The first Diablo 4 patch notes prove that Blizzard is listening
Blizzard has released the first set of Diablo 4 patch notes following its recent pair of public beta test weekends, and the initial signs are extremely encouraging. Standing among the ranks of the best RPG games in 2023 takes more than a great launch – ultimately, Diablo 4’s long-term support will define its legacy, so seeing Blizzard already responding to player feedback with smart changes ahead of the Diablo 4 release date is an excellent start.
“On the weekends of March 17 and 24, Sanctuary let out a cry for help,” Blizzard begins in its latest blog post, which states that the team has “made a variety of fixes and updates to various systems in Diablo 4, all of which will be present in the version of the game that launches on June 6.” These include some sweeping changes to make dungeons smoother, updates to the game UI and controls, and a number of balance changes to each of the Diablo 4 classes available at launch.
Diablo 4 dungeons will now see vastly more events, with spawn rates up to 60% from a meagre 10% previously, while backtracking has been dramatically reduced thanks to layout changes that reduce the need to explore side rooms to find core objectives. The agonising wait to place objectives on pedestals has been entirely removed, and you’ll now get a full resource refresh and cooldown reset when doing so, allowing you to go into boss fights at full capacity.
Seeing the community’s enthusiastic response to the most exciting (and terrifying) enemy in the beta, the Diablo 4 Butcher, Blizzard says the imposing figure will “present a greater challenge in world tiers three and four” than initially planned. Meanwhile, several of the bigger Diablo 4 bosses such as Vhenard, T’chort, and Malnok that were posing a dramatic difficulty spike for melee characters have had some fight mechanics altered to better balance things out.
Perhaps the biggest change in the notes is one of Blizzard’s most subtle – players can now map the move and interact inputs to one button and put their primary attack on a secondary button. This was one of the most common gripes among ARPG veterans such as myself, who often favour a ‘force move’ option that ignores all enemies and simply handles movement and interactions, making it much more straightforward to navigate through crowds of enemies safely.
Balance-wise, all five classes see some changes. Barbarians get a flat passive damage reduction to help survivability. Druids have had numerous buffs to help mitigate their somewhat underwhelming early-game. Rogue changes make the class a little less all-in on its imbuement skills. The top two classes in the beta, meanwhile, both see some slight nerfs to some of their most potent tools.
Necromancer’s minions won’t last as long, meaning you’ll need to use more corpses to keep your army’s numbers up, and the devastating Corpse Explosion skill has seen its damage reduced. There’s also a slight toning down of the visually overwhelming glow effect on summons. The Sorcerer’s Chain Lightning also gets whacked with the nerf hammer, although there’s no mention of changes to the Hydras yet.
One of the most common queries around the patch notes was a change saying, “The Reset Dungeon has been disabled.” Blizzard has since clarified that this is intended to compel players to explore a range of activities rather than doing one thing over and over, although it notes that “it can be fun to repeat a specific dungeon and the team is looking at a more permanent solution to this, like having some reasonable cap on how many times the same dungeon can be completed in a row.”
It adds that another consideration was “that resetting the dungeon wasn’t a way for Hardcore players to avoid death when experiencing a challenge.” There’s good news for those players, however – characters will now be immune and untargetable after loading into an area, so you should no longer run into situations where you could potentially be killed immediately upon loading into an area before you had a chance to respond.
All in all, the changes are extremely encouraging to see – not only has Blizzard addressed most of the community concerns in smart ways, but it has also communicated its thoughts and future plans clearly to players. Initial responses to the blog post are overwhelmingly positive. Top Diablo player Ryan ‘Raxxanterax’ from Diablo community site Maxroll says, “I’m genuinely very impressed,” while his co-creator ‘wudijo’ adds that he’s “really optimistic for launch.” Meanwhile, Twitch streamer Quintin ‘Quin69’ Crawford – he of the $15k Diablo Immortal gem fiasco – simply proclaims, “They are listening.”
Diablo 4 pre-launch patch notes
Here are the full Diablo 4 patch notes ahead of release:
One of the most common pieces of feedback we received is that players felt they were doing a lot of backtracking within certain dungeons. We have optimized multiple dungeons across all zones to minimize the need for backtracking. Here is a list of dungeons specifically in the Fractured Peaks zone which received layout updates:
- Caldera Gate
- Defiled Catacombs
- Derelict Lodge
- Forbidden City
- Hoarfrost Demise
- Immortal Emanation
- Kor Dragan Barracks
- Rimescar Caverns
- The chance for an Event to spawn inside of a dungeon has increased from 10% to 60%.
