game events have changed my experience the most.
A woman runs up to me and yells about the monsters around. I did a good job of accidentally clearing the beasts that just play Diablo in my usual way: a tornado moved meaninglessly through goat men.
But when she asked for my help, I stopped her and protected her. This interaction is not unique to Diablo 4 – in fact, many moments like this exist during Diablo 3 – but the tonal transition from a silly, rough upstairs to a Gothic nightmare changes the way that a small event makes make me feel. I was the only hope of this poor woman in this gloomy land, and if I didn't stop the demons, she would die.
But stop them I did and she threw me some gold and a pair of boots for my problem. I felt good about what I did, preventing anyone from diving into a Batman game. I did a little good in the world and somehow didn't scare this poor woman to death when I became a super bear in front of her poor, mortal eyes. A well spent day.
But not all of my interactions were so successful.
I came across a man twice fighting a group of demons in the field, begging for my help. He was not a super-powered sorcerer or a strangely clumsy druid; he was just a dude in some light armor. Once, I successfully dealt with the demons, and he – like the woman before – threw me some boots and money while running back to town.
My second meeting with the man was not so fun. The man asked for my help and I jumped for help – suspecting that I would probably only get shit shoes for my assistance. But when the smoke cleared and the demons were gone, so was the man. I didn't see a bloody corpse or a pile of gold, maybe I missed giving it to me. He just wasn't there.
I don't know what happened to the man. Maybe it was a demon or even a game bug that took him away – it was an early demonstration after all. But I've been thinking about the man for a few hours, wondering what happened. After spending eight years watching thousands of random, innocent peasants torn apart by Diablo 3 I would not have imagined that the death of a Diablo citizen would affect me.
The tone of Diablo 4 is darker because you really look like the only slice of hope in a world filled with evil.
The loneliness of Diablo 4 even with other Nephalim crossing the world, is a big change from Diablo 3 . I pass from the demon, to the shore event, to the dungeon – I never get to do things. Yet I feel the depression of the earth around me.
That is, as long as the world spits out a demon so furious that I will never be enough to stop it myself. My card pings that an event is happening nearby. I open it and start heading for the calling circle of the pentagram north.
When I arrived, the area I met during my four sessions changed significantly. The organic mushroom on the ground swirled, and the middle of the calling circle was a pit with a black catfish swirling. Other Nephalim are popping up around me. Wizards, barbarians, other druids fill the pit.
We all wait for the timer on our screens to set to 0.
The stream pit grows outward and the camera shrinks outward. A new beast is born and it takes up a lot of screen real estate.
Nephilim panic and everyone starts to do what they do best. The barbarians first run into danger, the sorcerers throw fireballs from afar, and my fellow druids turn into rolling stones into a beast and become giant werewolves.
It was a fundamental experience of Diablo, filled with a chaotic, spell spell. But it was also unlike anything I've ever experienced in playing Diablo. It felt like taking down a world boss with a 40-man assault crew in World of Warcraft or waiting for a public event to begin in Destiny 2 .
The demo of Diablo 4 shows you that the world is hopeless and then asks you to kill an impossible enemy. Diablo has always been good at making you feel bad, but Diablo 4 made my bad actions feel important to the world around me – as my actions protected something of value.
And this is an exciting start to a series that is usually played best while watching TV.