Back in March, Diablo 4 sparked curiosity when eagle-eyed fans discovered files linked to DirectStorage in the game's beta version. This set the wheels in motion for widespread speculation about Blizzard's plans to implement this game-changing technology.
Now, the Diablo team has confirmed to PC Gamer that DirectStorage will indeed be a part of the Diablo 4 experience, albeit not right at launch.
Microsoft's DirectStorage API, initially developed for the Xbox Series X, is all about optimizing the use of Solid State Drives (SSDs) to enhance game loading times. By fully leveraging the high bandwidth of today's NVMe SSDs, it drastically reduces load times and enhances the player experience.
Square Enix's fantasy title Forspoken has been the solitary flagbearer of this technology so far. Even though it enjoyed quite a lukewarm reception overall, Forspoken showcased the potential of DirectStorage, delivering lightning-fast game scenes and environment load times of approximately 1 second over an NVMe SSD drive.
With the promise of enabling DirectStorage in Diablo 4, Blizzard becomes the second developer to implement this feature. It's a clear indication that Diablo 4 intends to offer players a seamless gaming experience, marked by significantly reduced initial loading times and near-instant teleporting between locations.
It's important to note that the use of DirectStorage will slightly increase CPU usage. As the DLL file of DirectStorage within Diablo 4 suggests, the game will be using version 1.0.2. While this version lacks GPU decompression, it implies that the game's loading process will primarily be powered by the CPU. However, the good news is that Diablo 4 doesn't require a high-end CPU to perform well, as tests have shown that a modern-day dual-core with SMT/Hyper-Threading can run the game with over 150fps at 1080p/Ultra Settings.
It's even been shown to run relatively well on the Steam Deck, which further solidifies the possibility that DirectStorage won't affect its performance negatively even on low-end machines.
A key question, however, remains unanswered. Is Blizzard considering implementing DirectStorage 1.1, which promises to cut down load times even further? This version utilizes not just the SSD but also a PC’s graphics card to streamline the game-loading process.
As we wait for Blizzard's response, we can only speculate. Regardless, the implementation of DirectStorage in Diablo 4 is a giant leap towards a gaming future where open worlds, high-res textures, and no loading screens are the norm. With next-generation consoles like Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 coming with NVMe SSDs as standard, it's high time that PC games started to take full advantage of this revolutionary technology.
Fingers crossed, this planned addition is part of Blizzard's big plans for Diablo 4 and arrives in time for the first of its two planned expansions. In the meantime, Diablo 4 fans can look forward to joining the hunt for the Secret Cow Level as well as discuss what the "hidden" post-credits scenes of the game mean.