Saturday Morning Gaming: A few moments with Diablo IV
So KFC had this promotion where if you bought a double-down, you got a free ticket to play Diablo IV.
I want to shake the hand of the guy who came up with this brilliant cross-promotion.
My own, personal, take is that the double down isn’t that good of a sandwich-adjacent meal. HOWEVER. The Spicy Double-Down? The other chicken restaurants out there might as well close their doors.
Anyway, I got my free ticket to play Diablo IV.
SO! I have some observations about the first couple hours or so of gameplay. Short version, if you don’t want spoilers, I am *SOLD*.
If you don’t mind some minor spoilers for the first couple hours of gameplay, read on.
First off, here’s the opening cinematic:
The beta gave you three options to play: Sorcerer, Barbarian, or Rogue. They also showed you the Necromancer and the Druid on the character selection screen but they said “UNAVAILABLE” when you hovered over them.
I picked the Barbarian.
Some first impressions:
They got rid of inventory tetris. Remember how a two-handed greatsword took up 8 slots, a ring or a potion took up one slot, and a belt took up two horizontal slots while a pair of gloves took up two vertical slots?
Well, they got rid of that! Everything is one slot now. You can hold 33 things. That means 33 rings or 33 two-handers. So they’ve simplified things.
Also, check out these stats:
Attack power, Armor, and Life.
No more strength or dex or vitality! They’ve simplified things down to the bone. When you get an item, it gives you either attack or armor. It helpfully has a green arrow pointing up or a red arrow pointing down. So you don’t have to waste time wondering “is this better than what I have now?” The game tells you!
I don’t like that.
Skills are a little bit better.
You can pick out your build from the get-go. Do you want a frenzy barb? Use your first point to buy Frenzy! Or buy bash or flay or lunge.
This will be your left-click attack. It will help build up your “Rage” (think: Mana). When you hit level 6, you will have an opportunity to purchase a skill that spends Rage. So left-click, left-click, left-click, RIGHT-CLICK! Left-click, left-click, left-click, RIGHT-CLICK!
Okay. That’s not so bad.
If you’re wondering about health potions, they don’t have them anymore. Or, specifically, they’ve changed them. You now carry 4 potions. Occasionally, enemies drop a potion. Additionally, they have now included “elixirs”. Drink one to give yourself a boost to your cold resistance. Or a boost to damage! Or evade! These are hoardable. But you can only carry 33 of them (don’t worry, they go in a different tab than your items so you don’t have to worry about dropping a sweet sword to pick up a particularly nice elixir). They’ve also included “ingredients” in the game so you’ll get the joys of clicking on every single backlit bush you see. Get to town, refill your elixirs.
So use them if you need them, you’ll pick them up as needed. You can no longer hoard them. You can upgrade them, but you need to be level 20 to get the first upgrade and I’m still in the early teens.
The combat is pretty good. I made fun of the left-click, right-click dynamic earlier but, seriously, it’s pretty sweet. My frenzy barb does this thing where he frenzies up and then gives a finisher with both weapons. It’s a lot of fun. As for the monsters, I’m still only in Part I but I’ve already encountered a bunch of remixed old favorites as I wandered around:
They’ve kept the thing where you get cutscenes as a reward for beating a particular area:
The cutscenes are breathtaking. Seriously. I was glued to the screen.
They’ve even included stuff like “achievements” now.
So there’s more and more and more reason to just go out for one more run. Kill one more boss. Collect more ingredients. Get one more achievement.
They’ve also included a new kind of currency. Obols.
I don’t know about you but klaxons are going off in my head that they’re going to have an online store that will do stuff like sell you currency. Oh, is getting another slot for your chest going to cost 100,000 gold? Hey, get 80,000 gold for $4.99. Want some Obols? Hey, we’ve got several packages available, starting at $4.99!
I mean, maybe they won’t do that? But I remember Diablo Immortal and how they made money hand over fist with that phone game. They’re probably going to do the same here.
Anyway, the game is absolutely amazing so far. They’ve done a great job bringing the franchise into the new generation. Maps have depth and you go up stairs or down them, climb cliffs, that sort of thing, and it feels like you’re changing altitude when you do it. The sound design is *OUT OF THIS WORLD*. The background music and the noises the monsters make are, seriously, top notch.
