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Diablo 4 uniques scale to character level, sparking RPG fan debate

Reports that Diablo 4 uniques scale with character level cause fans to ask how they’re unique in Blizzard’s fantasy RPG game as it prepares for more beta tests

Diablo 4 uniques scaling - a man looks sadly downwards, his face dripping with blood and sweat

With the news that Diablo 4 beta invites are being sent out for more players to join the Diablo 4 endgame beta for the Blizzard RPG game, the wider Diablo community is once again contemplating the various ways the series has handled its loot in previous years. Reports suggest that Diablo 4 uniques – traditionally the rarest tier of items – will scale with your item level, leaving some fans of the fantasy game to worry that they won’t feel, well, unique.

As previously discussed in a blog post back in December 2020, Diablo 4’s endgame items feature two specific types of top-tier item above the common, magic, and rare drops that you’ll find along your journey. Legendary items are much like rares, but they each get one randomly-rolled legendary affix – these affixes can appear on different items and in different slots, meaning you may be able to find several that all offer a matching bonus.

Uniques, on the other hand, get a bonus that is – as the name suggests – unique to that particular item. For example, the Kilt of the Plaguebringer, a set of unique pants, removes the damage over time effect of poison abilities and instead causes them to deal 127% of the total damage in a burst when the poison effect expires. It’s a distinct effect that is specific to that piece of gear, and can notably change how you play, much the way legendary items work in Diablo 3.

Where players are split is on another aspect resembling Diablo 3. A given legendary item in that game can drop at whatever level your character happens to be at – this is nice, as if you find an item you love only to outlevel it, it can show up again later at your current level. As someone with an unhealthy obsession with the Diablo 3 Barbarian’s Leap skill, I found myself clinging onto each set of Lut Socks for far too long, desperate not to give up my triple leap before the next pair dropped.

On the other hand, some players say they wish that uniques could truly be just that – a crafted item that can only drop at one given stat range and balanced as such. The Guardian Angel coat in Diablo 2 is always level 45, for example, while the Skin of the Vipermagi is always level 29. Fans in favour say they prefer how it makes items feel truly special. Perhaps you’ll eventually have to move on from a cool effect as you outlevel it, but you might always run into it again on a future character.

Others say that such a system just makes endgame progression too one-note. Several point to Diablo 2 as a point of comparison, saying that once they have obtained the core pieces of their character’s build there isn’t really anything to work towards any more. While that’s fine for a game where the focus might be on replaying the game with new characters and over new seasons, it doesn’t provide the long-term goals that might be wanted for a game positioned as a live service.

Diablo 4 game director Joe Shely and Diablo general manager Rod Fergusson recently spoke to IGN about the amount of endgame testing they’re doing, and how the shift to a modern live service model is being handled internally:

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Also seemingly coming over from Diablo 3 are Diablo 4 skills tied to weapon damage. There’s also been heavy Diablo 4 gameplay leaks, so be careful if you’re looking to steer clear of potential spoilers. We’ll keep you up to date on everything from the Diablo 4 classes to the latest news on the Diablo 4 release date as the co-op game gets ever closer to launch.