That’s it folks. We are done with another test and the Diablo 4 Beta went better than I expected overall.
The first beta weekend had a shaky start with long queues and wait times, disconnects and a few crashes along the way (I covered a lot of stuff in the last update). This weekend was a lot better. Wait times were shorter, no disconnects, and no crashes for me at least.
This weekend I finally took the Barb from the first weekend up to 25, took a Sorcerer to 25, and a Druid to 10 before the servers went down on Monday. When you work on a site like this, it’s not just a matter of playing and leveling as fast as possible, you have to pay attention to everything, take notes, take videos, and at the same time answer community questions and keep on working on the day to day stuff. It’s a bit mental and you can read about some of what’s been going on here.
Out of the three classes I tested, the Sorcerer felt the most powerful during the early levels. He would just light everything up and it was a breeze getting him to 25. While I was out mapping, I was popping up Hydras as I ran along in the open world exploring, I managed to gain a full level just from running around and popping Hydras and not stopping to fight.
By the time I had finished with the Sorcerer, he was using Arc Lash, Frost Nova, Ice Armor, Hydra, Blizzard, and Deep Freeze. This seemed pretty effective and meant I could get stuck right into the combat with Arc Lash and have the defensive skills to back it up. When coupled with Elly playing the Rogue it worked pretty well
I mentioned in my last update that the Barb was usually my least favourite class which is why I picked him first. Compared to the Sorcerer, I certainly found him a little more cumbersome and challenging when it came to the big fights. That said, I did enjoy playing him a lot more than I thought I would.
At the end of the beta, my Barb was using Bash, Upheaval, Whirlwind, Iron Skin, War Cry, Death Blow, and Call of the Ancients. There were some others mixed in along the way but I think this is what was on him as the beta concluded. Iron Skin was a saviour so many times throughout the beta. I did mess around with his skills quite a bit though to test them out and wish there had been an extra day.
I really didn’t get enough time with the Druid but she seemed pretty handy and getting her up to 10 did not take long at all. If there was one thing that was notable about the Druid at these early levels was the less impressive skill visuals. I mean, how do you show wind in an exciting way? How can you make a bunch of dirt look flashy? I am really keen to see how the Druid plays in the final game and may start with that class which will please the Druid master himself HCXanth.
I am pretty sure there’s going to be some balancing taking place between now and the launch based on feedback. Now that there’s PvP in the game, class balancing is going to be important.
What’s really excited me about Diablo 4 is seeing Sanctuary fully realised. In previous games, we’ve gone from A to B with Acts but never in a seamless way like this. Diablo 4 is really fleshing out the world, a world where players can traverse from region to region and experience it fully. This is a major step up for the franchise and it’s almost hard to believe that it’s taken Blizzard this long to actually do it.
The world is stunning and the visual style is how we imagined it should have looked in Diablo 1 if the technology had been advanced enough, There’s an edgy graininess to everything so hats off to the art team at Blizzard for nailing the feel. There are certainly no rainbows to be found so far and they have captured their core pillar of darkness brilliantly.
I am so torn on the monster scaling in the world. I get why it’s necessary. it is what it is and it works so I can live with that. At least it makes you more cautious no matter what level you are at in any zone. The upside is when you roll a new character and want to start in a completely different zone, you won’t get pummeled on leaving town.
While events have no impact on story progress, they are a nice distraction when going from A to B, but watching randoms hop in at the end of a fight to snag loot can be annoying. No effort required.
On Sunday it was time to tackle a few of the Dungeons. Now we have to remember that these are the basic Dungeons with none of the Sigil wizardry. It’s just a romp through a dungeon to gain a Legendary Aspect.
The Dungeons were pretty much what I expected, long corridors, side rooms, and a couple of objectives. I’ll admit, I did die a few times but it was usually because I was not paying attention and was getting a bit too confident smashing everything up as I went. Effectively it was death by carelessness not the sheer challenge of the dungeons themselves. I expect things are going to get a lot tougher as we move into other zones.
I have seen a lot of comments about taking items to the objective points one at a time. Perhaps this is something that should be looked at, it’s a bit of a pain even though the dungeons are designed in such a way that there should not be too much backtracking. Not that I encountered at least.
Again, it’s too early to tell if dungeons will keep players really engaged, the modifiers are what will add the spice to the dungeon experience. Watch this space.
The concept of Strongholds is certainly a solid one and the three in the beta varied in difficulty. For me, these really felt like just another quest you had to complete and that was it. Kill some stuff, fight a boss, free the town. Once they are liberated there’s nothing more to do. You have an extra waypoint and a few vendors.
Over time perhaps Blizzard will expand on these to keep the zones fresh. Perhaps they get recaptured and you have to fight a different boss to liberate it again? I think the MMO RIFT did something like this and I hope Blizzard expands these further.
World bosses are a nice addition to bring groups of players together. There was some excitement on the servers just prior to her popping up. As we know from the beta, Ashava appeared in the Crucible so does that mean she will always appear there forever more? As far as we understand it from previous Blizzard discussions on this, world bosses can appear anywhere. I am wondering if that has changed, or perhaps when they say they can appear anywhere they are talking about the zones and other bosses will appear in Fractured Peaks but always in the same location. We’ll know soon enough.
The two times on Saturday Ashava appeared I popped along to see how the fight was going. It did not go well. There were so many low-level characters getting mashed there was no chance she was going down, Maybe next time. On the last occasion, we were about 2 minutes from bringing her down but the timer ran out. With most players experimenting with builds it’s not surprising things went the way they did.
Crafting and Shopping
Right! I want to smash some stuff up, I don’t want to shop, I hate shopping with a passion. The problem is, my playing partner is Elly and she loves shopping and crafting in games. I, therefore, partake so as to not find myself standing around doing nothing.
Diablo 4 includes a variety of vendors where you can upgrade, craft stuff from a few weeds, or make fancy bottled potions. I know, they can really help you but again, I hate shopping.
If you love your crafting then there’s plenty of stuff to do from upgrading items, extracting power, and making Elixirs. If anything, having these options let you fine tune your gear and increase your chances out the wild. It’s also a reason to bring people together in town hubs so they can wave at each other and show off their freshly coloured outfits after a trip to the Wardrobe.
When you put it all together, shopping and crafting can be useful after all, but still, I hate shopping.
Diablo 4 Beta is Over. More! Now!
I am not a huge fan of Beta weekends and never have been. It piles a load of pressure on fans to drop EVERYTHING and set time aside. However, if you have the time then great, if not you squeeze in what you can.
What is interesting to note is that this beta was not only running for PC players but all consoles. Considering all platforms were being tested, it went surprisingly smoothly.
While Diablo 4 may not be doing anything really new with the ARPG genre (they kind of invented it anyway), it’s got that Blizzard polish. Blizzard is usually at their best when they take a concept or foundation and put its full-on Blizzard stamp on it. That’s certainly what they’ve done here.
This past weekend I have been fully immersed, I have loved every minute of Diablo 4 Beta action, and the beta felt way too short if you’re not rushing it and are instead trying to soak it all in.
Following on from my last beta update, I am more convinced now that this is the Diablo game that puts the franchise back on the map as the top ARPG. I can’t be sure because we’ve only seen a slice but I am more convinced this week. How the end-game plays out is going to decide that.
By the time the beta ended, I wanted to play more and I wanted to play it NOW! Not June. NOW! What lies behind that large red turn-back text? It’s going to be a very, very long two months wait. Thankfully working on PureDiablo gives me my daily Diablo fill until then.