While this post isn't meant to bash D3 by any stretch, I think it's fair to say that D3 wasn't the game that some folks were looking for out of a Diablo game, the reasons being anything from the art style, the end game, the character builds, the music, or any number of other reasons. While I personally enjoyed the game for a time, I've since turned to games like Grim Dawn for that D2 feel that I've been looking for, but I do believe that if D4 were to draw upon the many good things about D3, but also draw on the amazing ideas and aesthetic of games like Grim Dawn and Path of Exile, we would have the makings of an incredible game. These are thoughts I've had over the years, so I'd be honestly curious to see what folks think Diable 4 needs, and what lessons Blizzard can apply from Diablo 3, but the current ARPG Isometric market.
1: Combat needs to be buttery smooth and satisfying. Diablo 3 honestly did a fantastic job with this element. Monsters exploded in bloody bits, each hit felt impactful, and combat flowed really well in general. If there is one thing I'd expect to be more or less on point, it's this.
2: Character builds – One of the reasons I've fallen in love with Grim Dawn are the almost endless ways to build characters. Once you choose your base class and secondary class, the ways you can build that class are nearly endless. The system itself isn't complex either, and doesn't seem completely overwhelming like Path of Exile (Love ya Path of Exile, but it's true), but there's a ton of depth there. The Devotion trees further add customization, which can be used in so many ways to define your character. What this means for Diablo 4 is that the classes absolutely need to have build diversity that don't fall into the trap of certain builds being the 'current meta' due to balancing. Players should absolutely be encouraged to experiment with builds, such as offering a 'talent point reset' or something similar from a vendor if you want to change your talent points. Likewise, stat points like strength, stamina and so on should be distributed by the player upon each level up. With the reintroduction of runes, this could potentially add in some real needed build diversity. What do you think?
3: Art style and aesthetic – I'll be honest, I've never been a huge fan of the Diablo 3 art direction, even when enjoying the game. I always felt that it lacked the 'grit' of Diablo 2, and I do believe that Grim Dawn captures the art style essence of D2 in a way that D3 never did. One thing that absolutely needs to return is the light bubble around the character, because nothing says atmospheric tension like not knowing what you might run headlong into in a dark dungeon because you can't what's around the corner. I will say that the gameplay trailer does give promise of a return to the 'dark gothic horror' vibe that I've missed, but time will tell as to what the final product will look like. A more realistic approach to the outdoor and dungeon areas, especially when it comes to lighting will make a big difference. As another example, the Fleshworks in The Ashes of Malmouth expansion for Grim Dawn chilled me because of the fucked up shit going on within. The more realistic art style definitely made the difference. Reaper of Souls had a pretty great aesthetic from a mood design, but man I just wish the art style had been more 'gritty'. As an aside, blizzard storytelling has fallen over the years, with so much cringy dialogue and poorly delivered voice acted lines, BUT, there are moments of brilliance that show that they have the ability to make a good story. Using great voice actors like Ralph Ineson such as they did for the gameplay trailer will add some real gravitas.
4: Music – Hands down what I enjoyed least about D3 was the music. While much of it was servicable, it just doesn't compare to D2 unfortunately by any stretch. If D4 can make music that matches the overall tone of Matt Uelman's D2 soundtrack, including the haunting otherworldly wails, primal drums, and adding an almost creeping atmosphere to it all, makes you just feel like you're exploring a dark, dangerous, and dank dungeon. Take "Monastery", "Mesa" and "Leoric" as a prime example as to what I loved about D2s soundtrack, and want to see that feeling come back hard in D4.
5: Always online – While we'll have to see how this system plays out, I'm skeptical of the idea of always online, but I'll have to see what the final product looks like. Personally, I'd prefer an offline mode that would allow you to bring your character into online games, and lobbies with a full profile and all of that. Clan support, tournaments, chat rooms, built in build calculators and all those things should be included within the online portion of the game. That being said, there's not much to be said on this, as we already know the game will be always online, and since it was controversial with D3, I'd be curious to hear opinions for how it could work well for D4 potentially.
6: What classes do you want to see? We know the Barbarian, Sorcerer and the Druid are making a comeback, but I'd like to see the Necromancer (He's a friggin' icon of the game), and a Paladin type character, or even just bring back the Paladin. I enjoyed the Monk from Diablo 3, and I'd also love to see the Amazon and Assassin return in some form, or as a new class. Classes will definitely have to be a nice balance of the new and the old.
In a nutshell, if Diablo 4 could incorporate the fantastic, smooth and optimized combat of D3, the music style of D2, the total grittiness, darkness and design aesthetic of Grim Dawn/Path of Exile, cool armor design (while not being totally over the top), character build diversity of Grim Dawn (Simple, but incredible depth when you get into it, and so many possibilities), you could have the makings of an incredible game. Take away the goofy looking butterfly villains (God she was horrible) from D3, and take a page out of the artbook for D2. Add in a compelling story voice acted with talented voice actors and boom.
This has been a bit long winded, but I love the Diablo games, and I want D4 to be as good as it can be, honoring the spirit of the previous games, while not being afraid to add in new features that don't leave it feeling like a dated game right out of the box. We've seen so many cool things come out of the ARPG genre over the last few years, and I feel there is so much potential to learn from and apply to D4.
What do you think?
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