Blizzard’s latest offering, Diablo 4 has been highly anticipated for many years. This time, it’s all about the resurrection of Lilith and the horrifying evils that it will bring to Sanctuary. Whether you are a big-time fan of the series or dipping your toes into the franchise for the first time – here’s our Diablo 4 review (with no spoilers) that will break down everything great and everything that can be better in this deliciously hellish experience.
Diablo 4 Review
If you are a veteran, you’ll quickly realize that the core elements of the gameplay remain the same (hack-slash-loot-repeat), but they are more refined than ever before. The goal is to keep killing enemy mobs and bosses, collect better gear/items and upgrade your abilities until you are a force to be reckoned with. But Diablo 4 somehow manages to keep things fresh even at the endgame primarily because of the huge variety of equipment, skills, enemy types, dungeons, conduit powers, intriguing quests, and much more.
There won’t be a single moment to get bored. The hostile environment will keep you on your toes (especially if you’re playing on World Tier II on your first playthrough) and you will think twice before trying to switch up your build while you’re out in the open world. Reminder to self: Always do that in a town or in a perfectly safe area.
“Sanctuary was never meant for humankind. It was forged as a refuge from the war between the high heavens and the burning hells.”
The campaign takes us through lots of beautifully revolting environments right from icy regions to slippery swamps – each with its own type of mobs, creatures, and bosses. Players who’ve experienced Diablo 3 will see familiar locations in D4, so keep an eye out for that.
Towards the end, we even get to the coast – the graphics of which will manage to take your breath away. The textures are super detailed, right from the blood-soaked cellar floors to the reflections on ice – it’s all pretty mindblowing to see after D3. Along with the visuals, the background music and sound effects ensure that you are immersed completely. The cutscenes are very well-made and I expect nothing less from Blizzard.
The verticality in the game is a welcome change from Diablo 3. It’s too much fun to climb up ladders, get to the top of cliffs, and even traverse from one point to another hanging by a rope.
“You think me mad, old friend. But I know these dreams. They tell of the future. Hell is coming, brother. Hell is coming.”
Aside from main quests, there’s a lot to do in Diablo 4 and I found myself getting distracted ever so often. Do I join an event, complete a dungeon/cellar/stronghold, ask an NPC ‘what’s wrong’ even though I have a backlog of pending objectives, or find the locations of all waypoints and Lilith’s altars first? It was a dilemma – the kind that made it hard for me to put down the controller. It doesn’t help that every dungeon seemed uniquely designed which makes the dungeon-crawling aspect interesting even if you do it for the hundredth time. Diablo has mastered the art of level design and we love to see it.
“As long as I’m here, they are the prey. And I am the hunter.”
I played as Rogue, one of the best classes that the game has to offer and I enjoyed every moment of it with another party member who played as Necromancer.
Let me paint a picture of how our battles went:
As my Rogue’s blades cut through enemy throats (even three at a time), my poison trap slowed them and knocked them down. Meanwhile, the Golem went ham on the boss as the minions took down the smaller beasts. I escaped the AoE attacks with my Dash and double evades. Soon enough, my cooldowns reset and so went my cold-imbued arrows straight toward the corrupted foe. Last but not least, an Ultimate from the Necromancer and Rogue ended up giving the final blow, and the sweet sound of drops popping out of a terrifying enemy that we defeated after our fourth attempt, became music to my ears.
This was just one build, but I cannot wait to try a Twisted Blades build that is gaining quite a lot of popularity among Rogue fans. Overall, I’d say that the synergy between Rogue and Necro is better than my experience of playing Sorcereress with Barbarian during the beta, but your experience will surely be different from mine.
“Hurry now… the sands of time slow for no one!”
Leveling up is a grind – but the best part is that it never feels like it. The enemies and bosses get progressively tougher and will force you to focus harder, but the difficulty is amped up in such a way that it doesn’t seem impossible to beat them.
All you need to do is go back to town, repair and upgrade your gear, respec your skills to focus on a particular boss, check the aspects, add sockets and gems, change your equipped items to give you more resistance of a certain type and figure out how to get more healing when you’ve run out of potions mid-battle. Phew. Sounds like a lot of effort, but once you do this and go back to the boss and end up beating the crap out of them, the euphoria is pretty fricking good.
If you look for the feeling of being a god-mode hero/savior in a game, Diablo 4 is sure to do it for you. Just devote your time to creating a build that you are comfortable with and consider every aspect of your armor, boots, helmet, weapons, jewelry, etc. And once you have the almost-perfect combo, you will enjoy the boss fights even more.
“The first three were dead before they hit the ground. The others weren’t so lucky.”
