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Structurally, there’s not much to the Diablo 4 campaign you won’t find in other games. Pick a class, complete main quests (and the occasional side quest), and level up along the way. You’ve been down this road before regardless of whether you’ve played a Diablo game or not. There’s very little in the Diablo 4 campaign that will surprise you so far as that goes.
That statement unfortunately extends to the game’s story. Lilith, daughter of Mephisto, Lord of Hatred, has returned, and your created character seems destined to stop her. Though I can’t really go into the specifics of what happens from there beyond what we saw in the beta and the game’s promotional material, that’s honestly not a huge deal. The specifics would likely matter most to those willing and able to keep up with the series’ sometimes superfluous mythology up until this point.
It’s not that Diablo 4’s story is worse than what we’ve seen from the franchise before. If anything, I found it to be one of the more solid overall Diablo narratives. For the most part, though, the story is just…there. Seemingly major moments come and go with little emotional impact. A few setpiece moments flirt with memorability, though they too often pass and leave you with the real star of the campaign: working your way to the endgame.
So far as that goes, Diablo 4’s leveling process can be a matter of notable extremes. For most of my time with the campaign, I played as a Rogue. At first, things went about how you’d expect. The allure of acquiring new skills kept me grinding down the skill tree and every new piece of Legendary gear that dropped felt like a monumental occurrence. All the while, a series of carefully paced challenges forced me to truly master my character, explore the world, and learn the game’s more nuanced elements. These were the golden hours.
However, at about level 30 or so, I began to piece together the foundational components of what became my late-game build. Once I had some of those key pieces in place, I was surprised to find that so many of the thrills that drove me to that point began to fade away.
I don’t think I died once from about level 35 to when I faced the campaign’s final boss at around level 50. Sometimes, I was able to even able to stand in obvious danger zones and not take any notable damage. Because my incredible power level was often dependent on the abilities granted to me by a few key pieces of gear, I even stopped swapping certain items fairly early on. Loot no longer really mattered, there were no challenges that felt truly challenging, and I had acquired all the skills I needed many levels ago. As such, I’m not entirely sure I got to fully enjoy the “intended” leveling experience.