Yes, Diablo 4 — the monster-crawling, dungeon-filled, explosive-multiplayer mosh pit — has too many damn monsters. Weird thing to complain about, right? Wrong. I’m just a lil guy trying to explore all of Sanctuary, but I can’t get anywhere because I keep tripping on a stupid spiked wall that my horse can’t jump over for some reason.
Listen, all of mommy Lilith’s thralls are going to burst in ice and flame when I’m done with them, so why rush headlong into the inevitability of death? Lilith, please, give me like 10 good minutes to search for your altars without having to body some gross-looking monstrosity.
All I want to do is explore and discover cool stuff, but Diablo 4 is littered with monsters — I can’t even fast travel without clearing a damn area.
Exploring with a monster and chain
Diablo 4 is the first truly open-world game in the series, but it feels more like a massive mosh pit of monsters than it does an inviting world to explore. Sure, there’s not a lot to do (which I’ll get more into later), but the stuff that I want to be doing is a challenge because some jamoke that thinks they're better than me wants to fight.
All I want to do is run around and nab those Altars of Lilith, fill out my exploration map, and grab any loose side quests. This takes way longer than it has to because of how many enemies there are on the map. Outside of Elites and Champions, there’s not a lot of real reasons to fight them. Regardless of whether or not I’m exploring, I’m usually running past them anyway to do something else. All of the real fighting happens in Events, Strongholds, and Dungeons.
Narratively, it makes sense that the world is overrun by monsters. The world of Sanctuary is dark as hell, both literally and figuratively. But I don’t need to be stopped every two seconds by a group of enemies that’ll just disappear at the click of a button anyway.
Diablo 4 is about killing a crap-ton of monsters, I get that, but I want to see the world that those artists spent years making. Throw me into the picturesque desert wastes of the Dry Steppes, or the detailed mountains of the Fractured Peaks. I can stare at those beautiful landscapes and structures for hours — that is if I didn’t have to deal with Bob from Lilith’s accounting department trying to hustle me out of my gold.
Let me explore, damn it!
Isolate your monsters
Let’s be honest — we don’t need mobs running around Sanctuary to the extent that it does. Lilith has terrified the citizens of this world plenty, they get the idea — don’t mess with mommy. Get some of your baddies to take some vacation time. Leave the Elites and Champions where they are, then throw all of the monsters in isolated key areas, like camps, Events, and Strongholds.
There are a lot of places where it makes sense to have monsters, and if you leave them in those areas, we won’t be lacking in baddies to kill. But you know what will happen? We can EXPLORE. Frolic in the swampy fields of Scosglen without fear of being mauled by an angry druid, or ride your horse in the rainforest of Kehjistan without being solicited by a demon!
However, if you take the monsters on a vacation to the Poconos, it starts to become very evident that there’s not a lot around in Sanctuary. Granted, Diablo 4 was never going to be the kind of game where exploration was a key feature — monster-killing is. Despite that, a wonderful example of world-building were the tablets in Act 1 strewn throughout Kasama. They gave you a wider understanding about Sanctuary and how Lilith fits into it.
Diablo has more lore than I even know what to do with. A great idea would be to take advantage of that — throw some fun lore dumping oddities around Sanctuary. Give me more stuff to do, and I’ll be a happy gamer.
Running into an army of demons while I’m exploring Sanctuary is kind of like stubbing a toe — screaming expletives at the top of my lungs. Diablo 4 is already pretty long, so I don't need to be delayed by Mephisto’s second cousin who wants to talk about “family.”
I'm not seriously peeved about the number of monsters in Diablo 4, except when I’m trying to fast travel and I get stopped by a stray magic orb, but I do think Sanctuary should’ve been more than just a monster sandbox.
I don’t want a thousand miscellaneous activities, but any world that wants to be immersive can do with more environmental storytelling that isn’t from the inside of a demon’s stomach.
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Rami Tabari is an Editor for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline attached to the latest Souls-like challenge.