Diablo 4’s Beta Shows the Horror of Modern AAA Design
It’s been a controversial period for Blizzard Entertainment, going from being one of the premier studios in the world, to one mired in scandals, lawsuits, and destroying years’ worth of goodwill with their fans. Diablo 4 releases as an opportunity for the company to win back favor, offering a latest single-player game in its popular series. After playing the beta, I wasn’t thrilled with what I experienced or what will be available upon release. Diablo 4 shows what AAA games have become, for better and for worse.
Diablo 4 removes much of the color and cartoony vibes of Diablo 3, opting for the darker greys and browns of older games. It gives Diablo 4 more horror movie atmosphere compared to other entries. The more stylized cutscenes emulate a tone similar to that of Evil Dead or Hellraiser, and the new enemy Lilith takes center stage. A new evil is on the loose, and it’s up to us and maybe some friends to stop her plans for sanctuary.
While the beta doesn’t have all the classes that will be present in the full game, it features a kind of homecoming for the Diablo 2 archetypes. However, if you’re thinking that this plays like D2 or even D3, there are several major differences here.
The developers of Diablo have steadily pruned the skill trees available to each class over the years. Diablo 4 has the most barebones out of all the games, and indeed among the ranks of its ARPG peers. Each class has its skill tree, but the trees themselves are broken down into groups of skills. Every group represents different abilities—defensive, offensive, energy generator, etc. Within each group, there are also passive general abilities. Every equipable skill has three passives—one that enhances the properties of said skill, and then two that change the overall ability. Of those two, however, only one can be active at a time—forcing you to decide how you want to augment that skill.
You’ll get access to the class’s ultimate grouping near the end of the trees, in which only one skill can be active, and the final section is an “ultimate passive” that unlocks around level 30. While the choices are interesting, it also means that you really can’t start putting together a build until you hit the final unlock tier to try and synergize active and passive skills together, but you are free to respec by spending gold.
A Dead Live Service World
Unlike Diablo 3, you literally cannot play the Diablo 4 game offline, even if you want to play in single-player mode. This can present some problems, as lag may cost players, even in the hardcore character mode. In and outside of the various towns, you’ll encounter other players. There are far more side quests and mini-events in the field, which nearby players can undertake collectively. The game world itself will scale according to your level, and all gear drops are instanced to the player.
The game feels far more inspired by MMO design, and perhaps even more by mobile games. Some features are locked behind leveling gates—upgrading gear, applying affixes, upgrading your health potions, and more. Major events in the beta included “world battles” that consisted of a raid boss fight.
A Lackluster Roller Coaster
This game feels sterile in comparison to the movements other Indie ARPGs have made in remolding the genre. The game space outside of dungeons is larger, to accommodate more players wandering around, but it also means there’s more shallow space no pun intended to run through.
The classes’ unique aspects are interesting, but like Diablo 3, I see this as all window dressing for chasing set pieces and the build-defining buffs. This raises another question. Given that Blizzard is going all-in on the live service model, what is there going to be to keep someone engaged? Will this turn into World of Warcraft-lite, or a $69.99 USD version of Diablo Immortal? For anyone wondering about monetization in the game, there were no elements noticeable, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be any for the live version.
Ultimately for me, what is old and familiar in Diablo 4 isn’t enough to keep me interested, and what’s new is just driving me away. Outside of an unusual circumstance, for the first time in a long while, I won’t be there on Day One fighting demons and collecting shiny loot.
According to https://www.superjumpmagazine.com/diablo-4-beta-shows-the-horror-of-modern-aaa-design/
The material in this article is written on the basis of another article.