That dialogue choice you're given in the Diablo 4 beta's prologue isn't meaningless, even if your decision doesn't impact the story at all.
Before we go any further, here's a spoiler warning for the Diablo 4 prologue. If you haven't played the prologue and want to go into Diablo 4 completely fresh, turn back now.
If you've played even a few minutes of the Diablo 4 beta, you were probably perplexed to find yourself deciding between a number of dialogue choices early in the story. It happens just before you enter Kyovashad, the first major town you'll discover in the beta and The Fractured Peaks' capital city. The guards at the gate want you to perform a "cleansing ritual" where you choose a sin to have forgiven. Your options are fear, anger, pride, and greed, but no matter which you choose, you'll be permitted to enter the city with seemingly little consequence for your choice.
On Monday following the open beta weekend, senior quest designer Harrison Pink explained that there are "several" reasons the choice was added to the game from a narrative and technical perspective.
During the #DiabloIV beta weekend, I noticed a bunch of people asking questions about this moment in the Prologue. I wanted to take a moment and explain how a beat like this gets created and the reasoning behind it. Spoilers within! 1/ pic.twitter.com/szRzKoZdN2March 27, 2023
Firstly, Pink says the decision helps teach the player about the traditions and customs of the capital city, thereby driving home just how rigorously held its beliefs are under the Cathedral of Light religious group. "Right away you get a strong sense of how important their religion is to them, and by extension you see how powerful the Cathedral of Light is," Pink says. "Everything in Kyovashad revolves around it."
It also tells the player they "are not omnipotent" and they can't just steamroll over the AI in the game, no matter how badly they want to try out their new legendary gear. "There are other people, cultures and groups in the story that have their own desires, and you don't get to just blow them off because you're the main character," says Pink.
Finally, from a technical perspective, Blizzard needed a reason for Lorath to leave the player's side and enter Kyovashad before them. By making the guards yield to Kyovashad's stubbornness and permit him entry without doing the ritual, it gives you a valuable insight into Lorath's character and how others perceive and respect him.
While pink notes that he was far from the only developer working on this sequence, he does admit that he "took a page from my time at Telltale Games here when Lorath totally reads you and guesses what you put on the tablet though. Another beat to show that he is extremely observant."
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