That’s it, it is over! Blizzard’s Diablo IV beta extravaganza has come to an end, ready and waiting for the official launch in June. Did you take part? If you’re a Diablo fan then probably, maybe over the pre-order weekend or just the open beta which concluded yesterday. I partook in the latter because I’m still not done with Diablo III and Blizzard can’t have my money just yet. I say ‘just yet’ because, after this little taste, I’m sure, as most players probably are, that I’ll almost certainly pick up a copy on launch day.

Diablo III has consumed a huge portion of my gaming life. Even though I’ve probably spent more time playing Legend of Zelda as a franchise, when it comes to one single solitary title it’s Diablo 3. Not due to the single-player campaign but the couch co-op, regularly going on dungeon farming runs to find that elusive loot. This is why I was hesitant, and still am, regarding the fact that Diablo IV only offers 2-player local co-op,

Diablo IV beta screenshot3

Diablo IV Beta mayhem

Even so, going in there was excitement in the air. After years of playing the third instalment – I never tried 1 or 2 I’ll admit – seeing the new one in action gave me thrills. However, like anyone who tried to get online on Friday 24th, I was met by lengthy queues. I wasn’t too fussed, as the delays were expected, but it did eventually take me and a mate three hours to get a game going. The loading time tended to be around 30-40 minutes but then loading up the second player or trying to log into crashed the whole thing and it restarted over.

Even so, in all honesty, it was worth the wait. Now, this isn’t going to be some big preview write-up, there are plenty of those online from the first pre-order beta. More the acknowledgement of sheer relief that I can soon put Diablo 3 to rest.

Visually the game looks gorgeous, even playing on a bog standard HD TV and Xbox Series S – I also tried it on a Series X and 4K TV and it’s even prettier! Richly detailed, its nice to see Diablo IV more away from 3’s design, providing a grittier, far more elaborate setting for these adventures. I didn’t try all the classes – wanted to save some surprises – but I did toy with the Sorceress, Rogue and Druid. My current favourite is the Rogue, although the extensive skill tree could very well alter that preference later.

Diablo IV beta screenshot1

A worthy successor

The hack-and-slash gameplay still remains yet it is definitely more refined, especially thanks to the option to re-skill yourself and really fine-tune a loadout. What I liked were some of the smaller, none gameplay elements that enrich the world. It was subtle at first but the world changes between night and day. Nothing too extravagant about that in modern gaming terms but going into a dungeon at night and coming out in the day feels strangely refreshing. And being able to have an actual conversation with NPCs, choosing lines of dialogue to either move the mission on or simply to learn more.

For me – like many – Diablo is about multiplayer. Diablo 3 is legendary for the fact that when playing locally, everyone had to stop so one player could faff around with their inventory. Usually having to wait until a mission was done, rather than annoyingly halfway through. Now, being able to pop into my inventory to quickly swap items around or add a new ability whilst the other player carried on was a breath of fresh air. This made the process dynamic and pleasurable. No longer would I need to find something to do – make a brew – whilst the dreaded inventory management began.

Not being able to have 4 couch co-op players means a culling is now in order!

So the Diablo IV beta has done exactly what Blizzard wanted and I expected, getting me onboard the launch train. I might hold off purchasing on 6th June just to see what chaos/patches arrive, but it’ll be the same month I’m sure.

Did you try the beta? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Categories: Entertainment Games