Last year’s BlizzCon didn’t go too well for developer/publisher Blizzard. Its announcement of still-missing-in-action mobile game Diablo Immortal didn’t have quite the sort of impact the company wanted. 2019’s reveal of Diablo IV, though, may go some way towards making up for it.
Stay awhile and listen
Blizzard revealed some of Diablo IV’s story with a brand new cinematic trailer (available here) but we don’t need to be convinced that Blizz can tell a good tale. It’s all about the gameplay and it’s in that department that things are looking a little… old school.
There are only snippets of gameplay available in the gameplay trailer above, showing off some of what the barbarian, sorceress and druid classes can do. And what they can do, mostly, is look really, really great while in motion. There seem to be fresh traversal mechanics in place for Diablo IV, with players riding horses and scaling walls while remaining in or initiating combat.
A little can be discerned from character movement as well. Our impressions so far are of a more deliberate game, one that harks back to old stalwart Diablo II. Which is what Blizzard was going for, the company pointed out. A darker feel, a throwback in terms of gameplay, might be just what the series needs. And DII vibes are what we get from the character classes sitting around a campfire — there are shades of Diablo II character selection there, borne out by changes in combat and animation that also bring to mind the older RPG.
Making up for it
Blizzard definitely feels that it has a lot to apologise for and this darker entry, following the ‘cheerful’ Diablo III, could be their bouquet of (black) roses for fans. There’s a bunch of new tech in the game, which will allow “..countless possibilities for the Diablo series, from smooth character animations, such as the Druid’s fluid shapeshifting, to the seamless, vast overworld players will travel across in search of the next loot-filled underground dungeon. Ultimately, Diablo IV will ground players in a grittier and deadlier world.”
We’d feel a little better if we had a release date to go along with the tech and gameplay excitement. Alas, we only have the game’s launch platforms — PC, PS4 and Xbox One. Which is suggestive in itself. If Sony and Microsoft are expected to unveil new consoles by mid-2020, it’s possible we’ll have Diablo IV in hand before that happens.