Diablo 4 Season of the Construct brings new uniques, balance changes to classe — and yes you can pet your iddy biddy murderizing robot

Diablo 4 season of the construct
(Image credit: Blizzard)

What you need to know

  • Diablo 4's third season,  Season of the Construct will start on January 23.
  • Today developers held a livestream to discuss the upcoming season activities and quality of life updates.
  • The Gauntlet leaderboards will not launch with the season start and instead be added later.
  • Class balance changes are rolling out with full patch notes releasing tomorrow.
  • YES YOU CAN PET THE CONSTRUCT.

On January 16 we got a huge drop of information about the upcoming third season in Diablo 4, 'Season of the Construct'. Today Madeleine James (Game Quest Designer) and Daniel Tanguay (Game Design Manager) sat down with Adam Fletcher (Community Development Director) and later Adam Jackson (Lead Class Designer) to discuss all the ins and outs of the seasonal activities, address quality-of-life updates we can expect to see and more.   

Season of the Construct arrives January 23 

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"Nothing good happens below the sands of Kehjistan so that's where we are headed" started Tanguay as he started to discuss the new seasonal theme and story quest. Season of the Construct brings robot Seneschal Companion, Vault dungeons and Arcane Tremors as an overworld activity.

The Loom, an ancient technology—designed by Zoltun Kulle and Ayuzhan of Caldeum—has been taken over by the demon Malphas who is twisting the Loom for his own cruel purposes. Zoltun’s former companion Ayuzhan will lead you through the treacherous Vault dungeons, to stop Malphas and his deadly constructs from overtaking Sanctuary. Malphus will appear as a fight and later as an Uber version for us to battle.

The questline will commence in Gea Kul, where the villagers are being influenced by Malphus' corruption. You will be led to the vaults to meet Ayuzhan and free him from captivity. Your reward? A Seneschal Companion of your own to modify and take into battle.

The Gatehall, a town center underneath Kehjistan will be our main base of operations and player hub for seasonal activities with all the vendors we need to help with our seasonal journey. Akin to the other main towns or Tree of Whispers waypoint.

Yes, we can pet the Seneschal Construct

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You'll be delighted to know that we can pet our new companion, phew. More importantly, though, we'll be able to augment them with governing stones and tuning stones.

Governing stones will drop from in-game activities and also be craftable. Tanguay guided us through an example of customizing his companion with arcane support, lightning bolts and crowd control skills. Tuning stones add even more utility in applying status effects like bleed, chill, vulnerable and more. Additional Stones of the same type can be used to upgrade socketed Stones.

The Seneschal will also scale one-to-one with character progression to feel like an extension of the player.

Vaults will be a new dungeon type full of hazards and traps

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Malphas has harnessed the power of Zoltan Kulle's Loom to corrupt the vast network of Vaults lying dormant. Originally built to keep out any demonic influence, the various Hazards implemented now protect the forces of evil they once kept at bay. Madeleine James says the vaults will be dungeons full of hazards like "spinning fires of death, floor plates that come alive, arrows shooting from the walls and construct enemies". Because these dungeons will be so hazardous the developers want them to be worth completing, with a great balance of risk and reward.

Dungeons will end in a "death room" where you'll need to survive a multitude of horrors and hazards to reap the rewards. Upon entering the Vault— you'll need to find a statue of Zoltan Kulle and offer it your Pearls of Warding to receive Zoltan's blessing, this grants access to riches within the Vaults. Zoltun’s Warding diminishes stack by stack if you manage to fall prey to the various Hazards scattered throughout the Vaults.

If you manage to keep Zoltun’s Warding intact after defeating the Vault Boss, you’ll unlock a Wardwoven Chest, which has a higher chance of granting Legendary items. Using Pearls of Warding can increase the risk by exchanging them for extra stacks of Zoltun’s Warding at the Vault entrance — succeed, and your reward will increase as well.

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At World Tier III, you'll be able to access Nightmare variants of the vaults. Vault Sigils will drop alongside typical Nightmare Dungeon Sigils, or they can be crafted which will require Pearls of Warding to create. These Vaults function similarly to Nightmare Dungeons — and will even drop more warwoven chests as you advance through the difficulties, making them more and more rewarding.

Malphus will appear again after the quest as an Uber challenge for you in the end game, in an Uber vault. 

