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Diablo 4: The Lowdown on Leaderboards

Gamers debate the merits of competitive play in Diablo 4.


Leaderboards – A Popular Topic

The topic of Diablo leaderboards is certainly an old one, but it still has relevance even now for a couple of reasons. The first is that most people who actively play Diablo 4 are now doing so on Xbox Game Pass. This suggests that a lot of brand-new players have recently joined the Diablo community who may be unfamiliar with Diablo leaderboards in general. Another reason is that the topic of Diablo 4 leaderboards has been showing up on the discussion forums a lot more lately in anticipation of the upcoming release of Season 4.

Many of those players have shared some good reasons to reject the idea of leaderboards in Diablo 4, and others have spoken up about the important reasons why the game definitely needs them. The subject of leaderboards in Diablo 4, therefore, is one that legitimately deserves a more in-depth review from both sides of that argument, so here we go.

A Longstanding Tradition

002Following the release of Diablo 2 vanilla in June 2000, the first Ladder competition was added to the game in October 2003 as part of Patch 1.10. Since then, the mechanics have been updated a few times, and the most recent version still lives on today as Diablo II: Resurrected Ladder Season 6, which went live on February 22, 2024.

Likewise, Leaderboards, along with Greater Rifts and Seasons, were added to Diablo 3 in August 2014 as part of Patch 2.1.0, following the game’s initial release in May 2012. Some gamers have criticized Diablo 3 for lacking any appreciable endgame content. Nevertheless, having leaderboards firmly attached to an endgame loop axis, comprised of Nephalem Rifts, Greater Rifts, and Bounties, is the comprehensive game mechanic that was principally responsible for Diablo 3’s continued popularity, up until the release of Diablo 4 in June 2023.

So, you see, having a Diablo game without leaderboards is like having a Diablo game without Diablo, because, well, that would be kind of silly. Just kidding here, of course, because when it comes to the Dapper Demon making an appearance in Diablo 4, it’s only a matter of when, not if.

That Doesn’t Make Sense

When I first started playing Diablo 3 regularly, which was right after the Reaper of Souls expansion in 2014, one of the most frequent criticisms I saw on the Diablo 3 discussion forums had to do with leaderboards. In fact, I remember reading several posts from gamers who said they refused to play a game with leaderboards that were heavily based on RNG.

Greater RiftOne example that clearly illustrated this dilemma was the race to the first GR150 clear at the start of a new Season. It goes without saying that an astounding accomplishment like clearing the first GR150 required a great deal of skill, preparation, and meticulous execution. However, superior gamesmanship can only go so far, and even the best players in the world were occasionally faced with the reality of divine retribution from the RN Jesus.

So, when we now hear some players still making comments like “I’m not getting my drops,” that ties right back into the concept of competitive gaming and the frustration associated with running into too much bad RNG. It’s also important to keep in mind, though, that bad luck like this does not, to any great degree, directly affect most of the people who play Diablo (more on that later).

Making Your Own Luck

It turned out that there were ways of tilting the Diablo 3 RNG in your favor, at least a little bit, provided you had a sense of where the breakpoints were. One way to do that was to start by farming a bunch of Rift Keys to fund your fishing expedition when it came time to push Greater Rifts. In fact, an option was eventually added to Orek’s menu that allowed solo players to close incomplete Greater Rifts without having to leave the game in order to help make their GR fishing a bit more efficient.

At the end of the day, however, strategies like GR fishing were still extremely time-consuming and, therefore, thoroughly impractical for most of the people who played Diablo 3. So, we were right back to square one with competition being inherently unfair in an RNG-based game. The overall impact this had over the years was that most people who played Diablo 3 simply chose to ignore the competitive aspects of the game altogether, and others just ended up deciding to stop playing.

What is the Matrix?

Probably the most important reason cited by those players who oppose competition in an RNG-based game is the associated potential for exploitation. It’s been said that counterfeit money first appeared in circulation the following day after the first official mint opened for business. The same is essentially true for competitive gaming because it always attracts exploitation.

Attaching leaderboards to an endgame loop in games like Diablo 4 will inevitably attract botting every time. Before long, this will adversely impact certain economies in the game, thus making life less pleasant for even those players who never wanted to have anything to do with leaderboards in the first place. This is especially unfortunate when you consider that most people who play Diablo just want to have fun and/or they simply don’t have enough time to compete successfully.