The build options are so extensive that you might find yourself getting lost in the endless permutations and combinations of skills for each class you are trying out. As you keep getting Ability Points, you will feel excited to spend them on a skill, skill upgrade, ultimate, passive, or even those smaller skills that may make a big difference.
In case you want to experiment with a different build, you can spend Gold to reassign the Ability points, but the cost of it is massive towards the endgame. So make sure to collect every single gold drop you get along the way because you will need it to upgrade your weapons too.
All in all, the planning and coding of the skill tree and how it impacts the gameplay is impressive, to say the least. Huge shoutout to the entire team for living up to the challenge of this mammoth undertaking.
“Death, at last, shall spread its wings over all.”
Coming to the story – it’s good, it’s engaging. The story continues in a similar vein of the previous Diablo games and sticks to a certain formula which I’m not mad about. While the story itself isn’t the main highlight of this game – the storytelling is. There are surprise discoveries, sudden boss fights, and twists you may not be expecting.
The voice acting is impeccable, especially by Lorath. The Horadrim is voiced by Ralph Ineson who has previously portrayed Charles Vane in Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag as well as Dagmer Cleftjaw in Game of Thrones. His baritone voice will grab your attention and funnily enough, he’s got a sense of humor. These are some of the much-needed light moments in a game that is mostly packed with death, blood, and shocking scenes.
There are 5 classes in Diablo 4 – Barbarian, Rogue, Sorcerer, Druid, and Necromancer. You can choose one that best fits your preferred playstyle for your campaign, but after that, you can entirely skip the campaign for your second character.
All classes are fun to play depending on what you prefer. While Necromancer can be a formidable force with their reanimated minions and Golem, Rogue is a lone ranger who depends on speed, traps, and close and long-range attacks.
Sorcerer is a class that’s beautiful to look at with magical attacks and summons that deal great damage. Meanwhile, Barbarian and Druid are tanky classes that can easily face some heat from enemies up close. You can then build up from the basics by adding more aggressive abilities to the Barbarian and adding shapeshifting magical powers to Druid. The possibilities are endless.
“After a while, the scars serve as their own layer of armor.”
Customizing characters before you start is fun because they’ve added lots of options right from hairstyles, tattoos, makeup, etc. But once your character begins their journey, you can only change their markings, jewelry, and outfits but not their hairstyle. Players can switch up the look of their character’s clothes without losing their stats by using the Transmog system, which honestly has some pretty cool options.
“Hatred has returned, and she shall not relent until she has corrupted us all.”
Lilith, the Mother of Sanctuary and Daughter of Hatred will be an enigma because she appears very few times throughout the campaign, but whenever she appears, you won’t be able to look away. Yep, even when the unspeakable things happening on screen may make you physically squirm.
While playing the campaign, you will soon realize her motivations and it’s up to you to decide whether personally you believe in her ideology or not. She’s not a one-dimensional ‘I want to destroy the world because I feel like it’s villain, which is great. But due to that, you don’t really end up fearing this beautiful demon lady compared to the fearsome Diablo, you know what I mean? Of course, this is just me nitpicking. But as soon as you finish the story, the real thrill begins. Diablo’s live service feature and end content will keep you hooked for months and even years. Plus, much like D3, there will be expansions that take the story ahead, so there’s a lot to look forward to.
I did have a few hiccups with quest markers disappearing, and horses galloping in the same location due to possible server load but hopefully, upcoming patches fix that. Riding a horse in tight spaces was also a bit difficult but the fact that your horse can get scared and drop you off reminded me of RDR2 and The Witcher. Those were some nice little details.
“We do not see what has been done, we only see what remains to be done.”
During a time when unfinished buggy games are released (*cough* you know what I’m talking about), Diablo 4 overcomes expectations and manages to give players a complete experience. After that, the adventure is just getting started. Since this game is online only, your internet speed has to be pretty darn good to run a game like this smoothly, because you don’t want to get stuck while surrounded by a mob. Or worse, in a PvP zone.
Speaking of post-endgame, you get loads of new things to do in Diablo 4. New World Tiers get unlocked (Nightmare & Torment), by level 50 you unlock the Paragon Board which takes skill trees to the next level, there are Nightmare Dungeons to clear and more.
If you like pain, you can also try the Hardcore mode, where your character dies permanently after dying the first time.
Diablo 4 DLSS Performance Review
Author for DLSS Performance Test Part: Shreyansh Shah
We got a chance to test Diablo 4 DLSS performance on two different systems. One is an Alienware x17 R2 laptop and the second is on a gaming pc powered by Nvidia RTX 4080 FE. On the gaming laptop, we tested Diablo 4 DLSS 2 at Ultra-High settings, and on the RTX 4080FE system, we tested the game for DLSS3.
