Diablo 4's latest video about its customization explains groundbreaking info like how you can choose different hairstyles for your characters and spend skill points to create a unique build. Blizzard is spending this precious time to let us know some of the most basic info about an action RPG that is only a few months away.
The video unpacks how character builds come together via paragon points, the unique buffs from legendary items, and celebrates all the ways your character will be different from others. As a summary of everything we've learned so far, it's solid. But it fails to tell us anything substantially new.
The video and its related blog post don't tell me anything unique or new about the open world RPG, nor do they clarify all of the systems Blizzard hasn't bothered to explain less than two months from release. The seasonal battle pass and in-game shop are still a giant question mark, and the mount system hasn't been properly explained, which led to some confusion this week.
A summary of Diablo 4's expansive systems makes sense as a wrap up of what Blizzard has talked about since the dark fantasy adventure was announced in 2019. Not everyone has the time to read lengthy blog posts and dig through Google for interviews. But there's surely a way to do both, especially when Blizzard knows how many of us played the betas and want juicer details than "when you log into Diablo 4, the first thing you're going to have to do is create your character."
It's telling that the top voted comment on the Diablo 4 Reddit post about the customization video is someone spotting that you can skip the story campaign for your secondary characters. For a Diablo game, that's a vital feature that shapes how you'll interact with it over time, especially because it's the first truly live service entry in the series. This is the kind of information players have had to share with eachother by leaking endgame footage and breaking an NDA to talk about. Imagine if the developers themselves just said this kind of stuff on camera, and didn't leave these broader details hidden in a few frames of footage.
As we saw with Diablo Immortal, most people want to know about the endgame and the monetization. A huge challenge for action RPGs is to distract you from the grind, to make killing the same monsters over and over satisfying. Diablo 4 will have PvP, world bosses, and nightmare dungeons to earn rare loot in, but Blizzard hasn't explained how those systems come together for players. If it's not an MMO with daily quests, then what does a typical day look like for players? All the footage and explanations put a spotlight on each system in isolation and fail to paint a picture of how it all comes together.
Instead, Blizzard keeps re-explaining how skill points and legendary items work. You only need so many examples of them to understand how they'll differentiate you from other players and define your playstyle, or whatever. That's action RPG 101. In fact, at this point, it's videogames 101. Everything has rare loot these days; a few specific item callouts are more than enough to get the point across.
It seems way more productive to discuss how Diablo 4 will keep us interested for what could be thousands of hours of play time, how updates will work, and how seasons will incentivize us to restart our characters every few months. It's starting to feel like Blizzard itself hasn't quite figured that out, and given the rocky launch state of Overwatch 2, that could be the case. Diablo 4 might not become a game with a clear focus until several months after release.
Diablo 4 comes out on June 6, so it might be about time for Blizzard to move past telling us that we will kill a lot of different demons and complete quests for loot. The beta and the few clips of the game have said a lot more than the people given opportunities to explain it via blog posts or video. I'm desperately waiting for Blizzard to put all of these stray bits of info together, not as a bullet point list, but as a concrete explanation of how Diablo 4 will play after four long years of waiting.