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Diablo 4’s rebalancing work begins with Sorcerer and Barbarian buffs in next patch

After a wildly unpopular season launch, Blizzard aims to win players back from Aug. 8

A painting of a Diablo 4 sorcerer summoning a huge fiery snake to consume enemies Image: Blizzard Entertainment
Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

Blizzard has vowed to “improve the effectiveness and the fun of the Sorcerer and the Barbarian” classes in the next patch for Diablo 4, which will be released next Tuesday, Aug. 8.

In its latest Campfire Chat livestream, the Diablo 4 dev team set out a series of what it hopes will be fan-pleasing changes, following the Diablo community’s intense disappointment in the 1.1.0 patch that just preceded the launch of the game’s first season, Season of the Malignant, on July 20.

That patch had attempted to reset Diablo 4’s balance and lay a new foundation for its future as a live service game, but it did so by slowing player progress in a number of ways, and without fixing a number of prominent player complaints around issues like storage space, itemization, and the viability of certain character classes and builds.

That work now begins. Talking in detail about what to expect from patch 1.1.1, game directors Joe Shely and Joe Piepora and class designer Adam Jackson highlighted changes coming to the Sorcerer and Barbarian, the two classes currently felt to be the most underwhelming in the game.

Jackson said the the Sorcerer’s much-derided survivability would be improved, and the associated penalties for some of its skills would be eased. He called these “kiss-curse mechanics,” whereby when power is added something else is taken away to balance it. The feeling is that this balancing has gone too far with the Sorcerer and held the class back.

Changes to the Barbarian are focused on making the experience of playing the class feel better and more fluid in the early game, Jackson said, and improving the late game by making the class’s Unique items more attractive and effective.

Beyond these two classes, underpowered builds and Unique items will be improved across the board, although Jackson cautioned that the team will be treading a fine line with Uniques — the goal isn’t that they should be so powerful they’re automatically the best items in the game, but rather that they should interact with builds in interesting and unique ways. Build-specific items and skills will be opened up to make them more useful in a wider range of situations and builds.

Other changes coming in the 1.1.1 update include increased monster density in Nightmare Dungeons and Helltide events, which should go some way toward making up the apparent shortfall in experience since the last patch. All bosses above level 35 will be guaranteed to drop Legendary items, as will all treasure goblins above level 15.

There will be some big quality-of-life improvements, too. The cost of respeccing your character will be reduced by a whopping 40%, loosening up the game’s tight rein on experimentation considerably. An extra stash tab will be made available to increase item storage. And horses will snag less on the scenery and be able to break through barriers.

In future patches, the developers said they were looking to bring the different types of damage closer together in effectiveness (presently, critical strikes and damage against vulnerable enemies are hugely overpowered), find ways to make certain builds and skills (especially Ultimates) scale up better in the late game, and improve minion builds, especially for the minion-focused Necromancer class.

Blizzard said it would publish the patch notes in full on Wednesday, Aug. 2. The community will doubtless let its feelings be known then.

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