Things Diablo IV is Doing Wrong

What is Blizzard Doing Wrong with Diablo IV?

(even the best of games & the people who make them can overlook how certain aspects of the game can affect it in the long run & have made bad decisions, Diablo IV is no exception)

♦ ◊ ♦ ◊ ♦

The 6th of June 2023 (or 2nd of June for Pre-Order players) is the date when players worldwide will be able to finally sink their teeth into the juicy bite that Diablo IV is shaping up to be. As juicy of a bite the game might be, it still raises some concerns regarding the choices Blizzard has made when designing & developing the most anticipated hack and slash action RPG in the past 2 decades. This blog post & video aims to bring attention to the Things Blizzard are Doing Wrong With Diablo IV (based on my views of course).

I’m not going to just say this is wrong, this is bad, blah-blah-blah, but rather I’ll explain why I think so as well as provide examples of how the problems at hand can be resolved and how Diablo IV can become a more pleasant experience for all kinds of players to enjoy. I’ve also given examples how games have handled such situations which is not to say Diablo IV should copy them but rather find a similar solution.

Video Version:

EXP Rates:

Blizzard have already confirmed that reaching the max lvl (100) will take between 150 and 180 hours based on how much a player is min-maxing their exp per hour gains. This number may shock many and it will surely disappoint quite a big number of players as well. I’m pretty sure that there will also be a ton of people out there who will be fine with it and won’t mind this but that still doesn’t make it right.

Want to try leveling all classes to 100? Forget about it unless you’re a no-lifer zombie that can grind ~8 hours a day, every day, for 90 days straight

And here’s where Blizzard are contradicting themselves. They say they want people to experiment and try various things but then they make it hard for players to do that because it will be extremely time consuming to try new classes. They did mention that at least with the season journey/challenges you will be able to earn exp boosters that help when leveling up alts (alts only) which will be earned as you reach certain level thresholds. They did not say whether it’s character level or season level but my guess is every 10 or 20 levels you may reach one such threshold. However, the big problem here is that the experience rates are painfully slow initially so by the time an average player finished the excruciatingly painful grind to lvl 100, even if they were to decide to not bother gearing up that character and min-maxing various builds for it, they will still have very little time left of the season to try another class. Want to try leveling all classes to 100? Forget about it unless you’re a no-lifer zombie that can grind ~8 hours a day, every day, for 90 days straight (and that’s only for the leveling up excluding the post lvl 100 gear grind for min-maxing).

And the fix for this is pretty simple – tweak either the EXP per kill mobs give or reduce the EXP needed per level. A ‘fix’ that will only take a very short amount of time to apply.

To top things off they have put another blockade that prevents people from experimenting and trying out new things – respect costs.

Respec Cost:

It’s been officially confirmed in interviews that after around level 40 the cost of refunding skill points will drastically increase and players will need to grind a lot to be able to afford testing a new build. I might not have liked various things in Diablo 3 but the way respecs and swapping out loadouts of various builds was handled was stellar. It makes me feel immensely disappointed that no such quality of life feature will exist in Diablo IV. We do have respecs/refunding for either 1-by-1 skill points or a “refund all” option but it will only be reasonably cheap until level 40-ish. On top of that there is no option to save loadouts & quick swap between them in the ways Diablo 3 or Warhammer: Chaosbane did it – at the click of a button all your equipped gear, skills, and passives change FREE OF CHARGE to whatever you have placed in that specific loadout slot.

So Blizzard wants us to try new things and experiment but they give us excruciatingly painful grindy EXP rates akin to an early 2000s grinder MMORPG & on top of that they make the cost of respecs exorbitantly high so players will need to further grind if they make a mistake they want to undo or if they find a new item (or a few) they want to rework their build around. And even if one does grind the “millions” of gold (yes, they said millions in an interview so I wonder how much grind that will actually be for a high level player) for the respecs, they still have to manually redo the build every time they want to switch from one build to another on top of also manually switching the items.

Blizzard even goes on to say that it might be better to levelup a new character of the same class (YAY for redundancy) if you want to try a new build instead of respec-ing so if they think spending 150-180 hours to level up a new character of the same class is better than respec-ing and reworking your build I don’t even want to imagine how bad things are.

Yet again, the ‘fix’ here is simple and shouldn’t take too many days to implement. Either make the refund/respec costs always be silly cheap like they are early in the game or straight up remove it. This won’t be as good as having a proper loadouts system but it’s a start.

PvP & how Blizzard is mishandling it:

There is one more massive elephant in the room that needs to be mentioned – PvP. Blizzard have revealed some info about how PvP will be and it’s probably one of the most disappointing things about Diablo IV but I can’t say I was expecting it to be otherwise considering it’s a ‘PvE comes first kind of game’. It’s true that Blizzard technically could afford to hire a few more people to work only on PvP and make it a proper, balanced & fun experience but that would have been too expensive and resulted in needing to push back the release date (it’s too late now for PvP to be fixed before launch). So why do I say this? Well here’s what we know about PvP:

  • PvP areas (called Fields of Hatred) will be open zones where everyone can kill others that are not in their party/group (up to 4 players). We don’t know how guilds/clans will be handled there and if you’ll be able to freely kill your fellow guild/clan members but other people will surely be fair game.
  • Players will earn a resource called Seeds of Hatred from PvP. Those seeds players will be able to redeem at a place called the Alter of Extraction, which will turn them into a currency called Red Dust. Red Dust can then be redeemed at vendor NPCs – the PvP Cosmetics & Mount Vendors for various player and mount skins.
  • Once you convert Seeds of Hatred into Red Dust, other players will no longer be able to loot them from you. On top of that, when killed players will drop ears (like in Diablo II) which will purely serve as trophies.
  • The PvP areas (Fields of Hatred) will have their own special “items” & mounts; however, those will not be stronger than gear or mounts found in the PvE areas. The way I understand this is that PvE and PvP gear will be the same stat-wise and there will be no separation for balance purposes, just a visual difference. The question here is will it be faster to earn gear via PvP if you have a good group going that demolishes people compared to grinding PvE.
  • When players become too successful in their PvP murder spree, they will become a Vessel of Hatred and other players nearby will be notified of their location. On top of that, a bounty for their head will be offered to those who hunt them down. My guess is that you’ll loose that status when you convert all Seeds of Hatred into Red Dust.

