Diablo 4: Patch Notes for Season 4

Patch notes for Season 4 went up yesterday. I didn’t go through every single note but I did examine the nerfs and some changes. I do have some comments on a few of the key changes but also have other thoughts after digesting what I experienced on the PTR. So let me go through a few of these here.

The thing I’ve been pondering the most is the idea of Tempering. I really like the basic idea where you have a recipe and can craft an affix onto a piece of gear. This part is a huge win in the Diablo 4 realm. However, I still dislike the RNG aspect where you’re limited to the number of times you can re-craft that affix before it “bricks” the item. Given that seasons are planned for 3 months, I think that part of the journey of the season is your gear. Because of that, I’m not a fan of “bricking” items based on having an arbitrary number of rolls. That part makes little sense to me, even though I understand the intent here.

I do like the idea of finding recipes that give you classes of affixes that you can upgrade from but I want the choice to be as deterministic as possible. Also, I think that a person should be allowed to improve on those affixes numbers similar to how Aspects are changing. So the RNG aspect will still exist based on both finding the recipes and a way of improving on the numbers but you won’t have to brick items anymore. Also, part of the RNG that will exist in this version focuses more on the base item. That will be more of the starting point especially since Greater Affixes won’t be Tempered.

Masterworking not failing is going to be a huge win. RNG failures should be minimized or outright eliminated. You’re already dealing with content that is a blocker to improve items (The Pit) and I think most people will end up struggling just getting through those. So having the RNG failures for no good reason on top of a gate to find the items to improve your gear already is nonsense.

Now, I’m focusing on this piece because I read how one of the major Diablo streamers blew his top over this announcement. And before I go on my review of the patch notes, I want to address this particular streamer and what he felt removing the RNG failure being bad for the game implies. So the issue with streamers is that they need to prolong their content to keep viewers. Streamers that are associated with a specific game are in the worst situation because they really have no choice in this manner. Either they stream the content that gets them the viewers, or they lose out on money. I think that part is crystal clear.

The problem is that artificially prolonging content based on stupid mechanics hurts the game itself. Outside of this one streamer, I haven’t heard anyone else saying that removing the failure for Masterworking would be a bad thing. No one enjoys wasting time and effort meaninglessly. The only clear benefit bad RNG has for a streamer (besides prolonging content) is the hope of ridicule. Because if a streamer fails, the community can send donations to supposedly make the streamer feel bad. It’s actually the opposite case for very blatant reasons. Streamers heavily associated to a game need to live within the game itself because without it, they have no real existence. But that’s their plight which again is why I argue that companies putting their hopes on streamers and the most vocal community members actually end up shooting themselves in the foot because of the subversive nature of streaming (and let’s face it; most streamers are a bunch of deadbeat leeches. Do you really want to encourage a section of society to be a bunch of parasites?)

Someone did point out that failure in Masterworking really belongs to a game like Lost Ark. To be fair, that’s actually an accurate assessment, even though I disagree with the spirit of the statement. The difference between Lost Ark’s Honing mechanism and Masterworking though is that Lost Ark ties Honing failures to micro transactions. So there is a (monetary) incentive for Lost Ark to have failure, even though ethically it’s wrong. Masterworking can be looked at as a form content gating but there’s no clear reason why you would need multiple avenues, especially frustrating ones that lead to burn out.

Now, the streamer in question probably is burnt out. I’ve seen him. He slouches in a chair, looks heavier than when I first saw him and appears miserable all the time. Personally, I think he enjoys being miserable based on his attitude. But he is not the game. In fact, I don’t even consider him that good of a gamer. He just puts in more hours. But that’s not a true representative of the game.

Moving on….I’m going to focus on key changes that stuck out for me since the PTR (excluding bugs).

