With many of the biggest Diablo 4 updates from Blizzard being inspired by player feedback, it’s clear that the developer is taking your thoughts under consideration when deciding what the future of its loot-grinding RPG looks like. With the reveal of the first Diablo IV expansion Vessel of Hatred at Blizzcon 2023, PCGamesN asks the team what player trends have been most surprising since launch, and it turns out that many of you are very focused on that level 100 goal.
The second season of Diablo 4 is now well underway, and it incorporates a lot of changes that have been influenced by community feedback. Despite a very successful launch for the RPG game, the leadup to its first season was marred by a rather nerf-happy patch that caused widespread community unrest, with a general sentiment that Blizzard was ‘killing the fun’ by shutting down the best Diablo 4 builds without offering enough alternatives.
That approach has changed dramatically, with game director Joe Shely recently remarking that the team is “glad players are having fun in Diablo 4’s Season of Blood and has no plans to nerf it.” It’s a switch that’s certainly been well received, so I asked production director Tiffany Wat which of the many changes made came as the biggest surprise to the team in terms of initial expectation versus how the community responded.
“One thing that was interesting to see was just how many players have that drive to reach the max level of 100 on all of their characters,” Wat tells us. “For a lot of players this was their main goal, not just hunting for the best gear, and the feedback we received was that it felt like too much of a slog to reach the pinnacle level.”
It’s certainly something I’ve noticed as well – and felt myself, as in the last few days prior to the launch of the game’s first season I found myself pushing hard to hit that Diablo 4 max level cap on my launch character, despite the fact it was little more than a number. Having that preset peak makes for a clearly defined goal to target, and that’s an irresistible temptation.
Perhaps importantly, the way Diablo 4 is built frames its levels differently from its predecessor, which could be seen as part of the reason for this motivation. Where Diablo 3 caps at level 60 (or 70 with the Reaper of Souls expansion), then adds a progression of Paragon levels that are potentially limitless, D4 has two caps.
Level 50 can be seen as the equivalent to that old D3 cap, as it’s the point where you stop earning new skills for your character. Levels 50-100, then, are in fact the new equivalent of the Paragon system, awarding you a total of 200 Paragon points, four per level, to round out your endgame Diablo 4 Paragon boards. Because of the way it’s laid out, however, that level 100 is a much more defined end goal than D3’s more nebulous Paragon system.
Whatever the reasoning, the team responded to this desire; Wat notes, “We recently made a big change to leveling by substantially increasing the amount of experience gain players earn based on that feedback. Now the leveling experience is much quicker and reaching level 100 feels so much more rewarding and achievable.” I’d certainly agree – while I never truly tired of leveling my first character, I fell off hard in Season 1 when the grind really kicked in, around the time you jump up to the highest Diablo 4 World Tier.
That hasn’t been an issue in Diablo 4 Season 2. With a wider variety of things to do like streamlined loot drops meaning less time spent sorting out the wheat from the chaff in town, the increased leveling speed, and drops that actually get better as you level up, I haven’t gotten bored once. There’s still work to be done on certain aspects of the game, with plenty more issues yet to be tackled, but Blizzard is already making huge steps in the right direction.
Changes like this are undoubtedly influenced by the community speaking up. That’s not to say every idea players have is great, but listening to the general sentiment has already proven positive for Blizzard, and Wat is emphatic that the team is continuing in that direction. “A lot of the recent quality of life updates and changes we have made like this were because of the amazing insight from our players, and that will never stop.”
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Interview conducted by Lauren Bergin at Blizzcon 2023.