The developers from Activision-Blizzard have released a new Diablo IV quarterly update aimed to explore the new Skills and Talent systems as well as End Game progression. The previous updates focused on storytelling and open world, itemization, monster families and system design.
Ancestral/Demonic/Angelic Powers aren’t “cool enough” in the current version of the pitch and that has been noted by the developers. Another identified problem was the ratio of effort to rewards that would likely have resulted in players carrying around several extra pieces of gear with different amounts of Ancestral/Demonic/Angelic Powers on them. It would have also required players to constantly calculate each of the power levels on those items and compare them with their overall power which felt like an excessive amount of bookkeeping to the devs.
However, one thing we really liked about the system was the gameplay of managing stats in meaningful ways to hit certain bonus thresholds that then make your items better suited for the playstyle you are going for. We need some more time for iteration/rework here and look forward to sharing more on itemization in our next quarterly blog.
The developers are exploring some big changes in the system for the following reasons:
- The provided feedback pointed out that a character’s power is currently too dependant on items, which the developers agree with. The team plans to put more of the player’s power back into the character to make build choices more impactful, rather than have the majority of player power coming from the items they have equipped. That said, the right balance between a character’s power and importance and meaning of itemization must be met.
- There has been mixed feedback regarding the core itemization. The team is currently exploring how to best differentiate the various item qualities.
New Skill System
The developers have made some changes to Diablo IV Skills and Talent systems aimed to introduce more depth and meaningful reasons to spend skill points.
The new system features separate sections for Skills and Passives. The blog post features the Sorceress’s skill tree as an example. The upper Skills section is where you will spend the Skill Points that you earn by leveling up. Here, you unlock brand new skills, unlock additional functionality for these skills, and unlock Passive Points that you can then spend on the lower Passive section of the tree.
Players will not be able to acquire every Skill Tree node. The team is currently aiming for 30~40% of the nodes filled in for the end game so that players can have very distinct, and different ways they build out their character.
Similar to Barbarian’s Arsenal system – their ability to carry and smoothly swap between multiple deadly weapons – other characters will have their own unique class mechanics. It will make exploring different classes and their very different strengths and playstyles more fun.
For Sorceress it is the Enchantment system: the character’s skills can be placed into two locations: an active skill slot (that every other class also has access to), and an Enchantment slot. If you place a skill in the Enchantment slot, you can no longer use it as an active skill, but your character instead gains a secondary bonus power. The power you gain from Enchantments is extremely significant, and you can currently make builds based around your Enchantments, your active skills, or a mix of both.
The Druid-specific mechanic is being explored by the devs and players will see more info in the future.
End Game Progression System
The team has been hard at work on the end game character progression system. This important feature is going to take a little more time (it won’t be in the next blog), but the devs wanted to mention it in the September 2020 quarterly report because it will be the other significant source of power that comes from your class.
This system is intended to provide more depth and replayability than what Paragon currently offers in Diablo III. We, and many Blizzard gamers, have talked about the concept of “easy to learn, difficult to master.” We believe that the end game progression system is where the difficult to master component will come in, and should meet the expectations of the most hardcore Diablo players out there.