  • The Minimum levels required to equip Sacred and Ancestral items has been reduced. – This is a great thing because it means we can gear out twinks down the road. Also, having these adjustments means that getting between WT3 and WT4 especially the Capstone Dungeons will be much easier.
    • Sacred: 35
    • Ancestral: 55
  • Cooldown Reduction is now capped at 75%. – Supposedly, you can still exceed this amount via the Paragon system. But the developers should really look at how ineffective Cooldown abilities are in the first place or make them reasonably short so that people aren’t going for insane cooldown reduction values instead. Anything beyond 30 seconds in my book is idiotic.
  • The Maximum Evade Charges affix has been increased from 2 to 3.
  • The Attacks Reduce Evade’s Cooldown affix has been increased from .8 to 1.5 seconds.
  • The Evade Grants Movement speed affix has been increased from 50% to 125%. – I assume that with the way the Pit system and uber-uber bosses will work, we will need more natural Evasion, especially a class like Necromancer who doesn’t have a normal movement speed boost (well, they will with the adjusted Blood Mist but that’s sort of besides the point)
  • Single element resistance on Rings has been increased from 8% to 10%.
  • All Resistance from Amulets has been increased from 19% to 25%. – Generally, a good change. Someone in DatModz’s chat said that implicit resists won’t improve anymore because of the lack of crafting (besides Masterworking, which won’t affect these) so these changes are going to be critical to help cap resists.
  • The maximum number of Dust Devils that can be active at once is now 15. Dust Devils now move more quickly and dissipate sooner. – Everyone knew this needed to change. But I hope that there’s some damage compensation to make up for this change.
  • Druid Wolves:
    • Health increased by 200%.
    • Respawn reduced from 10 seconds to 5 seconds.
    • I can see the above changes helping a lot but I’m hoping that the survival aspect for wolves improves even with the health change. I still think they need additional work because they just seem so weak compared to Necromancer minions, especially because there isn’t much in terms of paragon points to augment a druid’s minions.
  • Waxing Gibbous
    • Life On Kill replaced with Spirit On Kill. – I still won’t use this item. Part of the problem is fitting an item like this into any existing Druid build. But my solution for items/aspects has been to replicate what Rogues get in allowing for a two hander and dual wield for Druids, Sorcerers and Necromancers.
  • Bone Mages
    • Now – Bone Mages now cast Bone Splinters or Bone Spear every 6th attack if it is on your Action bar. – Some people are calling this a massive nerf to Bone Mages. It’s weird because Shadow Mages still have every 3rd (which was the buff). I’m not sure what can boost the chance or if that will come in the form of an affix. But I’m guessing that they want Bone Mages in line with Shadow Mages.
  • Dominate Glyph
    • Bonus Overpower Damage per 5 Willpower reduced from 39.9% to 14.9% at Glyph level 21.* – I’m guessing that this is just more nerfs to Overpower especially Hammer of the Ancients barbarians. But then again most people will end up playing some form of Dust Devil build since that’s the featured build from the PTR that got boosted.
  • Concealment / Rogues
    • There’s a bunch of stuff that seems to have been nerfed from the PTR namely the Concealment/Smoke Grenade build. But I read that it was annihilating in PVP areas where players would be invulnerable. That said, balancing around PVP is flat out stupid and hopefully that’s not the exclusive reason for these changes.
  • Ice Armor
    • While Ice Armor is active, you reduce its Cooldown by 1 2 seconds for every 50 Mana you spend. – I think they fucked Ice Armor up a patch or two ago where Sorcerers were getting too much invulnerable uptime. But then again they’re so squishy that you need some form of damage mitigation. Personally, I think once people start to push higher level Pits and the one shots creep up, people will complain about the high damage output and a lot of those mechanics are going to end up getting nerfed. Mark my words.
  • Fixed an issue where Trade Chat could still be entered even when it was disabled in the settings. – This feels like an annoying bug that I may have inadvertently encountered a few times. But I never want to participate in trade chat so this is just a weird one to me.
  • Fixed an issue where Vampiric Pacts from the Season of Blood could still drop in certain instances. – I really hope that these developers come to their senses and re-enable the S2 and S3. The seasonal content for S4 itself is pretty bland, even though it’s obvious that the developers spent most of their time fixing a broken item system. But I’ve been saying that there needs to be more variety of content beyond Helltides, Nightmare Dungeons and The Pit. I know the end game is going to be perfecting ones gear but even that will get boring and have a ceiling. So getting back stuff from S2 and S3 will not only provide a nice boost in power but offer more content that players who have missed the previous season can still enjoy without the developers needing to revamp much. Yes, the Vampiric Aspects should stay but I’d still like to see old mechanics return that were deemed good.

Right now, I’ve got to be honest and say that I’m not exactly excited for the actual season itself. If I really wanted to push a character, I might as well try to use an existing Eternal Realm character. Because I actually enjoy the leveling process, I will end up playing a seasonal character but not for the seasonal content. I do hope that there is a mid season update that brings in previous seasons’ content. I have a feeling that at some point people will end up burning out on doing The Pit. Outside of the Resplendent Spark, I don’t really see a great reason for doing the uber-uber bosses and uber Lilith more than once. Maybe as a challenge thing but those fights just seem long and boring for no good reason.

The Pit itself will end up becoming frustrating. I think that the hopes in making progression strictly through gear is still a bad idea. The difference is that there’s a little more determinism compared to previously. But you’re still being put into the same hamster wheel, which is why I argue at that getting the Vampire Powers and Construct back will stimulate people to a degree as well as add just more content to the base game. Even if they nerf some of those powers, I still would prefer that state than having no content.

While I am excited overall for the base game changes, I still think the above issues with the impending content drought need to be addressed at some point.

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