I played some of the open beta test periods of Diablo 4 on PC, and more recently tried out some 10 hour free trial on the Xbox Series X console. So this isn’t a great review on the end-game grind of the game but more about the general feel of the game world and its early mechanics.
The game feels more like a Guild Wars 2 / Diablo crossover. The moment to moment combat feels like Diablo but the open world with random group events feels straight out of Guild Wars 2, except in my most recent play sessions after release the world has felt completely empty; so all the group content ends up being solo content.
The skills seem fun to use with at least some variation you can pick on how to set up a build but it ends up being a very frustrating experience if you want to experiment with anything. You can’t easily swap out skills early on in the skill tree as removing skill points there would disqualify higher level skills from being chosen so you either have to refund everything and then select most of the same skills to try out some new resource generating or core skill; or remove some skills off the bottom of your skill tree to duplicate up the new skill you want to try out; before moving refunding those other skills to fill out the bottom of your skill tree again. In Diablo 3 it was very easy to try out any combination of skill and runes and the Diablo 4 setup feels like a huge step back.
Movement feels very slow, I just want to move around between groups of demons to fight them but slow jog my character does almost reminds me of the walking speed in Diablo 2 after running out of stamina.
Everything I’ve seen in the first few areas seems to be washed out greys with very low contrast. It’s so hard to tell whats going on with such a small selection of the colour spectrum being used to represent everything in the game.
Playing on Xbox seems a lot worse than playing on PC, which I kind of expected. Trying to pick up specific items on the ground feels awkward without a mouse, and trying to manage inventory is a bit difficult with the game trying its hardest to make everything the except same grey colour.
The battle pass and paid cosmetic stuff has such an incredible amount of attention brought to it throughout the game that I am astonished this isn’t a some free-to-play game with all this season battle pass nonsense. Diablo 3 managed to have unique gameplay experiences that kept me coming back between seasons without a battle pass; but I guess that doesn’t milk enough money out of the consumers with the FOMO from all the paid seasonal bonuses.
I doubt I will actually play the entire 10 hours of this trial on Xbox but at least this confirmed that I don’t want to pay money for this game that is going to continue to advertise to me, begging for even more money with its already-high cost of entry.
6/10 - Not terrible but the battle pass sours the experience for me. The open world seems in opposition to the core gameplay loop.