Those who follow me on Twitter might have already seen one or two outbursts from me on Twitter in the past days in regard to the Diablo IV Early Access Open Beta phase that took place from the 17th to the 20th of March. As this first phase is about to close now, it’s a good moment to revisit all the findings and assess whether or not it’s likely that Diablo IV will be a blockbuster or not.
That bloody Friday
Knowing that it would be a busy beta weekend, I made sure to prepare snacks, snacks, snacks, and something to hydrate with. But it didn’t go as planned.
Yes, for some there were little issues and I am sure that many had a good time testing Diablo IV on Friday. Yet, many were only watching the queue screen for hours and hours without avail. Some crashed and had to re-queue for long periods, such as 90 minutes, and others simply did not manage to get any game time at all. My own experience was that on the initial launch, I managed to get in, and created a new character, but then got logged out shortly after the cinematic that introduces your character’s journey.
Blood, sweat, tears, and drama were big on social media. Some say that PC gamers were prioritized over console players and especially popular streamers were put on priority. This is, however, speculation of speculation. Personally, I tested on Xbox Series X and I can confirm there was no avail until the next day of the test. So it took the Blizzard team about 26 hours before they addressed all the issues and let people join. At least, so it appeared to me. So please don’t get me wrong – the problem was not waiting for X minutes. The problem was waiting until the timer went to 0 minutes and then still not getting in for hours and hours and never.
While it’s true that this is to be expected from Blizzard, which has a reputation for flawed launches, it also has to be noted that everybody who didn’t get their access key from a KFC promotion, had to pay for the game in order to get access to this beta test. Apparently, there were also load issues on the servers, so maybe it wasn’t a good idea to mix paying gamers with free key winners on some promotions. Beyond that, the whole test period was only a few days, so not being able to log in on Friday until Saturday evening, was hard on some. Especially those who are preoccupied with work and families might not have had more than a few hours on that Friday to do the test.
But what is the actual game like in beta?
Okay, all drama put aside from wasting a full day – the game works great if you manage to clear the roadblock that was login queues. I am so pleased with the mechanics, the visuals, the performance, and the game overall. Diablo IV is going to be so much fun for many years to come, especially seeing the brilliant couch coop feature that was already a great feature in Diablo III for consoles. Despite some claiming that they had issues not being able to play local coop in the beta, I can confirm that this worked fine for us during the test phase.
There are certainly some bugs and issues that should be looked at, but if it was the final state right now, I’d already be happy with everything. Of course, adding in all the chapters of the story campaign, areas to play, and unlocked classes to explore, is another step missing for the game to be fully considered complete, but I see no issues that Blizzard would be able to achieve that by the planned release date on the sixth of June, in a few months.
Diablo IV character creation and visual glory
Starting from Diablo III, classes were no longer gender-locked but, putting Diablo Immortal to the side for a moment, Diablo IV is the first major title of the franchise that allows for more customization to create and design your character. You can change the gender, face, skin tones, eye colors, make-up, markings, hairstyles, and various other things like that in order to design a character that’s actually what you had in mind and doesn’t have to play a character that you can’t identify yourself with easily.
True, wearing helmets and armor, and character customization seems to be not a priority, but even then you can transmog your equipment, change colors, and choose to hide helmets so that you can see your hairstyle and makeup in all its glory. Beyond that, I also want to make sure I mention that the overall graphic quality of the character, the equipment, and the world altogether is better than I anticipated from a new Diablo title. Kudos for that. It sure took a while, but it’s looking great.
Any observations beyond that?
Diablo IV feels like the best aspects of Diablo II and Diablo III were paired and coupled with a few features that we are usually more familiar with from MMORPG titles such as World of Warcraft. There is a sort of open world and players can explore the areas without borders, except for entering dungeons. Players can meet NPCs from which some have sidequests for them as well and the fact that players can encounter other human players gives it a nice new twist that truly turns the ARPG a lot more towards a classic MMORPG if you ask me.
The story is engaging and exciting, but the sidequests are also quite enjoyable. Even if you decide just to wander around in Diablo IV, you always get to discover interesting things or encounter random events to partake in. With a bit of luck, you’ll even get the support of another random human player and you don’t need to stress the loot, as everybody will receive items for the fight.
I’d prefer it if the final version was already here, but I am hopeful that we’ll all get to spend some good hours of combat and companionship once Diablo IV hits. There will be another beta test next weekend that also allows testers to try out not only the barbarian, rogue, and sorcerer, but also the necromancer and druid. I think I’ll give it another go then and hope that we don’t have to wait till half the test time is over before we can all log in without issues then.
Below is some beta footage for you to watch but kindly note it has not been done by us but was published by Fextralife.
YouTube: Diablo 4 Beta Gameplay Impressions – Diablo 4 is an MMO (Fextralife)
Photo credit: All material shown is owned by Blizzard Entertainment.
Editorial notice: We apologize for the quality of some of the indirectly taken screenshots and videos, but Blizzard restricted the console functions to take screenshots, record videos, or stream the content of the beta test. This is why we used a regular smartphone to do some of the captures in front of the screen.