Diablo 4 players are angry, and it could've been mitigated pretty easily. Here's how.

Diablo 4
(Image credit: Jennifer Young - Windows Central)

Diablo 4 starts its first ever Season mode on July 20, and the new 'chonky' Patch 1.1 dropped last night after much anticipation, being met with outrage from many of the Diablo community. In fact, Diablo 4 has been review bombed by users to 4.8 on Metacritic

It’s no secret to anyone who casually follows me on social media, or reads my content here at Windows Central, that I’m the resident Diablo fangirl. If you want negative hot takes on Diablo, there are plenty of other corners of the internet to go to for that, but certainly not here as I love this franchise almost as much as my firstborn child.

However, I can’t help but wince at their rationale here as I think much of this controversy could have been avoided or at least quelled, by sticking with the Player Test Realm that we’ve had the benefit of in previous games.

Adam Fletcher update on Twitter in regards to Diablo 4: We have been hearing feedback from players regarding some of the changes in 1.1.0 for #DiabloIV. We are going to have a Campfire Chat later this week on Friday to talk more about it. We will have more details/timing in the next day. Thanks again for the feedback!

Adam Fletcher (Pez Radar) has issued an update on Twitter to let fans know the feedback has been heard loud and clear (Image credit: Twitter)

Before I jump into my thoughts on how Patch 1.1 has been received, it's worth noting that Diablo Community Manager Adam Fletcher has this morning tweeted that the feedback has been heard loud and clear, and there will be an upcoming Campfire Chat discussing the patch on Friday.

While I think the Campfire Chats are incredibly informative and give the community a chance to air their concerns, I do however think that having this after the Season start is closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. A lot of the controversy could have been avoided entirely had we been given the opportunity to test the patch before it went live.

Why are Diablo 4 players unhappy? 

If you want to take a look at the patch, we have covered Patch 1.1 here but without diving into the specifics again, here are the main concerns of the players: 

  • Huge nerfs to both damage and defence - those playing out of season will feel noticeably weaker with the nerfs to most damage and defence types, and those playing in season may only feel as powerful as pre-patch once they have acquired Malignant Hearts. These hearts were supposed to be incredibly powerful buffs, but people are no longer excited as the patch has nerfed the base powers in the game.
  • Lack of additional stash space - The stash is a point of contention, it’s too small to encourage experimentation as you don’t have much room to store items not directly beneficial to your current build. Many players were expecting a fix for this in time for Season 1.
  • The new uniques added to the game have questionable benefits - one such example being the The Oculus, a wand that randomly teleports you to an unknown location when you evade. In a game where positioning and dodging is paramount, why is teleporting uncontrollably an aspect any player would want?

One of my favorite memes going round the Diablosphere right now, implying the Unique is so bad players will just go play another game. (Image credit: Diablo 4 Reddit)
  • The powers obtainable through the Malignant Hearts seem to so far, be underwhelming given that pre-season power has been nerfed. The hearts themselves have varying degrees of power and situational usefelness and so far only a handful of the 32 seem like they will be worthwhile.
  • Attempts to address level scaling could make the XP grind harder - Monster levels have been scaled down so that players can start to feel more powerful sooner in the open world, but this in turn could make power leveling slower and less efficient. 
  • You can no longer enter World Tier 3 before level 50 - or World Tier 4 before level 70, this will affect players in groups at differing levels who will now  have to join their friends in lower tiers for less rewards, and will slow the gearing process to level 70 even more.
  • Sorcerers defence and skills have been disproportionally effected - the class that already struggled with the least armor, has been nerfed more so in their options to protect themselves. Whilst elemental damage buffs on gear have been added, these are not as effective as base armor which the class is crying out for. The most popular aspects for Sorcerers have also been nerfed more so than other classes.

Not actual patch notes, but pretty funny no? (Image credit: Diablo 4 Reddit)

There are numerous other concerns, it's actual hellfire over on Reddit right now so if you want to know more, and laugh at some great memes, definitely head there. In the meantime though, and back to my main point — all of this could have been avoided with a Player Test Realm prior to the Season start, and the lack of one when it has worked so well in previous games is honestly baffling to me. 

What is Player Test Realm (PTR)? 

The PTR is a separate server that runs for around 2 weeks, sometimes more sometimes less, with all the huge patch changes and the Season mechanics live for testing prior to the rollout of Season to all players.

We had a PTR server for both Diablo 2: Resurrected and Diablo 3, and it required a separate drop down button and install on Battle.net to access. The PTRs were an opportunity for the developers to check the stability and balance of the game, and to make adjustments based on the players’ opinions. Sometimes, after a PTR, another patch is issued to address the issues that were raised during the testing period.

Why does Diablo 4 not have a PTR? 

Diablo 4 does not have a PTR server yet, and the reason for this is unknown. Many players were surprised that Season 1 was penned for launch so soon after the game’s release. It seems that Blizzard had already planned Season 1 and wanted to release it without waiting for the players’ feedback. 

This may have been a hasty decision, as many players are unhappy with the changes to their builds and would have preferred to test them on a PTR server first. I will reserve my final judgement until I watch the Campfire Chat and play the new patch myself, but this is all very reminiscent of the controversy over the Hardcore Lilith 4 statue competition. Another topic of controversy for Blizzard that could have avoided backlash by postponing the competition until Season 1, so that all players could participate on equal terms.

Am I still excited for the start of Season 1, Season of the Malignant? Yes, absolutely.

Diablo 4 is a live service game in the baby stage of it's life cycle, and I thoroughly believe that the developers do not intend to make the game less fun with these changes. I'm sure there are clear reasons behind the patch that will be revealed later, and if not, they will listen to feedback. However, I wish they would involve the community in the balance changes from the beginning and bring back the PTR server, instead of just ‘listening’ to us. Let us be part of the process!

Jennifer Young

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. 

  • AnubisDRH
    Thank you for an Honest review.
    I guess they took Nightmare serious in this one. Because they really turned this game into a 100% nightmare to play.
    Drops suck.
    Fun level at an all time low.
    Refusal to listen to the fan base.
    NERF!! Enough Said!
    Rebuilding a character over and over to counter their nerfs is just simply too much.

    I have more fun going to work. And for the record, I HATE MY JOB!!!!