Diablo 4: Season 4 Predictions

While there is a lot of excitement building for the upcoming Diablo 4 Season 4, I want to add a healthy dose of skepticism into the mix as I think there will be a fair amount of problems, mostly in the Pit and Uber Uber bosses as well as Diablo 4’s main issue in the form of its general dearth of content. So how do I think this season will play out?

Without question, I think the change in the itemization will be the thing that excites people the most. With people being able to trade unmodified uniques and legendaries, we will also have a nice healthy economy that can grow. As I mentioned previously, the itemization alone practically re-invents the game as all the previous meta builds will be thrown out the window in favor of a plethora of new builds. There will definitely be a journey for ones gear throughout the season; I’m calling these projects simply because they will be works in progress as people seek to perfect the gear. The new system coming will allow for more deterministic advancement in ones gear compared to before and there are several steps to push ones gear:

  • Finding a good starter base (hopefully with Greater Affixes already attached)
  • Finding Recipes for tempering
  • Tempering Affixes that you need (or transient ones)
  • Enchanting bad affixes into those that you need
  • Finding Aspects and upgrading them
  • Modifying the Aspect with the one needed (unless the item already has such a thing)
  • Doing the Pit to get Masterworking materials
  • Masterworking your gear 16 levels once you get close to the ideal form

Parts of this journey will certainly be RNG based. Finding recipes, upgrading Aspects in your Codex and getting materials for upgrading are normal RNG find and forget type of the journey. However, where the RNG gets to be a hassle is Greater Affixes, Tempering success and Enchanting. Tempering and Greater Affixes will be the most difficult parts, although Masterworking will be a matter of grinding higher and higher Pit levels.

Despite this journey, I still feel that Tempering is silly. I get that they obtained the idea from Last Epoch but it’s still RNG based so you can still lose out on a piece of otherwise perfect gear with the limits on what amounts to a different form of Enchanting. Also, the range on Affixes bother me in that Masterworking can help improve the values but only one random one will get a massive boost every 4 levels.

The reason I’m bothered is that it’s still RNG based. I think the fun of making a “build” is creating something ridiculous. When I saw the Frozen Orbit and Dust Devil builds, I thought now that’s what this game really needs. Both got nerfed (mostly for performance reasons) but the basic idea of creating something insane is what makes an ARPG stand out to me. And the way you get there is to have more deterministic upgrades that have almost unlimited progress.

So I think that the journey of creating a build through a season will be novel for at least two weeks in my estimate because the whole system will be new to everyone and more in line with what people probably want out of an ARPG these days. The gearing before this was flat out boring and stupid with nonsensical stats. So they corrected that part quite a bit. And they made gearing more interesting through crafting and finding bases.

But the part that goes hand-in-hand with build making are the end game systems. There’s really going to be two end games here:

  • Uber Uber Bosses
  • The Pit

Obviously, gearing is going to run in parallel with these two activities. However, I have a feeling that a lot of people are going to get really angry at the one shot mechanics. While not exactly one shot, the issue is that you effectively are going to be given an enrage timer, except in the form of a stacking debuff. I’ve never been a fan of this idea and I think it’s going to get eliminated by mid season after the bulk of the player base quit. I understand why it was implemented and it’s something Blizzard simply doesn’t understand in terms of why it doesn’t work. The same mechanic was implemented in the early stages of Diablo 3 but it was eliminated. And it still exists with Raid Bosses in World of Warcraft. I think with WoW it’s not as big of a deal because there’s ways to compensate mostly in the form of carries and easier content levels like LFR. But I can see with the higher Masterworking cost that down the line people will end up getting really frustrated trying to improve their gear and simply hitting an artificial wall.

While a lot of vocal people will initially praise this design, I think once people hit that wall (which in my estimation will come within a week), you’ll see a bad backlash. I’ve seen these end game fights and they’re nothing more than an endurance run. There’s really nothing interesting outside of having monsters have increased hit points, doing more damage which forces players to be more cautious and take more time to beat the bosses. But my argument for these types of encounters is that they’re a waste of time. I think when you design end game content like this where you need to impose scalability you either have to limit the time it takes but increase the difficulty with mechanics or eliminate phases and make it an endurance fight. No one wants both outside of the first few times. It just becomes tedious and feels like a waste of time.

I do think that this season might go for at least two weeks because of the item progression mechanism that will run in parallel to a semi item hunt in the form of finding/collecting really good bases. But where things will die down is the loop. This season does not introduce much outside of some small Iron Wolf content that looks pretty bland. There’s nothing that I saw which are similar to the season areas like the Vampire zone or the Construct areas. There’s no seasonal mechanic that you need to upgrade. Most of the content that we’ll be facing that changes are Helltides. But I predict those will get tiresome fast because we already had Helltides for the longest time.

