Opinion

Diablo 4's Next Update Is Set to Completely Change the Game

A necessary shift.

Diablo 4 has been a massive change for the legendary series, adopting more of a live-service model, rather than a base game with expansions added on. That’s been both a blessing and a curse, as Blizzard has been able to fine-tune and tweak a ton of the game, but a lot of the drip-fed content has left the player base disappointed. Over the last year, Diablo 4 has changed quite a bit, but now Blizzard is set to completely redefine the RPG’s most essential system.

In a surprising move, Diablo 4’s next season won’t be adding huge swathes of content, but rather completely reworking the loot system, arguably the most important feature of Diablo 4. Titled “Loot Reborn,” it feels like an intentional choice to “future-proof” the RPG, and give it room to grow for years to come. Whether or not that works, is another question.

Upon launch, Diablo 4 was well-received but drew criticism for some design choices. The most prominent criticism was a feeling of repetition, in both the dungeon layouts and loot. The last three seasons have brought a wealth of changes, from multiple class rebalances, to times seasonal events, to tweaks on how players earn XP. Diablo games have always been about the loot, though, and it’s clear Blizzard wants to lay a new foundation that the game can keep building on.

Diablo has always been about the loot, but wading through the dozens of items you constantly find in Diablo 4 can be tiring and time-consuming.

Blizzard Entertainment

This is a big update, and without getting too far into the mumbo jumbo, it essentially makes loot drop less often and have fewer affixes (stat boosts). The affixes that are there will be increased in power, and reworked so players have an easier time understanding what they do. This should, hopefully, make pairing loot with your build easier, making it more obvious how a new piece of equipment will influence your character. At the same time, less loot overall means less juggling your inventory and heading to a merchant to sell things. On top of all this, the Gem system and Codex of Power are being streamlined, all with the intent to cut down on busywork for players.

That’s the core idea behind all this, as one of the major problems with Diablo 4’s endgame is the obscene grind you need to put in to complete everything. That’s not even to mention the seasonal events, where you’ll have to create a new seasonal character.

Interestingly, this seismic update seems to have a lot in common with the “Loot 2.0” update that hit Diablo 3 in 2014 and practically turned it into a different game. That seems to be the intent here with Diablo 4.

In an interview with IGN, lead producer of seasons Tim Ismay says, “This season, very differently from past seasons, is really more of a core, fundamental change to how a big part of how Diablo gameplay works, as opposed to being more seasonal content."

Diablo 4’s seasons have brought new content, but it all still gets dragged down by how the game focuses on grinding for loot and experience.

Blizzard Entertainment

It’s surprising to see such a massive game make this kind of shift a year after launch, but it might be exactly what Diablo 4 needs to stay relevant. Steam player counts at the launch of season three last month show that the numbers have dropped significantly, topping out at only just over 5,000. Of course, there are players on other platforms, but it’s clear something new and fresh is a necessity.

A complete loot rework that changes integral systems could be that, especially if the update is received well and spread through word of mouth. Cutting down on the grind would make it feel like Diablo 4 is respecting players’ time more, and that’s essential.

Just like most other live service games released over the last two years, Diablo 4 has trouble keeping players invested, making sure they don’t move on to the next big thing or go back to their tried and true game, like Fortnite. This massive rework of the game’s most integral system could be just what Blizzard needs for a brighter future.

Diablo 4 is available for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

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