Top 10 Upcoming Diablo-Like Hack and Slash Games

There is no denying that Diablo was responsible for the explosion of hack and slash games. More than a couple of decades after its release, the action RPG genre is often referred to as “Diablo-Like” and for good reason. Blizzard’s classic spawned countless clones and they are still coming fast and furious, with tons of loot, relentless mouse clicking and a fair share of wrist pain. Here are a few Diablo-Like games that you should keep an eye out for.

Pagan Online

Top 10 Diablo Like Games Pagan Online

Pagan Online is the upcoming action RPG from Wargaming. Taking a break from its serious warfare simulators such as World of Tanks, World of Warships and World of Warplanes, the Belarusian company is helping Serbian-based developer Mad Head Games with this grim hack and slash RPG inspired by pre-Christian mythology.

I can tell you that Pagan Online’s world is deliberately bleak and desolate, with its heavily stylized visuals. But it’s the template that stands out, with its MMO-ish design and bite-sized gameplay pretenses. The Pantheon is the hub for your character (from the initial choice of eight unique heroes), with short missions of different types awaiting you. WASD control assures optimal ease of use and co-op play doubles the fun – or even quadruples it, if things go according to plan.

Despite looking and playing like your typical hack and slash game, Pagan Online’s 50-hour campaign doesn’t shy away from some interesting twists, such as the occasional mission with increasingly difficult enemy waves and intense, challenging combat that takes cues from MOBA games.

Pagan Online may draw inspiration from Diablo, but it proudly shows its very own, fierce distinctiveness.

Torchlight Frontiers

Top 10 Diablo Like Games Torchlight Frontiers

What’s not to love about the Torchlight games? They take all the exciting combat and endless loot from the Diablo series and multiply it by a substantial dose of fun, resulting in two of the best hack and slash experiences ever made.

Following Torchlight 2 would never be an easy task. The next chapter needs to bring something special to live up to the hype, and indeed it does – an extra layer of MMO goodness. From public areas with up to eight players and dungeons supporting parties of four, Torchlight Frontiers ups the ante in co-op potential.

Torchlight Frontiers also tries to deviate from the tried-and-tested vertical progression systems found in most MMORPGs, offering a distinct take on levelling your character. Each frontier is levelled up independently, with specific gear best suited for each one. The alpha tests brought the first two frontiers, Goblin and Hyvid, along with randomized dungeons and a season-based contracts system that will reward players for completion of their daily and weekly missions.

Oh, and loot. Tons of loot. Torchlight Frontiers doesn’t seem destined to disappoint in that regard, nor where it comes to classes. The Forged was different enough, but the Railmaster is an entirely original beast, probably the cleverest class ever designed for an MMO in the last decade.

Last Epoch

Top 10 Diablo Like Games Last Epoch

Last Epoch is another Kickstarter-funded action RPG that looks like a close relative to Path of Exile, but with a twist: time travel. Now there’s a great excuse to take you to forbidden lands and forgotten places, or even to the end of time – no, seriously, this is a real map, set in space.

Last Epoch also comes with a skill tree of hell – or in fact, 110 skill trees. The promise of “endless replayability doesn’t fall flat in light of this feature. With five base classes and 15 mastery classes there should be more than enough to experiment, regret, re-roll and finally specialize into your favorite character. Developer Eleventh Hour Games claims that this is an action RPG for newcomers and veterans alike, so you tell us if that is the case since the beta should be available right now, with the full release slated for April 2020.

Lost Ark

Top 10 Diablo Like Games Lost Ark

Each day that goes by without an official announcement of a Lost Ark North American and European release, an angel loses its wings. We know it’s coming – Smilegate’s CEO has confirmed this – but it hurts seeing our Korean friends enjoying one of the best MMORPGs of recent years and realizing that we can’t get our grubby fingers on it before… what? Late 2019 or 2020?

Oh, come on, will you please hurry up with the English localization? China and Russia versions are well underway, and the original Korean release already got a host of new content including a new class, the Lance Master, so the anxiety is eating me up inside.