The Pit itself doesn’t look very compelling to be honest. To me it looks like two levels that you have to clear and kill a higher powered boss for some loot and difficulty progression. But it’s just another form of a dungeon with a randomized layout. So you’re not doing something that much different than a more focused Nightmare Dungeon. And while this activity still is better than the Gauntlet, there’s really nothing compelling besides the notion of going up in difficulty as well as obtaining the crafting materials and some loot at the end.

The Uber Uber bosses again look like just an endurance run. They are difficult in that you’re forced to do the mechanics because there won’t be any known builds that can easily take these bosses out. But as I mentioned, endurance runs are only fun the first few times. Also, summoning these bosses still will require a lot of foot work so you’re not just going to be killing them left and right. However, the real question is what is the real incentive for doing an Uber Uber boss? The only thing is a single, guaranteed Uber Unique Spark. I think farming Duriel might be more reliable for getting the Ubers you really want and I have a feeling more people will be doing those after a while because of how tedious these Uber Uber boss fights will be. I mean, why do a 10 minute fight when you can kill Duriel in a minute? Now, if these Uber Uber boss fights gave guaranteed Uber Unique drops, then there’s a real incentive for doing them. Otherwise, in their current form, they’re a waste of time outside of the first spark.

Now, I imagine that there might be enough to keep double the normal people content. But I think that most people will end up falling off after 2 weeks. Unlike Season 3, outside of the Uber Uber bosses and the Pit at high levels, I don’t think people will complain about the bulk of the changes. There really isn’t a season mechanic like the Vault where it was fucked up right from the beginning that caused most people to quit. And I think most people this coming season will aim not only to hit level 100 but get their Glyphs to level 21 with the ease of leveling Glyphs. That’s just the bare minimal though because the real progression, as I’ve mentioned, will be centered around gear.

If we’re lucky, we’ll see at least a month of content for 50-70% of the player base that might be re-motivated to play. But the game will desperately need a mid-season update. And I will reiterate that they should bring back the Vampire Zones as-is, Vaults and Constructs, especially with the level 200 Uber Bosses. Currently, the developers have said that people aren’t supposed to be beating the level 200 Pits. And I have no problem with that if we’re also given some sort of compensation. If they reintroduce the Vampire Zones, Vampiric powers as-is and Constructs as-is, then I think things will be very interesting (I’m not including the season 1 mechanic because I’m uncertain how that worked). But I say the developers should just permit these things because they’ve created a much higher ceiling for difficulty and I don’t know if the new gearing system will allow players to reach that ceiling at this stage without some boost.

I know there will be people complaining that such an idea would make things “OP”. But here’s the thing. I want more options for the game. I want to make building a character interesting. There should be numerous avenues to create a build that go beyond what we’re getting. The thing is that Diablo 4 already has the content built from the past 3 seasons to make these things Core. People loved the new HQ with Season 3. Why can’t we get that again? Or what about the Vaults? If Blizzard wants to extend the content, they can because they already have what they need to keep people interested. I’d love to re-gear my pet Construct and level up his little abilities or find more blood pacts to apply to my gear. I thought the whole idea of having these systems was to experiment. But what happens when the experiment goes really well and the system in place is very interesting? Or they managed to tune the system so that it’s a nice add on? Why toss it out and just put it like some random coin you’d find on the ground as some useless aspect? Why not just make that Aspect more powerful than the raw power? Then you’d have a real choice to make.

Again, all I want is more content. I want more ways to do things, more ways to build, additional modes of progression, more ways to think of how I can change my game, etc. Also, what are they planning to do with these seasons that pass? Just toss them out? It took 30 seasons before Diablo 3 started to recycle. That’s probably at least 10 years or content. But if they do something cool, what’s the harm in reintroducing it as a core part of the system? They did stuff like that with Diablo 3 with the Altar, Visions, Echoes, etc. It’s made the base game that much better. Heck, I argued that they should just turn on all those seasons features permanently and make seasons a thing that just resets you.

Probably, they looked at Path of Exile and saw problems there. But I think with Path of Exile, they’ve embraced the almost everything going into the Core because it just means more content that people can choose from. That’s why Path of Exile gets such high praise. I think the more Blizzard tries to balance things, the more problems they give themselves. It’s one thing where you hit a button and the screen vaporizes when a character is level 1. But if that character has really pushed the build, got all the best gear, mechanics, etc. then why should that character vaporize a screen? That’s the fun part of a build.

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