Is It An MMO? #2 — Diablo IV Is Much More Than Just An Action RPG With An Open Shared World
Some other games in the genre don't let players run into each other in the overworld, or fight giant bosses together.
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 IV, Blizzard’s next entry in the popular action role-playing dungeon crawler franchise, pass the inspection?
Let’s go back in time first.
In 1997, the original Diablo came out. There was no online play, but there was a two-player cooperative mode — for the 1998 PlayStation version, that is.
Then came Diablo II in 2000. The second installment in the series did feature multiplayer, just over a local area network (commonly referred to as LAN back in the day). Blizzard actually made Diablo II specifically with online gaming in mind, utilizing the Battle.net service.
Fast forward all the way to 2012, Diablo III drops. And just like Diablo II, online multiplayer is possible via Battle.net service. Players became able to drop in and out of sessions with friends in this third installment of the franchise. In fact, Diablo III required them to be connected to the internet constantly, even if players were just trying to go solo. The game even won the award for "Role-Playing/Massively Multiplayer Game of the Year" at the 17th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards for its 2013 console version.
Next, fans had to wait a decade, but by 2022 everyone had phones and so it finally arrived: Diablo Immortal. While not a part of the core series (and criticism aside), this installment of the game was the most "multiplayer" of them all. Diablo Immortal is even labeled as a “free-to-play, massively multiplayer online action role-playing video game.” In addition to partying up to take on dungeons and run bosses together, players encounter each other in towns and while exploring (whether they want to or not). There’s even PvP.
Last but not least, and just a year following, Diablo IV arrives. Well, almost. The game doesn’t officially launch until June 6, but the beta was just last weekend. Players were able to see others in towns and even randomly in the overworld when nearby. Lots of them too, all in the same area. They could choose to ignore the stranger(s) — in which case said players will disappear — or invite them to a party to crawl dungeons together. There’s also World Bosses, where many players gather to take down monsters that absolutely require the manpower to go down.
So is Diablo IV an MMO? Blizzard itself says the game is an “action RPG,” but Diablo IV is clearly much more than that. It’s certainly more MMO than Diablo I, II, or III. At the very least, the always-online game is easily in the same ballpark as Diablo Immortal (which again labels itself as such). And while some may just use the phrase “open shared world” to describe the multiplayer aspect of Diablo IV, others won’t get too technical and just pass it off as an MMO. They may not be exactly right, but they’re not totally wrong either.
About the Author
Matthew “dinofries” D'Onofrio is a writer, content creator, 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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