And then I look at the pricing page and…
Lemme tell ya, for $70, they’d better *NOT* include a store in the game. But, you know, I’ll probably get it anyway. Because, seriously, the game is *AMAZING* so far.
So… what are you playing?
(Featured image is a screenshot of the character select screen. All screenshots taken by the author.)
The Diablo franchise always manages to do this thing where I look at it and think, “Oh hell yeah! That looks AMAZING!” And then 15 minutes in I remember (grinding) why I never (grinding) enjoy (grinding) Di(grinding)ab(grinding)lo(grinding). It is, however, a pleasant surprise to learn that my current gaming PC has more than enough horsepower to run this game.
But it looks amazing and I know it’s one of your favorite franchises so I hope it’s everything you wish it to be. I’ll be over here adding to what Steam tells me is more than 1,300 hours on XCOM2.Report
Me too… I pre-ordered (who was I kidding, I’ve bought worse games in Alpha — so yeah, I was gonna buy D4 no matter what).
My view comes from a Path of Exile convert’s view… I was wondering how much they learned from POE and what they were going to steal that POE stole from them and do better on the next iteration. Turns out nothing and nothing. Weird. For example, the things I thought they’d steal:
1. Move when the map is open (duh). Nope.
2. Left Mouse Move. Technically yes, but not the right way.
3. Fewer but better abilities that you build around. Sort of… better than D3 but still pretty simple.
4. Monster density and fast combat… not really, pretty clunky by comparison… and a lot of running to where the fun is.
5. Gear economy… tbd. Honestly, this is where D3 crashed and burned. There’s no auction house (yet), but the gear economy pretty linear so far (but can’t really say until endgame).
There are things I like, and I’m sure I’ll play through at least once… real question is will I be playing with every new season like I have with POE for the past 10 yrs. Those are basically 10 Diablo years that they lost between D2 and D3.
I’m hoping the ‘end-game’ is the right amount of grindy… fun advance your character grindy is fun. Loot/Gear hunts can be fun… trading for loot can be fun… all to be determined.
Unlike JB, I hate ‘the story’ in all of these games… I’ll agree though that the graphics of a story I don’t care about are impressive. Spend that money on in-game features. We get it, there’s a(nother) devil on the loose and only we can stop her (spoiler). Someone will lie to us, someone else will betray us, some one good will be bad and someone bad will redeem themselves. Cynical Deckard Cain will be reincarnated. It’s a mouthy game. But it seems to only force you to watch for the first play through; when I switched to Sorc, most of the story was skipped. Thank, um, the Light?
Definitely next gen graphics. Hopefully between now and June they can apply the famous Blizzard polish because as good as it is, it’s not as polished as POE or what I’d expect from OG Blizzard.Report
OH! I forgot to mention!
THEY GOT RID OF IDENTIFY. Something drops and, whoomp, there it is. (You can also cast town portal at will too. Well, it takes 2 seconds so you can’t cast it in the middle of getting hit.)
As such, I’m not sure that Deckard Cain will come back.Report
Oh yeah, lots of Diablo QoL improvements. I can even upgrade my Heal Potions! and get more ‘uses’ them by completing zones. I like that most everything seems to be Account wide too. I’m hoping the ‘open world’ model tickles my achiever OCD with rewarding upgrades.
Better than POE is loot that’s 90% weighted for your class… less of it, but more likely to be something interesting. So far 3 Unique items; one of which made me respec into a Frost build.
It’s got good bones… if they can make builds interesting enough to want to keep playing and improving? That’s the question I’m tracking.Report
I don’t really consider it a QoL improvement. It turns the slot machine from giving you two pulls to only giving you one pull.Report
Interesting, didn’t see it that way. Do you miss the inventory Jenga too? 😉Report
I miss being asked to make trade-offs.
Like, look at the stats! THEY EVEN HAVE A GREEN/RED ARROW ON YOUR ITEMS NOW.Report
So I’ve been continuing my journey through mobile Chinese gacha hell. It’s quite an experience. Mostly I’ve been playing Honkai Impact, which is from the same folks who gave us Genshin. I’m sure everyone here appreciates this. Anyway, Honkai has a really good story — I mean really really really good, like one of the most emotionally engaging video game stories I’ve played. It makes me laugh and cry and cheer, a lot, which I guess is the gacha formula: to make you love the characters and then do terrible things to them. But hey, you can gamble and get them on your team.
