Blizzard is yet to offer an official nod towards the existence of Diablo 4 but it is apparent that a new installment has been in development for years.
Even now, the careers website of the developer is in search for multiple candidates related to the game. This includes a creative and production director for an “unannounced project” as well as senior artists and software engineers. The developer also noted this week that it is working on the future of the hack-and-slash franchise and fans need to be patient for news.
The breadcrumbs certainly lead us to believe that the development cycle is reaching a point where the developer can finally reveal Diablo 4 to the world. That being said, it is unlikely that a release will take place anytime soon. Hence, this is when we start jotting down our wishlist for the upcoming new installment.
Diablo 4 Wishlist
Better leadership and involving the players
It is a common saying that the third installment can be considered as a great game only if it loses affiliation with the franchise.
Diablo 3 attempted to take a fresh approach by enforcing changes on players on the pretense that the developer knows best. This was largely attributed to former game director Jay Wilson who parted ways with Blizzard soon after the game launched.
He left behind a mess for the remaining development team to fix, and which is why it is extremely important that the developer takes a fresher approach for Diablo 4 by not repeating the same mistakes and actually involving the community for crucial feedback.
Meaningful story and better content support
Blizzard is renowned for creating some of the best lore in history of video games but it fell short with the third installment. The story-line was very predictable, and the few included twists hardly held enough meaning to surprise players.
In a way, the Reaper of Souls expansion pack fared better in comparison. However, this improvement was short-lived as Blizzard decided to not release any further expansion packs to extend the lore. This is despite the fact that the Black Soulstone was shattered at the end to release all the seven evils.
Whether Blizzard decides to use that plot-line in Diablo 4 remains to be seen, but the new installment needs to have a more immersive story-line as well as significant post-release content that carries weight.
Balance between online and offline content
One of the major problems with Diablo 3 was that players quickly found themselves without having anything to do. This forced Blizzard to focus on the online component by introducing Nephalem Rifts with the release of the expansion pack. The developer later on improved on this by increasing the difficulty and rewards.
It is true that multiplayer holds great value in any game, but it is equally important to not abandon the single-player expeirence. Blizzard needs to a find a balance between online and offline content for Diablo 4. On the same note, the developer could possibly focus solely on multiplayer but with meaningful story elements.
Choosing the right narrator
Blizzard did well to bring back Deckard Cain to accompany players in Diablo 3. While he was killed off in the later acts for emotional value, the Horadric scholar still remained a significant part of the narrative through his journal entries.
It would be a personal joy to see him be part of the fourth installment, even if he narrates through a spiritual or shade form. However, if Blizzard must find itself a new narrator, the new individual must be able to fill those large shoes.
Better distinction between difficulty levels
Diablo 3 features more than a dozen difficulty levels, all of which differentiate on the rate of experience and gold earned. However, most of them hardly have anything to do with the game proposing a challenge. The earlier levels are all incredibly friendly for novices, and it is only the latter levels that begin turning the dial all the way to the right.
Diablo 4 needs to have fewer difficulty levels for clarity. Even if more are required, the developer definitely needs to add more incentives and other differentiating factors to give each level a separate identity.
Facial character customization
What is a role-playing game without the ability to customize the appearance of your character? There is no greater feeling than spending time on a creation screen and fiddling with facial features to change hair, color, height, build, and etc.
Players always appreciate a tailored look. However, the feature was scrapped from Diablo 3 because the in-game characters were too small to show up personal changes. In addition, the developer found no use of customization since they could be hidden by helms and shoulder pads. Diablo 4 needs to come up with a workaround.
On the note of character customization, Transmogrification is one feature that was a great addition to Diablo 3. There is no reason why it should not be there for the next installment.
More grit and less rainbows
Diablo 2 had to work with limited technology at the time but still managed to produce creepy and gloom-ridden environments that fell right into the dark theme of the franchise. In comparison, Diablo 3 had the advantage of advanced lighting and shaders for realism. However, the art-style meant brighter colors that reduced grit.
So where should Diablo 4 stand? The new installment needs to return to its roots with a darker art-style that is not upsetting for veterans. Dungeons are supposed to be morbid and that means more contrast to bring out bold contours.
Exploration instead of linearity
The maps of Diablo 3 have often been blamed for a linear approach, but selective memory fails to note that the much-loved Diablo 2 also followed the same lines to a certain degree. The comparison can though be made with other games in the same genre for better understanding.
Torchlight II and Path of Exile both featured expansive worlds that felt better populated. Players seldom found themselves running from one point to the next, and instead would often end up exploring to uncover secrets. Constructing a similar world for Diablo 4 would not be a challenge when considering the exhaustive lore in the hands of Blizzard.
If the rumors are true that the next installment will be pursuing an online massively multiplayer platform, it makes it all the more important to have better designed maps for players to explore.
Bringing the environment into play
It is high time that Blizzard evolved the franchise to introduce new gameplay mechanics. There should be more than just dropping chandeliers and rolling piles of logs on to clumps of enemies.
Divinity: Original Sin did wonders with its usage of environment. Imagine players in Diablo 4 doing the same by using their surroundings for bonus attributes. Some could take advantage of holy or unholy grounds, others of the weather or incurred elements.
Real talent trees instead of skill variants
Blizzard went with a simplified talent system for Diablo 3 on the premise of accessibility. It was not appreciated in the very slightest.
The traditional talent trees need to return in the next installment if the developer is even remotely interested in making up for lost time. Something massive with multiple branches for players to explore and test their builds with should be the order of the day.
Blizzard needs to just look at what Path of Exile did for its talent system. This will ultimately add replay value to the game since players will no longer be able to change their abilities on the fly.
Raiding instead of racing against timers
If Blizzard is really pushing forward for a persistent world with massively-multiplayer elements for the next installment, it is important that the developer looks into its current form of dungeons. Diablo 3 is designed to have players keep looking at their watches as they run through dungeons. The idea is very different from what a raiding party should look like.
The need is not just for meaningful and satisfying dungeons but also bosses that can surprise players. The ones from Diablo 3 looked great by design but most were simply damage-absorbing sponges in the end.
Modding and level editors
How many times does it need to be said that the modding community helps increase the longevity of a game, especially if there are multiplayer components involved? This is one item on my wishlist that is probably not going to make the cut. There is only hope that Diablo 4 will be open for the community to make and share great content.
Keep the Auction House from returning
This is going to be a bit difficult to explain since trading is considered a mandatory feature for the franchise.
Diablo 3 did launch with an Auction House but it was then removed by Blizzard. The game relies heavily on gear and players were able to get their favorite lot through mere trading. The developer balanced the situation by increasing the drop-rate of loot. Hence, players then simply farmed for their gear, which was made easier than before.
In both instances the clear focus on gear made for a shallow experience. Even now, in its current state, players power-level ahead to pick up their highest-level gear to start entering Rifts. There is no incentive in playing through the quests before that.
If Blizzard is going with the same focus for Diablo 4, then there is no point of bringing back the Auction House. However, if it forces players to stick with decisions made in a deep talent system, and less on their wares, trading could make a fine feature.