Arcane Tremors and earning Pearls of Warding 

Arcane Tremors are an Overworld activity localized around the vaults where Malphas's influence is spilling out from his underground lair. You'll look for cores where you can lure a Herald of Malphas and beat them down for rewards, including the Pearls of Warding you will need to tackle the Vaults. This activity will replace the Blood Harvest of Season of Blood.

"We don't want the players to feel stuck in one place" says James as she describes how Season 1 (of the Malignant) had us fighting in tunnels, and Season 2 (of Blood) had us battling in Blood Harvests in the overworld. The intention of Season of the Construct is to give players a reason to constantly change activities between overworld and underground. "You should feel like you are mobile." 

The Gauntlet and leaderboard will not launch at the start of Season 3

While we have the Gauntlet and leaderboards to look forward to in Season 3, these will not be launching on January 23 like the rest of the season. The reason for this is that the developers want players to fully engage with the seasonal content and questline before diving into this endgame activity. We do not have a date for the launch of this yet, but it may well be a mid-season drop like we saw with Abattoir of Xur.

The Gauntlet will unlock in World Tier 4. To make it as fair as possible, the dungeon will be fixed and the same for everyone for each weekly run. A stark contrast to how Greater Rifts worked in Diablo 3 (you continually had to reload to get a 'good' map). The Gauntlet is designed to be a level playing field for all end game players.

It will not be a dungeon where you travel from beginning to end, the layout will allow you to develop strategies to complete it and figure your own way through. Proving your might is about gathering and defeating your enemies to collect 'Proofs of Might'. The Gauntlet will not be a speed challenge, it will be an efficiency challenge that will reflect in each player's score. At the end you will get a score, and you can try and beat it before the end of the week. 

In the example shown, a dungeon boss appears right at the entrance, and this boss drops a shrine which could power up the player for the next part of The Gauntlet.

We saw the Pillar of Proving a shrine that respawns enemies, and a Pillar of Glory which gives a score multiplier as well as the player collecting keys for chests. All with the goal in mind of gaining a high score. You'll want to find the most optimal path through the dungeon and pick up the most useful tools to increase your score. (I can't wait to see the Youtubers have strategies out for this.)

There will be different leaderboards for each class, and also for solo and group completion giving us 8 in total. Hardcore players will also receive their own leaderboards.

You can also filter the leaderboards by friends and clan if you just want to see how you have performed against your friends. 

Only the top 1000 players each week will get on the leaderboard. They will receive an in game reward and also permanent inclusion to the Hall of the Ancients. Seals will also be given out to players who haven't made it to the top of the boards. The seal will show your rank and run from Seal of the Blooded all the way up to Seal of the Worthy. These are something you can display just to show you tried to compete. 

PvP objectives will be optimized as a result of feedback

As part of completing your Season journey, you'll need to complete chapters and specific objectives to advance to the next chapter. Player feedback has been received that the PvP objectives were just too extreme for most players, and this has been reflected in those objective completion rates. These will be modified and some even removed from the chapter quests. 

Season journey need to be more rewarding

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Also as a result of player feedback, season rewards will be amped up. For Season 3, Season of the Construct you'll get early drops of tuning stones for your Seneschal companion. In addition, the later chapters will drop 925 item power gear.

The seasonal quest line will also not have completion locked behind completing chapters of the season journey. 

New cosmetics

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We got a sneak peek of the cosmetics available with the Premium Battle Pass for Season 3, and we'll also finally get some new emblems to use along with the 3 we got at launch.

Seasonal Blessings have also been adjusted to compliment the new Season of the Construct questline. 

Class updates are coming and we'll have patch notes soon

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Full patch notes will drop tomorrow with all the changes to classes coming with Season of the Construct, but we got a small peek on what to expect.

Barbarian

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Sorcerer

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Rogue

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Druid

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Necromancer

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Class Balance going forward

Jackson presented an overview on work being done to balance the classes and how the developers want to approach nerfs and buffs, and how often they should be making updates to these. There are two competing concepts to this challenge:

  • Players want to be able to feel they can have fun with powerful builds that they discover.
  • Players want the meta to refresh so that the same things aren't obviously best choices forever (an example being Ball Lightning Sorcerer absolutely dominating Season 2 and pigeon holing sorcerers into a specific playstyle)

Some changes that we can expect from Season 3

  • Ball Lightning enhancement will be adjusted
  • Rogue extra combo point interactions will be changed
  • Changes to Rogue Twisting Blades/Poison inbue interactions
  • Druids Blurred Beast aspect redesign
  • Violent Hammer of the Ancients will no longer always be applied
  • Overpower is too strong and needs to be toned down

New uniques

The Starfall Corenet will be a Sorcerer-specific Unique that gives Meteor 2 charges and drops additional meteors around the target.

