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Diablo 4’s Lilith Suffers From The Most Obvious Video Game Villain Trope

Like most live-service games' villains, Diablo 4 doesn't do justice to everyone's favorite mommy demon.
Diablo 4’s Lilith Suffers From The Most Obvious Video Game Villain Trope

Diablo 4 is one of the best ARPGS of this generation. It has fun combat, an in-depth progression system, and a compelling and rewarding gameplay loop that provides enough reason to keep playing it.

However, Diablo 4's success isn't just rooted in its accessible yet intricate gameplay mechanics. A part of its massive appeal is due to the game's mascot and the primary antagonist, Lilith, the Mother of Sanctuary. 

Lilith is the face of Diablo 4, and Blizzard has left no stone unturned to channel her popularity to maximize the game's sales. Of course, there's nothing wrong with that, aside from the weird Megan Fox collaboration, which is a different thing altogether.

What's disappointing is that Lilith's character in the game is nothing more than what it's projected in the trailers and promotions, which is why she, like many other daunting video game villains, feels like a missed opportunity. 

Warning: Diablo 4 Story Spoilers Ahead

lilith diablo 4
Lilith has no meaningful character development throughout the story. (Picture: Blizzard)

Lilith, the Demon You Got to Slay to Reach the End Game

Despite this being her first full-fledged role in a Diablo game, it's not the first time Lilith has appeared in this long-running franchise. She previously made a brief appearance in Diablo 2 as Andariel and was mentioned in Diablo 3 and Diablo Immortal. As someone who hasn't played any of those games, my knowledge about Lilith was the bare minimum going into Diablo 4 and sadly remained so even after finishing the story.

As the antagonist, Lilith has a looming presence throughout Diablo 4's campaign. Caroline Faber effortlessly brings Lilith to life with her malevolent performance, and there's no denying that there's this sense of uneasiness every time she's on screen. The well-shot cutscenes do a great job of exemplifying that time after time, and there are some dialogues that stick out, but other than that, there's no meaningful character development. 

The more I encountered Lilith, the more I remained unsatisfied. In reality, she isn't the main antagonist of the game. She's just a tool to move the narrative forward. At every story junction, you watch a cutscene that gives a glimpse of Lilith's road trip across Sanctuary, and wherever she goes, you follow. It's a safe and straightforward direction that countless other games (live-service ones in particular) have taken to establish their main villains. And just like those other games, it doesn't work here because you don't learn much about Lilith's nature, her past, her decisions, and pretty much anything about her. 

lilith diablo 4
No, she won't. (Picture: Shreyansh/Blizzard)

My understanding and knowledge of Lilith's character in the Diablo universe remained roughly the same before and after the credits rolled. When the campaign was coming to its conclusion, I wanted to fight Lilith, not because I opposed her ideologies as strongly as my in-game companions, but because I wanted to hop on to the end game and pursue that sweet loot and focus on buildcrafting. That's pretty much Lilith's role in Diablo 4. She's a catalyst to pursue the campaign and a bridge to reach the game's fantastic end game. I just wish there was more of an intimate reason to cross that bridge.

It's not just a problem with Diablo 4 but plenty of other modern AAA games as well. It's as if the devs know how to create larger-than-life characters but don't necessarily know how to make them humane. Hiring talented Hollywood actors to portray their roles gives them interesting personalities, but in the long run, it's nothing more than a shallow display. It's a shame because a lot of people, including myself, really want to either love or hate these characters with the same intensity as the game wants us to. 

diablo 4 lilith
Lilith's character feels like an afterthought in Diablo 4's wider story. (Picture: Shreyansh/Blizzard)

However, all of this doesn't matter in the long run because Diablo 4 is a game about acquiring new loot and upgrading your build. Lilith was always going to be an afterthought, especially in a live-service title that can narratively never end. Still, it's hard not to sigh at the sheer waste of potential and wonder how impactful those many cutscenes and the final boss battle of the campaign would have felt if the game did a remotely better job of establishing Lilith's character arc. 

Every time a video game mascot goes viral before the launch and then disappoints in the game, I wonder when devs would finally give us reasons to care about these characters outside of their sheer scale and surface-level personalities.

For more Diablo 4, be sure to check out our dedicated section or some of our Guides & Tutorials just below:

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