Not Bad for Starters

The GauntletThe first iteration of leaderboards in Diablo 4 was, of course, the Gauntlet, which was (finally) added in the middle of Season 3. However, this activity does not scale in difficulty due to the cap on enemy health, the leaderboards reset weekly, and it offers little in the way of really good loot rewards or materials.

Nevertheless, the overall design was intended to make it more easily accessible to a larger portion of regular players, and it also has the virtue of being relatively unattractive for Bots. Normally these would be good things, but the Gaunlet has also turned out to be relatively unattractive to many top-tier players who desire to more boldly display their gaming prowess.

So, What Do We Do Now?

Despite being impractical for most players, and also having the potential to attract more exploitation, Diablo 4 must still offer readily repeatable endgame competition, just like its predecessors. However, that endgame competition must also be firmly attached to a scalable endgame loop axis that prominently features an achievement hierarchy in order for the game to be truly popular and viable over the long term.

That’s because this type of competitive gaming is the MOX pellet that drives continued interest, commitment, and innovation in ARPGs. In the past, Diablo leaderboards have been the benchmark for ongoing class balance changes, the principal inspiration for new endgame game systems and content, and the motivation for theorycrafting and build testing by the top players in the game.

Season 4 Updates

the pitThe Pit challenge, along with the new Tempering and Masterworking systems, that were tested in the recent PTR, are definitely a step in the right direction. It also seems like the Blacksmith is now transforming into some semblance of Kanai’s Cube. In fact, maybe the name of the Blacksmith in Kyovashad should be changed from Zivek to Griffith, and kudos to anyone who gets that reference.

However, in order to fully realize a bona fide endgame loop axis for Diablo 4, there are still a few more changes that must be made, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Start the Gauntlet on the first day of the Season.
  • Add leaderboards for The Pit.
  • Start The Pit leaderboards on the first day of the Season.
  • Snapshot character builds when they rank on the leaderboards.
  • Remove Tempering Durability.
  • Regulate Tempering via the materials economy.
  • Relax the materials economy for Masterworking.


All For One & One For All

As mentioned above, only a small portion of regular Diablo players can practically and effectively participate in competitive gaming, and it also attracts exploitation. On the other hand, it is an essential component for the long-term viability and development of a popular multi-player ARPG, which ultimatley benefits everyone.

Vessel of Hatred FeaturedSo, as we now know, competitive gaming has always been a part of Diablo and it is here to stay. It’s also fairly well known that the coding for Raids (probably with leaderboards) has already been added to the game. Therefore, the future of Diablo will very likely include more competitive features rather than less. In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we see some version of Raids as part of the upcoming VoH Expansion. At the same time, I also hope that Diablo 4 never goes too MMO to the point where the gatekeeping of solo casual players becomes a problem.

Speaking of casual players, life in Diablo should continue to remain more or less the same for us going forward. There’s nothing wrong with continuing to play just for fun and to ignore the competitive features of the game. It’s perfectly okay to play only the main campaign and stop there if you wish, because we’ll be getting another good campaign with the expansion. It’s also fine to skip Seasons if you don’t have the time because many of the improvements introduced at the start of a Season are also added to the Eternal Realm.

Last, but certainly not least, I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed their feedback as part of putting together this review. The fine folks over at Wyze Family Discord, and, in particular, gamers Halted and Slater, were all very generous with their time.

Disclaimer on Content Speculation

Please keep in mind that the development of new content for Season 4 is still underway, so anything could change or be scrapped between now and the start of the Season.

We would love to hear your opinions on the matter, so please sound off in the comments section below or contact me on Twitter. Do let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions for future topics here at PureDiablo. Please also keep an eye on the news feed so you’ll have all the up-to-date info you need to get the most out of your game.

If you believe that any of the information shared above is inaccurate in any way, please let us know, along with a reference for the correct information, so we can update this document accordingly.

Gazerrick ArmsGazerrick is a staff writer for PureDiablo who focuses primarily on casual gaming interests and lore for the Diablo community. When not hacking and slashing his way through a new Season, he can be found participating in, and presenting at, various pop culture conventions in southern Arizona. You can follow him on Twitter @Gazerrick9000 for even more of his gaming indulgences. A collection of his creative media is also available at Cactus Palm Perspectives.

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