Diablo IV: Impressions from Barbarians, Archers and Necromancers on PC, Xbox and PlayStation 5

David Bernard, Barbar, PC

I’ve been eagerly anticipating the fourth installment of the cult Diablo series ever since its announcement. For the past fortnight, I’ve been consumed by the hype and spent my free time browsing the gaming forums. At midnight on Friday I was already set up at the PC, fully stocked with energy drinks and non-alcoholic beer. I originally planned to play all night, but as usual, it didn’t work out. I guess I’m getting old. However, this does not change the fact that I have spent more than forty hours in the world of Sanctuary in the last three days. The breaks were only for walking the dog, showering and gastronomic experiences in the form of frozen pizza. And I have to say that I thoroughly enjoy this unhealthy gaming.

I chose a barbarian as a character. After all, as in every Diablo. I’ve never played parts of the series for the story, but rather for the endorphin rush that comes from the gradual beeping of your hero and the sound you hear when you drop a legendary item. So I always rushed to the endgame as fast as possible. This time, however, I took a completely different approach. I read all the dialogues, watched the cutscenes and researched everything I could. I didn’t expect to like the main story line so much. The dark atmosphere, which seems to have fallen out of the legendary second part, is combined here with a great musical accompaniment and top dubbing of the characters. Sure, it’s not a candidate for a literary award, but I was still very pleasantly prepared and I’m curious to see what the creators will bring us in seasons and data discs.

Unfortunately, I cannot get past the negative side of the experience so far, namely the technical state of the game. During the last beta weekend (server slam), the game ran practically without any problems. But I can’t say that about the sharp version. My setup is definitely not high-end (Ryzen 5600x, RTX 3070Ti, 32 GB Ram, 1440p @165Hz), but there should definitely not be such frequent stuttering and freezing. I’ve even run into some graphical artifacts, but here I can’t tell if it’s a game problem or something wrong with my card. Since I don’t have problems in other games, I lean towards the first option. I hope so.

The negative side of my experience so far is the technical state of the game.

According to various posts on reddit, I’m definitely not alone. A few people even had the game allegedly “blow up” their graphics card. Again, it was often the RTX 3080/3080Ti and I was reminded of the infamous and similar incident with New World. To be sure, I recommend limiting the number of images using software (RivaTuner/MSI Afterburner). These extreme incidents are probably caused by the hardware itself, but we can argue that. Additionally, I was baffled by situations where my graphics card used more VRAM after reducing texture quality than when they were set to ultra detail. Weird.

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It’s definitely not an optimization mess like Jedi Survivor or the PC version of The Last of US, but it’s just not enjoyable. However, I don’t register many complaints from friends, so don’t take my experience as a fixed fact. Of course, gameplay will vary from system to system. In addition, riding a horse, which often gets stuck strangely and does not respond, is a bit of a pain in the ass. Despite the technical issues, I am extremely enjoying the new Diablo and I already know that I will sink hundreds if not thousands of hours into it in the coming months. After all, games are about fun. And I’m having a great time. It’s just a shame that Blizzard nerfed (weakened) my build today. Argh!

Pavlína Nouzová, Archer, Xbox (Series S)

Diablo is a series that has the magical ability to absorb the player and spit them out after many hours. Drink elixir, shoot frantically, collect gold and spend long hours rummaging through the collected loot – this proven recipe is perfect for the fourth part and you can easily pass away the evening/night/day. At the same time, the game is very accessible and unusually comfortable compared to some other titles. For example, the dueling system: my archer very quickly learned skills that were both spectacular and effective. But I could constantly experiment with them. Skill swapping is so cheap, at least initially, that you won’t get it, and the developers will definitely push you to learn new tricks. Just when you feel like you’re just mindlessly mashing buttons and murdering one demon after another, swap out a few abilities and the fights feel refreshing again.

Likewise, the inventory is clear, and if a weapon or armor takes your fancy, it can be easily upgraded. Love the special ability of your old legendary bow, but came across a new one? No problem, it can also be combined. Diablo IV brings a lot of “enhancers” that make traveling around Sanctuary more enjoyable. And I can imagine that even if I put the title on hold for a few months, I could easily get back to it.

