Sticks and stones may break on bones, but fists will never fail me. Now that Diablo 4 has emerged from its crypt, soaked in the blood of countless demons and undead ne’er-do-wells, we’re starting to get more glimpses into the Action-RPG’s grimdark fourth offering. Fitting, then, that our first extended look at the next dungeon-looter isn’t some cowardly archer or wimpy wizard, but a brutal 24-minute look at a house-sized slab of beef knocking down skeletons with a whopping great stick.
GameInformer have posted 24 minutes of Barbarian bashing antics from their visit to Blizzard HQ. There’s a no-commentary version of this vid up on their site, but it’s a bugger to embed – besides, we’re a tough lot here at RPS. We’ll bear through this one personal hell.
Right off the bat, we get a good look at the built Barbarians to pick from. Our tour guides immediately show their failings by not siding with Diablo’s classic “Sonya” look – a style I often reckon I’d bear a striking resemblance to if it weren’t for my flat’s proximity to a half-decent chippy.
Now, I tend towards ranged classes in action RPGs. Melee combat so often feels weightless, losing the flair that comes from a good fireball or magic gunshot. But the Barbarian here looks absolutely brutal, with meaty hits shaking both screen and skeleton. Even if you’re still slaughtering brutes by the billion, it’s a much heavier looking game than Diablo 3’s fairground assault of spell trails and particle fireworks.
After a brief cave bash, the game shifts into a transitional cinematic before exploding into a sweeping vista. This is Skasglen, a barren land modelled on cheery old Scotland (do you get it?!). The grim, black-rocked glens certainly bear resemblance to the likes of Shetland, but the accents all come with more of an Irish twist than bonny Caledonian brogue.
Besides, there’s nary a Greggs in sight. Did you even do your research?
I haven’t had a personal on-site Diablo demonstration, but we sent resident Blizz boffin Jay out to Blizzcon last weekend. Jay had a shot at the same demo, opting to play the Druid, and sat down to chat with dungeon designer Zavan Haroutnian.
Of course, Blizzcon was a strange one this year. President J Allen Brack failed to convincingly apologise for their punishment of Hearthstone pro Blitzchung, while protestors outside the show spent the weekend trying to break through the announcement buzz.