Reviews for Diablo 4, the latest entry in Blizzard’s action RPG series, have been released ahead of the game’s launch on 6 June 2023. While the game maintains the tried and true hack-and-slash formula, it also attempts to expand the scope of the game with MMO-style shared world elements, and a bigger emphasis on telling a dark, gothic story.
Reviews from critics around the world have largely been positive, with a lot of the same sentiments being shared. Diablo 4 appears to be a strong refinement of a series that has continued to hone its formula over almost 30 years, so naturally, there will be a strong sense of deja vu. Still, the game has received praise for its engaging gameplay loop, its newfound focus on storytelling, and its impressive gothic world.
GamesHub – 4 out of 5 Stars
In the GamesHub review of Diablo 4, writer Emily Spindler-Carruthers was surprised at the variety of the endless battles, quests, and exploration segments, which stopped the action from becoming a cause for burnout during her extended time with the game. She also praised the gothic world, which felt lively, though took some issue with the procedurally generated dungeons of the game, an aspect which she felt grew wearisome after a while.
‘Diablo 4 is a behemoth of a game, boasting a gothic world that goes beyond the engaging hack-and-slash gameplay loop, and brings Sanctuary well and truly to life. With the joy of constantly discovering new and exciting little details, quests, and locations on my journey, Diablo 4 might’ve converted me from game abandoner to completionist.’
GameSpot – 8/10
At GameSpot, Alessandro Barbosa drew special attention to Diablo 4’s newfound focus on the narrative, creating a more engrossing experience, and allowing the game’s antagonist to be far more complex. He also praised the flexible character-building system, which lets you change your character’s suite of abilities readily, allowing for experimentation. But he did acknowledge it felt iterative, and that it was hard to completely pull it apart from its predecessors.
‘Diablo IV, at this time, cannot escape comparison to the past of the franchise it belongs to, but it’s thankfully a game that has been crafted with a strong awareness of what made each one either revered or reviled. It represents a measured approach to combining the many elements from previous entries that worked into a system that feels like the new standard-bearer for action role-playing. Coupled with a new benchmark for storytelling in the franchise, and a solid narrative foundation for any potential new adventures, it’s easy to see Diablo IV as something I’ll regularly check-in on for a long time to come.’
Shacknews – 8/10
In writing for Shacknews, Josh Bradwell mulled over both the benefits and disappointments of Diablo 4 staying so true to its formula, praising it for being so sharply refined, but lamenting the overly familiar characters and structure.
‘There’s a reason “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” became an adage. Diablo 4 plays brilliantly, and I opted for familiar builds for a reason – they’re fun and effective. That said, I would like to see something more daring in the future, whether that’s a class with a distinct defensive or support role or even just another offence-oriented class that isn’t a corpse-exploding necromancer or whirling barbarian again.’
He did draw attention to one solid new addition however, in the form of Strongholds, which are complex and interesting dungeons that provide more than just loot – it also ‘frees’ the location in a narrative sense, and gives you the feeling that you’re actually impacting the world around you.
NME – 8/10
Andy Brown echoed a lot of the same sentiments in reviewing the game for NME, but took greater issue with some slow pacing in the later acts of the game (of which there are six in total), as well as some issues with the game’s checkpointing system. Other reviews have mentioned that the difficulty of Diablo 4 errs on the more challenging side – in line with its brutal, gothic world – and this could potentially be a turnoff, especially for anyone unfamiliar with the game.
‘At times, dropping out meant starting entire quests from scratch, sometimes facing setbacks of 20 minutes or more because of an ill-timed error message. If your internet connection is solid (and Blizzard’s servers hold up at launch), this is more of a headache than a full-on migraine; but let this serve as a PSA — don’t ditch a quest until you’re certain it’s wrapped up.’
‘Ultimately, Diablo 4‘s few issues are easier to take in stride because of the game’s wider triumphs. Though it’s been 11 years since the last mainline Diablo game, the wait has been worth it.’