As a former PC Diablo player, I was also pleasantly surprised by the switch to Xbox. If someone told me to switch the controller back to a keyboard, I’d probably complain a lot. Although the Series S is the weaker console, the game ran absolutely smoothly on it at 60 fps with only one crash. It’s a bit of a shame that even when playing solo you have to be online, but in the end I never waited in line for more than half a minute. The same store that immediately offers various cosmetic sets for real currency and which I approached with great skepticism. As a result, I didn’t need to buy anything, and the armor I found scattered around the world was even nicer in some cases. The question, of course, will be what the future of Diablo IV will look like as a “game as a service”.

I never waited more than half a minute in line.

The gameplay is excellent except for a few minor things. What I struggled with a bit is the story side. The first minutes will absorb you and you will remember the movies that Blizzard took special care of – blood, violence, betrayal, religious motifs… But over time, the story of your main hero or heroine will begin to go in a direction that we have already experienced in games more than once. You are the chosen one, save the world. Help people you don’t know at all, and above all, don’t question it in any way. Personally, I would have liked more use of Lilith and her ambiguity. And a slightly cheekier protagonist. But the fourth Diablo is otherwise addictive and very fun. Which is exactly what I wanted from him.

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Martin Zavřel, Necromancer, PlayStation 5

We finished the story campaign already on Saturday, and I wrote down my impressions of it (without spoilers, if you don’t consider information about the length or structure, or the opinion about the quality itself as spoilers). Since then we have been fully immersed in endgame activities and grind. Blizzard was probably quite surprised at how “quickly” its new big game was able to be mined and completed by the most active players – at least that’s how Blizzard’s reaction could be interpreted, which managed to release a patch over the weekend, nerfing practically all abilities that the strongest and fastest players in the world ( mostly streamers) used to reach the imaginary endgame of level 100. That patch really felt very much like a simple “let’s weaken everything that’s strongest and strengthen everything that’s weakest”, with the result that practically all professions in the game now seem somewhat “medium”.

However, this does not stop the progress of a determined player, because thanks to the rich equipment options, abilities and paragons of the system, it is still quite easy to create a character who tries his way to the imaginary endgame, it will just be slower and not as much fun. At the same time, I believe that one of the important charms of Diablo is the feeling of absolute power when you get the right items and build the right abilities. Blizzard’s attempt to stifle these feelings seems very counterproductive to me, although of course it is very strikingly reminiscent of similar processes from other live service games, such as Destiny.

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Otherwise, I’m enjoying the game tremendously, although I’ve already logged about 50 hours in it (yes, I didn’t get much sleep over the weekend). Although it’s basically the same thing all the time (you run around the map and punch monsters to make you and the monsters stronger), the fun abilities and great audio-visual processing make the event fun and of course there’s a lot of the joy of new stronger equipment found. I was especially excited when we went from World Tier II difficulty to Tier 3, where “sacred” item variants started dropping, which made our characters’ overall strength and stamina jump in a way that we hadn’t experienced in any of the previous stages of the game. And of course, the sound of a dropped legendary item is still exciting.

The ability and great audio visuals make the action entertaining.

Thanks to the readily available ability to rearrange the points poured into your character’s abilities, I changed my build fundamentally several times (once I played a ranged deadly bone spear thrower, another time a bone warrior herder, a third time a poisonous villain spewing caustic poison everywhere, and so on) and every time it felt a little like I started playing a new game. Finding the rarest “Unique” gear, which is specifically designed to significantly alter how your character works, can have a similar impact on your playstyle. With all this variety, I probably don’t need to explain that I’m really looking forward to playing the game again for another profession. Which will be all the more fun because you’ll be unlocking a huge amount of upgrades for your entire profile, so then the newly created characters will immediately start out stronger, better equipped and on the map with open teleports to all parts of the map.

On the PlayStation 5 console, the game runs perfectly without any problems, I did not notice any bugs at all, nor problems with fluidity or even online connection. I was able to log into the game either immediately or within a minute every time. Of course, I’m still curious about the rush after the launch of access for owners of the standard edition of the game, but it seems that Blizzard managed to set up the servers really well this time, and the game itself is in very good technical condition, as well as very rich and “finished” in terms of content. Although a few things in the cosmetics shop are nice and also quite expensive, the legendary armors on higher difficulties look so good that I’m not tempted to buy any cosmetics. I am very curious to see how the game will continue to be fed with new content and what kind of success it will have with the public.

2023-06-05 18:01:44
#Impressions #playing #Diablo #authors #platforms #Zing

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