We got our August 2022 Diablo 4 quarterly update a couple weeks prior to what I was expecting. This one I’ll admit, I was not excited about after my initial scan. I solely focused on the cosmetics and the seasonal paid option, which focuses on: cosmetics. Then I dived in and re-read it and truth be told, it got me excited to see that the team really is taking a great approach to this next installment. I’m more excited than I was previously for Diablo 4 after this update. So let us dive right into my analysis!
This is something we have had come up quite a few times. In prior updates, the philosophy Blizzard provided sounded intentionally vague due to them not really have a good understanding of the gameplay style they were after. Did they want D2 or D3 approach? Or were they after something that combined the best? This section in the intro really shines a light on what they want to do:
“To play in the new season, you’ll create a fresh character and experience the new seasonal features and content while leveling up alongside other players. This, along with capping the paragon points in Diablo IV, ensures that your effort and skill–measured by both dexterity and theorycrafting–determine how powerful your character becomes.”
Alright. We have players caps. This is fantastic. I’m 100% of the opinion that had caps been reintroduced in seasons in D3; let us say 1k paragon or so, the game would have stuck with more players had the power of characters been more about the equipment and subtle modifiers added to the game than the current iteration of gaining power by way of an exponential grind. One of the best parts of D2 is that you can out-level areas and become more powerful, yet the game is really just as deadly if you get too overconfident and your character really isn’t fully overpowered. Even then sometimes the modifiers on a pack just spawn all the nastiness!
Blizzard knows their base philosophy and moves it forward into seasons and the development philosophy behind them which also further enhances the whole theorycrafting in the Refreshing the Meta section.
“Diablo is a game that is about creating exciting, overpowered builds, an while we don’t want to balance the fun out of the experience, we don’t want to create situations in which imprecise tuning squash creativity.”
That is a beautiful sentence if I ever saw one. We aren’t going to balance the creativity out of the game. You find something that works due to a few good combinations or focusing, cool we aren’t removing it, because at the end of the day, we want you to be overpowered and excited to play your build. Fantastic!
Along with the philosophy above the next part of this analysis is looking at how they will define the seasons in the game. We all like refreshing the games we play, and seasons provide that in some way. Diablo 4 clearly defines that the way forward is with new legendary and unique items, paragons boards, glyphs and more. Keeping the meta fresh is a great way to be progressive with seasons that provides new ways to experience the game via world changes and events while progressing the overarching story of Sanctuary.
Continually striving to make meaningful quality of life improvements based on some feedback is a greatly needed priority for a game. Let us hope they find a good middle ground between QoL and removal of gameplay. Some are great and some become taking the design out of it. (Example: removing modifiers to make it easier for players to min max) I wholeheartedly believe the successful launch and sales of D2:R have provided Blizzard with the framework that players like having a large swath of skills and modifiers on equipment to find the balance they enjoy and to be creative as well.
Continual support of Diablo 4 will be given by the way of adding content through multiple avenues of items, new quest, challenges, meta changes. This is going to be possible by paid cosmetics to keep a dedicated staff working on the game after release. The team working on the game and Blizzard know they have a good thing ahead if they can manage to answer the call and be successful 10 years after release.
The season pass like most games is having a paid and unpaid version. The unpaid version appears to be a game changing experience and provides certain benefits to all players. I really like the idea of boost being game wide to all players. The one they speak of is an experience boost to make leveling multiple characters in a season faster. This if designed well could be fantastic. I capped my Barbarian level and paragon and now I get a 25% experience boost leveling future characters this season. I finish my second character this season and now the bonus is 50% going forward, awesome! Takes me back to pilot in Star Wars Galaxies who got an experience bump towards your next pilot faction you chose once you got an Ace in a faction. This was a cumulative bonus, so you leveled super-fast in your next faction, but still had the faction missions to complete.
It appears this is going to be somewhat how boosts work, but it was vague in detail. The only information that was given was that as you increased and unlock tiers the greater your boost and tiers had to be unlocked via gameplay and were unpurchasable in that regard. The best I can surmise is the following example: I unlock the cosmetics all the way through Tier 6 of the season via paid part of the battle pass, but I still have to reach Tier 6 via gameplay to unlock that boost increase for the season.
I see a lot of good things moving forward with this update. I did avoid the whole shop in this analysis as it does appear to be fully cosmetic and that was to be expected. Fortnite showed the world people want to look good when they are playing, and they pay for it. Seeing the cosmetic images, I like the unique looks over the paid ones they gave, specifically the Necromancer shown to the right. I do believe that was intentional. Still, many want to look good leveling until they unlock and find items to give themselves a more defined and unique look.
I’m most excited to see they want to keep the game fresh and add real adjustments and are building the game from the ground up to support seasonal adjustments and additions. I love D2. I love D2:R and the changes they did with the 2.4 patch. I can’t wait to see 2.5 changes and hope they are groundbreaking and support changes from my last article. Lastly, check out the latest podcast from our crew exploring the game lore. I’m sure the next podcast is going to be full of us talking about this update fully and at length as well!
For more on Diablo 4, check The Diablo 4 Wiki.