Welcome to my Diablo IV impressions article series where I will take a more in-depth look into Diablo IV with my thoughts and impressions on the game. I say impressions because the game is still very early in development and hate to call these criticisms of things that will most likely change. Take everything with a grain of salt. A more comprehensive feedback video will be coming after this series to go further down into the details.
“By Three They Come…”
The tone of Diablo IV is set immediately upon the cinematic. The prophesied heroes aren’t here nor the mighty Nephalem. Just some thieves that are wholly in the wrong place at the wrong time. Much bloodshed commences and with a dark ritual, the imposing Lilith emerges from her prison in the void.
I don’t think I could ever find the words to give this cinematic justice. The gore of the ritual with blood magic being required. The formation of the blood triangle, which we came to call Lilith’s “Blood Cape” still attached to the sacrifices to open the way for her. Her look of if she willed it, she could take us all out. It was a beautiful mix of all these things that screamed Diablo. In all seriousness, I feel I need to watch it again and again and again and…
We have been given some nice lore updates from last we saw our powerful Nepphalem champions. We know that decades have passed since the events of Diablo 3. Malthael’s path of destruction had many consequences, even with his death we did not escape unwounded. Most of Sanctuary’s population has been decimated and to make things worse when Malthael absorbed the black soulstone and died; the essences of the Lesser and Prime Evils were set free! This means Baal, Diablo, Duriel and all others are now free to rain Hell on a ripe Sanctuary. In fact, to the last evil mentioned we have visual confirmation is back:
The lore and more importantly who we are now in Sanctuary are set, but not without a few mysteries. Where did the Nephalem go? Are they still alive? Where is our beloved Tyrael? Who was responsible for Lilith’s return and what else they have in store? Will Inarius come into play? We can speculate that as powerful as the Nephalem were, they were mortals in the end and have all but died off by now. It’s suspected Tyrael has returned to Heaven, but others think he may have also perished in the passage of time. It would appear at first glance, without knowing the specific person (The pale one) in the cinematic The Temple of the Triune is up to its old calling to bring forth terrible evils on Sanctuary once again. Lastly, we are given a glimpse of what appears to be a locked away prisoner, in an almost cocoon, bound by chains during the cinematic. Could that be Inarius and should we treat this as foreshadowing; who knows?
The world of Diablo IV will see some of its biggest changes in the franchise’s history. In the past (Diablo I) we were locked into the small area of Tristram itself. Left to wonder what was outside in the world. With Diablo II and furthermore in Diablo III more areas were opened to us. They weren’t always connected but good old Horadric magic with Waypoints made it possible. In Diablo IV, the development team has created one seamless area up to 20 times bigger than anything we have seen in any previous Diablo title.
This allows them to have amazing sprawling vistas. A true sense of distance between towns. Open areas for random encounters, world bosses, dungeons and much, much more! Mounts have been added for this reason. To help us traverse the lands and hopefully evade some situations that would otherwise mark our end.
This new massive area will allow for some great adventures and give us a sense of calling to explore the world and uncover many of the old and new secrets lying, waiting for us to discover if we dare try! All this without loading screens.
On top of all these changes, there will be dynamic day/night cycles. The exact timing is not stated but I did get to see similar places both day and night and the change is very noticeable. The impact of light and sources of light will be crucial in your gameplay. Along with this weather, effects are also in the game. Not just the shaders we loathed but genuine weather effects. Haze, rain, etc. all play to the atmosphere of Diablo IV.
This new area will be split into five regions. Each with their own unique flair and themes. All this wrapped up with a nice bow of enemies that can’t wait to see and kill you!
Scosglen – The ancient home of the Druids. A cold and wet climate with a dreary atmosphere that lends itself to the hopelessness the locals feel. I would feel the same dealing with ravaging Goat Man or The Drowned only mere feet away from your encampments.
Dry Steppes – A war-ravaged land that tries its hardest to make it impossible to live in. Tribes try there best to win the hearts and minds to bolster their power in the region.
Fractured Peaks – The snow-covered mountainous area, East of the Dry Steppes. The constant feeling of dread, paranoia is not only felt by the locals but over time has become part of their beliefs to help them survive this brutal landscape. However, it may ultimately blind them to worse threats just around the corner.
Hawezar – The swamplands. Imagine the worst swamp you can think of and amp it up to 11. This is not a friendly place to be. Only ones with nothing to lose, or ones foolish enough try to venture here. Black magic and thieves reside here along with ones who just want to be forgotten.
Kehjistan – The last bastion of the Zakarum faith. Home to Caldeum. Things were not going to well before “Reaper of Souls” and have not gotten any better. The Triune is running around in the shadows attempting to bring back their masters.
I love this world they are building. One of the central tenets is that the world is alive and comes for you. It’s the central part of the game where all else is placed upon. This is one thing I wanted from my Dev Hell Article earlier this year. The environment with it being open without forced hard borders and loading screens bring you into the savage world. You get lost so easily in the mood and atmosphere the art team has done such a great job with. It can also not be stated enough the verticality, climbing up rocky cliffs to see far off areas you can go to that aren’t just skyboxes immerses you in this bloody world. Taken in totality with the ever more deadly monsters and demons alike, Sanctuary is out to get you and you are not prepared!
Thank you for reading part one of my impressions of Diablo IV. Look out for the next part coming out!