Advertisement

5 crucial changes in Diablo 4's gigantic season 4 rework

 Diablo 4 — Inarius, the rogue Archangel, hovers in midair with tendril wings of light outstretched.
Diablo 4 — Inarius, the rogue Archangel, hovers in midair with tendril wings of light outstretched.

The Diablo 4 you know is gone. Blizzard's massive list of changes coming with its next season—and staying for its future—affect almost everything in it. It's practically a new game wearing the skin of the one that only came out less than a year ago.

Whether you fell off around its first season or stuck around until now, Diablo 4 season 4—which launches on May 14—will reshape what it means to create a character and build them into a demon-slaying god. A full list of what's new will come next week in Blizzard's patch notes, but some of the changes will be woefully undersold as a meager bullet point.

Below are the five biggest changes that'll impact how you play Diablo 4 from now on, all of which will be available on a PTR for playtesting starting on April 2.

Leveling up will be even faster than it is now

Diablo 4 Sorceress close-up
Diablo 4 Sorceress close-up

Level 50 marks the start of Diablo 4's endgame because it's when your gear and your build should start to come together. It's around this level that you'll want to clear the Capstone Dungeon, and its boss, to move up into the next world tier for more XP and better loot. It only takes a few hours to reach this point already, but in the next season, it's going to be even faster.

It was easy to miss during the stream, but associate game director Joe Piepiora quickly ran through how Blizzard is juicing the XP gains for its world tier difficulties. Starting next season, world tier XP bonuses will look like this:

  • World tier 2 - 50% bonus XP (up from 25%)

  • World tier 3 - 150% bonus XP (up from 100%)

  • World tier 4 - 250% bonus XP (up from 200%)

You could sit here and calculate the XP rates per hour, but it doesn't really matter: Blizzard clearly wants you in the higher world tiers faster and it wants you to see its new endgame crafting systems as soon as possible. That's a win for everyone who is driven to see more powerful loot drops and doesn't have the time to spend weeks grinding to level 100.

You won't have to keep every Legendary item you find

Diablo 4 season 4's new Codex of Power menu with a list of Legendary aspects
Diablo 4 season 4's new Codex of Power menu with a list of Legendary aspects

The powerful effects on Legendary items, or aspects, like the one that causes sorcerers' Ball Lightning to orbit around them, can be build-defining. Diablo 4's original aspect system forced you to keep Legendary items, or their extracted aspects, in your stash to put on new pieces of gear. That is finally over.

Not only will you be replacing gear less often in season 4, but Legendary aspects will now live permanently (per season) within your Codex of Power menu. Most aspects can randomly roll numbers that determine the strength of the bonus, like "Basic Skills gain 15 to 30% Attack Speed." As you find Legendary items with higher and higher rolls of the aspect, salvaging them at the blacksmith will permanently increase the number in your Codex of Power. You'll be able to imprint that aspect onto other pieces of gear as much as you'd like without having to keep anything in your stash.

The risk of using a perfectly rolled aspect on a mediocre item will be gone, and it'll be much easier to try different ones out. It seems like Blizzard simplified this system so you can focus on Tempering and Masterworking items later in the game, where the meat of item crafting exists.

Powerful items will drop everywhere and often

An example of Diablo 4 loot drops in season 4
An example of Diablo 4 loot drops in season 4

The number of useless item drops is about to plummet in Diablo 4. Blizzard has lifted the restrictions on Uniques so that they'll now drop in world tiers 1 and 2, and Uber Uniques can even drop off level 55 or higher monsters. A Necromancer, for example, could find the Black River scythe that sets off devastating corpse explosions before they're even level 50. Exciting builds that rely on powerful Uniques won't have to wait until well into the endgame anymore.

Changes to item power, one of Diablo 4's surprisingly confusing stats, will make loot more relevant, too. It always sucks to find gear with weak stats because of its low item power, and you eventually hit a point where it only matters for certain types of gear. In season 4, item power is being normalized to the point that you won't really need to think about it.

Max item power gear (925) will always drop off of level 95 or higher monsters, which means by around level 80, when you're comfortably running Nightmare Dungeons in world tier 4, item power will be irrelevant. You'll only care about the actual stats on the gear and whether or not it's worth upgrading them.

Way more builds will be viable

Diablo 4 Necromancer wearing shop armor holding a sword and shield
Diablo 4 Necromancer wearing shop armor holding a sword and shield

If Blizzard pulls it off, Diablo 4 could end up being one of the most approachable action RPGs out there.

Diablo 4's two new crafting systems—Tempering and Masterworking—let you add specific stats onto your items. Whether you want movement speed or a class-specific stat, like a chance for necromancer's Bone Splinters to cast twice, your items will reflect what stats are important to you. It might not seem like a big deal on its face, but this will radically increase the number of possible builds you can make.

Previously, Diablo 4's items pigeonholed you into universally good stats like cooldown reduction and critical strike chance, which propelled certain builds to the top of the meta. But with the new crafting systems, you choose what stats to invest in and to what degree. A rogue that stacks loads of mobility cooldown reduction and grenade damage could invest heavily into stun grenades for the aspect that drops them whenever you evade—a build that currently would be a joke. Druids might even be able to run a respectable minion build.

The flexibility with your stat choices moves Diablo 4 closer to Last Epoch, a game praised for its ample build variety. Even if you decide to follow a build guide, it'll take a while to create the theoretical 'best' items, so you'll have to decide which stats you personally care about along the way. If Blizzard pulls it off, Diablo 4 could end up being one of the most approachable action RPGs out there.

The endgame won't be a boss marathon

Diablo 4's Lilith
Diablo 4's Lilith

Blizzard wasn't really subtle about the new endgame dungeons coming in season 4. They're Diablo 3's greater rifts, timed dungeons that get harder as you go up in tiers, under a new name: The Pit of the Artificer. Think of them like Nightmare Dungeons, but the goal is to race through them for the rare loot and materials at the end. There will be over 100 tiers with increasingly harder monsters and the rare loot at the end will get better and better as you reach higher levels.

Dungeons in The Pit will drop items to summon "Tormented" bosses that will drop materials to make an Uber Unique of your choice on your first kill. And with Andariel joining the roster of normal bosses, you won't be stuck fighting Duriel over and over to find the rarest items in the game.

Season 4's new endgame activities won't solve the problem of the challenge in the open world disappearing over time, but it'll add variety where it was desperately needed. And considering we still don't know what the season-specific features will be, it's a promising foundation for a part of the game that was getting increasingly stale.