After writing about my hopes for Diablo IV I couldn’t stop thinking about the possibilities that could await the series. It’s the sort of feelings I had over a decade ago sitting at home playing Warcraft III, looking at updates on the “World of Warcraft” project, before the MMO genre became what we know it as today. Now I sit here finding myself having those same thoughts about Diablo. Where do we go from here? How is the action RPG genre going to evolve? And will Diablo IV be the pioneer for that transcendence? The fanboy in me is shouting “yes”! It has to be Diablo doesn’t it? I mean it’s the game that started it all. Or brought it to the user friendly mainstream that it is today at the very least. Forged by a company who took a title that was so poorly received at launch, Diablo III, and turned it into a masterpiece blend of casual and hardcore delight.
But going back a bit, it’s worth noting that the team responsible for the original Diablo series had left Blizzard long before the release of Diablo III. They broke off and came together to create another ARPG that seemed at first to be trying to mimic the formula of World Of Warcraft but in an ARPG genre. They created Torchlight. Then followed it up with the highly anticipated Torchlight II right as the world was getting it’s first taste of Diablo III.
Torchlight and it’s sequel were exceptional for what they were. These quirky, brightly colored, ARPG’s were using nearly the exact same formula that the new Diablo III team would later go on to implement in the Reaper Of Souls expansion. Yet somehow Torchlight never quite achieved the traction it needed. Meanwhile Diablo III, even with it’s extremely volatile state on release somehow manged to crawl out the starting gate and pick up speed. The management and handling for the third installment changed hands and finally found it’s niche when expansion “Reaper Of Souls” was unleashed. Diablo III was revitalized, and the franchise recovered from it’s setbacks. Soon becoming another titan in the industry like it’s forefathers had once been.
So what does that say about the Diablo franchise? Why was it able to succeed when placed in a situation that very few other series could ever survive? Sandwiched between it’s founders, who were trying desperately to steal it’s supporters. And what many called the spiritual successor to Diablo II, a free ARPG called Path Of Exile. Diablo III survived, and from the ashes came a title so polished it’s untouchable in the genre yet again. I believe what the founders, the creators of Torchlight, were not accounting for is the perfection of world building they had created in their youth.
Diablo was a beautifully crafted entity. Set in a world that gave you a perfect balance of just enough knowledge to satisfy your struggle, and plenty of intrigue to keep you eager for the next step to be placed down in front of you. There is no doubt about the horrifying impact the initial encounter with the Butcher’s victim in the first moments walking through Tristram had on the memory of the series as a whole. Your first experience with the series is to confront a man who lays dismembered and dying on the kept grass of the town monastery. His voice, the graphic,even the name “The Butcher” carved it’s way into a dark part of your mind. A part that would never leave, no matter how much time had passed. No matter how the future evolves the series.
And this is just the opening of the game. Diablo goes on to forge an unforgettable experience of struggle, fear, and reward for so many hours I don’t believe any one of us could total them up. It’s from that point on that the Diablo franchise became an unshakable pillar of gaming. That no matter how times have changed we are forever sent back to that bleeding man on the Tristram floor dying in our hands. From here they can take us anywhere and we would follow. Because that initial impact was so strong it still has the ability to carry the weight of any potential imperfections we might find in the later sequels. It’s because of that indestructible foundation laid by the original team that we follow Diablo into the literal, and metaphorical, fires of hell and back.
Once you have an understanding for that, and accept that it’s not what’s different but what’s similar that drives us forward, it’s easy to see that the concept of Diablo IV ascending beyond the action RPG genre is not only a needed transition, but service to those of us who have always wanted more from the world that left us unable to see any other game in this genre as nothing more than a Diablo clone. It’s time to watch the world of sanctuary come to life in the same way Warcraft fans got to take their first real steps on the shores of Kalimdor. Walking the decaying and poisoned forest of Lordaeron and beyond.
It’s time for Diablo to stand up and claim it’s rightful place in our lives. Growing from that first image of the slain villager, to a breathtaking view of what it would be like to truly go face to face against the forces of hell in an epic struggle to save sanctuary from the evils we’ve spend a tremendous amount of our lives dedicated to skirmishes with.
Let the old ways die and give birth to the World of Sanctuary.
I don’t mean this in a direct reference to a Diablo MMO either. (Although I wouldn’t be opposed to that.) What I mean is to give us a game that brings a real sense of being lost in a terrifying story and allows us to really delve into the world we’re already so invested into. While MMO could be one direction, I’m also okay with a more free roam Guild Wars style game. Which ironically is where some of the original hands of World Of Warcraft came together. Even a game set more like Dragon’s Dogma would fit the Diablo series extremely well.
All things considered I think the franchise has so much room left to grow. And if one thing is for sure, Sanctuary isn’t going down, so it’s just a matter of how much farther up Blizzard is willing to carry it. And I hope to see all of you at the golden gates ready to come crashing through into whatever new incarnation our beloved world has been placed into.
|Our Witch Doctor of Diablo III Wanders Through The Jungles|
If you have your own thoughts on where the future of Diablo lies, please comment below I’d love to be able to discuss some theories and maybe do some videos on what could and wouldn’t work for the series.
Thanks again for reading and I hope to hear from you soon.