- To reduce the need to backtrack, small numbers of straggling monsters will seek out the player to help complete the Kill All Monsters objective.
- When Animus is gathered, the player and nearby allies will gain 10 Resource and reduce all active Cooldowns by 1 second.
- Depositing Animus channel time was reduced from 3 to 0 seconds.
- The time to Rescue was reduced from 3 to 1.5 seconds.
- All Rescue objectives now drop a Health Potion upon completion.
- While carrying the Ancient’s Statue, Bloodstone, Mechanical Box, or Stone Carving, you will receive a Momentum bonus granting a 25% move speed increase to you and nearby allies.
- Pedestals have had their channel time reduced from 2 to 0 seconds.
- Returning a Portable Object to its Pedestal now fully restores Health, Resource, Potions, and resets cooldowns for all nearby players.
- All doors will now generate a minimap ping when they are opened.
- All Structure Objectives in dungeons now have additional combat mechanics players must overcome.
- Effects like Stun and Freeze can be applied to Elite Monsters twice as long before they become Unstoppable.
- Reviewed class skills to confirm that all classes have access to sufficient skills that remove control impairing effects.
- Many Legendary Powers have had updates to their effectiveness.
- A flat 10% passive damage reduction has been added for the Barbarian Class. Some Skill Tree passives had their damage reduction effects reduced to compensate.
- The Whirlwind Skill now deals more damage and consumes more Fury.
- The Double Swing Skill Enhancement refunds its full Fury cost when used on Stunned or Knocked Down enemies.
- Companion Skills will now deal heavily increased damage.
- All Ultimate Skills have had their cooldowns reduced.
- Usability improvements have been made to Maul and Pulverize.
- Using a non-Shapeshifting Skill will transform a Druid back into their human form.
- Summoned Minions will die more often, requiring players to utilize Corpses more often.
- Many bonuses in the Book of the Dead have had their stats increased.
- The damage dealt by the Corpse Explosion skill has been reduced.
- The brightness of the Skeletal Warriors and Mages has been reduced.
- Upgrades for Subterfuge Skills have had their bonuses increased.
- Multiple passive Skills have had their bonuses increased.
- All Imbuement Skills have had their cooldowns increased.
- Charged Bolt’s damage was increased and the Mana cost to cast has decreased.
- Decreased the damage of Chain Lightning and reduced its effectiveness against Bosses.
- Decreased the cooldown for the Incinerate Skill’s Enchantment bonus.
- Firewalls will now spawn underneath enemies more frequently when using its Enchantment bonus.
- Increased the Lucky Hit chance for the Meteor Skill’s Enchantment bonus.
- Fixed an issue where the built-in Screen Reader was not reading key prompts, game options details, and other UI text.
- Fixed an issue where actions could not be bound to the mouse wheel.
- Fixed an issue where Evade couldn’t be bound to the right Analog Stick on controller.
- Chat will now display on the left side of the screen when using the centered action bar configuration.
- A character’s stats will be displayed by default when players click the Materials & Stats button within their Inventory.
- The Move and Interact inputs can now be mapped to one button while the Primary Attack input is mapped to a secondary button.
- The sans serif font used in-game has been replaced with a new serif font.
- Fixed multiple issues that allowed bosses, like the Butcher, to become unresponsive.
- The Butcher has been re-evaluated for difficulty and will present a greater challenge in World Tiers III and IV.
- Bosses such as T’chort, Malnok, Vhenard, and others were reevaluated for melee character difficulty, resulting in changes to attacks and fight mechanics.
- Fixed an issue where Vampire Brutes using the Shadow Enchant affix would chain-cast Impale.
- Increased the chance for a dungeon Event to occur in Cellars.
- Cellars will now consistently reward a chest upon completion.
- Fixed an issue where Cellars would prematurely be marked as complete.
- Fixed an issue where the guaranteed elite monster would be absent from a Cellar.
Quality of Life
- Fixed an issue where players could increase attack speed by move-cancelling attacks early.
- Fixed an issue where characters weren’t immune and untargetable after loading into an area.
- The Reset Dungeon button has been disabled.
- Fixed an issue that caused Gale Valley and Serac Rapture to have less monsters than intended until the campaign quests in those territories were completed.
While Blizzard has confirmed that there will be no Diablo 4 endgame beta, you can prepare for launch with the Diablo 4 skill tree builder. You’ll also want to make sure that your PC matches up to the Diablo 4 system requirements so that you’re ready to go when June arrives.