Diablo 4 Designer Discusses How Itemization Will Work And Some Major Changes Being Made

Blizzard wants a game that borrows from Diablo II and III, but feels distinct from them.


Diablo IV is still a long way away, but Blizzard has been teasing details about the upcoming RPG, including specific information about how its systems will work together. Now, a new post on the Diablo blog from David Kim, lead systems designer at Blizzard, has dived deep into elements of system design we can expect from the sequel.

The post discusses the "easy to learn, difficult to master" approach that Blizzard is taking this time, noting that they believe that in Diablo IV, "itemization should be deep and rewarding." They want the game to take the best elements of Diablo II and III, but also to add its own new systems, and to feel distinct from both games. To that end, some major changes are being planned for several Diablo systems. All of these changes are just in consideration for now.

When looking at affixes, Blizzard decided that they wanted item affixes to be "a meaningful part of character power," and that they should make the decision of what items to equip interesting. While previously they've focused on gearing affixes towards builds, they want to give players more freedom to choice what they affix, regardless of build. Here are the changes Kim writes are currently being considered:

  • We’re increasing the total number of affixes on items, including Magic (Blue), Rare (Yellow), and Legendary (Orange). This should raise the overall importance of non-Legendary affixes on your character’s overall level of power.
  • We are also introducing three new stats:
    • Angelic Power, which increases the duration of all beneficial effects (like self-buffs or healing)
    • Demonic Power, which increases the duration of all negative effects (like debuffs or damage over time)
    • Ancestral Power, which increases the chance of on-hit effects (aka increased proc chance)

Changes are also being made to how you bulk up your attack and defense. In Diablo IV, weapons will only boost attack, armor will only boost defense, and jewelry will no longer boost either. "The goal here is to better embrace the fantasy of each type of item," Kim says. It simplifies things somewhat, but there will be many other systems dictating your stats, and it's good to have a clear idea if a weapon is an upgrade or not right away. At the same time, picking weapons and armor based purely on strength or defense will not be optimum, as items will contain other powers.

The third major point is that Ancient Legendaries are being replaced. A new consumable item will be introduced, although Blizzard isn't ready to talk about it, and ultimately Blizzard is hoping that rare items with good affixes will retain their use and value because of this.

Diablo IV will also bring back talent trees and rune words, which were absent from Diablo III, and is aiming to be more replayable than its predecessor. From February 2020, we will receive quarterly updates on changes being made for the fourth game in the series.

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