After October's dive into sound design, atmospheric ambient tracks, and looking at how the sounds are made, Activision Blizzard is back with its final quarterly update on Diablo 4 development for 2021.
December's update has been posted on their blog. It provides a first look at Diablo 4's itemization system for legendary gear and class skills and the end-game character growth system, among other things.
The fourth title in the famed Diablo series still does not have a release date. Diablo 4 was officially announced at BlizzCon 2019 in November 2019. The game is reportedly going to bring an open world and player versus player element to the procedurally generated dungeon crawler action RPG.
The developers have announced four playable classes — Barbarian, Sorceress, Druid, and Rogue.
Activision Blizzard has been posting quarterly updates to keep fans of the series aware of the development and different mechanics of the upcoming Diablo. This ensures engagement with players and keeps them apprised of where Diablo 4 stands and what to expect from the game.
This is a good step for a company that dearly needs some positive community engagement.
A look at Diablo 4's final developmental blog post for 2021
The developers stated that since their last update, they had been keenly looking at adding new content and systems to Diablo 4. The post comments:
"We've made big strides, with every build of the game containing a host of expanded content, new art, balance changes, and other iterations. In fact, the team is currently playtesting an internal release of the game that represents a significant milestone. This update focuses on the works of the VFX team in creating huge explosions and skill effects, the new game engine and its effect on creating a more precise and nuanced 'frame-by-frame combat' and 'a plethora of skills across all four announced classes that show off [our] skill-driven death system."
Diablo 4's itemization
The developers announced that the +Skill Rank affix is returning in Diablo 4. Joe Piepiora, Lead Systems Designer, shares that:
"As players invest points in skills, they grow in potency, and finding items with +Skill Rank can speed that along. As a bonus, when the player equips an item with +Skill Rank for a skill they haven't learned, they will have access to that new ability."
Along with this, a foundational change has been made to Legendary items in Diablo 4 "by allowing legendary powers to appear on multiple item slots". They are also adding the Occultist, who can extract a Legendary power from a Legendary item and then implant it into another Legendary item.
Is it to be noted that Unique items cannot be modified this way.
The developers have added the Paragon Board for end-game scaling, which will be unlocked once gamers reach level 50. They will then start gaining Paragon points which they can then invest in the following way:
"Your hero begins their journey through the Paragon system at the central starting tile of their class's intro board, and from there, you make selections radiating outward. Once your hero reaches a gate tile, you'll choose which new paragon board you would like to attach to at that location. The desired outcome is a personalized set of bonuses that will empower your hero and honor your dedication to their progression, that will remain fun to tweak and adjust over many playthroughs."
Visual effects of Diablo 4
Daniel Briggs, the Lead Visual Effects Artist for the game, took the players through the different visual effects components of Diablo 4 against the backdrop of their core value of 'Gameplay First'. Amidst a plethora of information, he also informed that they are bringing back the skill-driven deaths from Diablo 3.
"This system allows you to decapitate, bisect, freeze, shatter, eviscerate, and burn your enemies, to give a few examples."
All four classes announced previously have different skills that can trigger different death types. Sorceress' can freeze/shatter, char, and burn. Barbarians can crush and decapitate, among other things. Rogues can poison, flay, and even eviscerate. Druids can devour, maul, and roadkill.
These updates give users a clear vision of how the developers are progressing with their beloved blood and gore franchise's latest installment. Fans will be eagerly awaiting further news and possibly a concrete announcement about the release of Diablo 4.