If you don’t know what Lost Ark is, then you have no love whatsoever for Diablo, MMOs or both. This is everything that you ever wanted from a Diablo MMORPG, but with so much more than you asked for. Combat alone is a thing of beauty, with several classes so diverse and resourceful that you will shake your fist at the skies in the selection screen, rightly enraged by the unfair decision that must be made before you start your adventure. Do not fret, that is what additional character slots are made for. Then you have the incredible cinematic dungeons, with camera angles and boss battles designed to keep you on the edge of your seat right until the climax.

Lost Ark is the real deal; an MMORPG that delivers on its promises. This is, by definition, the kind of rare beast that is on the verge of extinction.

Warhammer: Chaosbane

Top 10 Diablo Like Games Warhammer Chaosbane

The Warhammer franchise has seen so many video game adaptations, dipped its feet in so many genres that it sounds odd to think that no one ever created one action RPG set in this fantasy world. I’m not talking about the Warhammer 40K universe, as that one was already graced with the middling Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr.

But that glaring mistake is about to be fixed with the release of Warhammer: Chaosbane. This is a Diablo-esque action RPG coming to PC and consoles in June 2019, with a focus on co-op play up to four players, but you can play alone as well. You should know what to expect right now: hordes of monstrosities for your righteous heroes to slash through.

Four character classes doesn’t sound like a lot (Mage, Soldier, Waywatcher and Slayer) and the Dwarf’s spin attack is already getting on my nerves, but other than that, Warhammer: Chaosbane is shaping up to be a good action RPG, with 10 difficulty levels and a boss rush mode to keep you busy.

Fractured

Top 10 Diablo Like Games Fractured

In theory, Fractured sounds more ambitious than most of the games in this top 10, but that comes at a price. Coming from Italian-based indie studio Dynamight Studios, this is an open world sandbox MMO complete with a full-fledged housing system.

Graphically, Fractured looks a bit rough around the edges, but nothing to be ashamed of. If the trade-off is a deep MMO with exciting action combat and interactive environments, then I can live with it. You can pick from three very different races (Humans, Beastmen and Demons), something that isn’t just for show, having a practical effect in your game: from your society to the interaction with other players. You can choose to go to a PvE co-op only world, a brutal open PvP environment or a mix of the two. Crafting and trading is entirely player-driven, something that can either make or break a game.

Fractured has a lot of potential but we’ll have to wait and see if this small indie studio is able to pull it off. Sheer ambition can only take you so far.

Darksburg

Top 10 Diablo Like Games Darksburg

Darksburg isn’t so much about loot or forging your path in a vast world. Instead, it places you and a few friends in a zombie-infested world where surviving the invading hordes is the objective. It’s a more immediate and enjoyable hack and slash game without loot dropping every step of the way – items and rewards should be more manageable than your average action RPG and won’t get in the way of the fast-paced game.

Darksburg offers 4-player co-op action where teamwork is crucial. Each character from the roster comes with unique skills and personality – Sister Abigail has a set of abilities that is completely different from Varag, the escaped werewolf. Your character will improve with items and unlockable talents and you’ll need all the help that you can get to fight the bosses. There are different maps with varied objectives to keep gameplay fresh: find the cure, escort someone, escape from the area and more. In PvP mode you can choose to play the bad guys and face other players.

Coming from the makers of Evoland and Northgard, Darksburg looks like the kind of multiplayer experience that you can’t go wrong with. It may not bring a ludicrous dose of loot like some of the other games from this list – that is not its purpose –, but I’ll be a rotten zombie if it doesn’t turn out to be tons of fun.

Lineage Eternal (Project TL)

Top 10 Diablo Like Games Project TL

NCSoft is having a hard time finding the sweet spot for the next Lineage game. The follow-up to one of the most profitable MMORPG franchises ever is switching from third-person to a top-down isometric perspective like Diablo.

