Blizzard had a hefty new update for Diablo 4 yesterday, with game director Luis Barriga chatting about how story was being handled, open world activities that will see players brave the fiercest of challenges for some really nice furs that are soaked in demon blood and how the studio will handle the multiplayer portion of the game.
There seems to be fear in the air regarding the online component of Diablo 4, not only from the days of horror that gave birth to the the infamous Error 37 in Diablo 3’s earliest runs but also an underlying uneasiness of MMO elements that may be at odds with the core feel of how a Diablo game should play. “Our goal has always been to incorporate elements from shared world games without the game ever feeling like it’s veering into massively multiplayer territory,” Barriga wrote.
To be clear, this is a philosophy rather than a tech limitation. We find that the game stops feeling like Diablo and the world feels less dangerous when you see other players too often or in too high numbers.
To counter that, Barriga explained how Diablo 4 will continue to craft a more intimate and deadly experience for the player without having to worry about being swarmed by a mob of avatars bearing several variations on the names of popular anime characters. “I’ll break down our experiences during the playtest with some examples. Dungeons and key story moments are always private—just the player and their party,” Barriga explained.
Once story moments are complete and towns turned into social hubs, you’d run into a few people in town. While on the road, you’d sometimes run into a player here and there. And then finally, if you went to a location where a world event was happening, you would see a larger congregation of players trying to defend against an attack by a cannibal horde or trying to take down Ashava, the demonic world boss we showed at BlizzCon.
It’s worth calling out that while some coordination is helpful during these events, you are never forced to join a party. Solo players can walk in, help complete the event, and claim a reward. We think this seamless approach to multiplayer is working well and look forward to sharing more about this approach with you. In our tests so far, the world feels alive and dynamic without compromising the feel of Diablo.
And for players that do want to party up against the minions of Hell, we have new tools available to find a group, whether by activity or proximity in the game world.
Diablo at its best, needs to feel like a dank world of despair, one of hopeless struggle against merciless forces across all of creation. And so far, I’m feeling plenty of that with these deep dives into Diablo 4. I genuinely do hope that secret cow level returns though. MOO! MOO ETERNAL!
Last Updated: June 26, 2020