Good news for everyone who hated Diablo 3: in Diablo 4 the most frequently heard criticisms will be resolved.

Who still remembers the controversy surrounding Diablo 3? The game was under fire both before and after appearance. Gamers were initially angry at the graphic style as it would be far too colorful compared to Diablo 2. And then it turned out that the game could only be played with an internet connection. Painful, especially because the servers were out the first days.

A little later the game introduced a marketplace for found weapons and armor with which you could earn real money. In this way, Blizzard hoped to earn a little pocket money after the launch, but soon this system turned out to ruin the metagame. The new skill system also felt limited for many, because you could only link upgrades to specific attacks.

Since then, Blizzard has polished Diablo 3 to turn it into a game fans were hoping for. The plug was pulled out of the marketplace and in the Reaper of Souls expansion a more dark and grim style was used.

A new talent system ensures that you can adjust it to your own taste. Once in so many levels you get new points, which you can invest in extra upgrades on a screen. A standard system in many games, but for Diablo 4 a return to the classic form. This gives you more freedom to customize a character to your own taste, which makes more potential builds possible.

Just like in previous Diablo’s, you are constantly looking for new equipment. In Diablo 3 that could sometimes be confusing, for example if you had to choose between pants with 5 percent extra attack power or 500 raw attack power,  because then you suddenly had to make difficult calculations. Blizzard hopes to prevent this hassle in Diablo 4.

The runesystem is back. You will find all kinds of runes during your journeys through dungeons, which you can then put in your gear. In this way, a weak weapon can eventually measure itself against a legendary sword. And because you choose the runes yourself, you can adapt a weapon to your playing style.

The world of Diablo 4 is dark and bloody. Slaughter a horde of enemies and your hero will soon be drenched in blood, leaving behind broken carcasses. The world looks brown and gray, with hardly any room for contrasting colors. With that, Blizzard recreates the style of Diablo 2. As a result, the game also feels like a kind of crazy reference to the late 1990s, when games tried to distinguish themselves by being as bloody and ‘mature’ as possible.

In the demo we had a series of simple missions. There was a short story to play, about a boy who had nightmares about a possessed cave. Once we arrived we saw the spirits of a father who drowned his son as a sacrifice to the gods. It is the dark undertone that Diablo 4 wants to convey more often in his stories, the developers tell us. There were no winners here: after crossing the dungeon and beating the boss, it appeared in the village that the dreaming boy had suddenly died.

Side missions sent us to the corners of the world to defeat enemies in a fairly standard way, but these are not the only ways to deviate from the story. Diablo 4 is an open game, with gigantic environments that you can explore freely. During a walking tour we encountered everything, including mysterious dungeons and adventurers who needed our help. In Diablo 4 it pays to blindly pull out, making the game feel more like a rpg than the previous part.

The areas in Diablo 4 also feel a lot more vertical than in the previous part. Dungeons are no longer linear paths, but require that you climb multiple floors. As a result, the environments feel more like a real world, rather than a set of mapped out levels. In addition, for the first time you can roll into the PC version of a Diablo game: that option was originally only introduced in the console version of Diablo 3.

It will probably take a while longer for Diablo 4 to appear, but the first game session promises a lot. This is the grim Diablo that people longed for in part three, with more freedom and a more robust system to adjust your character to your own taste. You still have to be online to play the game, but in 2019 we can live a lot better with it.

Diablo 4 is being developed for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It is not yet known when the game will appear.