After the Diablo 4 reveal at BlizzCon 2019, Blizzard Entertainment promised to keep the community up to date and share more details on the development of their highly-anticipated ARPG. Now, less than three weeks after the convention, the developer has shared their first Diablo 4 system design update with the community.
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David Kim, the lead systems designer on Diablo 4 from Blizzard Entertainment shared some nice new details and what the developer is thinking about different Diablo 4 system design choices in a lengthy post, touching on some interesting topics such as keyed dungeons, endgame progression and more.
First off, the developer talks about how they want to involve the community and keep everyone in the loop as the game gets built. Then, Blizzard Entertainment touches on the topics of itemization as they want to add more depth and complexity to base items, giving players more freedom to choose how they customize their items and provide us with a wide range of “effective gameplay possibilities” instead of just looking up the best build online.
The developer also addressed the build of Diablo 4 at BlizzCon 2019, specifically concerns that there wasn’t an elective mode. It looks like Diablo 4 will have an Elective Mode, so players will be able to put their skills wherever they want. Blizzard Entertainment is also rethinking Ancient items and will share more information on the topic as well as other topics like itemization in a future post.
The developer did go into more detail about three Diablo 4 system design choices, namely Diablo 4 endgame progression, Keyed dungeons and Sources of Power. Check out the discussion below.
Diablo 4 endgame progression
We haven’t decided whether the character levelling and experience system should be finite or infinite. We’ve been discussing the pros and cons of both and would love to hear your thoughts. There seems to be some concern around infinite being worse because it will eventually overshadow all the power granted by other sources. However, we can control how much power each system gives, whether it’s infinite or finite.
For example, say we’re talking about thousands of hours of gameplay . . . within those thousands of hours, we could choose to create a finite system that grants 1,000,000 times more power than an infinite system, making it practically impossible for the infinite system to catch up in power.
Also, power increase doesn’t need to be linear throughout the ranks—it can slow down as players reach higher levels. We believe the more important question is what experience feels best for players, and we can playtest various approaches to tuning to find the power curve that makes the most sense.
We have a couple of reasons for having a different experience system in addition to a level cap. A level cap gives us the ability to grant players a sense of completion. But for players who want to go deeper into the game, a second experience system allows us to capture the fun of achieving those really difficult endgame goals and ranks. We can also introduce additional depth through this system because players will be more experienced with the game at this point. Ultimately, our goal is to create a meaningful system that provides clear choices depending on your preferred playstyle in the endgame.
Sources of Power
The community has shared many good points on the topic of power sources and we’re reevaluating how much power comes from each source at any given time.
However, we want to clarify that in Diablo IV, power doesn’t come mostly from items. We want to have a good mix of power sources: characters naturally get stronger as they level up, skills have ranks that increase power, talents provide specific playstyle choices and additional character power, and of course, items grant power and meaningful choices as well.
Something else to keep in mind is Legendary powers are just one part of an item’s power, and they won’t invalidate all other Affixes due to how powerful they are. For example, two to three normal Affixes are currently equivalent in power to a Legendary power on most items.
A big question that’s come up is exactly how Keyed Dungeons are different from Rifts. Keyed Dungeons introduce greater challenges as their tiers increase through Dungeon Affixes. The majority of dungeons are real places in the world, and players will know some information about them including what types of monsters, events, and layouts to expect. With this information, as well as the specific Dungeon Affixes being displayed on the key, players will be able to strategize their approach before going into the dungeon. We believe this is the biggest change from Diablo III Rifts: the added planning and strategizing that takes place before you decide to run a Keyed Dungeon.
Lastly, Blizzard Entertainment reiterates that they want to involve the community in the Diablo 4 system design process and have great discussions with fans about the game as they continue to build it.
What do you think about the Diablo 4 system design choices from Blizzard Entertainment so far and the topics discussed, especially the endgame progression and keyed dungeons? Let us know in the comment section below and check out some Diablo 4 gameplay below if you haven’t already.