|PC (reviewed) PS4|PS5, XBOX 1|Series S,X
|June 02, 2023
After Diablo II: Resurrected, and Diablo: Immortal for mobile gaming, Blizzard Entertainment realized we don’t just own phones; we still own consoles and PCs! Diablo IV is a new story about Sanctuary involving Lilith, the mother of Sanctuary itself. Let’s review how bad this will be for adventurers.
Players can take the role of a necromancer and use undead to fight alongside them. They can commune with the dead. Druids can transform into a werewolf and a bear, and use animal familiars, as well as commune with animal spirits. There are occult practices wherever the demons of hell are concerned. Magic is used for teleportation, and for elemental attacks (as a druid).
Players use all manner of weapons from staves to swords. Blood-splatter effects occur, as well as dismemberment and decapitation. Several environments depict large blood stains, mutilated bodies on spikes, and torsos with exposed entrails/viscera. A man slits his own throat in a cutscene for a ritual. A man is mauled and eaten by guards.
The word s*** appears in the game.
There is a tavern scene in the opening hour of the game.
Other Negative Themes
The lore of Diablo is built around an Eternal Conflict between Heaven and Hell. Sanctuary was built between a demon (Lilith) and an angel (Inarius) in the hopes to escape the battle, but over time the fight found its way and the human inhabitants suffered. As is the style, there’s not an absolute “good” class to play. Players are assumed a hero from the outset no matter what class, and is fueled by the need to stop evil.
It feels very Old Testament playing Diablo IV. None are righteous except a very few. The church of Inarius is very strict, but present throughout the campaign and story. They regularly preach atonement from sin, and in one instance, have the player complete a sin-cleansing pilgrimage before meeting Inarius in the game. Despite most game outlets these days, the church is a prominently good figure. Lilith has the power to influence people to give in to their base desires, so the theme of self-denial is prevalent.
As discussed before, Lilith is summoned in the opening sequence, before players can pick their adventurer. Instantly, their horse is mutilated, and an icy storm bears down on them (druid pun haha hee-hee). After a little while, they come across a small town that has recently been put under Lilith’s spell. Players will meet a priest from the church of Inarius, and Lorath, a member of the dwindling Horadrim. He and the church help players chase after Lilith, to stop her takeover.
The gameplay is the Diablo gameplay you expect. The father of the very format seen in hundreds of action role-playing games games. Blizzard has polished this version of the overnight miracle David Brevik pulled off, now enhanced with today’s fantastic graphic fidelity. Is it amazing to see such action unfolding? The answer is: sure, when I get the chance! Most of the time, the health bar is all I was staring at for a while, while mashing buttons until the monsters were gone. Encounters were stressful, even at the lowest difficulty. But it wasn’t the game, so much as my ability to understand how to play Diablo. Fortunately, I didn’t have to figure it out alone.
Diablo IV has a dedicated fanbase, a portion of which made a program made entirely to craft and organize class builds for people like me. Mobalytics found me with their ad while watching a YouTube video on how to build my druid, and by George, I downloaded it! The agency Diablo IV allows for players is daunting, until they get the hang of it. Until now, I used the old strategy, “if it’s new and shiny, equip it.”
But, I wanted some help really experiencing the sweaty side of Diablo, to get me to the higher plane of bountiful damage and loot. So, I followed Mobalytic’s familiar class build, focused on the important stats, and only got the equipment that made crits frequent, buffs last longer, and health stay a little while longer. The result was a great time in combat, and a new perspective on playing RPGs. I sacrificed mindless clicking for a little intentional planning, which made fights shorter, and dare I admit, a satisfying challenge. I felt confident knowing my limits, which allowed harder challenges to be taken. I also got lots of creatures to keep me company – hurray for wolves!
Diablo IV carries on with the series tradition of having multiple modes of difficulty: Adventurer, Veteran, Nightmare, and Torment. The difficulties make enemies harder, but increase the reward drops. I can’t explain anymore on the differences because I didn’t get around to caring. Easy mode for life!
Classes are also part of the game mode. And what classes are picked considerably changes how players think and play. There’s nothing new to offer though; the classes are still what can be expected within their respective titles, meaning barbarians swing giant blades, and necromancers are glass cannons. Unless players want to be that person that goes in soloing with no armor on, in which case, carry on, wayward son.
I had been lucky enough to hear that the very first town gives off a tune similar to the famous Diablo Tristram track. That set the tone and the momentum for the rest of the game. It’s appropriate for the doom and gloom theme and setting, elevating those moments caught in unceasing waves of enemies or quiet moments inside a tight cave, or snowy plains with wolves chasing me. Even the moments of respite don’t feel safe, because the music’s atmosphere reminds me that I have to back out there, and keep going until it is done.
After learning a lot about the series in a short amount of time, I realize Diablo IV has nothing new to bring to the series as a whole. It seems to be a reason to bring the IP into the modern day. Experienced demon slayers may find this hardly serviceable, and will finish it and go back to Diablo II: Resurrected with their twenty year old account. But I’m not one of them.
As my first official dive into the Diablo series, it’s been a crazy ride. It has turned me obsessed, going to GOG.com and getting the first Diablo game, playing Resurrected, finishing Immortal on my phone, and digging out my copy of Diablo 3 on the PS3. I’ve gotten into Mobalytics, and watching all kinds of videos on YouTube, including class builds, lore, theory, and animations (check out DiabLOL). It’s been fun seeing just how this series has raised the bar on adventure gaming, and inspired so many top down loot-grab games. Now that I feel caught up on its legacy, I am kind of disappointed that there’s no crusader, or class for a straight and narrow type player. The characters all share a heart for saving the world, which is weird to see a haphazard motivation, without personal reasons, or clear purpose. I hope that they’ll drop more DLC with some awesome class options later on. For now, I still need to finish the story, and figure out how these upcoming seasons work. I’m also mixed on the online aspect. It constantly requires an internet connection, and sometimes I’ll find other players running around. But my internet is not the best, and on my worst days my character bounces back and forth, or runs really slowly.
Should Christians play? I would say that depends on the maturity of their spiritual level. If demons and dark-natured things make them uncomfortable, then it would be wise to stay away. A spread of games across the board like Drakensang can satisfy, or indie titles like Path of Exile. For others, Diablo IV can serve as a great reminder that in the midst of the bleakest darkness, hope and light can still be found. There are still good-natured people making a difference, in a cascade of people just giving in to their desires, and letting evil flourish.
The Bottom Line
It's more Diablo, as a newer fan it seemed great to jump in at this point, and I can only guess returning fans will enjoy the return to Sanctuary.