Diablo 4 feels like a live service game 2 years into its future

For all of the time I put into the launch of the original Destiny, it was beyond barren in terms of content. It was a damn good time, but most of that was in the excitement of something new from Bungie other than Halo. Playing with friends also tends to polish mediocre experiences.

I went through the same cycle with Destiny 2, and watched as Anthem crashed and burned a couple years later. That era during the launch of the original Destiny feels like the real start of the live service boom, and since then new types of experiences that demand all of your attention have been popping up every month it seems. But it’s really the normalizing of that type of release strategy that stings the most these days – rushing a game to market only to fix things up after the fact.

That’s where Diablo 4 has impressed me the most. It feels oddly complete. Blizzard’s newest game, now officially their best performing launch ever, feels like what it took a game like Destiny 2 at least a couple of years to accomplish. It sucks that we’re at the point where something like this feels so odd, and it really sucks that hard working teams have to endure unrealistic time constraints. But if you pick out any modern live service game at launch, chances are you’re going to be having a really frustrating experience.

Diablo 4’s open world is massive, detailed, and packed with things to do

There’s no doubt that Diablo 4’s systems will need to be tweaked or altered to really make the end game shine, but for the most part I’ve found it to be bug free. Apart from weird UI bugs during cutscenes, twirling NPCs in towns, and performance hiccups, the game has been frictionless. There’s hardly even been any queues or severe server related issues to deal with.

Sure you’ll find repeated areas (mostly dungeons) and enemies, but the game is stuffed with things to do. There are side quests with bite sized stories, plenty of dungeons, towns to regain control of, many ways of creating your own playstyle, plenty of free character customization, systems to play around with, and public events. The labor of love is palpable with Diablo 4 and the team behind it.

The gameplay, the only thing that makes leveling, buildcrafting, and customizing worth a damn, is incredibly satisfying. What I appreciate most is the weight of the experience. I don’t remember Diablo 3 having as much impact – I remember things feeling much more floaty.

That’s not even mentioning the main story of the game, a narrative that while not earth shattering for me so far (start of Act 4), is surprisingly interesting and well produced. At the very least, it’s a base of making me want to dive into Diablo 4’s world, lore, and future stories. Diablo 4’s seasons will offer discrete narratives and it’s already been announced that 2 expansions are in the works.

All of this as the basis for the end game is a damn good starting point for me. Blizzard also seems interested in making content additions meatier than with Diablo 3, and season 1 is right around the corner. I’m sure I’ll have frustrations pop up concerning the leveling and build aspects of the game. These can be adjusted, but it’s such a joy to be playing the sequel to one of my favorite loot games without the nagging feeling I’ve been duped once again.

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