author: Zbigniew Woznicki
I'm Not Buying Diablo 4 on Release. I Still Don't Trust Activision-Blizzard
Diablo 4 looks like a decent follow-up to one of my favorite series. The atmosphere in it is thick, the story seems adequately developed. Still, I don't see myself buying the game on release day.
Since the first leaks of Diablo 4 appeared, I've been following the development of this production to stay up to date and know what's going on. After the release of Diablo Immortal, I was guessing that the mobile/desktop game was Blizzard's test for the community, to see how it would behave, how an open world would work if players shared it with others at all times.
In my opinion, this was quite a controversial procedure, but it brought more life to the world of Sanctuary, by that point rather tired of eternal invasions of demons, beasts and the undead. But it's the atmosphere that turns out to be Diablo 4's strongest suit. The game is dark, brutal, and some of the side quests convey the horror well, even though these additional stories are usually extremely short. However, this isn't enough to make me want to buy Diablo 4 for the premiere or even right after it.
Sanctuary's new robes
My biggest problem with this title is not the series' focus on more open online gameplay and a turn towards MMOs – this was obvious at the point of Diablo Immortal. I can still accept this move from Blizzard, though I consider the world too vast given the number of dungeons or events that are available. Ever since Diablo 4, the monetization of the game repulses me the most. The latest installment of the series doesn't look like it's going to become an example to follow for the entire gaming market in this respect. And that doesn't make me like it any more.
Everything comes to the price of the game. The most basic version of Diablo 4 costs around $70. At the same time, and unfortunately, the days when you just bought a game and had full access to its content are over. Nowadays, even the most expensive productions have to include elements that were exclusive to free-to-play titles in the past, which was understandable at the time.
Back in the day, internal item shops and battle passes operated as part of free-to-play games. The creators had to make money somehow, so no one was indignant at the existence of additional, paid content. The pay-to-win mechanics are a different story, of course. For me, the problem begins when a production that costs 70 bucks at launch also contains additional paid content. Which is theoretically optional.
I have years of experience with another Blizzard game, namely World of Warcraft, and have seen lots and lots of new content hit the store over the years. These were just cosmetic items that don't affect gameplay. However, their quality was pretty great: high resolution textures, unique look and animations. However, the awards offered by the game were getting progressively worse and bland. I don't think Diablo 4 will be much different.
Extra payments will get you the most interesting item sets and the best-looking weapons. I also see the introduction of mounts in Diablo 4 as something done almost entirely for the sake of justifying more additional content. The beta shows only the introduction to the game, but I have mixed feelings about the items I acquired during its duration. And I doubt that it will be much better in the later stages of the game.
The question is whether the battle pass will only provide cosmetic items, or whether Blizzard will be tempted to go beyond that. It seems to me that the first option is more plausible, but we could expect just about anything from this developer. And this is probably one of the main reasons why I won't buy Diablo 4 at launch: I don't trust Blizzard and I expect moves that will be detrimental to players. It's a pity that in a situation where this actually happened, there will probably be people defending the practices that spoil the gaming market even more.
What about new content?
Diablo 4 will definitely get some new content, at least in the form of two new classes. Both Diablo 2 and Diablo 3 had seven classes, so it seems natural for additional professions to appear in the latest installment of the series. Diablo 4 is almost certain to be developed on a game-as-a-service basis post release, so it can be easily expanded with more characters. The thing is that if Blizzard has such problems with balancing the current classes, I'm afraid it would be even worse with a larger number of classes.
So what's the development of Diablo 4 going to look like, then? Even though the game isn't a looter shooter, I believe there are two ways to get new content: the Destiny 2 way or The Division 2 way. The former assumes large and regular expansions that add new gameplay elements and significantly expand the plot. The latter is the usual reheating of the same chop – ad nauseam, which we've already seen in Diablo 3.
Personally, I could bet there will be two more classes added in mini-DLCs, similarly to the necromancer from the third installment of the series. In addition, there should be some minor seasonal feature extensions that should be available for free, because the money will come from the battle pass and the store anyway. I suspect that Diablo 4 will not get a major addition such as Lord of Destruction or Reaper of Souls. This path of development seems more unpredictable when it comes to the players' decision about spending more money on the game. The game itself costs $70 without purchasing anything in-game, and suddenly it turns out that you need to spend even more to get the "full experience."
This is how I could briefly explain why I won't buy Diablo 4 on release: in my opinion, Blizzard wants to milk fans of the series too much. And if so, they will perpetuate the unhealthy trend – very expensive games that have additional, and often unfair, money drainage systems inside. I still don't trust Blizzard. Faith that Diablo 4 will be developed in a healthy way seems far-fetched, at least for now.