In the 2000s, Diablo 2 was THE game to beat. Hundreds of thousands of players flocked to Battle.net servers to play what was essentially a pseudo MMO. It left an indelible mark in the video game industry and all but guaranteed Blizzard Entertainment fostered enough goodwill to make countless sequels and spin-offs for years to come.
Then, Diablo 3 came out in 2012 and pretty much changed that. It's been a decade since and Blizzard is finally ready to pull back the curtains on Diablo 4, which, according to the media personnel who got early access to the game, replicates the feeling of Diablo 2, if not exceeds it.
As GameSpot puts it in their early hands-on preview, "While Diablo III contrasted pops of bright colors against the grotesque horrors of the world, Diablo IV is immediately more oppressive and dire in its presentation." Polygon had similar thoughts as well, saying, "the dark atmosphere of the next mainline Diablo game is more engrossing than expected."
Here's a quick round-up of the early Diablo 4 hands-on previews available online:
Several other content creators, influencers, and gamers, all echoed the same thoughts. This is drastically different from what we've heard from people who got into the multiple tests Blizzard Entertainment ran for Diablo 4 in recent months.
Ultimately, everything we've heard and read about Diablo 4 until now is good news. After being announced in 2019, pundits were quick to cast doubt on whether a fourth installment could succeed and bring the series back to its former glory. The rather lackluster attempt to remaster Diablo II, Diablo II: Resurrected, which came out last year, didn't help either.
To make matters worse, the cash-hungry monetization scheme of Diablo Immortal raised a lot of concerns that Diablo 4 would follow the same route. Although we're still early in the development process, the few glimpses we've gotten of Diablo 4 so far suggest Blizzard is no longer as interested in treading new ground. Instead, Diablo 4 feels more like a fine-tuning of the already-refined formula that Blizzard has worked hard at for close to thirty years now.
As we inch closer to the start of The Game Awards, where Blizzard is expected to officially reveal the June release date of Diablo 4, it's hard not to feel the energy and buzz emanating from the Diablo community right now.