What you need to know
- Blizzard held their first Campfire Chat for Diablo 4, a community focussed livestream where the developers answered questions and gave updates on improvements coming to the game.
- Gem storage is coming, and server disconnects causing Hardcore deaths were addressed.
- There have been 11 hotfixes since the launch of Diablo 4, but we can expect one real 'big patch' prior to the launch of Season 1.
The communication in the lead up to the launch of Diablo 4 has been impressive with regular Developer live streams, and now we finally have the game Blizzard are going to continue the lines of communication by bringing back Campfire Chats, their community focused Q&A with fans on current issues and future plans for the game.
The panel, consisting of Rod Fergusson (GM of Diablo), Joe Shely (Game Director), Tiffany Wat (Associate Production Director) and Adam Fletcher (Associate Director of Community aka PezRadar) sat down to discuss all of the issues fans have been enquiring about on the Blizzard forums, social media and Reddit.
Whilst the launch of Diablo 4 was relatively smooth, thanks in no small part to having two previous Betas and a Server Slam weekend, there have of course been intermittent server issues that have lead to some untimely deaths of hardcore characters. Playing hardcore results in permadeath of your character and having to start all over again, and whilst playing in this mode comes with an acceptable risk of death from game lag amongst other bugs, server disconnects haven't gone down well with the hardcore community owing to the lack of offline servers to mitigate the risk. The option of offline play was available in previous games, so some people are frustrated that the always online element of Diablo 4 can lead to unavoidable issues with server stability.
The team acknowledged the issue and even that they've watched some of the more painful clips online, most notably of Quin69 recently dying after 172 hours of progress.
This is obviously not an intended result of disconnecting, and is a bug that they are investigating. An overall fix is coming though in the form of a Scroll of Escape. This item already exists as a rare drop in the game for hardcore players to escape boss fights to safety and can be equipped to the action wheel.
Disconnect protection will be added to this, in that the game will recognise you have been disconnected unfairly and trigger the scroll in your inventory if you have one equipped. Joe Shely was quick to emphasise that this was not a solution to be abused by players pulling the power when they feel they are in a sticky situation, but there will be checks in place to see if the disconnect was a server fault.
Smooth launch and Season 1 incoming
As already mentioned, the launch of Diablo 4 went incredibly well, with barely any queues and most players were in and playing within a couple of minutes of loading the game. No mean feat! Fergusson announced that Diablo 4 has just crossed 350 million of hours of play, but this is just the beginning of their journey. Plans are already moving forward at pace on Seasons and expansions for the game. Season 1 is currently set for mid to late July.
Later in the chat, Shely also revealed that while those of us deep into the endgame are giving feedback about changes we'd like to see, there are a significant majority of players who have not yet finished the campaign.
Expect a big patch soon
Hotfixes were discussed and how these work within a service game like Diablo 4, there are issues and bugs that can be fixed ad-hoc if they are related to server code or server data with a relatively quick turnaround. Hotfixes can be rolled out seamlessly and not interrupt the gameplay of the playerbase. Client fixes need to be implemented following the player logging out, and these will download in the background before entering the game.
There are fixes that are coming that need to go through further QA and we can expect a 'bigger patch' to arrive at least before Season 1. Fergusson wanted to mention this to make the community aware they see the feedback and are listening, but not everything can be implemented with a hotfix.
Nerfing = bad
Fergusson and the team emphasised that as class balances are rolled out, while they are aware that nerfs are not well received they are unfortunately necessary to keep each class on an even keel.
It's a well known fact that players prefer buffs to other characters rather than nerfs to overpowered skills, and the team know this but it's not as sumple for them as buffing other classes as it can often lead to other balance issues with complimentary skills that they cannot forsee. There's a lot more volume involved in buffing the other 4 classes than there would be in nerfing the one that is causing issues.
It's also not an intention of the game for players to spend their time farming XP and loot in one place, they want exploration all over the map and this is why fixes to buffed areas for monster density happen.
Nightmare dungeon changes
Nightmare dungeons are explicitly designed to be highly replayable with sigil aspects, different dungeon availability, different monsters. Because of this, they want to increase the experience (and rewards?) of NM dungeons so they are more efficient and take advantage of the replayability. They also recognize that travel time to NM dungeons is a significant factor to efficiency, and they will change sigils so that on use, they will create a portal to the NM dungeon. (Targeting before season 1).
Nightmare dungeons are designed with replayability in mind, whether that be through Sigil affixes, the dungeon variety itself or the monster spawns inside of those dungeons. The developers want these to be a great place to farm, so they will be increasing the amount of XP you will get from farming these, and also making the travel time to them more efficient.
Players who like to earn their XP and rewards in the most efficient way possible will also be calculating the amount of time it takes to travel to these dungeons, so to remove that from the equation we will soon be able to travel to the dungeon directly upon using the Sigil. Using the Sigil will create a portal to get there rather than going on your mount. Implementation of this change is pencilled for prior to the start of Season 1.
Map discovery and Altars of Lilith
Those who have played Diablo games before will already be familiar with the seasonal reset that takes place at the start of each season, with everyone starting from scratch again players are wondering if this will also mean map discovery and redoing Altars of Lilith. Whilst building a new character is fun, these discovery elements are not so much fun doing on repeat.
This feedback has been received and Fergusson confirmed that they are still deciding how best to implement the reset with these elements, at the moment the map discovery in the Eternal Realm will carry over to the Season play. The capital city waypoints will be visible, but greyed out as they still want you to earn Renown by claiming them.
The Altars of Lilith will also carry over, you won't need to discover these again for the stat boosts and increased Obol capacity. The renown you would have earned from these discoveries will be preloaded at the start of the Season.
Gem and inventory management woes
Gems clutter the inventory, while you can put them in your stash for safekeeping its easy to end up with a full inventory again when dungeon clearing or doing Hell Tides. The community, me included, have cried out for a gem tab. The team have heard us and a gem storage bag is coming and will be part of the materials tabs. This change is targeted for Season 2.
I feel like the lack of gem pouch is so glaringly intentional that its going to be a Battlepass thing or Season reward. Calling it now. #DiabloIV pic.twitter.com/k8s9YoeUtZJune 4, 2023
Caps on crafting materials are also going to be increased, and there is no particular reason to cap these. This change is coming prior to Season 1 in the "big patch".
Recognizing that resistances aren't clear or aren't as valuable at the moment. The resistance system has a lot of inputs, and there are goals they want to accomplish in regards to this with increased world tiers. Resistances aren't as valuable as they would like, and that the drop off on resistances in higher World Tiers is a bit more than they intend. They want to make changes around this. (Targeting season 2)
Why do some changes take so long when they have been implemented in previous games?
There are certain quality of life features, that were present in Diablo 3 that have not been carried over to Diablo 4. The team were asked the reason for this?
It's easy to make comparisons but Diablo 3 was also not perfect on release, and went through 10 years of changes and patches and development. Diablo 4 is it's own beast and will make it's own advances. A lot of the changes the community have asked for are already noted and will come in time, but it's important to roll these things out at a slow pace. It's also not their intention for Seasons and patches to purely focus on quality of life and balance changes, they want new content to enjoy too and it's about balancing these needs and wants over multiple updates.
- Why are my caches higher level than me? This is a bug. Soon you'll be able to open them. The gear may still be a higher level, though. (Targeting before season 1 "planned patch")
- Sometimes item level is focused on too much by players, but power level of the item is the number that should be focused on, especially in the early levels when you may be level 25 and seeing level 18 items dropped. There is a loose correlation between the two, but it is not as impactful as people might think.
- There are some bugs where Barbarian uniques that are meant to be only dropped for barbarians are sometimes dropping for druids. (Targeted with a future hotfix)
- Team is looking at more social issues in the future, but that will take time (like group finders). The foresee social features being expanded and improved upon greatly over time.
- Graphics issue are being heavily investigated by the graphics team and there are already some fixes in the works. If you experience these issues, share them on the official forums, and give as much information as you can when you do. Some issues that might appear as a performance issues might be network issues. Also, ensure you're using the appropriate settings for your hardware.
Q: Can we teleport to people without going to town first?
A: They're carefully reviewing this, but no plans to change the current system at the moment
Q: Are you guys planning to buff any kind of resource generation via from passive or gear
A: They have a variety of buffs coming in a future patch. Builds, including builds with resource issues should keep an eye out. However, they want to make sure that resource generation doesn't invalidate resource costs in all scenarios
Q: Are you planning to keep the quarterly updates style for upcoming expansions, systems and such?
A: There will still be a lot of developer update livestreams (the next developer livestream will be about Season 1). Rob, at least, likes streaming more than doing blog
Q: Will we get more options to change our characters appearance in the game?
A: There are some options for recustomizing through the character in the wardrobe. That is something that will likely change later down the road. More options overall will come during character creation sooner
Q: Are you going to add a completed side quests tab to the journal?
A: They want to improve how things can be tracked through the UI over time that allow you to review what you've done? Not very specific
Q: Are there planned QoL improvements like search functions in the stash or for specific dungeons?
A: These are features that will be looked at and QoL features will be added season by season
Q: Can you just reclear something you said earlier? So we can keep all skill points, potion charges, max obols, and paragon points from renown in seasons?
A: You will start with renown related to your altar and map completion that carries over. However, the renown rewards are not carried over. Full completion of altars and map will unlock the first 2 tiers in each zone
That was it for our first Campfire chat! It's great to see exactly how on the ball the Diablo 4 team are when it comes to listening to the community, and during the chat they mentioned multiple times how they check all the forums and even watch gameplay on Youtube. They are listening and learning, and even made light of the 'questions being from real people'.
We can't wait for our first ever 'big patch' notes!
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Jen is a News Writer for Windows Central, focused on all things gaming and Microsoft. Anything slaying monsters with magical weapons will get a thumbs up such as Dark Souls, Dragon Age, Diablo, and Monster Hunter. When not playing games, she'll be watching a horror or trash reality TV show, she hasn't decided which of those categories the Kardashians fit into. You can follow Jen on Twitter @Jenbox360 for more Diablo fangirling and general moaning about British weather.