Diablo IV Beta Breaks Franchise Record
The hotly anticipated dungeon crawler from Blizzard made a lot of fans ahead of its June 6 release. Here's what they said.
Winston Churchill supposedly said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” So followed millions of players in the Diablo IV beta as the gates of hell opened to the public for preview this month. It was the largest test in franchise history.
Players ground out more than 61.5 million hours of gameplay across two weekends, killing nearly 30 billion monsters and dying almost 47 million times for science. In the first weekend, players chose from three character classes (Sorceress, Barbarian, and Rogue) before making their way into the Fractured Peaks Zone for Act 1. The remaining two character classes, Necromancer and Druid, were available on the second weekend.
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“The back-to-back Early Access Beta and Open Beta weekends for Diablo IV were incredibly inspiring to the team as we head toward our release on June 6,” said Rod Fergusson, general manager for the franchise. “We want to thank the millions of players for helping us to test the game, for providing meaningful feedback, for exciting the development team, and for slaying billions and billions of demons.”
He added: “We will not, however, apologize to all of the players The Butcher slayed. You are indeed fresh meat, after all. We’ll see you all in Sanctuary again very soon!”
The Diablo series of action role-playing games has been published by Blizzard Entertainment since 1997. The fourth installment is focused on the return of the demon Lilith to the world called Sanctuary.
Players who carried souls on their back this beta were able to see that everything in the game’s photo-realistic medieval landscape—from the lonely crunch of glistening, mucky snow to the slithering, corpuscular monstrosities of the underworld—is rendered in immaculate detail. So too is the narrative that puts players face to face (soul to soul?) with black-eyed Lilith, Daughter of Hatred, who’d been summoned from the depths of hell by villager cultists decades after the events of Diablo III, first published in 2012.
Gamers need not go it alone. Couch co-op and four-player co-op modes are available in Diablo IV—and in some cases, advisable. The game’s bosses are at a Wu-Tang level of not to be 🙊 with, and some will require either many attempts or many people to bring them down. Players managed to take out the aforementioned Butcher half a million times, but the murder enthusiast spatchcocked more than three times as many people. World Boss Ashava the Pestilent, a building-sized plague beast, was the beta’s big winner, dying a paltry 100,000 times while downing 10 million bite-sized players in the process.
So what else went right? A little bit of everything, according to those who played the beta.
“Obsessed totally describes my weekend with the beta, TBH,” wrote Kotaku’s Levi Winslow. “Diablo IV wasn’t something on my radar. I knew it was coming, sure, but I didn’t think I’d grow so enamored with the idea of killing hellspawn until I got some hands-on time with the game. Now, weirdly, it’s all I can think about.”
Here’s a breakdown of highlights for a hit in the making, according to the folks who went to hell and back this month.
Look and Feel
Players were enamored with the game’s “compelling” and “evocative” world, which demonstrated “richness” and “top-notch art direction” as well as an “incredible soundtrack.”
“Don’t sleep on Diablo IV’s couch co-op mode—it’s delightful,” wrote Jay Peters of The Verge. “My partner and I spent hours in the beta running around the game’s world, crushing baddies, and looting dungeons, and it was an absolute blast to do that while snuggled up on the sofa.”
“It’s also awesome building out a character whose active and passive skills have solid synergies, like a rogue who gains buffs whenever debuffing an enemy or a barbarian who grows stronger with every kill,” wrote Kotaku’s Winslow. “In this way, the game is incredibly easy for newcomers like myself to get into and, I’m sure, for veterans to rediscover their grooves.”
Heroism comes in many bodies, and the Diablo team sustained the effort to create champions that looked and felt as unique as the people who’d be playing them.
See you back in Sanctuary on June 6. 🔥🔥🔥
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