Diablo 4 Alienware x17 R2 DLSS 2 Test:
- CPU – 12th Gen Intel(R) Core(TM) i9-12900HK
- GPU – 16GB GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Laptop GPU
- RAM – 32GB (2×16 DDR5 4800MHz)
- SSD – 1TB (M.2 PCIe NVMe, SSD)
- 17.3” QHD 2560×1440 @165Hz Display
On the laptop, we ran Diablo 4 in different modes. Like Quality, Balanced, Performance, and Ultra Performance. All these pre-defined modes are available under Diablo 4’s DLSS 2 graphic settings.
There were some frame drops during the cutscene but the fights were as lively and majestic as one would expect from RTX cards. Nvidia claimed that the average performance of Diablo IV would multiply almost by 2.5x on a 4K with DLSS 2 and DLSS 3. Having experienced it firsthand, I can surely agree with this claim.
Although there was no lag or stutters, the frame rates on DLSS 2 were completely different from what I saw on DLSS 3. DLSS 3 was smoother and better, both DLSS 2 and DLSS 3 were on different machines, and that may prove to be the difference between the performances and frame rates of both technologies.
DLSS 2 on Alienware x17 R2 offered a consistent and high frame rate and it was way beyond what I was expecting when I started playing Diablo 4 on a laptop. The next test was on RTX 4080 FE 16GB + DLSS 3, and this also proved to be something that was elevating the game to another level.
RTX 4080 FE 16GB DLSS 3 Test:
- CPU – AMD Ryzen 9 7950x
- GPU – 16GB GeForce RTX 4080 FE
- RAM – 32GB (2×16 DDR5 4800MHz)
- SSD – 1TB (M.2 PCIe NVMe, SSD)
- 32inch G32QC Gigabyte Gaming Monitor
If DLSS 2 improved the performance of Diablo 4 on a laptop, you can surely expect DLSS 3 to change the course of gaming when you pair it with a powerful performer like the RTX 4080 FE. As a Sorceror with a Lightning build, I was surely in for a treat with all the surreal graphics and the powerful performance of the GPU.
Along with that, I was also greeted with consistently high frame rates without experiencing any kind of drop. This was one of the best features of DLSS 2 and DLSS 3 where they left no room for any kind of complaints regarding the performance, the outlook of the game, or any kind of drop. As a Diablo veteran who went through the entire campaign as a Rogue, the gameplay of a Sorceror was even better than before. Having played Sorceror during the Diablo IV Beta, I could see a massive change between the performance last time out and this time.
Since numerous changes have occurred since the beta, it wouldn’t be fair to only give you one comparison. However, the DLSS 3 works like a beast of some form. Whether it was the snowy regions at the start, the mobs outside Kyovashad, or the mines, this experience was quite different and better than any other. If I was to compare the performances of DLSS 2 and DLSS 3 (on their respective machines), it would be difficult to choose one. Since there can only be one winner, DLSS 3 does surpass DLSS 2 in comparison. Although neither displayed any kind of problem and were quite similar in performance I would still say DLSS 3 was much smoother than the other. After experiencing the game on both DLSS 2 and DLSS 3, it’s safe the say that players choosing either of them will have a completely surreal gameplay traversing through Sanctuary.
For gamers who prefer mobility and on-the-go gaming then gaming laptops fit well, for this Alienware x17 R2 is one of the high-end gaming laptops that can serve DLSS 2 well. For more information, you can check our Resident Evil 4 Remake Performance review which is tested on the same laptop.
And for hardware fanatics, who prefer to build their monster-pc going with Nvidia RTX 4080 FE is one viable choice. As it gives you years of lag-free gaming experience at 4K settings with DLSS 3 support. You cannot just miss experiencing how well RTX can upgrade the entire gaming experience on ultra-hd resolutions.
Diablo 4 gets everything about the ‘hack and slash, action RPG, dungeon crawling genre’ right. The graphics are top-notch and the combat is truly the epitome of everything that has been great in the previous main entries of the franchise. The campaign has interesting characters that will keep you involved and the variety provided in the classes, combat, and build options are exceptional. Not many games can offer the kind of replayability that Diablo IV does and if grinding to get better and more OP is something you like to do, you should definitely play this game.
Yes, it is not for everyone, but if you can manage to get your hands on it (and are sure to not put down the game for a long time), it’s worth it. You can also wait for a sale in the future because this game is going to be fun and relevant for a really long time, so don’t worry if you can’t grab it right away.
And that’s our Diablo 4 review. If you liked reading this, be sure to head over to our Reviews section for more of our insights about other recent games!