‘Diablo IV’ game review: A thrilling return to form with captivating lore and challenging gameplay

The most notable change in Diablo IV is its return to the realistic aesthetics of the original game

Published - June 19, 2023 05:55 pm IST

Diablo IV

Diablo IV | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

In 1996, the gaming world was captivated by a wave of incredible isometric role-playing games (RPG) such as Ultima VIII: Pagan, Crusader: No Remorse, Planescape Torment, and Fallout 1. Among these fantastic titles, Blizzard had a different vision: to introduce a real-time dungeon crawler with simple mechanics and, for the first time in the industry, an action RPG featuring procedural levels. Thus, Diablo was born, immersing players in a dark story of descending into the depths of hell to vanquish a demon. 

Today, Diablo is one of the biggest gaming franchises in the world, although it has faced challenges recently. Diablo IV returns to its roots, reigniting its former glory.

Set in the fictional world of Sanctuary, you assume the role of one of five adventurers on a holy crusade to stem the hordes of hell. This time, the malevolent Lilith, daughter of the prime evil Mephisto, has been set free. As the creator of Sanctuary, the only refuge from the never-ending battle between heaven and hell, Lilith returns to reclaim what is rightfully hers. It falls upon you to confront her legions and end her reign of evil.

However, accomplishing this task is easier said than done. Most of the story is engaging and expertly conveyed through Blizzard’s signature cutscenes. In Diablo IV, Lilith transcends being a mere boss and becomes a jilted lover, which adds a fresh and welcomed dimension to the game. As a loot-centric game, Diablo IV offers replayable campaign missions that allow you to discover new aspects.

You can choose from five character classes: Barbarian, Necromancer, Rogue, Druid, and Sorcerer. Each class is skillfully balanced, offering diverse playstyles such as close-quarters combat, long-range focus, strategic approaches, or hybrids combining different styles. For instance, the Rogue can utilise stealth, swift blade tricks, ranged crossbows, and deploy caltrops or traps, making it suitable for various playstyles. However, the last patch has seen the Necromancer receive a significant buff while the other characters have become less powerful. 

The mechanics remain consistent with previous Diablo games: trigger a range of attacks against hordes of enemies. Yet, Diablo IV introduces an element of strategy; mastering your loadout becomes crucial to overcome challenging bosses. Killing more enemies rewards you with better loot, enabling more efficient destruction. Gone are the days of mindlessly facing damage sponges; enemy-and-boss encounters are now more memorable, demanding skill rather than mere mouse-click speed. Notably, playing on a controller seems to offer the best experience.

The most notable change in Diablo IV is its return to the realistic aesthetics of the original game. While Diablo III had a slight Dota-inspired appearance, Diablo IV embraces ultra-realistic environments, beautifully rendered characters, and a dark undertone achieved through effective lighting. This shift brings back the horror reminiscent of Diablo I. Regardless of the platform, the game exudes stunning visuals, complemented by excellent music and sound design.

As a live-service game, Diablo IV requires an online connection, even for solo play. While the game is best enjoyed with friends, it also provides an enjoyable solo experience. However, since its launch, especially during nighttime, players have encountered frustrating issues such as severe rubberbanding and inaccessible towns. Hopefully, Blizzard will address these problems promptly and cease tinkering with character balances while fixing the net code. Be aware that disconnections may disrupt your precious permadeath run.

Despite these setbacks, Diablo IV is a must-play title, seamlessly blending addictive action, rewarding loot drops, and a wealth of post-campaign events to immerse yourself in. It stands as one of the finest games of the year.

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