Diablo IV – One to watch for 2023

Diablo IV is one of the most anticipated games of 2023, it’s been years in the making, plus it’s the latest in a very popular series. Today I’m going to look at all the reasons why I’m exited for the latest Diablo game, plus look at why it’s one to watch in 2023.

Diablo IV was announced all the way back in 2019 at BlizzCon. It has been in development for some time, but it was still a nice surprise to see the cinematic trailer. We had a few details about returning classes, and then that was it for quite a while. It wasn’t until BlizzCon 2021 when we got our next update. We were hoping it might release in 2022, however, it’s more than likely covid scuppered that plan, as it did with many other plans across the games industry in the last couple of years.

Players did get their hands on an early build of Diablo IV in June 2022, when Blizzard had a closed beta, I didn’t manage to play that time, but hopefully as we move more towards the release date in June 2023, I’ll get in and will be able to report back gameplay feel.

We did get another look at Diablo IV at The Game Awards in the back half of 2022, with Blizzard on typically good form with their cinematic trailers. Diablo IV is returning to it’s dark roots, we had impalement and at times it’s hard to distinguish between the angels and the demons.

We have a number of classes coming to Diablo IV including Druid, Barbarian, Sorceress, Rogue, and Necromancer.

Druids were one the first announced classes for Diablo IV. They have powers related to the Earth and Wind and can shape shift into Were bears and Werewolf forms. In a big change from previous games, Druid won’t use a skill to transform into a form, instead they use a skill that requires a particular form. They shape shift into the new form briefly and then back out again. Druids also have summons with their ability to call on wolves and ravens.

Barbarian are the go to class if you want strength and weapons. Barbarians have access to “The Arsenal” system which allows them to have four different weapons to swap between. We can assign different skills to use specific weapons, so you can really customise the Barbarians skills and load outs.

Sorceress is our spell caster class. They can throw lightning, ice and fire from a distance. Unlike previous iterations of Diablo’s Wizard class the Sorceress are focused more on elemental magic. The Sorceress has access to the Enchantment system which allows them to use 6 skill slots, but also 3 additional enchantment slots which translate to passive skills.

Rogue is a returning class from the original Diablo game. Rogue’s are specialists with the bow but they can also get up close with daggers and knives. Rogue’s have combo points which you’re abilities build up related to attack combinations, meaning you can charge up abilities through multiple hits. They also have a specialization called Shadow Realm where you can become immune and drag enemies into another dimension.

Necromancer is the fifth and final class. They can control skeletons and have bone and blood magic at their disposal. They have weapons too including a massive Scythe. Necromancers can utilise corpses as a resource. They can even trap enemies in something called a Bone Prison, which allows you to control enemies on the battlefield.

As well as the different classes, we’re going to be able to customise our characters through hundreds of unique armor pieces as well as change faces and body attributes. This allows you to customise your class so you won’t be the same as another character in Diablo IV. We also have a dye system allowing us to change the colour of clothes. Facial features will also be editable, which is new for the Diablo series.

Here’s what Blizzard said about it during their BlizzCon 2021 update:

“You will be able to change the face of your character, the hairstyle, the facial hair (beards and eyebrows), and add jewelry (nose piercing or earrings), makeup, and body markings such as tattoos or body paint. You will also be able to change the color values of your character’s skin, eyes, hair/facial hair, and body markings. Some elements will be class specific, to support the classes’ unique backgrounds, but many will be shared between classes allowing more possibilities to mix and match.”

In June 2022 we got a much better look at Diablo IV gameplay. There’s a big open world, plus public events that will take place where you battle against hordes of demons, alongside other players that are in the same instance as you.

Late in 2022, Diablo 4’s Game Director Joe Shely and General Manager Rod Fergusson sat down with IGN for an interview, giving us a few more juicy details related to subclass uniqueness.

“We started with a couple of classes and we had some really cool ideas for class mechanics that would be specific to those classes. It proved to be very compelling not just in terms of the gameplay of the class, but also, if you’re playing a barbarian, and maybe you’re grouped up with a sorceress, and the sorceress is using her class mechanic, you look at that and go ‘There’s lots of interesting gameplay there I can check out.’ We really wanted the classes to shine in their own ways.”

“The necromancer is a core part of Diablo, it’s this really cool summoner class. You can get this really cool fantasy of being a sort of general of the dead. But there are lots of different ways that people have played necromancers. You’ve got people who enjoy playing necromancers in Diablo 2 where they’re kind of overseeing the battlefield and their minions are doing all the combat, you’ve got the more action packed necromancer of Diablo 3 where you’re really sort of commanding minions more directly, and you’ve got players as well who want to play this sort of dark caster fantasy, but aren’t necessarily attached to the army aspect of it.”

They also gave us some details about skill trees, saying we’ll be able to be hyper specific will how we respec characters. It will cost resources, but we’ll be able respec point by point. This is a departure from Diablo 3, which was much more tied to your gear.

“There’s going to be a point in time where, and I’m going to make up a number but say at level 50, you go like ‘oh, I’d like to be a different barbarian, but it’s too expensive to undo everything I’ve done, it’s actually better for me to roll another barbarian and start a new one and go fresh. And we wanted that notion that with each level you progress down a character you’re kind of becoming more and more attached to it. You’re not just going ‘okay I’m level 65, time to change my clothes and become a different barbarian.'”

Items are getting a major overhaul, with much more focus on items strengthening class identities and allowing players to customise deeper and given us more depth, this is comparable to something between Diablo 2 and 3. SPecific changes include weapon speed and other stats that you’ll find on all items. Item qualities have alos been looked at with Blizzard wanting players to look at other weapons, not just legendary weapons.

An exciting element of Diablo IV is the open-world. There are 5 regions to explore, and they can be done in any order. “Each region is fraught with dangers of their own kind,” said Lead Environment Artist Matt McDaid in 2022. “Many routes, and hidden corners to uncover. How you chose to make your way through this vast world is up to you. The Art and Design teams have constructed a contiguous world where you can roam from coast to coast, or high up into the glacial ridges. For the Environment Art team, we want to ensure each handcrafted location is distinct and immersive.”

The game is going to ship with cross-play multiplayer. Players from PlayStation, Xbox and PC will all be able to play with each other. This is an always online game, and being able to play with everyone on all platforms is going to make all the difference. Dungeons are going to be instanced for solo and parties of players and in the overworld you are going to see other players. World events are going to bring players together and you’ll be able to get mounts to ride across large distances. Difficulty can be set when you enter a Dungeon, although above ground the difficulty will scale to your level.

There’s lots to be excited about when it comes to Diablo IV. I recommend checking out some video previews and seeing the gameplay, then getting your hands on the game as soon as possible. If we get details of an open beta, I’ll let you know.