The one demo that's been sticking with me since BlizzCon 2019 was when we got a chance to test out the single-player aspect of Diablo IV. Blizzard did their best to give us the grandest of presentations possible when they announced this one. They went all out, and in a way, they had to. Last year's reveal of Diablo Immortal went over like a fart in church, even before fans gave the game a fair shot. And while the devs were working on Diablo IV during this time, they didn't want to present a half-completed project with no release date just to do it all over again the following year. So while fans may not have appreciated the timing, revealing and demoing the game this year was a far better choice. I got a chance to try the game out a couple times, and here what I took away from it.
So first and foremost, if you're looking for storyline spoilers, I have none for you. We were given a timed 20-minute demo that took us from a pre-set location, to the overworld where other players were running around, to a mission to follow-up on. I played three different times with three different characters: the Sorceress, the Barbarian, and the Druid. I started in a tomb battling skeletons and other creatures of the catacomb. After which I crawled through a bloody hole in the ground filled with skulls to make it to the surface. As you might suspect, the world itself is a lot of farmland and average people just trying to get by in a land filled with demons making their lives hell. A lot of landscapes that have been given a touch of gray, looking faded, as if the life was being sapped out of it.
When I made my way back into town, I told a woman about her family's catacombs and what had happened there, receiving a small reward for my troubles. I then found a home with a boy raving mad about something, which directed me to the docks where the locals feared something had gone awry. (I took on this mission all three times to try stuff out) When I make my way up to the coast, I enter a cave that was once flooded and has now become a series of caves to explore. After fighting off some enemies down here of your usual Diablo variety, I came across a bog witch. Like a lot of creatures from the franchise, she was three times my size and twice as powerful. This was a mission I came close to beating on my own twice, but her attacks came in so frequent it was clear I needed more time on the clock for a better strategy, or I needed to get some help.
Overall I enjoyed the presentation. This felt like I went back to Diablo II, with a cleaner landscape and travel options. The random encounters were cool and not overwhelming. It was nice to see other players in the mix and know that if I wanted to, I could just follow them on whatever mission they were working on. The NPC encounters are what they are, kinda stiff people hanging out in locations waiting for you to come do something. But it is a demo, so I'm going to forgive them and see what happens in the rest of the development before the game comes out. But the graphics were pretty amazing all the way around.
As far as the characters go, I was digging the Sorceress, except she is super squishy. The demo gives you 50 health potions just in case, and blew through half of them getting around. The Barbarian is much what you would expect, a complete tank character that will cut stuff down to size, but you have to get in close and that opens you up to damage. The Druid was my surprise favorite as he could summon creatures and spells to help him. My favorite was turning into both a werewolf and a giant freakin' bear to tear people apart with.
I had a wonderful time playing Diablo IV, I just wish it wasn't on a timer. I get why considering we were at a convention, but this is clearly going to end up being a game I could spend hundreds of hours playing. Hopefully, within the next six months, Blizzard will offer that same demo to the public to try out.