When games blur the lines of their genre, it can be confusing how to label them. Diablo 4 has done this with its online components, making people debate whether it is an MMO. The action RPG is always online, even though you can play it solo. You will come across other players and may get help during timed world events. These include epic bosses to take down for shiny loot. Still, these elements and the climate of live service games make this a confusing topic for longtime fans. Let’s break the game down to see whether it is an MMO.
Is Diablo 4 an MMO?
The game is always online, allowing players to interact with each other. This is true even if you are not partied up to do quests with other people. This essentially makes Diablo 4 an MMO, or more like an MMO-lite. Co-op through the campaign to help others with world events gives it those familiar pieces. It does take on quality-of-life improvements for a multiplayer RPG by dropping different loot for each player so that nobody steals your legendary armor or weapon.
The technical aspects also take this beyond other multiplayer games. As you go around Sanctuary, you will seamlessly transition into different servers. This is how the backend keeps up with all the players and instance hopping as you go to dungeons and other parts of the open world. You may not have a single server that you call home, like in World of Warcraft, but you still find yourself in a space that puts you together with countless other players at a time.
The question about the identity of Diablo 4 being an action RPG can help be answered by looking at Destiny 2. While Bungie’s sci-fi RPG is an FPS, not a top-down hack-and-slash RPG, it is an always-online experience. Plenty of similarities are shared by how the two games let you go into different instances for your adventures and band together for world events, and the monetization systems ensure they are financially viable in the long run. Even the company refers to its shooter as a “definitive action MMO.”
The Game’s Status as an MMO Is Technical in Nature
Blizzard did weigh in on the subject in a recent interview. Talking with PCGamesN, Associate Game Director Joseph Piepiora revealed that the game’s identity had been discussed by the whole development team. The goal was to make this installment an “ARPG first.” By missing “content designed explicitly for organized groups,” it manages to focus on the ARPG side. Still, Piepiora said the team wanted the MMO and ARPG sides of Diablo 4 to be “married together.”
“The answer is that Diablo 4 is an ARPG first. It is a dungeon crawling, monster-slaying, monster-killing, loot-collecting game. It has these persistent online elements where you can run into other players in the interconnected world, but we want these things to feel they’re married together well.”
It is not the cleanest answer, but Diablo 4 is essentially an MMO, just an unconventional one, similar to Destiny. In a world of live services, the industry has swung in how it develops games that can financially assist in the company’s viability over the years rather than having a few months of successful sales before going to the next project. Blizzard certainly understands this monetization well with World of Warcraft, Overwatch 2, and Hearthstone.
Diablo 4 is available on PS4 and 5, Xbox One, Series X|S, and PC. It releases worldwide on June 6, but Deluxe and Ultimate Edition owners get to play it today or tomorrow, depending on their time zone.