Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
Diablo IV free to play

From all I hear and see, Diablo IV is not a very good game. To me the screenshots and bits of video I saw of regular gameplay looked extremely ugly, although admittedly that is more because of the color palette than because of detail and resolution. And Blizzard made some unfortunate choices during release, first patches, and season 1, which led to players leaving the game in droves, and a lot of negative stories in the gaming press. So I wasn't tempted to pay $70 to see for myself. But today I saw on Steam that between today, November 22, and November 28, you can play Diablo IV for free. And now equipped with 1 Gbit/sec fiber internet, the 85 GByte download aren't really a big obstacle anymore. So the game is currently installing on my PC, and I can form my own opinion.

I am asking myself whether Diablo IV shouldn't have been free to play to start with. Diablo Immortal was, and it isn't as if Diablo IV has less ongoing monetization. I am not a big fan of "double dipping", where you first have to pay full price to start playing, and then are still expected to pay monthly for things like battle passes and cosmetics. Even if Diablo IV is not Pay2Win as Immortal, the $20 skins in Diablo IV seem overpriced, especially since you already had to buy the game at full price.

At this point, it would probably be a really bad idea for Blizzard to make Diablo IV free. All the people who paid $70 to $100 for the game would be extremely unhappy. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that sales now aren't great, and Blizzard would love to get more players into the game. The free week is probably some sort of compromise here. We are then expected to get hooked and spend those $70 afterwards. Joke is on you, Blizzard, I'm pretty certain that I can play enough Diablo IV in a week to be done with the game and never spend anything. And I would bet that next year Diablo IV will be available to me at some point without additional cost as part of my Game Pass subscription, now Microsoft's purchase of Activision Blizzard went through.

I loved Diablo 1 and liked Diablo 2 and then never felt the need to play any similar game or sequel again. Got it out of my system, I guess. But thanks for the reminder to try this for a bit since it's free. It's funny how some genres a person can play endlessly but other genres you can get your fill after one or two good games (and of course some genres you know you won't like) but for different people it's different genres.
@Polynices: Interesting idea. My personal take was that the formula of Diablo hasn't aged well. I've been playing Diablo IV a bit now, but find it rather repetitive and boring up to now. But you might be right that it has to do with how much dungeon crawling one already did.
It really isn't anywhere near as bad as you make it sound. I paid full price, put it well over a hundred hours on my sorcerer, and never regretted it. Made level 80-something, but quit when BG3 launched, as did many, and haven't seen any reason to go back. The biggest problem is that the best way to meaningfully advance my character at that paid was to grind the same dozen or so dungeons over and over to earn XP for leveling my glyphs. No other activity gives you those, which is stupid, given they made a vast & decent surface world that became pointless to interact with. I would have had to do the same thing for maybe another 100 hours to max my glyphs out. Leveling and loot upgrades become rarely significant beyond a certain point.

Assuming you like action RPGs to begin with, it's a pretty good time until at least level 50-60, when you max out your main skill tree. The campaign is just ok, I didn't love it or hate it, it does provide some more variety.
I've played 100+ hours each of Diablo 1, 2, and 3 enjoying them all. But similar to what another mentioned, it isn't actually my favorite genre. I've tried multiple similar games and didn't find them as interesting. Back with Diablo 1 it was a new genre to me, and since then it has mainly been Blizzard's polish that brings me back I guess.

With that, I haven't played Diablo 4 yet. Main reason being I'm losing interest playing games with dark and dreary settings. And 2, I don't consider the game finished yet, as there are still expansions/DLC on the way. But since it's free during this trial time, I might try and see.
I'm looking forward to reading your opinion.
I've tried it during the free weekend on The was a 20 lvl cap. I don't think I even reached it. I guess the open world doesn't suit me - there always were many icons on my map, and none of them were particularly enticing. Somewhere around lv 18 I've been looking at the map, trying to decide where to go next; I ended up quiting the game and not playing it again.
Who else remembers the summer of 2000, when Diablo II and Icewind Dale each argued for their own different yet similar styles of dungeon crawler? I wonder which of those two games "live on" most today.
Thanks I wasn't aware Diablo 4 was free to try. I'll definitely be messing with it.

Premium games with microstransactions are here to stay unfortunately. With how much money a single skin can make large publishers are going to keep pushing more and more monetization into premium games.

By the way I also agree on Diablo 4s color palette looking ugly. I preferred the look of Diablo 3 but that apparently puts me in the minority as the hardcore fans pushed heavily to return to the Diablo 2 color pallette and art style which 4 did but to me that looks ugly and leaves the game feeling bland and monotone.
I bought it n release, bounced before season 1 and then came back for season 2. I finished the battle pass (used my free one on it) and am up to the last chapter of season journey.

All in all, wonderful experience. But I can’t see myself doing it again…. And again… and again… with each season.
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