Blizzard’s latest Diablo 4 Campfire Chat offers a direct response to the community criticism around its controversial latest update. In the Diablo 4 developer livestream, game director Joe Shely, associate director Joseph Piepiora, and community manager Adam Fletcher discuss the recent patch notes for the RPG game that caused a rift among the community in the leadup to Diablo 4 Season 1, which is now live.
It almost doesn’t matter whether the Diablo 4 patch 1.1.0 changes end up being largely healthy to the game, or even contain more good than bad; a sentiment spread across the community and even to the outreaches of gaming fans beyond those playing Diablo 4. To hear people tell it, Blizzard has nerfed all your best Diablo 4 builds, the Barbarian and Sorcerer are as good as dead, and this is ‘the worst patch in videogame history.’
Knowing this, Fletcher opens the stream with a surprisingly forward admission: “To kick us off here, we want to acknowledge everyone’s feedback in regards to reducing player power. We know it is bad, we know it is not fun, and we ourselves know it’s not the greatest play experience for everyone out there.” Before handing over to the other devs, he adds, “We don’t plan on doing a patch like this ever again.”
“We know that reducing player power is never a good experience,” Piepiora says, speaking first about changes to cooldown reduction, or CDR. He notes how too much CDR can create infinite feedback loops that make other builds feel unviable, but admits, “We know that blasting through content with those things is really fun.”
While the team is happy with the current state of Diablo 4’s hardest boss, colloquially known as ‘Uber Lilith,’ Piepiora says the team isn’t quite satisfied with the difficulty balance of high-tier Nightmare Dungeons as players push up to tier 100. He says that Blizzard is currently working on new content that will offer a different form of endgame challenge to players.
Next, Piepiora talks a little about the state of Sorcerer following the recent changes, as the class has been widely determined the game’s most fragile in its current state. “We said before that Diablo 4 is a game about choice, and that remains our goal,” Piepiora says, “but we don’t always get that quite right.” He says the team has heard the feedback, and that it is currently working on updates to improve how Sorcerer feels at high levels, particularly regarding its survivability.
Another big topic is Vulnerable damage – one of the most powerful tools in the game, to the point where almost every build feels mandated to include it. Piepiora says that “Vulnerable damage is more powerful than we’d like,” and notes that the core determining factor of this is the stat’s multiplicative effect on other damage – rather than adding up like most numbers do, it instead amplifies all your other damage, leading to much bigger output.
Shely notes, “It would be better if Vulnerability wasn’t a must take stat – but if, along the way to fulfilling that, the game is less fun, then we’re not fulfilling our obligation to players.” He shares a four-point image that he says is the team’s mandate – promising a wide variety of viable builds, new items and powers every season to keep the game fresh, continually evolving endgame content with high monster density, and to make the game more fun for players.
To improve communication in future, Fletcher says the team plans on sharing patch notes “well ahead of time” rather than as an update releases, suggesting these could arrive as much as a week in advance. He notes that this might at times mean the team adds more to the patch notes after first release, but hopes it can help players feel more confident in what the team is working on.
This begins next Friday, where the team will be doing another livestream discussing the next set of patch notes that will be rolling out. As a tease for this, Fletcher asks Piepiora what the plans are for Sorcerer and Barbarian, the two classes considered to be struggling the most. Piepiora says that patch 1.1.1 will feature improvements to their Legendary Aspects, with Sorcerer particularly in focus. Changes to Nightmare Dungeons, meanwhile, are rolling out later today.
Shely also discusses monster density in both Helltides and Nightmare Dungeons, which is being ramped up in both cases. He explains that this won’t be across the board for all zones, however, to help keep performance and pacing up, so Helltides will see more monsters, “but not uniformly” across the whole map.
Along with density changes, Piepiora addresses the nerf to XP rates for fighting higher level monsters. He notes that the team’s intent was to encourage players to push to higher difficulties than just three levels above them, but that the resulting effect didn’t feel that way. “We realized people thought we were just trying to make the game longer, but we weren’t.”
There’s some good news for your inventory right now, though – the upcoming 1.1.1 patch will give all players an additional stash tab to help ease your management. Shely says this is not the only improvement planned for your stash, but it should help while the team works on more substantial overhauls. Elixir stacks are also being massively boosted to a cap of 99, and respec costs are being reduced “by about 40%” to let players try out different builds more easily.
That next patch is coming within a few weeks, Fletcher says though there’s currently no exact date given. In closing, Shely remarks, “One of the really great points of feedback is, ‘Why can you nerf things today, but then buff things far in the future?’ Not only is there a change to communication, but we’re going to pair changes like that together so we don’t have a situation like this that players feel is unfair.”
It’s up to the community to determine how they feel about this response from the team, but as a player I certainly feel reassured that the team at least understands why this patch was so roundly unpopular, and hopefully that should avoid similar situations in the future.