Blizzard has already held two beta periods for Diablo IV as we approach the game’s June 6 launch, but today it announced yet another, and this one sounds intense. Dubbed Server Slam, the test will run from May 12-14 on all platforms and aims to help the development team better prepare for the massive horde of players sure to be waiting to play on launch day. Progress from this test won’t transfer to the full game, but it is another opportunity to try the game ahead of its launch, as the Server Slam will be freely available to anyone who wants to participate. Those who reach level 20 and defeat the Ashava world boss will receive the Cry of Ashava mount trophy.
GameSpot had the chance to chat with director Joe Shely and associate director Joseph Piepiora about Server Slam and learned just how important this pre-launch period is for the game.
“It’s always been the plan for us to do everything that we can to make sure the launch is as stable as possible,” Shely told us. “So the first thing we did was the early access weekend, and then we did the open beta. And the open beta and the early access weekend both allowed us to get lots of feedback that we were able to incorporate into the game. It also allowed us to test our servers, especially with lots of people.”
We saw some of the front-facing changes already explained–Blizzard is giving the Barbarian some buffs in response to feedback, for instance–but changes to server infrastructure also occurred. Rather than hope the changes it made are perfect for launch, Blizzard can test them in the Server Slam and, hopefully, offer a smoother launch than we’ve seen from similarly huge online games. As the name suggests, Blizzard wants the servers stressed as much as possible to ensure that a huge influx of activity will not throw a wrench in everyone’s fun.
“We did learn an awful lot from having players come and play the game during [the beta] period,” Piepiora added. “There are certain situations you simply can’t simulate internally. We learned a great deal and I think you saw things improve over the course of that weekend because we deployed hotfixes and made changes to improve the stability of our infrastructure.”
This was evident if you played during the early access period for Diablo IV. After an evening of very long queue times, things smoothed out considerably to the point of there very rarely being any wait at all.
Diablo III didn’t exactly launch in a stellar–or, oftentimes, playable–state when it arrived in 2012. That game originally launched only for PC, but despite Diablo IV’s launch across two generations of Xbox and PlayStation consoles alongside PC (with cross-play and cross-progression, no less), Blizzard insists it’s ready this time.
“It feels really good to be able to have Diablo IV get delivered to all these different audiences at once,” Piepiora said. “It adds complexity–the complexity we planned for by releasing Diablo III on a number of different platforms over time. We learned an awful lot getting Diablo III on Switch, for example.”
As Piepiora alluded to, no matter how much shoring up and preparation is done, it’s impossible to know for sure how an online game launch is going to go until players get their hands on the game. That’ll come less than a month after the Server Slam when Diablo IV releases on June 6 for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC.
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