Do I need to play older Diablo games before Diablo 4?

Diablo 4
(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

Do I need to play older Diablo games before Diablo 4?

No, you do not need to play Diablo 1, 2, or 3 before jumping into Diablo 4. While the latest entry in the franchise is set in the same universe (50 years after the events of Diablo 3), it is a standalone story that can be enjoyed on its own. Older Diablo games can be played for a deeper understanding of the lore and history.

A connected history, but not a direct continuation

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Diablo 4 follows the stories of Diablo 2 and 3, but it's a different tale altogether. (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

As you'd expect, Diablo 4 is set in the same universe as the rest of the Diablo franchise. In fact, it takes place 50 years after the tumultuous conclusion of Diablo 3 on the tragic world of Sanctuary. That means Diablo 4 is connected to its predecessors via a shared history and lore, but the latest action-RPG masterpiece from Blizzard Entertainment is not a direct continuation.

Diablo 4 isn't just picking up where the third entry left off — it tells a brand-new, standalone story, and one that's the "darkest" Blizzard has ever told. Lilith, the Daughter of Hatred, has escaped her imprisonment and is once again locked in an epic battle with the angel Inarius to decide the fate of humankind and Sanctuary. You, the unnamed hero, are trapped in the middle of this battle and must do your part to save the world. It's the most emotional, personal story so far in the Diablo universe.

Long-time fans of Diablo will appreciate the continuation of Diablo's deep-seated lore, as Diablo 4 will of course reference the history and characters of the franchise. If you want to have a greater understanding of the series, you can read our full, in-depth breakdown of the lore and full timeline of the Diablo series. It doesn't include absolutely every detail, but it's a fantastic overview to help prepare you for the Diablo universe.

After all, while you can absolutely return to older Diablo games to attempt to absorb all that lore yourself, Diablo 4 is the best entryway into the franchise for newcomers. Still on the fence? Be sure to read our Diablo 4 review, which concludes that it's Blizzard's magnum opus.

Diablo IV

Diablo IV

The legendary franchise is back with an all-new, gore-tastic campaign and countless hours of epic content, and it's the best way to begin your Diablo journey.

Buy from: Microsoft (Xbox, Standard) | Microsoft (Xbox, Deluxe) | Microsoft (Xbox, Ultimate)

Diablo 4 is a brilliant entry point into the franchise

For any newcomers considering trying the Diablo franchise, there has never been a better time than with Diablo 4. (Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

There hasn't been a Diablo game in over a decade, and that means Diablo 4 directly benefits from years of advancements in video games development, as well as improvements to both accessibility and approachability. The game was built from the ground up to offer the classic action-RPG experience hardcore Diablo fans crave while also providing a fantastic entryway for the newcomers who have never played a Diablo game.

I'm in that latter boat. I could never get into Diablo 3, personally, but I was truly excited for Diablo 4 and am now a huge fan of the franchise. Superior UI and UX menus, smoother controls, better and more accessible game design, a renewed and recent community of passionate gamers starting from the same place, and all the resources that the internet provides for a brand-new 'AAA' title are all reasons why Diablo 4 can and should be your first Diablo game.

Diablo 4 is also a more online-connected game, with MMO-like features placing up to 12 players on a map at a time. You can play with up to three of your friends in online co-op, with all players able to progress with scaled difficulty levels. Finally, Diablo 4's story is actually a reason for playing this game first, as Blizzard has crafted the narrative to be a good entryway for newcomers (rather than throwing players into the middle of a preexisting plot).

After you've finished Diablo 4 and fallen in love with the franchise, then it'll be much easier to revisit past entries in the series and forgive the weaknesses of their aging game design. Diablo's Prime Evil Collection is the perfect place to go after Diablo 4, as it includes the best editions of both Diablo 2: Resurrected and Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls.

Diablo 4 is one of the best Xbox games you can play, and it's now available as of June 6, 2023, for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows PC, and PlayStation. Unfortunately, Diablo 4 isn't on Xbox Game Pass, and Diablo 4 isn't coming to Nintendo Switch, at least right now.

Diablo II: Resurrected Prime Evil Collection

Diablo II: Resurrected Prime Evil Collection

For when you're done with Diablo 4 and are ready to experience the rest of the Diablo franchise, the Prime Evil Collection contains the best versions and all the content for Diablo 2: Resurrected and Diablo 3 in one bundle (that's often on sale).

Buy from: Microsoft (Xbox)

Zachary Boddy
Staff Writer

Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.