All MMORPGs have one thing in common: Teaming up with a bunch of other players to take down a huge, hulking boss. Diablo IV will embrace this across its persistent shared world environments, merging ARPG and MMO worlds.
Diablo has always been about teaming up to slay big demon bosses for epic loot--the original Diablo had it, Diablo II's 8-player epic battles had it, and of course Diablo III had it to a lesser extent with its 4-player co-op. Diablo IV isn't an innovator on that front. But Diablo IV dramatically increases the scale of these battles thanks in part to its new world boss mechanic, which essentially summons a huge raid-level boss across the map.
While watching new gameplay footage from GameInformer, I got a sense of this MMO focus. 8 players teamed up to take on a massive world boss, culminating in an epic 4-minute battle (4 minutes is a long time for any single boss battle in Diablo) with high stakes. The more players there are, the higher the difficulty, and the sweeter the rewards.
The sheer length and difficulty of the battle really reminded me of two things: A raid mini boss battle from an MMO, and Diablo II. There was just so much havoc unfolding on the screen that I saw shades of Diablo II in there as players synergize to take down a big ass monster.
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There's also a stagger meter for bosses, bringing to mind another hallmark for an MMO. It's basically akin to targeting an enemies legs to cripple them during a fight, or their hands so they drop their weapon--something of that nature.
This world boss (Ashava, the Pestilent) is just one example of the many bosses that'll show up in Diablo IV. And doesn't even represent the hardest of the bunch. Plus the heroes were only level 19-20 out of a maximum 40 level cap. Taking on the toughest world boss at max level on max difficulty might end up being a huge 20-minute battle to the death.
This is exactly what Blizzard wants. Longer, replayable battles with high stakes creates a better environment for engagement. The wider opportunities there are for loot in an interactive, engaging system, the more we'll keep playing. Diablo IV was designed to be the true never-ending Diablo, complete with Diablo II's main mechanics, Diablo III's endgame loop, and a huge new persistent world full of stuff to do.
I'm still kind of torn on whether or not this is good for Diablo IV in the long run. I always love more Diablo, but there comes a point where giving us too much to do is a bad thing. There's a sense of anxiety, a kind of pressure to keep on going and looking and grinding. But then again...that's what Diablo was really built on, wasn't it?
Diablo IV may release in early 2021, and has been confirmed for PS4, Xbox One and PC. It'll release simultaneously on all platforms, and will feature full native cross-play between them.
Diablo IV is also likely coming to Project Scarlett and PlayStation 5 next-gen consoles.
Everything we know about Diablo IV so far:
- 3 classes: Barbarian, Druid, and Sorceress
- Talent trees buff skills
- Randomized dungeons
- Tons of endgame customization
- Legendary items buff skills in unique ways
- Four player co-op in campaign/adventure mode
- World event parties can exceed four players
- Cosmetic microtransactions confirmed
- Will have paid expansions
- Trading is in, along with clans
- Seasonal events
- No skill respeccing
- Online-only shared world
- Runewords are back, can be socketed into legendaries, rares, etc.
- Set 30 years after Diablo III
- Mepistho's daughter Lilith, the Mother of Nephalem, is the antagonist
- PC and console cross-play