Lineage Eternal is in development for ages, having been first announced back in 2011. So that nearly makes for a decade of development hell that doesn’t seem close to the end. In 2016, things seemed to be on the right track – you could pick a team of four characters out of the existing 13, there was a nice system for randomized dungeons and the closed beta was coming soon.

But that didn’t happen. In 2017, a new game producer and a new team undertook some serious changes to the game, including the switch to Unreal Engine 4. The multi-character system is gone as well, replaced by a traditional class system. The name was scrapped, changing to the Project TL codename. That stands for The Lineage, apparently.

It’s been a while since we last heard from Project TL, but you can rest assured: NCSoft has a lot at stake with this game and you can bet that it won’t disappoint.

Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem

Top 10 Diablo Like Games Wolcen

Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem is in a strange place. Once hailed as the next coming of the action RPG, it is slowly dragging its blood-drenched sword through Early Access for over two years. While it entered beta in March 2019, the community seems to be losing faith in the developers, with some updates to the game being badly received, such as the removal of the open world from the first act in favor of a bog-standard, linear area.

Notwithstanding, Wolcen still looks promising, albeit in an unashamed Diablo 3 wannabe kind of way. That doesn’t make it a bad game, but it did subvert initial player expectations in a way that is affecting its reputation.

But what about the game itself, you ask? Wolcen is a fun action RPG with some great gloomy graphics and solid, weighted combat without any class restrictions. It feels like a mashup between Diablo and Path of Exile but currently with much less content and with streamlined skill trees, things that surely will be improved as development progresses.

And that is where Wolcen’s worries lie – a slow-paced development that despite showing commitment to the game, is under fire from a community that is growing impatient as months go by. It’s been four years since this game showed up as Umbra on Kickstarter, but let’s never forget that good things come to those who wait – Path of Exile is a perfect example.

Legends of Aria

Top 10 Diablo Like Games Legends of Aria

Legends of Aria tries to scratch that old-school MMORPG itch that very few games managed to do effectively. Citadel Studios mentions Ultima Online as its biggest inspiration, something that is not to taken lightly seeing that the creation of Origin Systems was released in 1997 and is still running today.

Much like Fractured and even Albion Online, Legends of Aria tries to go for a sandbox open world design, possibly the most difficult template to successfully pull off for an MMORPG. It is advertised as a game with no hand-holding and where community servers and modding are not only allowed, they are vigorously encouraged.

Legends of Aria is another one of those MMORPGs where the community will dictate how it will evolve. If the mechanics are sound and polished, it may stand a chance; on the other hand, a lackluster Early Access phase will surely lessen its chances of success.

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Pagan Online Early Access – Unlocking Your Way to Glory

We live in remarkable times. When you market your brand-new action RPG with citations such as “no phones involved”, you know that some serious damage has been done before. Pagan Online isn’t shy when it comes to tooting its own horn: “WASD controls”, they say; “PC game”, the official website proudly boasts. Could they be taking a stab at Blizzard and NetEase’s Diablo Immortal? Surely that’s just a coincidence, right?

But this is done in a lighthearted comedic manner, one that severely contrasts with the game itself. Pagan Online is a somber, grim and desperate hack-and-slash game inspired by Slavic mythology. It recently entered Early Access and unlike most games published by the World of Tanks creator Wargaming, this isn’t free-to-play; Pagan Online is a premium game and one with enough virtues to stand on its own.

It could, however, be free-to-play if Serbian developer Mad Head Games just so wished. Pagan Online has all the vital elements to make it work as such: character skins, pets, inventory space and unlockable characters. Thankfully, this can all be achieved through in-game currency and there is no cash shop in sight. Microtransactions should be outlawed in full-priced games. There, I said it.

Pagan Online Early Access Preview Anya Skin

Whip and Slash

If Indiana Jones and Harley Quinn had a baby girl, her name would be Anya. She is one of the three initial characters for you to pick in Pagan Online and I have no doubts that she will be the favorite of most gamers. Her extraordinary whip and blood magic abilities are just too tempting to ignore, turning her into the perfect killing machine for your first hours in this hack-and-slash game.

