The characterization of a massively multiplayer online game, or MMO, is self-explanatory. Or is it? By definition, it means a large number of players on the same server — hundreds, thousands — and a big open world that continues to evolve. So does Diablo 4, Blizzard’s latest entry in the action role-playing dungeon crawler franchise, hold up since officially launching almost two months ago?
In case you missed it, we already discussed this game in the “Is It An MMO?” series. The judgment I came to was that Diablo 4 is more than just an “action RPG,” as Blizzard defines it. That’s because it’s always online, and not just to adhere to the current trend that’s plaguing modern gaming. Players see each other in towns, the overworld, and during raids. (There’s clans, too.) However, while the game is beyond a single-player experience, Diablo 4 is probably more of an “open shared world” than a true MMO. Still, let’s dive deeper.
In an interview with PCGamesN, Associate Game Director Joseph Piepiora said, “Diablo 4 is an ARPG first.” Conversation over then, right? Nah. We knew that already. But he did add that the game does not have “content designed explicitly for organised groups.” Not yet, at least. Piepiora also said there is no “notion of roles” in Diablo 4, that “everyone’s sort-of a damage dealer.” As we’ve discussed in previous entries, roles are basically a staple when it comes to MMOs, so there’s another L.
Also in that interview, Lead Game Producer Kayleigh Calder continued on from his point, saying the team focused on making the player feel isolated throughout the game. When it comes to the campaign of Diablo 4, she said, “You won’t have a party, and you won’t really run into other players.” That makes sense though, and plenty of MMOs have the player progress through the main storyline alone. It’s all about the endgame anyways. That’s where MMOs actually begin.
After completing the game’s campaign, players have several things to look forward to: world tiers, Nightmare Dungeons, world bosses, and PvP. The world tier system features five levels of difficulty where you are basically just doing the same thing you’ve already been doing but more challenging. As for the Nightmare Dungeons, they’re just dungeons that are harder than usual. Then there’s three unique world bosses, one of which spawns every five to seven hours and allows up to 12 players to fight together. And finally, PvP in Diablo 4 is a zone players can enter called “Fields of Hatred” where around 10 players run around collecting valuable resources and killing each other.
Unfortunately, like the campaign, much of the game’s endgame is soloable. The world bosses and PvP are really the only MMO features Diablo 4 has to offer (besides seeing other players in towns and the overworld). There’s not even global chat available in the game, and local chat seems to be almost always quiet. So yeah, this game is not an MMO. It’s just an ARPG with multiplayer features. Case closed.
About the Author
Matthew “dinofries” D'Onofrio is a writer, content creator, podcaster and — most importantly — a gamer. With such a strong passion for video games and a severe case of FOMO, it's no surprise he always has his finger on the pulse of the gaming world (And won't shut up about it). On the rare occasion Matt's away from a screen, you'll find him strumming away on his acoustic guitar or taking care of his cat Totoro.
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