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Diablo 4 skills are tied to weapon damage in Blizzard RPG

A video showing that Diablo 4 skills are tied to weapon damage in the Blizzard ARPG game has fans discussing the benefits of the Diablo 3 vs Diablo 2 systems

Diablo 4 skills - the necromancer, a figure in bone armour with long hair swept down one side of their face and a glowing blue eye

Eagle-eyed fans have spotted that Diablo 4 skills are tied to weapon damage following footage of the game being shown during the Diablo Hell’s Ink tour. While a recent Diablo 4 gameplay leak taken from a private test build of the fantasy game showed off a hefty chunk of the game in development, this official video gives us a more ‘legitimate’ look at how Diablo 4 is planning to handle its gear and skill design – and it’s looking slightly more like Diablo 3 so far, albeit with one very significant difference.

Diablo 2 and Diablo 3 can both be considered among the best RPG games on PC, but each brings a fairly different approach to the space. The former is a more old-school, hardcore experience with a greater focus on honing your specific skill build – in some cases meaning that some classes like the Diablo 2 Sorceress could become incredibly powerful using certain skills regardless of their equipped gear.

Diablo 3, on the other hand, is a more approachable experience – allowing all possible skills to be swapped out freely on the fly and tying the damage of almost all skills to your weapon damage stat. This means that gear becomes essential regardless of class. The skill shown in the Diablo 4 Hell’s Ink Miami video – Lightning Spear – reads, “Conjure a crackling spear of lightning that seeks out enemies for 6 seconds, dealing 15% (59-72) per hit.” While this certainly resembles the format of Diablo 3, a user on the Diablo Reddit points out one incredibly crucial distinction.

As commenter SwaghettiYolonese points out, Diablo 3 skills mostly scale in the hundreds and thousands. As an example, the Barbarian’s first primary attack, Bash, hits an enemy for 320% weapon damage. Earthquake, one of the more powerful Barb skills, hands out 4800% weapon damage to enemies. This means that even a tiny increase in your weapon’s base DPS is vastly exacerbated in the effect on your skills.

Conversely, the 15% multiplier shown on Lightning Spear makes small increases to weapon DPS effectively negligible, meaning that other stats, affixes and passives on the weapon are likely to be far more impactful by comparison than merely its base damage value. If all Diablo 4 skills follow suit, this should resolve one of the most common complaints about Diablo 3’s gearing and skill systems – its over-reliance on pure gear stats thanks to huge, stacking stat multipliers.

During a previous update, game director Luis Barriga said the team plans “to put more of the player’s power back into the character to make build choices more impactful, rather than have the majority of player power coming from the items they have equipped.” He does note, however, that the team wants to ensure “that itemisation choices always feel meaningful.” The result sounds like it could provide a good balance somewhere between Diablo 2 and 3, although we’ll have to wait to get hands-on with the game ourselves to know for sure.

Here’s the video in question, if you want to see the numbers for yourself – the stat windows for Executing Wand and Lightning Spear can be seen around the 2:35 to 2:40 mark:

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The first Diablo 4 closed beta that will be open to members of the public is set to let players loose on the endgame experience for the upcoming game in November. Meanwhile, Path of Exile improvements are being implemented as the developers attempt to appease a frustrated community in the run-up to the Diablo 4 release date. We’ll be sure to keep you up to date on all the details, such as all the Diablo 4 classes you’ll be able to pick from at release.