After few years of Diablo silence, followed by the booed announcement of Diablo: Immortal in 2018, BlizzCon 2019 had to deliver big for the franchise. And, for the most part, it did, even if everyone saw it coming through the trail of leaks that the media left leading up to the event. On November 1, Diablo IV was officially announced with the first cinematic trailer and gameplay footage.
For the most part, the game delivered what fans were hoping for, graphics-wise: a return to the grim and dark of Diablo 1 & 2, but mixed with the fluid combat of Diablo 3 and the open world of modern MMOs. While some saw this early build as Diablo 3.5, for others it was a new chapter of the franchise, one that could remedy the years of disappointment that the maintenance mode that Diablo 3 has been in for years.
The gameplay footage and panels, however, left a lot of questions open. While skill trees and rune words are confirmed to return to the joy of Diablo 2 fans, one thing fans are still worried about is the itemization. One of Diablo 3’s capital offenses was that the items were boring. In vanilla, characters were equipped head-to-toe with optimized yellow items, that made for a dull gameplay, and for that reason (and many others), D3 was perhaps the worst game launch Blizzard has ever had. With the director at the helm, the Reaper of Souls expansion fixed this problem by empowering the set and legendary items, but eventually the game returned to being a stats hunt. Open a greater rift, speed run it, hope to find a +10 stat increase on your weapon, see if this makes the next greater rift level possible, repeat.
Which is why for Diablo IV devs, redoing the item system is top priority, says game director Luis Barriga.
“We also know that one topic is burning hotter than the rest”, Barriga says.
“We want you to know that we are having the same conversations about items and stats that you are having—whether on the official discussion threads or external sites, we read it all! Getting this right is at the top of our minds, and in the coming weeks our lead systems designer David Kim will provide a few clarifications, share some of his thoughts, and address some of your open questions. We hope you check it out and let us know what you think.”
According to Barriga, the dev team will have a major update ready for the community in February. The plan is also to deliver quarterly update, keeping the fans in the loop with the dev process of Diablo IV.