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Diablo 4 deserves a lot of the flack it gets, but anyone jumping into today's Game Pass launch shouldn’t care

Diablo 4 remains a compelling action RPG, and easily makes for an exceptional Game Pass get - warts and all.

Lilith, from Diablo 4, holds a skull over the top of a blurred image of loads of Game Pass titles.
Image credit: VG247

In recent weeks, it has become somewhat customary to dunk on Diablo 4 for one reason or another. Most of it has been entirely justified, and we’ve certainly partaken in some of that dunking ourselves.

Blizzard just seems to have been speedrunning through unforced errors, which kicked off all the way back at the game’s release last year. But how much of that has any bearing on its impending Game Pass release? The answer is, likely, very little.

After weeks of anticipation following the inevitable completion of Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, we finally learned that Diablo 4 would be the first game from the publisher’s catalogue to join Game Pass.

A big part of the decision to orchestrate the largest gaming acquisition in history was Microsoft’s desire to control more of the content that goes onto Game Pass, much in the same way Netflix slowly abandoned the shows and films it didn’t directly produce, and got into the business of making a large chunk of the catalogue it serves viewers.

The platform holder also knows the value many Activision Blizzard hits would add to Game Pass, especially if the company sticks to the day-and-date strategy it’s been following with its own in-house games.

A bald barbarian prepares to swing his sword at an Eldritch demon that is carrying an axe in Diablo IV
Worth a play, even if you're dubious. | Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment

In that context, Diablo 4 might not be the perfect first shot, but it’s nevertheless a fantastic addition in its own right. And though the current discourse around the game may not immediately give off that vibe, that’s precisely why we need to ignore it for a moment.

It is important to adjust our perspective regarding the triumphs, tribulations and failures of Diablo 4 ahead of the Game Pass release. For one, considering how long the game has been out, anyone who really wanted to play it already has. The core Diablo community; the people who never stopped playing Diablo 2 & 3 and have waited years to get a new game, have already bought in. That they may not have enjoyed it as much as they thought they would is a different matter.

By contrast, the millions of Game Pass subscribers who are about to download it for the first time have their own expectations, and they’re entirely distinct from those held by anyone who spent hundreds of hours playing it over the course of a year. Like it or not, Diablo 4 is a singular game within a somewhat small genre.

Diablo 4 Ice Shard Sorcerer build: A man with green hair in a ponytail and heavy eyeshadow is standing in a dark room. He's shirtless and wears a heavy gold pendant around his neck.
Cold as ice.

It is the highest budget isometric ARPG on the market, with production values, attention to detail and a level of fidelity that handily stands head and shoulders above every other game in that same genre. It’s the Call of Duty of ARPGs. That alone should make the decision to download it a no-brainer. Because remember, the only barrier here is the bandwidth required to get it on your console.

I have played a lot of those games, and though almost all of them are unique in their own ways, Diablo 4’s action combat remains unmatched in its ferocity and heft. Its loot game may be predictable and heavy on cruft, but the loot is doled out consistently and rarely feels unrewarding. There’s a lengthy campaign with a twisting narrative that takes itself and its characters seriously. And it has one of the largest and most varied environments in the entire genre - all done at the same level of quality.

Come on, you know this looks fun. | Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment

A lot of the problems dominating the conversation today pertain to Diablo 4’s endgame, an area many of those same Game Pass may never truly reach. So much of that discourse is couched in terminology and expectations those people wouldn’t begin to know how to decode.

If all you get out of your time with Diablo 4 is its campaign and its tour de force presentation, that would be a good deal. And I don’t need to explain why the relatively low barrier to entry makes it much easier to convince anyone else you may know who was interested but couldn’t justify paying $70. There’s an even a boosted XP and Gold event just in time for the Game Pass launch.So let’s take a step back here and appreciate how much enjoyment Diablo 4 can provide to all those newcomers, just as it has for many of us over the past year.

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