But don’t get too comfortable with Anya, as Pagan Online features an account-wide Legacy system where your experience level is the sum of each one of your heroes’ experience. By unlocking more heroes (eight in total as of right now) and progressing with each one you add to your shared experience level, ultimately reaching bigger challenges and better rewards.

This progression system isn’t necessarily new, but it is seldom used – Marvel Heroes is one of the games that uses a similar approach. In Pagan Online, some missions reward you with hero shards. You must get 50 shards to unlock each additional hero, but this comes with a twist that you may love or hate – shards are specific to a hero and apparently RNG-based, which means that you can spend a long time without getting the shards that you desperately seek.

Some of you will surely find this approach interesting, extra challenging and more rewarding, while others will prefer the traditional system where you simply choose a different hero and level up accordingly. I can find positives in both methods and I don’t mind a good grind, but no matter your preference, it’s strongly advised to give your main character a good run. Then, when you have a decent amount of loot for your main and for the other heroes – your stash is shared as well – you can try a secondary hero (Arcane Priest Lukian was my choice… I mean, my prize in the raffle). Equip him or her with good gear and after a mission or two you should find that your new hero is now level ten or close. Not bad for 15 minutes of hacking and slashing, don’t you think?

Pagan Online Early Access Preview Lukian Hero

Overall, I didn’t mind this approach and don’t see it as overly punishing, but I understand if you prefer your heroes available right from the start. And as for those extra shards that you get, they are used to unlock additional colors and cool skins, so it doesn’t go to waste.

Shards are earned by completing Assassination assignments. However, to enter these you need to acquire key fragments by playing other missions that vary in their requirements – you may be tasked with surviving waves of enemies, defend some object from invading hordes or destroying all enemies in an area. Progression is invariably tied to these different game modes, so you must regularly complete them, along with daily and weekly missions. Hunts are goals that you set for yourself to earn some extra gold – kill 20 spiders, collect 50 zombie eyes (yuck!) and other achievements of the sort.

I really, really hope that Wargaming isn’t doing this to add a hero selling system somewhere down the line. As a core mechanic it may not be suited to everyone’s tastes, but Pagan Online has a lot to offer, so I can see it being great value for money if you put the hours into it; but as soon as you can buy your heroes (knock on wood), you must kill the entry price for good or you’ll get bashed by your Early Access supporters. And despite my poor knowledge of Slavic myths, in no scenario whatsoever you could unlock a hero with a swipe of the credit card.

Pagan Online Early Access Preview Boss Battle Usud

To WASD Or Not To WASD

Pagan Online’s WASD controls aren’t exactly a common practice when it comes to action RPGs, where the tried-and-tested click-to-move method is universally accepted – the upcoming Torchlight Frontiers also goes for a similar mouse-driven control style.

But Pagan Online benefits from this decision as it brings a more responsive and thrilling feel to the gameplay, with superior dodging and aiming. Gone are the mistakes where you attack an enemy when you just want to move; it may feel a little unusual at first, but you’ll quickly get the hang of it and enjoy the spotless control that you have over your actions.

The core of Pagan Online is standard fare, with an isometric perspective and dungeons that are essentially made of corridors connecting larger areas where a procedurally generated battle takes place. I’m not too keen on the way that the enemies appear out of thin air, sometimes surrounding you with no chance to escape – using Torchlight Frontiers again as comparison, foes are clearly visible or approach you from easily identifiable spawn points. Pagan Online is an enemy spawn fest and you’d better get used to it as soon as you can.

Pagan Online Early Access Preview Phanteon Hub Anya

Pagan Online has often been introduced as an action RPG inspired by MOBA mechanics, but don’t expect any sort of ground-breaking fusion here. Your hero has a fixed set of abilities that you unlock as you level up and upgrade with Potency points, offering the fast-paced and widespread combat that you’ll appreciate the most as you discover and experiment with new heroes. But Pagan Online remains a hack and slash for Diablo fans, and not the kind of game that I would recommend for those who love League of Legends to death.

