Diablo IV just got its latest quarterly update on December 20, 2021. This update marks the last update for the year and brings upon more meat than the previous update which focused mainly on the sound design of Diablo IV.
Diablo 4’s Quarterly Update Focuses on Legendary Items and More
Today, we talk about the legendary items in Diablo IV
- Genre: ARPG, Hack and Slash
- Developed by: Blizzard Entertainment
- Published by: Activision Blizzard
- Release date: Unannounced
- Platforms: Windows, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S (Unconfirmed)
Legendary Items, Powers and Hunting for them
What would a Diablo game be without epic loot? It is always a challenge to create a meaningful itemization system that feels both rewarding and challenging at the same time. Lead System Designer Joe Piepiora walks us through the latest updates on the return of a beloved skill affix, how Legendary Items and Legendary Powers will work and how you’ll intend to farm these.
+Skill Rank Affixes
Diablo II (and other ARPGs such as Grim Dawn) made heavy use of items that added levels to certain skills. For example, in Diablo II you could invest a total of 20 points into a specific skill, but if you had an item that added levels to that, you could go beyond this maximum. You’d then be rewarded with an ability much stronger than what would be normally possible.
This item affix was missing in Diablo III, as the game moved away from character progression and focused more on items. You did not level up skills in D3, as you earned them automatically. Diablo IV is bringing back the +Skill Rank affix into the loot table, and thus should be something worth farming for to maximize the potential of your abilities. You will be able to try out a skill if an item grants it to you even if you do not have it learned.
Legendary and Unique Items
It was previously announced in the December 2020 update that Legendary Powers would no longer be bound to a specific item. What that means in this example, the passive affix “Pent-Up” in the Axe weapon below can also appear on a piece of Glowing Essence.
The question now becomes – what happens if you loot a legendary item that is inferior to what you are using, but you still want the legendary power? Introducing the Occultist, a new NPC that can extract the legendary power and imbue it onto another item.
This is probably because the team is re-introducing Unique items into the game, and so that the two types will have a sort of differentiation between them. Unique items cannot be imbued by essences extracted by the Occultist, to preserve their “uniqueness”.
Diablo III’s item farming didn’t make too much sense. All items were dropped seemingly at random, save for a few pieces that dropped off specific bosses (Like the Broken Crown drops off the Skeleton King).
The Diablo IV team is trying to make more sense of item drops. The example given was that bandit type enemies are fond of Maces, Crossbows and Boots and thereby will have a greater chance of dropping those types of items.
This system can be quite interesting to see how the team categorizes what item types to match with what monsters. At the very least, this might help players be able to farm specific unique and legendary items by focusing on a certain monster or boss just like in Diablo II.
The Diablo IV Paragon Board
Blizzard has heard fan feedback on the systems implemented in Diablo III. Fans want more impact in the choices they make whenever their character levels up. Items should make less of an impact on the overall strength of a character. The Reaper of Souls expansion for D3 introduced the Paragon System wherein players could add some minor stat boosts as their character gained experience past max level. While this did improve player agency when their heroes gained in power, it was not the same feeling as levelling up in D2 where you would be able to finely tweak stat and skill points.
The solution is the Paragon Board, an endgame system that will allow players to fully customize their character progression. The implementation looks like a game board, full of tiles, pathways and gates. You initially start off with just one board but can add more later on.
The Tiles System
Your character will always start out in the centre of the board and will earn points to branch out whenever they gain enough experience points. They travel through tiles that give your character certain perks and other passives. There are currently 4 tiles being planned: Normal, Magic, Rare and Legendary Tiles.
Of course, Normal Tiles give the least amount of impact – small stat boosts here and there. As you go farther from the centre, you gain access to Rare tiles which grant larger spikes to hero power. Legendary Tiles are extremely powerful and can be build-defining boons. Only one Legendary Tile can exist on a board.
Glyphs and Sockets
Special tiles exist on the Paragon Board called Sockets. These can be filled up using Glyphs, items farmed out in the world of Sanctuary. Glyphs are unique in the sense that their effects can also be further enhanced by activating any nearby tiles. Lastly, Glyphs can also be levelled up, furthering the boons granted by them.
Gates and Board Selection
As mentioned earlier, you will be able to add more Paragon Boards to your character’s progression as time goes on. At the far edges of each board lie what’s called a Gate Tile. When you unlock tiles that lead up to a Gate Tile, you will be able to select and attach another Paragon Board to that gate, thereby linking your existing board and gaining a new slew of options to invest in.
It isn’t clear right now how many Boards can be placed, or what other kinds of Tiles there will be.
Diablo IV’s Visual Effects
Lastly, Visual Effects Artist Daniel Briggs walked us through the new updates that his team is bringing to the look of the game. The updates look extremely good, and combat looks so much more visceral and meaty because of this.
The basics such as animation polishing and lighting effects are well implemented and look gorgeous. One interesting addition is that players can now get dirty and bathed in blood after fighting (much like in Dragon Age and Baldur’s Gate 3). Monsters are also being assigned muscle and skeletal systems. However, the meat of this update should be focused on Dynamic Player Skills and Skill Driven Deaths.
In most ARPGs, whenever you take a skill it will look the same from the first time you use it to the last time. A fireball will always look like the same fireball. Briggs’ team is working on dynamic visuals for each and every skill in the game.
The Sorceress’ Frost Nova starts out small with very little to no impact from the skill. As you level it up, gain modifiers or use equip certain Glyphs, the skill gets stronger not only in terms of damage numbers but in visuals as well.
Similarly, the Barbarian’s Death Blow starts out small (but still painful looking) and eventually becomes a strike that really looks like a Death Blow.
Dynamic Monster Deaths
Of course Diablo is always about slaying monsters, and making this process as satisfying as possible can make or break the game. Thankfully, we seem to be in good hands with Briggs’ team.
Monsters can be slain in many different ways, magic, might, or a mix of the two. Monsters will now perish in different ways depending on the skill that killed them.
Of course, Sorceresses can burn enemies to a singe, freeze and shatter their corpses, or electrify them like there’s no tomorrow. But now a Barbarian with a mace will now slay differently than one with a greatsword. The mace-wielding Barbarian will now flatten his enemies with all the might of his weapon. He can crush them to a meaty paste. A sword-wielder on the other hand, can cut his foes in half, or decapitate them – something a mace cannot do.
Other nice examples are Rogues, pelting enemies with arrows, poisoning their foes and melting their skin off, or eviscerating them, and cutting them up into many tiny pieces. Druids can bludgeon their foes with the earth, turning them into roadkill. They can even have their summons take a bite, devouring monsters and leaving nothing but bone.
Well, that was quite a large update! We cannot wait to hear what the Diablo IV team will come up next in 2022’s first Quarterly Update. Want to see how the game has been evolving? Be sure to check out our Quarterly Update for October 2021 and June 2021. In the meantime you can drop by our Diablo IV wiki.
Want more news? Be sure to check out King Arthur: Knight’s Tale – December Update (PvP, Balancing, & More) and Expeditions Rome New Trailer Showcases Turn-based Combat Mechanics
Leave a Reply