Unsung Wraps will enhance Lightning Storm critical strikes. Lightning will indeed strike twice. 

Season Roadmap

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We are expecting in the future to get two updates per season, these will be the Season Launch and a mid-season update. At Season launch we can expect new legendaries and uniques being added to the game. Amount is variable but every class will get something new.

Balance and design updates will be rolled out to all classes, again amount is variable but it depends on the needs of the game at the time. Buffs, nerfs and bug fixes are all expected. We can also expect larger updates and initiatives for some season launches but not all, such as resistance and combat overhauls.

The mid-season patch is an opportunity for the developers to bring back favorite things from previous seasons (like we saw with Malignant Rings). These can be from any previous season, not just the immediate one prior. This patch will also bring small balance updates, other updates like monster density, drop rates etc and buffs where needed. Nerfs will not be done unless they are bugs. If players have spent time farming, the devs don't want to punish them for putting together powerful stuff. Any nerfs if required, will be broadcast before implementation. The main message that Jackson seemed to want to convey in this section was that the roadmap going forward for Seasons is to communicate early and often.

Helltides will now be up every hour

Helltides will now be an hourly event in Diablo 4 (Image credit: Helltides.com)

In a direct response to player feedback about struggling for essential crafting materials like Forgotten Souls and Fiend Roses, Helltides will now be an hourly event. This has resulted from seeing the positive reaction to the continuous Blood Harvest that takes place in different places across the map for Season of Blood and is a welcome change. For myself as a parent who only plays at specific times and cannot necessarily get into a Helltide often enough to get the crafting materials I need, this is amazing news. 

Other QOL updates

  • WASD control will be added for PC players
  • Skill Tree re-spec mode
  • Gold trading UI updates
  • Higher item scaling in World Tier 4
  • Beast in the Ice summoning items will be easier to collect

Q & A section

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Please note much of the following is paraphrased and not direct quotes verbatim.

Q: How have the team's thoughts changed in regards to balance since Diablo 4's release?
A:
An issue we ran into Season 1, where in our quest to make items interesting we overbudgeted on quite a few of them. Using cooldown reduction as an example, this was too high. If we let players continue to 'solve' problems like this to a point there is no cooldown reduction for example, the game will be in a state where we can no longer give you cool things. We had to input nerfs and this had a negative impact on player fun, so we learned a lesson on communication with that. We worked a lot harder on balance changes with Season 2. Also rather than trying to nerf overpowered builds (Ball Lightning) we just left it to roll out during the season. We are still working on how often we make changes.

Q: What are the plans for minion builds for Necromancer and Druid?
A:
We know people want these to be more impactful and people feel minion builds are not as powerful as other builds. We are working on this but we don't have any specific announcements to make right now. It's something we are aware of, and it is coming.

Q: Will Uber Uniques be farmable from elsewhere than Duriel?
A:
Duriel will still be the best way to farm Uber Uniques, but there will be uniques and rewards specific to the Uber Vault that you will want to farm.

Q: What are the plans regarding snapshotting issues?
A:
We do have fixes coming for this and are aware of it. It's work in progress.

Q: Will we see Zoltan Kulle in the new season?
A: He won't appear in the new quest but you will hear his voice.

Q: Can we earn glyph XP in the Nightmare Vaults?
A:
Yes.

Q: How many times can we do The Gauntlet in a week?
A:
There is no limit. The only requirement is that you have unlocked World Tier 4.

Q: Are itemization updates still on track for Season 4?
A:
Yes, we will share more news on this closer to the start of that season.

Q: Any updates on the social features like a group finder?
A:
We've seen the feedback on this and we are working on it.

Final thoughts

That was a hell of a lot of information, with more to come with patch notes dropping tomorrow. Adam closed the livestream with a nod to "our friends at Xbox" who have a Developer Direct starting shortly so I'll be heading over to check that out. It's a huge day for the Xbox family which now, surreally includes Diablo.

As with any Season update sometimes the information on how the new mechanics will work and interact can seem overwhelming but I look forward to seeing the Constructs working in practice. What did you think of today's update?

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.