The Pantheon is the hub area where your heroes get some respite before heading into the next challenge. It is where you choose your next character, upgrade your abilities and craft your epic weapons of doom. Crafting plays a huge role in Pagan Online. During your adventures you will pick every sort of items, with recipes playing a vital role in gear upgrades. These come in different tiers and are tied to certain item levels, in addition to requiring the consumption of specific materials. Apart from collecting these materials in the battlefield you can also get them from the occasional card pack. Crafting increases your skills and Might score, which translates into the overall power of your hero and a great way to properly assess your chances when it comes to Missions and Assassinations.

Pagan Online is a PvE experience with a vast campaign (allegedly 50 hours) and three difficulty levels. The Early Access build doesn’t include co-op gameplay which is said to be a huge part of the game and I can see that happening. Competitive activities are another one of the teased aspects, although Mad Head Games has expressed its intention to steer clear of PvP, so this could mean anything – leaderboards are already present in the game, but it could be some feature in a similar style.

Pagan Online Early Access Preview Loot Everywhere

I’ll admit that I didn’t pay much attention to the story, as I was more interested in checking out the game’s mechanics and trying to turn Anya into a mean, lean whipping machine, something that remains a work in progress. But what I could grasp of the lore seemed overly serious and often despairing, with cavernous voice acting that suits the dark undertones. It’s a deliberate choice, obviously, as no self-respected hack-and-slash would place you in a world full of unicorns, rainbows and fluffy clouds. But it’s up to you to decide if it is worth listening to.

I, for one, really couldn’t care less, at least for the purpose of this preview. I liked Pagan Online for what it is, and that is a fast-paced, enjoyable and solid action RPG. For an Early Access title, it already feels immensely polished, without any blatant bugs or server issues, although I was slightly annoyed by the server lag when selling items. Pagan Online is a blast to play and if you can get your head around the way that the character unlocking system works, it offers plenty of bang for your buck. It’s a game where you can play for hours on end or just a few short sessions for extra loot, and co-op will surely take the game to an entirely different level. Not too shabby for a studio that built its foundation developing hidden object games.

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Torchlight Frontiers – I Like the Way You Loot

A Torchlight MMO is something that has been rumored for a long time. The idea harkens back to the days before the first Torchlight game was released by Runic Games, serving as an introduction to this fantasy world before development on an MMO was started.

Fast-forward a decade or so and here we are: Runic Games is no more. However, it lives in spirit within Echtra Games, a new studio that is finally developing the long-desired Torchlight MMO, or Torchlight Frontiers, as it was blissfully introduced to the gaming world. It has all the makings of an MMO and feels like a natural evolution for the series: from the single-player thrills of the first game to the co-op riot of the sequel, and now the next step is the MMO enterprise of the third game. Sounds like the perfect plan… that is, if we choose to ignore the substantial setbacks that reared their ugly faces along the way.

Torchlight Frontiers Preview Boss Battle Strongtusk

Looting Is My Business… and Business Is Good!

I’ll start off by mentioning one of the latest features to be introduced during the Torchlight Frontiers alpha: the Contracts system. This is a system akin to the battle-passes that you usually see in Battle Royale games. You have two reward tracks, with one of them unlocked and the other one being a premium reward track. Completing contracts will increase your Fame experience level and unlock all kinds of rewards. This is the place where you should go for unpredictable missions that deviate from the straightforward story-based campaign – although there is nothing linear about Torchlight Frontiers’ bold approach to progression.

Instead of pushing you through a linear progression system such as the ones seen in countless other MMORPGs, Torchlight Frontiers offers you a choice right at the start: the Goblin Frontier or the Hyvid Frontier. Your hero, chosen from the two classes currently on offer (Dusk Mage and Forged), will see his experience level increasing independently, according to the path that you take. As an example, this way you can be a level 15 character in the Goblin Frontier and level 5 in the Hyvid Frontier. This dichotomy opens a range of possibilities and freedom that is severely lacking in other games of the genre.