Now that we’ve summed up what is known let’s read between the lines of what this means for how Diablo IV is handling PvP.

First and foremost, there is ZERO separation between PvE gear, progression, skills, & paragons compared to when a player is in the Fields of Hatred (if there was they surely would have mentioned this by now). This means that it will be incredibly badly balanced and that levels, gear and builds will play a huge part in deciding the winner instead of putting players in an even playing field. Now, I don’t wanna be the guy that states the problem without a solution to it.

Here’s how it could have been done in a better and easier to balance way, without affecting the PvE part of D4. First, they don’t need to re-invent hot water. Others have already done this in a somewhat reasonable way. One fine example will be Guild Wars 2 structured PvP. In GW2 your characters have two version of themselves a PvE version for any kind of PvE – raids, fractals, dungeons, open world exploration, etc. and also for WvWvW (World vs World vs World – a 3-way battlefield between 3 servers). On the other, hand your character has their Structured PvP version. Once they go to the structured PvP lobby area everyone has immediate access to all class skills. On top of that there were gear vendors that “sold” for free every single PvP item that exists. It’s important to note here that those PvP items are much less in number and variety than the gear players have access to for their characters’ PvE versions but it also means it’s easier to balance this gear without affecting the PvE experience one bit.

How can Diablo 4 have a similar system? Simply put: the best way to do this is to switch us over to a PvP version as soon as we enter the Fields of Hatred outpost/town. Adding an NPC that grants you access to your PvP loadout(s) when visited will be good; however, it could be done without the need of an NPC as well by just making a new UI. From there players can click on an inventory slot (i.e. main hand or offhand) and then select from a list of possible choices to equip there. Doing this for every equipment slot should be good enough gear-wise. Now, for skills just the regular skill tree might be enough but if they want to make it even better and more detached from the PvE there could be PvP versions of the skills & talents from the skill tree that have various PvP related stats, procs, & bonuses. Having a free refund/respec should a must there & ideally the option to save up to X loadouts for hot swapping out of combat.

But what about the paragon ranks/levels? I personally think it would be best to leave those out of the PvP versions of the characters but there might be ways to just give everyone access to XYZ paragon points from the get-go without the option to get any more for the PvP versions of their characters. But this again would need to be handled in a way that can be detached from the PvE version of paragon boards so that balancing one won’t affect the other. Thus, it’s best to just leave those out of PvP loadouts.

A healthy and balanced PvP experience is definitely going to be more fun.

What is the benefit of having such division between PvE & PvP? The two biggest reasons are it’s easier to balance one without affecting the other & that everyone is at an equal footing where it’s not about who has the higher level and stronger items but rather who has come up with what build and how they are using it. It will result in the typical competitive rock-paper-scissors situation where in 1v1 some builds will work well against a second type of builds but loose to a third type of builds that can, on the other hand, get beaten by that second type of builds. A healthy and balanced PvP experience is definitely going to be more fun.

The last problem with the PvP areas is that it will be a ZERG fest. With 4 player parties being a thing it means a solo player will have a much lower, if any, chance at all to win against a 4 players group. There is no way to solve this in the way the open areas are handled and even if they were to rework the PvP & separate it from the PvE similar to the ways suggested, the ZERG WINS problem will still remain.

(Bonus Entry) Potential Griefing and Kill Stealing:

One final concern regarding Diablo IV’s mmo-lite open world areas will be Гriefing and Kill-Stealing. Will there be enough mobs for everyone to hunt in a certain area? Are there scripts that increase the spawn rates based on the number of nearby players in a radius of XYZ meters away from each specific spawner? How will two people not in a group fighting the same monster work in terms of rewards & loot? In order to provide an example of a somewhat reasonable way to handle this I have to look at Guild Wars 2 again:

In GW2 the open world zones not only scaled the mobs & their rewards to the player level but also every player (or party) who hit a mob (regardless of first or last hit) gets a random drop from it that is instanced and lootable for each unique player. Diablo IV could do similarly and let every player or party that hits a mobs get drops from it (in the case of a party, every party member should get their drop even if only one of them, managed to land a hit). I hope there is such or a similar system in place already.

Even with the loot distribution problem solved, there is always going to be the issue of griefing. A high leveled and better geared player could end up coming where a lower level and worse equipped player is hunting and start 1-shotting mobs left & right without the newbie being able to land a hit. This would result in loosing quest rewards & objectives as well as loot and experience. Griefing will be hard to solve but if there’s multiple channels that players can switch between that might provide some sort of solution (unless all channels have griefers at the exact same hunting spot). There are also ways to avoid this by implementing some content scaling like in Borderlands 3/Wonderlands where a low level and a high level player might see a different level on the same monster/enemy that scales it to their own level for them only BUT as far as we know Diablo IV does not have this.

♦ ◊ ♦ ◊ ♦

This concludes my List of Things Diablo IV / Blizzard is Doing Wrong. Hope you’ve enjoyed it and it has provided you with useful information as well as given you food for thought.

Here’s some useful information about the game:
Release Date: 6 June, 2023 (but there will be 4 days earlier access for pre-orders, so 2 June, 2023)
Platforms: PC (Battle.Net App), PlayStation 5|4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
Developer: Blizzard

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.