Blizzard gets candid with Diablo 4 Season 1: "We know it is bad, we know it is not fun"

Diablo 4
(Image credit: Blizzard)

Kicking off the community address it scheduled in response to intensifying backlash to the Diablo 4 Season 1 patch, Blizzard opened with candid agreement that the game is less fun after the update. 

"We want to acknowledge everyone's feedback in regards to reducing player power," says associate community management director Adam Fletcher. "We know it is bad, we know it is not fun. We ourselves know that it's not the greatest play experience for players out there. 

"We do want to explain why we ended up doing it within the actual patch, and we also want to talk about what we were trying to achieve specifically with this patch, and with the changes that players ended up seeing," he continues. "Separately, we want to talk about how we don't plan on doing a patch like this ever again. We have most definitely heard the feedback from the players on that front, and we do want to talk about our philosophy and internal statements we're setting for ourselves for future updates."

The tone of the developers, including associate game director Joe Piepiora and game director Joe Shely, is decidedly apologetic. Piepiora concurred that "reducing player power is never a good experience," noting that the underlying intent of the patch was to prevent outlier abilities and affixes from unhealthily warping the game. 

Piepiora reasons that one of the factors behind the dominance of top builds, which often rely on cooldown reduction and Vulnerable and other newly nerfed effects, is due to the nature of Diablo 4's existing endgame content. For example: "The reality is that Nightmare Dungeons are dramatically over-tuned for where they actually need to be based on the role they fulfill in the game." 

To that end, a difficulty nerf is coming to Nightmare Dungeons in a hotfix today, July 21, to offset some of the player nerfs in patch 1.1.0. In the same hotfix, mob density of both Nightmare Dungeons and Helltide will also be increased across the board. 

Looking at future updates, Shely highlighted the team's fundamental design pillars. Those are:

  • A wide variety of viable builds to discover, put together, and optimize across all five classes
  • New items and powers every season to keep the game fresh and increase build variety
  • Continually evolving endgame content with high monster density for powerful builds to mow down and activities to challenge your build
  • Make the game more fun for players

Shely spent extra time on build diversity and the core goal of making the game more fun. "If the game is not more fun for players, if players can't believe that as the game evolves it will get more fun, then we're not accomplishing our goals," he said. Similarly, he stressed the importance of ensuring the game stays fun while the team works toward balance changes it deems necessary for the game's long-term health.

"When we make changes that have the ultimate aim of increasing build diversity, we need to pair those changes with compelling alternatives," Shely added. "That means there are some builds that are overpowered and we can't nerf those overpowered builds without providing compelling alternatives." 

With this in mind, Piepiora mentioned targeted buffs for Sorcerer and Barbarian specifically, as both classes are struggling to find an identity after some major back-and-forth nerfs and combo-ruining bug fixes.

Fletcher stressed improved dev-side communication going forward, including advance patch notes for major updates. A new dev stream will be held on August 4 to preface patch 1.1.1, which will deliver a raft of quality of life and balance changes. 

Here's how to complete chapter 1 of the season journey in Diablo 4. 

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a staff writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature.