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Diablo 4 Interview - Legendary Items, Classes, Progression, and Becoming Overpowered
Post by KostaAndreadis @ 03:00am 08/12/22 | Comments
We sit down with Blizzard to chat about the deep levels of customisation in Diablo IV and learn that creating an overpowered build is something the team wants all players to experience. Newcomers and veterans alike.


After going hands-on with Diablo IV it’s safe to say that there’s a deep well of customisation and progression systems in the game, all working in tandem in a way that makes the very best action RPGs shine. More in-depth than Diablo III and more complex than a Rune-filled season of Diablo II. And yet there’s still a level of accessibility that makes the early game something that just about anyone could pick up and play and enjoy. The action is fast, and the skills and abilities all feel great to use.

Getting the game to this point has taken several years, with the underlying systems evolving and changing. From before its announcement back at BlizzCon in 2019 through to where development is today.

“The system side, the items, and the progression side of Diablo IV has undergone a lot of iteration over the course of years of development,” Joseph Piepiora, Associate Game Director on Diablo IV tells me. “There are stories about Diablo III where that went through a lot of iteration towards the very end of the development cycle. That’s not all that strange because you continue to discover things about the game as you continue to play it, refine it, experiment with it, and fully understand the systems. You get a real sense of what would make the game feel better. Iteration is a core part of the development process for these games.”

Sanctuary Evolved




Each quarter since its announcement the Diablo IV team has released detailed in-depth updates on the state of the game, delving into areas like itemisation, how Legendary powers work, and the philosophy behind everything from how a weapon looks through to why a certain stat appears on a pair of shiny new pants.


“There are stories about Diablo III where that went through a lot of iteration towards the very end of the development cycle. That’s not all that strange because you continue to discover things about the game as you continue to play it, refine it, experiment with it, and fully understand the systems."



“With Diablo IV we’ve been and are pretty transparent, in terms of blog posts, interviews, and so forth,” Joseph Piepiora says. “Diablo is this tentpole, people have been playing Diablo since they were teenagers or maybe they met their partner playing Diablo II. Many of us on the team have similar stories of all the hours that we've played and spent in Sanctuary across all the different titles, and Diablo IV is a game we're trying to build with the community in mind.”

And with that, the team is keenly aware that to many Diablo is more than just a game they’ll play for a bit before moving on to the next thing. “Diablo is an action RPG and a fantastic game to play, but it’s also a hobby,” Joseph continues. “It goes beyond just playing the game that one time and moving on. As a result, we spend a lot of time thinking about the intention behind the various features and systems, why they're there, what we want them to be and what's the most meaningful expression of these things for the player.”


This means making huge changes and trying new things months or maybe even years down the line, Joseph Piepiora explains, “Early on we had the concept for our Legendary items and weapons but it wasn't until much later that we decided that we liked the idea of being able to extract Legendary powers from items and imbue them into other items. It was something we discovered along the way, that we wanted players to have more flexibility in the way that they approached items. It puts an interesting spin on the idea of collecting different types of weapons and armor pieces, which now can have entirely different purposes.”

The way item stats worked in Diablo IV, and how they impacted combat evolved too. There were fewer attributes early on, and with that even though weapons felt distinct the team felt that they wanted to put an even bigger emphasis on how a dagger would feel different from a sword. Stats weren’t merely added to add numerical and statistical depth, they served a specific design goal. To make each item, each weapon, and each skill, feel distinct and that it served a purpose.

Everyone Loves Creating an Overpowered Demon Slayer




“For people who've been playing Diablo for a while, there's an expectation in terms of the amount of depth associated with the systems that you're able to engage with,” Joseph says. Even though it's set in a dark and gothic world and large demonic bosses can stretch a player’s character to their limit, there’s also a power fantasy sitting at the heart of Diablo. Of a demon slayer with god-like powers emerging over time. As deep and complex as Diablo IV is in terms of its various systems and progression, the engaging action combat experience and accessibility are always front and centre.


"Early on we had the concept for our Legendary items and weapons but it wasn't until much later that we decided that we liked the idea of being able to extract Legendary powers from items and imbue them into other items."



“We recognised that we needed to make sure that we were creating a set of systems that were going to be easy enough for new players to come and engage with and not get overwhelmed by the amount of upfront depth,” Joseph continues. “Stuff that might put players in a position where they don't feel like they want to spend Skill Points, they're worried about making the wrong choice. As you're going through the Skill Tree initially in Diablo IV, a lot of the decisions you make are tied to the skills themselves. Right off the bat if you're playing a Sorcerer you've got Fire Bolt, Frost Bolt, Lightning, and Arc Lash. Simple choices to choose from, and with Fire Bolt, your simple wand attack is now burning enemies. From there when you invest another point in Fire Bolt when you hit a target that's already burning, you get a little bit of Mana back. Instantly you have that general idea of how these mechanics fit together.”


“Of course, it begins to open up the more you progress with passives and the way things intertwine,” Joseph says. “Diablo is a game about making these builds that are really overpowered and it's important that all players are able to engage with that. That's part of the fun.”
Read more about Diablo 4 on the game page - we've got the latest news, screenshots, videos, and more!