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Diablo 4 Season 4 PTR “barely held anything back,” Blizzard says

The Diablo 4 Season 4 PTR is over and Blizzard is “‘heads down” on making changes ahead of launch, with just “a few small items” left to add.

Diablo 4 Season 4 PTR "barely held anything back" - A Necromancer wearing a golden skull mask.

Now that the Diablo 4 Season 4 PTR has closed its doors, Blizzard is hard at work on making changes based on all the player feedback and stats from the public test realm. The upcoming season of the action RPG game is set to be its biggest and most dramatic yet, with a complete rework to the fundamentals of the game akin to the huge Diablo 3 ‘loot 2.0’ overhaul that transformed the previous game’s fortunes.

The week-long public test of Diablo 4 Season 4 didn’t give us a look at what its seasonal theme will be – that’s something Blizzard is set to reveal in an upcoming campfire chat – but it did give us a look at the huge, systemic overhaul coming to one of the biggest and best RPG games of 2023. The complete revamp sees almost every part of Diablo 4 changing, from the best leveling methods right down to the way all your best loot is found and crafted.

“We want to thank everyone for spending time in the Diablo 4 PTR giving us feedback and in the days after the PTR closed,” Blizzard community manager Adam ‘PezRadar’ Fletcher writes via social platform X (Twitter). “The team has been combing through all of your feedback and has been heads down making the key changes in time for Season 4.”

Fletcher says the team was excited to get the majority of the changes for Season 4 into the test and that “the PTR held barely anything back.” He does tease that “there are still a few small items that we kept in store that will round out the season,” something that the team is planning to discuss alongside other changes coming as a result of the PTR feedback in an upcoming stream, which we’ll get dates for “soon.”

Diablo 4 Season 4 PTR feedback - Adam Fletcher: "We want to thank everyone for spending time in the #DiabloIV PTR giving us feedback throughout the testing period and in the days after the PTR closed. The team has been combing through all of your feedback and has been heads down making the key changes in time for Season 4. We are excited that we could focus the majority of the season on your feedback and the PTR held barely anything back. There are still a few small items that we kept in store that will round out the season and we look forward to everyone jumping into the full season next month. We plan on discussing that along with the other changes based off player feedback from the PTR in an upcoming stream. We will have more news and dates for that stream soon!"

So what were the key takeaways? From my time playing and watching the PTR, I have to say that it’s got me very excited for Season 4. Items feel more cleanly designed, with simpler, more hygienic bonuses that strip away a lot of those fluff affixes that rarely feel useful in favor of punchier upgrades to your character. Add in the chance for items to drop with rare, more powerful ‘greater affixes’ akin to those seen on Last Epoch’s exalted items, and the hunt for loot is inherently more exciting and engaging every step of the way.

The new crafting options – masterworking to further boost the power of an items affixes, and tempering to fuse a pair of additional bonuses on top – mean that getting that perfect item now genuinely feels like a story you can tell, taking smart design cues from rivals such as Last Epoch and Path of Exile to create this satisfying blend of hunting for an ideal base item and then honing it into a powerful complementary piece for your build.

New feature The Pit, which feels like a retuned version of Diablo 3’s Greater Rifts system, also sticks the landing as a satisfying endgame activity, while changes to Diablo 4 Nightmare Dungeons and their random events make them feel smoother across the board – although there were notably a few rough edges there with a handful of dungeons still feeling rather tedious to trudge through. Also fantastic news is the Diablo 4 Helltide rework, bringing it into early-world tiers and making it a very valuable boon to early-game leveling.

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A couple of Diablo 4 Barbarian builds sprung up with some rather ridiculous numbers, finally delivering that screen-filling Dust Devil build that Blizzard has been promising we’d always see one day, to the delight of lead class designer Adam Jackson, who called a video of the chaos “my favorite PTR clip,” while being sure to add “yet another disclaimer that tuning is not final.” The time also looks to have come for those minion-focused Diablo 4 Necromancer builds, with skeleton hordes now capable of truly ripping through foes.

Associate game director Joe Piepiora also says the team is looking into the balance on tempering manuals, which offer flat damage bonuses that can be used to make your alt characters immensely overpowered from the get-go. It’ll be interesting to see how Blizzard chooses to handle this – rival Last Epoch allows the creation of similarly potent leveling gear, but it’s presented as a reward for your work on your main character.

Overall, the vibe from the PTR has been great, and it’s a welcome sign of how valuable such wide-scale public testing can be, something I hope Blizzard will see and take advantage of in future seasons. We’ll be sure to bring you the full details on everything Season 4 when we get them, but in the meantime there’s always Project Diablo 2 Season 9 to keep you entertained until the new Diablo 4 season arrives on Tuesday May 14.

Jumping in for the first time to experience the story now that Diablo 4 has come to PC Game Pass? You’ll want to take a look through our pick of the best Diablo 4 builds to see what your options are. Or if you’re after something else to keep you busy, here are the best games like Diablo in 2024 for you to play.

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