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Diablo 4 runes and runewords explained

Diablo 4 runes and runewords would bring a classic Diablo feature back to the game, enabling you to add magical abilities to socketed items.

Diablo 4 runes and runewords: A close up on the face of Lilith, her skin grey and eyes black.

What are Diablo 4 runes and runewords? The feature is one Diablo fans will recognize, the idea being that you could combine individual runes into runewords and insert them into socketed items, adding to their powers and abilities. But with no runes in Diablo 4 just yet, we – like you – are eager to know whether they’re coming, so we asked the devs, of course.

We know that D2’s beloved runeword system was not available in Diablo 4 at launch, and won’t be for some time – but that doesn’t mean they’re not making their way to the game in the future. Whichever of the five Diablo 4 classes you choose, runes would be combined and added to your items, just like gems, to increase their abilities. So what do we know about Diablo 4 runes, runewords, and when they’re coming to the game?

An image of rows and columns of various Diablo 4 runes.

Are runes in Diablo 4?

Runes and runewords are not in Diablo 4 – yet. However, our chat with lead class designer Adam Jackson suggests they could be on the way.

In chatting with us, he strongly hinted that Diablo 2 runewords could return. On top of this, runes were actually seen in Diablo 4 footage way back in 2019, which also backs up our theory that they will arrive in the future. We don’t yet know if and when runewords will be added, and whether they will be part of one of the upcoming Diablo 4 seasons, but with new content being added to the game every three months going forward, there’s plenty of opportunity for the mechanic to be (re)introduced.

How do Diablo 4 runes and runewords work?

Historically, runes have been items that are either dropped by bosses or can be found in the world, much like the other prominent and useful Diablo 4 resources. Containing part of a word, a rune will form part of a longer runeword and cannot be used on its own. For example, some well-known D2 runes include Amn, Ber, Ist, Sol, and Sur, which when combined become the runeword Eternity. You could also add Eternity to a melee weapon with five sockets to enhance damage, life stolen, and more.

When runes finally arrive in Diablo 4, we expect them to work in much the same way as they have in previous games, and you can get used to socketed items before they arrive by utilizing Diablo 4 gems. If runes arrive, it’s likely that you’ll be able to use them with some gems, and they’ll behave in much the same way.

While that’s all we know about Diablo 4 runes and runewords right now, we’ll of course update you with more as soon as the mechanic is announced. In the meantime, it’s not like there isn’t plenty to keep you busy in one of the best PC games of the year, with over 120 Diablo 4 dungeons, each of which could include a surprise cameo from The Butcher, so equip the best Diablo 4 weapons and the best D4 builds – and prepare for the fight.