Diablo IV Initial Impressions


So Blizzard opened up the Diablo IV beta to the public for this weekend. Since I didn’t pre-order the game, I felt this would be a good time to give it a spin to see how it would play and whether or not I’d splurge. Right now, there’s definitely good points but I have to admit, I’m not feeling it just yet.

My friend compared this game to Lost Ark, which could be a good or bad thing depending on how you liked the basics of Lost Ark. For myself, I gradually got into Lost Ark but there were areas of the game that made me super frustrated and eventually quit. The thing that made me quit Lost Ark for good was the content gating behind stupid levels of RNG and group play. But it did take time before I finally found my acceptance of the game.

The super frustrating parts of the game that pushed me away quickly early on was the long dungeons, overload of dialog/unskippable cutscenes and lengthy, unfun boss fights. Once you run your first character through, the next few times aren’t so bad. But I had to use boosting to avoid highly annoying parts just because my initial character was a terrible pick that made the game truly hair pulling bad.

For Diablo IV, I’m already detecting at least two of the super annoying aspects that I enumerated above. Probably, the thing that offended me the most was seeing one or two early boss fights. I decided to do one of these dungeons and it felt like I was wondering around forever. I had no idea what I was doing except just trying to kill as much as possible. There was a locked door that required killing some mini bosses. Once you secured that, you could go on to the main boss for this instance. As soon as I saw the long health bar and barely chunked it with my initial bad hit, I realized that this would be a bad game. Why? Because it has the worst mechanics in “modern” ARPGs which are teleporting bosses, phases, lengthy stupid running away while you’re trying to avoid damage and only small periods where you get to hit the boss. Oh, and you’re getting chunked with no ability to escape while you have a limited number of potion uses.

I already had seen one of the world boss fights on another YouTube video and noticed that the video time was roughly 10 minutes. I kept skipping to see if things would change but it was the same boring routine of hit a few times, dodge, hit a few times, phase the boss, hit a few times, etc. What is the purpose of a 10 minute drawn out fight that isn’t necessarily hard but just fucking tedious?

Oh that’s right: TO WASTE YOUR TIME.

As I kept running around this stupid boss, getting closer to death and missing here and there, I kept thinking to myself, “What am I doing with my life?” Then I was promptly reminded of that 10 minute stupid world boss fight. I kept thinking, “There’s absolutely no purpose to this length. This is an utter waste of time.” So I just quit the game and went to sleep because my eyes were tired, my wrists hurt and I questioned whether or not it was worth doing anything else in the game.

I saw other videos talking about class imbalance in the game. It’s not a class imbalance, it’s that this game is STUPID. The developers didn’t think of making the game engaging (at least to me). You’re just doing a walking simulator and then randomly killing things because things spawn around you.

Then it hit me. This is an old game trying to be new. It felt like Diablo 2 with an old, nostalgic, clunky combat system brought into the modern era with all the bad designs of the modern era. The fact that people were comparing Diablo IV to Lost Ark is not a good sign. There were some good conventions established in Lost Ark. They did a great job with ability telegraphs, the combat felt generally good once you figured out how to play your class, it was visually great. But stuff like the long dungeons, the constant spawning minions, the endless walking, etc. just stuff that intentionally would waste your time to spend more hours in a game made no sense.

But being Blizzard, I wouldn’t doubt that their UX team probably looked at Lost Ark and tried to find elements/tropes/themes in these genres to create this game rather than asking, “What’s wrong with this?”

Like I have a real hatred for instanced zones. You have an open world, which is great because it feels alive when players are running around helping you out. Then you get into an instanced zone and you’re on your own. Why? What’s the purpose in splitting these areas up like this? It’s like those Scenarios in World of Warcraft that stunk because you had three people to get through the instance. Or Lost Ark when you were forced to do an instance solo and couldn’t bring your friend along. Now, I know you can group with your friends in D4 but why split a world up like this? Why have stupid arena mechanics? The most fun I had so far was just getting into these events with other people randomly crashing and just hammering down foes. Everything else just felt like tedious depression.

I might give this game another try but my hopes right now are very low. There’s other games like Last Epoch which look better. So I might try that. But right now, I’m quite disappointed in what I see. And I know I’m not the only person.

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