Diablo IV learns big lessons from previous Diablo games, including how the game approaches legendary items and the endgame Paragon progression system.
In a recent GameSpot interview, game director Joe Shely and Diablo franchise general manager Rod Fergusson laid out the lessons Diablo IV draws from previous entries in the series. A big one, aside from the overall dark tone and appearance of Diablo IV compared to Diablo III, is how it handles Legendary items.
Shely said the ability to extract powers from Legendary items (previously announced in a Diablo IV quarterly update) and place them in other items “provides the ability to customize your gear.” Fergusson echoed that sentiment.
“That transformed the game,” said Fergusson. “This is true. We don’t talk about that enough. In previous games, you picked up a shield with this thing that would make something like, ‘Can summon two more skeleton mages.’ And you think, ‘Oh, I have to keep this… My build needs those two extra mages.’ “And eventually your level would surpass it, and I don’t want to give up the shield. I’m going to carry this shield, even if it’s weak, because I want this ability.”
That’s not the case in Diablo IV, where players can move Legendary powers through an NPC called the Occultist once an item with better stats is discovered. Players can also turn rare items into legendary items.
“And so that idea of sticking to your build and really customizing your character by using Legendary powers, taking them out of one thing and integrating them into another fundamentally changes the build system,” Fergusson said.
The ability to extract legendary powers and place them in new items is present in the recently released Diablo Immortal, giving fans an idea of how the system might play in Diablo IV. Blizzard added a system to Diablo III in 2015 where players could extract and then equip up to three Legendary Powers using the Kanai’s Cube, but the powers themselves could not be transferred to other items.
Another big change for Diablo IV is the Paragon system. Unlike Diablo III’s Paragon system, which can be leveled almost infinitely, Diablo IV’s Paragon Board system, according to Shely, will have 100 levels. Instead of simply increasing the stats with each Paragon point, as in Diablo III, players will have to make bigger decisions in the endgame of Diablo IV about how to develop their character. Certain tiles on the Paragon board can benefit some skills over others, meaning that even if two players are playing the same class, the skills and bonuses they’ve selected on their Paragon boards can be vastly different.
“Each of those squares can be plus five strength or some other ability or something that improves your skills,” Fergusson said. “And so you can snap these different boards together and make your own way. That’s one of the things we really like about Diablo IV. Even if Joe and I were both making a Barbarian, and even if we were both wanted to be Whirlwind Barbarians as an example, we can still have completely different builds.”
Having lost its previous director in 2021 following several lawsuits and investigations alleging a “frat boy” work culture at Activision Blizzard, Diablo IV will launch in 2023 and support cross-play and cross-progression between PC and consoles. Blizzard recently revealed new details about Diablo IV’s fifth and final launch class, the Necromancer.
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