Finished off all I'm planning to play of Diablo 4 this weekend. My impressions:
This game is big, if you were worried that this game wouldn't be meaty enough for the $70 price tag, worry not. The game has 5 regions, each about the same size, and only 1 of the 5 regions is available in the beta. There is no in-game playtime tracker nor can I check my playtime on TrueAchievements or Exophase since there are no achievements in the beta nor an Xbox stats tracker page for Exophase to pull data from, but I would guess that I played about 15 hours over the weekend. In that time I completed all of the main story missions that are available in the first region in the beta (which I'm pretty sure is not all of the main story quests that will be in that region), 24/35 side quests, 7/23 side dungeons, 5/28 altars of Lilith, and discovered 72/77 areas of the map. Based on that, I would guess that the first region will take somewhere between 20-25 hours to 100% complete. Since all regions appear to be about the same size on the world map and there are 5 regions, it seems like there will be somewhere between 100-125 hours of content for completionists available in the base game. And that is of course before any time spent grinding for better gear or doing end-game content or PvP.
As I noted on my day one impressions, the game is noticeably more difficult and less casual friendly than Diablo 3 and Diablo Immortal. Legendary drop rates are reduced, Legendary effects are nowhere near as overpowered, XP/Gold earning rates for higher world tiers are reduced, heal over time and heal on damage gear doesn't seem to exist like in past games while heal on kill gear provides smaller bonuses than in the past games, bosses are more difficult, dungeons are more difficult, dodge is on a cooldown instead of unlimited (though the dodge can be improved with certain gear stats including one that reduces your dodge cooldown each time you deal damage).
Combat is generally alot of fun imo, the increased difficulty means that you actually need to read enemy attacks and make careful use of dodge making it less mindless than past games. Sorceress, which I picked, seems like the most powerful of the 3 classes in the first beta weekend and has some really cool builds already. Hydra in particular might be the single most useful skill in the game, it's a summon that can't take damage from enemies and puts out a steady decent supply of damage, very useful for difficult boss fights where you will spend most of your time dodging and kiting without being able to attack much yourself, Hydra seems invaluable for any Sorceress build.
While the servers weren't great on day 1 of the weekend (I got booted once and my 2 queue times that day were 50+ and 90+ minutes), more servers were brought online by day 2, my longest queue time on day 2 or 3 was 3 minutes and the others were all less than 1 minute, and I didn't get booted at all on day 2 or 3.
So far I'm quite impressed by the ramp up in storytelling quality compared to Diablo 3. In fact from what of the story we are allowed to play in the beta, I'd say it has the potential to be among the best RPG storylines. Some of the side quest stories are quite good too, I especially enjoyed the Sister Octavia questline.
I'm actually quite impressed by how unbuggy the game is right now for a beta test. I only experienced 2 bugs the whole weekend, one where I got into the character selection screen after a queue and then was unable to select a character, the other where when I got booted from the server on day one, it looked like my character had been deleted on the character select screen (though rebooting the client fixed that).
- Variety could be better. Lots of dungeons reuse the same few themes and tiles pieces, just with different layouts, and alot of cellars don't even change the layout or theme at all. Not as much enemy variety as I would like to see either, most dungeons are hordes of the same 4 or so enemy types.
- Character creation, while a definite step up over previous Diablo games, is still quite limited. Only 4 faces per gender per class, no body customization except for tattoos on sorceress, not alot of hair style options. They probably plan to put more options into the cosmetic battlepasses, which is a real shame when the base game creator is as limited as it is.
- Gear scaling is poor. I was often getting drops that were much lower level than the enemy that dropped them. At one point I got a level 4 piece of gear in a zone rated as level 24 on my map.
- The minimap is too zoomed in and needs an option to zoom out more. UI in general needs more customization options
- I dislike the scaling costs for respeccing your character. In a game with randomized loot that encourages frequently respeccing to make use of your loot drops, especially your legendary drops, it is stupid to have scaling respec costs. Blizzard has said that eventually scaling respec fees will reach a point where it becomes so expensive to respec that you are better off starting a new character for that class instead of respeccing. That is absolutely bogus, and feels like something where they plan to sneak in a microtransaction to reset your respec costs. They badly need to rebalance the scaling and set a maximum respec fee so that a respec remains relatively cheap during leveling and then eventually hits a maximum that is relatively moderate by the endgame.
All in all, I could definitely see this game getting a 90+ average from critics on launch if they address some of these shortcoming, the season pass isn't too egregious, the end-game is good, and they have enough servers online to handle the traffic on launch so we don't end up with ridiculous queue times again.
Last edited by shikamaru317 - on 19 March 2023