Diablo IV launch day review

Some people wake up before dawn to watch a Formula One race, or to watch the Springboks play.

Today, a bunch of 30- to 50-somethings around South Africa (and Europe) woke up early to be among the first to play Diablo IV.

I’m sure there were a few younger players online this morning too, but few of them would know the unifying agony that was Error 37 on Diablo III’s launch day.

Only the die-hard Diablo fan or fabulously wealthy (for South Africa) would’ve been online today to play the game because, technically, it hasn’t launched yet.

Officially, Diablo IV only launches at 01:00 on Tuesday, 6 June 2023.

However, if you paid €20 (over R420) extra, you can play four days early.

For South Africans and those in the Central and Eastern European timezones, early access unlocked at 01:00 on Friday.

No doubt, a few sick days have been called in.

As someone who has spent the extra money — I don’t think it’s worth it. At least not if you have a job you plan on going to, and you intend to eat and sleep over the weekend.

Let’s say you get to play six hours on Friday night, 12 hours on Saturday, and 12 hours on Sunday. You’re basically spending R14 per hour of early access.

Taking leave on Friday and Monday improves this rate somewhat, but not meaningfully.

If you’re going to feel like every hour you’re not playing is money wasted, don’t spring for the Digital Deluxe or Ultimate Editions.

It doesn’t help that Diablo IV is already expensive, thanks to our government’s ongoing effort to make the Rand worthless and Blizzard’s refusal to localize its online store for our market.

The Standard Edition is €69.99 (or $69.99 if you jump through some hoops) — over R1,500 after factoring in currency conversion fees.

Incidentally, eagle-eyed PC gamers may have noticed that Blizzard lists Diablo IV’s age restriction in South Africa as “X18”.

If true, that would mean the game may only be sold in “adult” establishments locally.

I asked the Film and Publications Board (FPB) if Blizzard’s listing was accurate, and it said the correct age restriction is 18 DHLV (CI) — no “X”.

The FPB said Prima Interactive submitted the game for classification in August 2022.

It received its 18 rating on account of containing depictions of substance abuse (D — drugs), horror (H), strong language (L), and violence (V).

Competitive insensitivity (CI) also contributed to the age restriction and likely refers to the new player-versus-player zones Diablo IV received.

Diablo IV’s listing on Battle.net (at checkout) shows an FPB X18 rating. Its real rating is just 18 DHLV (CI), otherwise it could only be sold in adult shops in South Africa.

Smooth launch — on PC

I had no trouble getting into Diablo IV, playing the first section of the story, running my first dungeon (Lost Archives for Aspect of the Protector, naturally), or amassing my first few levels this morning.

For reference: I played on a 2020-model Lenovo Legion Y540 with an Intel i5 and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti using the recommended settings.

There were no login queues, no server queues, and no obvious performance problems other than that caused by the regular latency between South Africa and Blizzard’s European servers.

Blizzard has steadfastly refused to launch local servers or even peer at South Africa’s Internet exchange points.

Maybe if Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard goes through, we’ll finally see some love for African players.

But I digress.

While I didn’t experience any issues on PC this morning, several PlayStation and Xbox players complained they were blocked from accessing the game.

However, this wasn’t a server problem and seemed to be an issue with Blizzard validating their Digital Deluxe and Ultimate Edition licences.

Numerous players complained on Twitter and the Blizzard forums that they were getting an “Unable to find a valid license for Diablo IV” error message.

As of 06:50 South African time, Blizzard said the issue is partially addressed.

“Our teams and our partners have done some work to help mitigate this issue,” said Blizzard global community director Adam Fletcher.

“If you’re still experiencing the licensing issue, we ask that you provide as much detail as possible which leads to the error as we continue to work on this with our partners.”


One of the more controversial additions to Diablo IV is microtransactions, so it bears mentioning in a launch-day review.

To generate future revenue with Diablo IV, Blizzard hopes to sell various in-game cosmetic items.

It also has a seasonal Battle Pass system that players of other live service games will be familiar with.

The free tier of the Battle Pass will include some character progression bonuses, whereas the premium tier will only include cosmetics.

However, Blizzard has assured it will never sell power or character progression.

Its premium currency is “Platinum”. Warframe players will surely take umbrage.

Already Diablo IV has “Murmuring Obols” and “Abstruse Sigils”. Surely, Blizzard could’ve used something a little more hellish than “Platinum”.

Be that as it may, platinum can be bought in packs as small as 200 for €1.99 (R42), up to 11,500 for €99.99 (R2,100). The rand prices exclude currency conversion costs.

To put that in perspective, one set of cosmetic gear for the necromancer, called the Wraith Lord pack, is 2,800 platinum. That’s R511 to R588.

Digital Deluxe owners can also upgrade to the Ultimate Edition for 1,000 platinum — between R182 and R210 depending on the pack you buy.

But is it any good?

As for the game itself, providing any kind of detailed review on launch day seems like an exercise in folly.

I played quite a few hours during the closed and open beta. I test-drove the Rogue and Barbarian, and checked out the changes to the Druid during the server slam.

In all those hours, Diablo IV was fun.

The core mechanics seemed solid, combat felt visceral and responsive despite my high ping, and the first act’s narrative had piqued my interest.

That initial impression seems to hold for the remainder of the game, through to the endgame, as the initial reviews from professional Diablo content creators and news outlets are overwhelmingly positive.

Diablo IV has an average score of 87 on Metacritic, and 89 on Opencritic.

It also seems clear that Diablo IV is going to last. This is not an Anthem, or other failed live service game.

How it will play in a year of five’s time remains to be seen.

Now read: Microsoft appeals UK blocking of R1.3-trillion Activision Blizzard deal

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Diablo IV launch day review