Diablo IV may get Microsoft DirectStorage support for faster loading times

No time to go get a drink.

Diablo IV - DirectStorage

Reddit user Any_Bowler_2317 has spotted a DLL file for Microsoft’s DirectStorage API inside Diablo IV’s game folder. Colour us interested.

According to these findings, it appears Blizzard is working on, or at least thinking about, adding DirectStorage support to Diablo IV. The file in question shows the API’s version was 1.0.2, meaning that, for now, even if active, the game can’t grasp the full potential. Moreover, Blizzard is yet to officially announce it, which means either this was some sort of testing that will not see the final game, or simply that the developer is waiting for the implementation to be fully functional before revealing it.

DirectStorage is able to streamline game loading by leveraging NVMe SSDs’ faster storage and multiple parallel data requests, instead of calling for files one by one. This can lead to a 40 per cent reduction in load times. However, version 1.0 does not feature GPU decompression, which essentially moves all game-asset decompression tasks from the CPU to the GPU – for that we need v1.1. According to Microsoft testing, GPU decompression could be three times faster compared to traditional CPU decompression.

As a reminder, DirectStorage 1.1 hardware requirements are identical to DirectStorage 1.0: an NVMe SSD, plus any DirectX GPU compatible with Shader Model 6.0

Diablo IV - DirectStorage 1.0.2
Source: @Any_Bowler_2317 on Reddit

Do we need it?

To be clear, while testing the closed beta, I didn’t feel any out-of-the-ordinary slow loadings. I would even say that on the rare occasions where loading popped, it was quite fast. So even if Blizzard never releases a DirectStorage update, the game is completely playable. With that said, the beta was limited in size, so maybe when we get access to the entire map things may get a bit heavy.

Now, let’s address issues when freezing occurs during crossing from one zone to another. While DirectStorage could eventually help with that – if it was related to data decompression – from my personal experience, it was more due to networking issues from Blizzard’s side, coupled with high VRAM usage on my Radeon RX 570 8GB. Lowering textures to medium got rid of most freezes, and gameplay was smooth sailing.

If we end up getting DirectStorage, this would make, as far as we know, Diablo IV the second major title to support this API, the first one being Forspoken.