Diablo 4 hosted an “early access” event this weekend for everyone who pre-ordered the upcoming action RPG. I previewed the Act 1 content in an earlier build, but this felt better.
Though I played several sessions solo as a Rogue and a Sorcerer, most of my time in the Diablo 4 early access event was either in a two-person or three-person party. While this early access period wasn’t perfect, it was far more enjoyable than before.
Diablo 4 has improved since the last press access period
Like in the previous build of Diablo 4, this allowed players to access Act 1 with a trio of characters - The Barbarian, Sorcerer, and Rogue. It also featured a level cap of 25; however, it also seemed like more of the features and functions of the game were available.
The game has improved, from the smoothness of the leveling to the ease with which group content is available. This is the first time I played in co-op, and so much of my time was spent on that.
Getting a multiplayer group with my friends was easy, but I wonder if players can queue up to do content with random players in the future. I could not find a way to do so.
The second difficulty rank felt perfect in group play, except when we fought The Butcher. The Diablo 3 Act 1 boss appeared in a dungeon, as a random encounter. It was a smaller version of him, but he was just as terrifying and powerful. Legendaries were more plentiful, and it was nice to break them down and use their abilities later via Imprinting.
Diablo 4 also gives us access to the Legendary Aspects, the rewards you get for completing a dungeon for the first time. Each dungeon gives a specific class ability to affix to your gear, aimed at specific character classes. Speaking of account-bound content, we also got a taste of the account progression.
The Statues of Lilith were in the world, as was the region progression system. It felt good to start a new character and already have access to a few skill points.
Where is Diablo 4 falling short in the early access period?
Let me be clear - Diablo 4’s early access period has been amazing. When I’m done writing this, I will get back to the game, to try and hit level 25 on my Rogue; however, there were a few problems or things that could be improved/added to the game.
The server issues were not really a big deal. I spent my time playing on the PlayStation 5 version of Diablo 4, and I only suffered minimal issues in gameplay. These weren’t framerate drops, just server hiccups due to some rubberbanding (when a character rockets back and forth across the screen due to server problems).
This happened more often to my teammates, who both played on PC. The servers should be improved before the launch, which is a few months away.
I also noticed that some of the in-game events were showing on the map, but when we got to them, they were completely empty. Another event bug also occurred. There were times when only some party members would see an event.
Apart from the server issues, there's a function that I think should be made clearer in Diablo 4. When you complete a dungeon, it's not immediately clear that you can teleport away from it.
I learned after this was published that you can simply go to the map and click on the dungeon to teleport out. Alternatively, you can use "Leave Dungeon" on the action wheel. While it's nice that these options are available, it's not clear in the game's UI that these even exist.
The aesthetic of Diablo 4 is stellar
I saw more of the game in this early access build of Diablo 4. While most of Act 1 resembles a frozen wasteland, the dungeons have unique designs and visual presentations.
Most of these are dimly lit and foreboding but still look unique. Visually speaking, the game is a masterpiece in conveying a message and story through art. The music is solid as well.
Diablo 4 is in a perfect place right now. While the servers were a little troublesome, the actual gameplay was stellar. I loved playing in co-op with my friends as we slaughtered the forces of evil and picked up massive piles of loot. I loved keeping the legendary affixes, upgrading gear, and working together.
It felt more like an MMO experience compared to previous games. Seeing other players in the wild was amazing. One problem Diablo 3 faced was it felt empty. You can play with other players only if you invite them to your game.
If you aren’t sure about the game, try next week’s free open beta. It will feature all five classes and plenty of gameplay; however, I can safely say that the game is incredible and is the definitive Diablo experience.