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First Diablo 4 Beta Weekend Impressions

Diablo 4 Beta Weekend Impressions

I am a little late with this due to our server move but wanted to post it anyway ahead of tomorrow’s Diablo 4 open beta test. Last weekend we got a taste of the game in the first Diablo 4 Beta Weekend and here’s how it panned out for me.

Meet Pepper #dogsofdiablo

Frustratingly, I lost about one and half days of the weekend due to other commitments, one of them being a new addition to our pet family, a rescue dog from Romania who we have called Pepper.

Pepper was found frozen in a forest last November and was rescued. Last week he traveled to the UK and after a few days decompressing from the 1000-mile journey joined us at home. He’s a bit scared and as we have two cats he needs a lot of training which we’ve been doing over the weekend.

On top of that, Blizzard decided to have the beta weekend on Mother’s Day here in the UK so I had to spend time with the family. They could really have timed that better.

Between training and eating it was Diablo 4 time and I had an absolute blast. I took on the Barb, mainly because it’s my least favorite class. Despite it not being my first choice class I thoroughly enjoyed my time with him. I didn’t quite make the 25 level cap, 22 was where I got to before the servers shut down which was not bad considering what was going on at home.

Combat & Systems

For me, Iron Skin was a complete saviour and an essential skill. I didn’t really appreciate it until I hit the questline bosses. I would have liked to have experimented more as there’s a lot of talk about Upheaval since the beta concluded. Still, there’s this weekend still to come and a lot of time will be spent messing with the skills.

The pacing of the combat feels spot-on for me, it’s a happy medium between Diablo 2 and Diablo 3. It’s hit a sweet spot for me at least and it feels “weighty” which I really like. Romping around with the barb just felt great and this weekend I want to get him to 25 then move on to the Sorc. It should be easier with fewer distractions and commitments.

I’ve not played Diablo 3 for quite a while and I’m sure a lot has changed but when you are coming off the back of D2R you appreciate how many different game systems there are in Diablo 4. There are lots to keep track of whether it’s your Renown, the crafting, or class specialisations, there are menus all over the place. If you’re coming in new to the franchise you are going to have to explore carefully and get to grips with all the menus for this that and the next thing.

Boss Fight!!!

Boss fights were interesting but I am not a huge fan of boss fights where you’re constrained in a small space and then have to learn the telegraph patterns to succeed. I get why they are done like this and the few that are in the beta’s questline are really challenging, especially when going in solo. I am hoping that boss battles in the other zones so something a little more interesting. I’m no game designer of course but I’ve played a LOT of games over the past 40 years and I found these a little tedious.

Boss Fight
Just die!

As far as items are concerned, I’m not sure how tuned the drop rates are in the beta. There were a lot of Legendaries dropping for some folk and I even managed a 33% hit rate on getting a Legendary by gambling a the Purveyor Curiosities. Surely that can’t be right? I have a feeling there’s going to be quite a bit of tweaking on items before release based on feedback from these two weekends.

The Beta was a lot more enjoyable for me this time having understood more of the lore thanks to editing the Diablo Podcast for weeks and listening to Neinball. With that in mind, I really enjoyed the story presentation and references. Blizzard has thought hard about how they can keep lore fans happy and still explain things well to new players without dumbing it down. I am not a massive lore buff and have always just paid attention to the main plotlines and characters but I am now more invested.


Music and Visuals

Visually the game is impressive and the Fractured Peaks zone is dark and moody. That said, in the daytime, it feels more welcoming and you can appreciate the level of detail a little more. As far as performance is concerned, it ran pretty well with the occasional stutter but nothing to really complain about. Youtube videos we have seen over the past few months don’t really do the game justice, it looks great on a decent monitor.

I do have another gripe, and this ls purely a personal taste thing, I did have to turn off the music. The music in the zone is pretty violin heavy and it’s not an instrument that I can take too much of. With it constantly playing, I simply had to turn the music off. No offense to the Blizzard composers or musicians, it’s just not my cup of tea.

I am not going to go into the ins and outs of the mechanics at this stage because we are really just getting a taste of the starter zone and low-level characters. It would seem wrong to judge based on the beta. How successful Diablo 4 is will depend on the end-game and all the stuff we can’t get a taste of right now like the Paragon boards and how the items are going to change as we level higher. There’s a lot of debate around things like monster scaling (which I love) but realistically we simply have to wait and see how this plays out.

Looking Good

Overall though, I had a great time last weekend and can’t wait to get back in. My gut is telling me that this could end up being the best Diablo game yet. I can’t be sure but it certainly feels right. You can’t compare it to Diablo 2, it’s a different beast, but you can see some of the Diablo 2 inspiration seeping through.

It’s going to feel like a long wait until between open beta and release. Just enjoy the open beta and don;t worry about your builds, you have a few days to play so just enjoy the short time you have.

If you are looking for Diablo 4 info, head to the Diablo 4 Wiki.

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