Monday 5 June 2023

Diablo 4 First Major Patch: All About Class Balance

Just two days before the full release of Diablo 4, the highly-anticipated game has received its first major patch, which is primarily focused on balancing the five starting classes​1​. This comes after the early access launch for individuals who paid for early access benefits.

The patch, announced on Blizzard's forums by community manager PezRadar, was launched after a few hours of the announcement. A warning was provided for those playing in hardcore mode regarding the changes that the patch would bring​.

Patch Details: Nerfs and Buffs

According to the patch notes, there have been some nerfs for the Barbarians, Rogues, and Sorcerers, while Druids and Necromancers have received buffs​​.

One of the most notable changes is the Barbarians' "Challenging Shout" which had its damage reduction per skill rank halved. Rogues' "Dark Shroud" damage reduction per shadow per skill rank was also halved, and sorcerers lost two seconds off of "Shimmering Teleport's" damage reduction. The notable Barbarian item "Gohr's Devastating Grips" was significantly nerfed: Its Whirlwind explosion damage gained was reduced from 50-70% down to 16-26%. Meanwhile, 15 out of 16 tweaks to Necromancers were buffs, which increased their power​​.

Druids also saw a few changes. The "Pulverize" skill had its Lucky Hit Chance reduced from 33% to 25%, but "Lightning Storm" had its damage increased from 32% to 40%. The skill "Grizzly Rage" saw its maximum extended duration from kills reduced from 10 to 5 seconds​​.

Rationale Behind the Changes

Blizzard explained the reasoning behind the patch, stating that while they want players to both feel and be truly powerful, some class builds and synergies were outside of their bounds for what is reasonable for the health of the game, so they reduced their effectiveness. Blizzard is aiming to avoid creating situations where players can survive unreasonably high amounts of damage for long periods of time because it would greatly distort their vision for how combat should be in Diablo IV​​.

Community Response

The community's response to this patch has been mixed. Some players on Twitter noted that Blizzard is likely to repeatedly break and fix classes, while others asked if the game is worth the price, considering these changes. There was also a response from a beta tester who expressed frustration, stating that they had brought up concerns during the beta testing period. However, some players praised Diablo 4's endgame and progression design, indicating that it is hard to stop playing the game despite the tweaks​​.

Future Expectations

Given the nature of live service games, balance changes and tweaks are to be expected. However, some players express hope that the pace of balance updates in Diablo 4 won't be as rapid as it has been, as it can be tiresome to have the character's abilities altered every time they log into the game​​.

In conclusion, this major patch indicates Blizzard's commitment to ensuring class balance in Diablo 4. It will be interesting to see how these changes impact gameplay and player satisfaction once the game is fully released. As Diablo 4 continues to evolve, players can expect more updates as Blizzard continues to refine and balance the game.

On Bugs

The patch also addressed a few bugs, one of which was amusingly described: "Fixed an issue where if a Sorcerer uses Deep Freeze and is affected by another effect that would freeze them, it caused them to be permanently stunned"​​.

Paragon Glyphs

In addition to class balance, another area of focus in the patch was the Paragon Glyphs. Blizzard noted that these were currently providing too much player power, and hence they decided to reduce their overall effectiveness​​.

The Road Ahead

Blizzard's ideal is that class balance is a journey, not a destination. They aim to make more class builds fun, powerful, and competitive within reason. They hope to keep improving the classes and create a better balanced and enjoyable experience across the board​​.

The feedback from the players will be crucial in shaping the future updates. The first major patch for Diablo 4 has certainly stirred up discussions in the community, and it will be interesting to see how the game evolves in response to player feedback and the developer's vision for balance and enjoyable gameplay.

Overall, while some players might find frequent updates and balance changes tiresome, others appreciate the commitment to keep the game balanced and fun. As Diablo 4 continues to develop and evolve, it's expected that future patches will continue to refine and improve the game, keeping players engaged and challenged.