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This weekend saw Blizzard lift the curtain on a pair of games that have long been hinted at, if not officially revealed: Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4. However, despite both games now having been announced, and both with gorgeous cinematic and gameplay trailers, neither game is anywhere near release.
Over the weekend, we revealed how Overwatch 2's game director Jeff Kaplan said he had "no idea" when the Overwatch sequel would be released, now he's been joined by Diablo's game director Luis Barriga. "A game of this scope takes time," Barriga said. "We're not coming out soon - not even Blizzard soon."
This news comes despite the fact that there was a playable build of Diablo 4 on the show floor at BlizzCon. Barriga says that the version of the game attendees were playing was just the "first early step in the journey" and that "there is much, much more to come".
It's easy to see why Blizzard is taking its time - the Diablo games are ones that players sink years into. Diablo 3 was released back in 2012 and, while it has benefitted from further expansions, it still has a silly number of active players for a game that's nearly eight years old. In part that's because it's designed to be replayed over and over, with large parts of the game being randomised, making repeated runs through its dungeons fresh. Balancing that randomisation, as well as making those systems work with the new toys that come with a sequel, takes time to perfect.
With people now having played Diablo 4 for themselves, we're starting to hear details of how the sequel develops the formula. One major change for combat is actually an evolution of the console version of Diablo 3 - you can now evade. This short dash lets you dodge away from enemies' attacks at the last moment. While a dodge may not seem like a hugely innovative ability, it apparently changes the combat of Diablo significantly. You're no longer stood clicking away at the hordes of enemies that approach you; rather, you're moving through combat, engaging with your foes.
In fact, many of the changes - like adopting a skill system where you unlock abilities as you level up, instead of the skill rune system of Diablo 3 - seems to be bringing Diablo 4 more in line with other action RPGs.
The big addition of Diablo 4, however, is that it now takes place in a shared open world. Parts of the game will still be private, such as dungeons, but you'll come across other adventurers in the overworld. The world won't be crowded with strangers, with only eight or so players in one region at a time, but this new community will be vital for taking part in emergent events. There will be times when giant, tough bosses will appear in the overworld and you and other players will need to team up to take them down.
Diablo 4 may still be a long way away, but what Blizzard has shown off is definitely intriguing.
Featured Image Credit: Blizzard Entertainment
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