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After Diablo 4’s first year, Blizzard says it wants to try new things

A year after launch, PCGamesN asks the team at Blizzard what's been learned about Diablo 4 and how it feels going into the next 12 months.

Diablo 4 launch interview: Lilith from D4

It’s been a whole year since Diablo 4 launched. In that time we’ve had four seasons and a plethora of changes, but none quite as big as Loot Reborn. With more endgame content and changes that go outside the Seasonal Realm, alongside a massive shift to item drops, D4 is heading in a whole new direction ahead of the Vessel of Hatred DLC. While looking to the future, though, we had a chance to chat with the Diablo 4 team at Blizzard during Summer Game Fest about how it feels the game has performed in the last year.

There’s still a lot to look forward to in Diablo 4’s future, but Blizzard is definitely conscious of how past decisions impact the overall RPG experience, and what can be done to learn from them. D4 is ever-changing, and while the Diablo 4 Vessel of Hatred release date is going to bring even more to do, Blizzard has spent the last year listening to player concerns and taking action on them, which has seen vast improvements to many systems.

“We’re constantly talking about refining the game and getting it into a position where the fans are super happy,” game director Brent Gibson says, explaining where Diablo 4 is at right now. “When you launch a game, you’re designing it as a designer, and you’re making a bunch of assumptions. And then once it goes live, some of those assumptions are great. Some of them need to be adjusted.

“Season four is a really great example of that when we saw the opportunity to improve upon the loot system and the team got down to brass tacks, figured out what the best way to do that is, and clearly they’ve nailed it. I think this has been our best season ever.

“There is no season four without season one, and season three,” Gibson continues. “The more time you get, the more clarity you’re going to have. So if people keep playing, we’re going continue to work on it.”

It’s not just mechanics that change across seasons either – the original naming convention for D4’s seasons were changed with Loot Reborn. This was more than just an aesthetic choice. Blizzard wants to make it clearer that it’s listening to feedback.

“We actually even changed their structure of naming because we were doing ‘Season of the Malignant’ and ‘Season of Blood’ or whatever,” Diablo producer and general manager Rod Fergusson adds. “And then, for this one, we were like ‘Season Four: Loot Reborn’, it was different because we wanted to make the message really clear.”

Diablo 4 Loot Reborn was a turning point for the Blizzard ARPG, with the entire loot system revamped among many other changes. The new Tempering system lets you add your own affixes to items, and the new Masterworking mechanic helps you boost the stats on Legendary and Unique items in your builds.

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“To see people embrace the new tempering and masterworking in the way that they can, [it] gives us an endgame we didn’t quite have before,” Fergusson says. “So we have this new cycle that didn’t exist in the previous seasons. That was all learnings from the previous seasons. People talk about like ‘Why didn’t you just ship it like this?’ Well, we have to learn, we have to try things.

“And that’s why we’d like to season them all because they become a little sort of experimental sandbox where we can get to be like, ‘What is this? How does this work? Is this good?’ We’re going to continue to do those.”

You’ll be playing Diablo 4 Vessel of Hatred starting Tuesday October 8, and you can even start getting pets in D4 right now.

This interview is part of PCGamesN’s ongoing coverage of Summer Game Fest, and we’ve got more D4 on the way ahead of the Diablo 4 DLC release date, alongside all the best Diablo 4 builds to keep you stomping your enemies.

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Additional reporting by Lauren Bergin for PCGamesN at Summer Game Fest.