This leads to the paradox. A thing can be both of these at the same time:
1. A clear labor of love by a very creative team
2. A naked corporate cash grab built to exploit impulsive behavior.
Old punk rock me didn’t believe a thing could be both. Things can.
Recently I’ve been playing Punishing Gray Raven, which is by a different Chinese studio. obviously trying to copy the Honkai formula. It’s a very similar game, but with much more fluid gameplay.
Check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LPIjrAos74
That’s on mobile, specifically a Samsung tablet.
The key to the game play is your skills come in the form of colored orbs, which randomly appear on the bottom right. Anyway, the idea is to stack them up and trigger multiples (up to 3) of the same color. The more you can trigger the stronger the effect, so you’re managing the normal positioning and evasion while at the same time managing your orbs. It keeps your brain busy. Evasion is super important. Landing a perfect evade gives you a witch time effect and makes your orb flash, which mean that triggering any number act like a 3-ping. Anyway, it’s a pretty simple core system, but each character has a bunch of variations of the system that makes them fun to play and combine.
I will say I find the “joystick” controls on most mobile games somewhat difficult. You’ll notice in that video, at one point, my character just kind of rushes away from the enemies during her high damage phase, and then when I return the auto targeting screws me. That happens a couple times. I’m pretty sure this stuff would be easier with a controller.Report
$70 seems to be the standard new game cost. It seems like a lot at first, but a Nintendo game was $50 in the 90s, not adjusting for inflation. When you consider what you get in a modern game compared to a Nintendo game, it’s a steal.
I spent my $70 on Wild Hearts this weekend, and another $70 for a copy for my wife so we can play together. It’s very similar to the Monster Hunter franchise, with the added ability to make devices (cubes, springs, torches) in combat. These can also be fused into other devices (enough cubes make a bulwark which stops a charing enemy, three torches makes a firework that knocks a hovering enemy out of the sky). It’s a unique gimmick, and it has been fun so far.
It plays faster than MH, especially the older ones (Rise is pretty fast). It feels like a different game, but similar enough to scratch the same itch. The controls are different enough that my muscle memory screws me up at times. Monster Hunter monsters are pretty fantastic, but in Wild Hearts they are mostly large animals powered up by nature. The first is a large rat that is overgrown with vines. Later on there is a gorilla that is fueled by lava. The aesthetic is very ancient Japanese, and unlike MH, the female armor does not try to look sexy.
Overall, good first impressions. I look forward to playing it more. There is talk on the web about people having major performance issues, but I have not seen any other than lengthy load times on my PC(which I hope to remedy with a new SSD). Maybe that will be more of an issue on later maps.Report
I don’t mind $70 so much. I mean, I’m not crazy about it but I understand inflation and all that.
It’s the $70 to be a storefront that bugs me. I don’t mind paying $70 for an awesome game. I mind paying $70 for the opportunity to buy gold/obol packages starting at $4.99.
(I mean, I was worried that they didn’t make it easy to find the difference between the $70 game, the $90 game, and the $100 game because they didn’t want to come out and say “get in-game currency!” at this point in the marketing. Apparently they’re just including stuff for, like, WOW and Diablo 3 and whatnot but I’m still expecting people who spend $100 to start the game with a nudge that $70 plebes don’t get.)Report
Oh, and there are a bunch of rumors swirling around Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League.
First rumor, unsubstantiated by Rocksteady: The game is being delayed into 2024.
This is based on how there is no preorder effort going on despite it (allegedly) coming out in 2 months and a complete and total lack of marketing.
A bunch of people are hopeful that the game is getting delayed because of all of the criticisms of the whole “Live Service Game” thing (and pointing out that Hogwarts Legacy demonstrated that single player games can still move product and Gotham Knights *BOMBED*).
But Schreier points out that this is a likely “polish” delay and not one that would allow for the time required to remove the Live Service bones from the skeleton.
So I’m going to not get this one. Pity.
The Arkham games were JUST SO GOOD.Report