The twist is that the gear you collect is aligned with the frontier where you earned it. So, your frontier level determines the level of the gear that you may use, with the caveat that the Goblin Frontier gear won’t be suited to other biomes, and the same works for the opposite as well. If you insist in doing so, this results in severely underperforming gear, ensuring that the early levels of other frontiers remain somewhat challenging and worthwhile. As you progress, it’s inevitable to steadily switch to gear from your current frontier, as the challenge intensifies, and you must adapt to survive.

Torchlight Frontiers Preview Hyvid Frontier Retch the Regurgitator

In practice, this frontier system can provide variety and optional routes for you to evolve in case things get particularly tough in one place or another. But it is also a much-coveted escape path in case you want to discover new enemies, new gear or just complete a series of contracts to clear your mind from a given obstacle. So far, I haven’t stumbled across any insurmountable challenges, but there were a couple of occasions when the opposing forces were so numerous that I found myself trapped amidst a barrage of gnarly netherling teeth and goblin clubbing, with no chance of escape. I’m not ashamed to admit that making a run for it when the going gets tough is a valuable strategy. Live to fight another day and all that.

Don’t get too comfy with all the loot coming your way. Your inventory isn’t too skimpy, but the amount of loot left in the battlefield during your average daily journey is probably enough to make a pile as tall as the Empire State Building. Your loyal pet serves as a secondary inventory and you can send him to town to sell unnecessary loot and earn a few coins in the process.

Changing gear sets is made easier with the help the Wardrobe system. A couple of clicks should take you to your Fort, where you have access to a multitude of options such as this one. Serving as the housing system of Torchlight Frontiers, your Fort has a shared stash, the Mapworks device (used to access additional missions and possibly new endgame content) and the structure where you can unlock new skills and upgrade them, among several other functional or cosmetic options.

Torchlight Frontiers Preview Goblin Dungeon Battle

What Lies Beneath

Were it not for the looming shadow of the frightful progress wipe, Torchlight Frontiers would already be one of my action RPGs of choice. It doesn’t break any new ground in terms of gameplay, but it is designed to addict in a way that only the best loot-driven hack and slash games can do. It’s compelling to the point where you begin wondering if you should give your wrist some much-deserved rest or suck it up as you stride on, eager to complete a couple more missions.

WASD control would be a godsend for Torchlight Frontiers, providing a vital alternate control scheme for many players. I, for one, would undoubtedly favor it over the current click-to-move option where it’s not unusual to find yourself attacking an enemy close-by when you only wanted to take a step back. This control method is allegedly being worked on and it is in my opinion crucially important to the ambitions of Torchlight Frontiers. Another upcoming action RPG, Wargaming’s Pagan Online, is straight up going for WASD as its main control scheme.

The randomized dungeons will always provide a different set of challenges, although I have a couple of quibbles about it. The first one concerns the length of the dungeons, something that could turn out to be a slight problem when you don’t want to give up halfway through. It’s not easy to determine whether you should venture forth or hold on for the next day, and a previous patch already reduced the length of a handful of dungeons, which means that I am not alone in this regard.

The other annoying aspect is based on the randomization system itself. It’s not unusual to find yourself threading familiar ground and wondering if you’re not going in circles. Sometimes the layout feels too coldly engineered and could use an additional human touch to avoid severe repetition. After several hours exploring the same seemingly bottomless caves and infested toxic forests, it can get exhausting.

Torchlight Frontiers Preview Champion Goblin

But those are pretty much all the complaints that I have for now. There is a disconcerting lack of good free-to-play hack and slash games and we’re yet to see if Diablo Immortal will ever find its spot as a proper Diablo-like game for longtime fans of the series. Quite a paradox, to say the least, but it couldn’t be more accurate.

As for Torchlight Frontiers, it’s shaping up to be the logical evolution for the series and the perfect embodiment of everything that makes a good hack and slash game. It has tons of loot, boss battles, crafting, an innovative progression system and an irrefutable potential to cause carpal tunnel syndrome. If that’s not a sign of a promising action RPG, then I don’t know what is.

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