Diablo 4 tried to repackage Diablo 2's grind for the modern era, but series overseer Rod Fergusson says the "consumptive nature of a live service" made it unfeasible

Diablo 4 Mother's Blessing
(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Diablo 4's first post-launch season was widely controversial for how it ground the game to a halt with, well, lots of excessive grind. Rod Fergusson, the general manager of all things Diablo, has now admitted the team might have gone too far when repackaging Diablo 2's grind for the modern era. 

"When you launch something, you're always doing it with a set of assumptions," Fergusson explains in an interview with Windows Central. "We had the assumption that Diablo 4 was meant to be more Diablo 2-like. And so one of the assumptions was that people were going to be okay with the long grind for the Unique or an Uber Unique in particular because, in Diablo 2, it can go years. You can go three years before you find the Uber you're looking for. And in fact, like there's a name called the Holy Grail, which is getting one of everything, which literally takes years."

It's no surprise that Blizzard decided to ditch Diablo 3's instant gratification in favor of a Diablo 2-style experience since the hack-and-slashing sequel is often cited as the series' peak. "So we were like, okay, this is what people love about the progression of Diablo 2, that idea of that very long chase, and so we launched that way with Diablo 4 and we found out very quickly that if you don't give me my Uber in my season, then I'm upset."

Blizzard has since addressed the criticism in Diablo 4's subsequent updates, with Season 4 in particular being met with much fan love. The game even introduced an Uber currency so players can simply skip the grind and craft the item they're hunting for. Fergusson calls the updates "a kind of recognition of how much players have changed in 20 years." He explains that the "consumptive nature of a live service" has given players a "time is money and I don't have much time" mindset, which makes Diablo 2's years-long grind impossible in the 2020s.

Diablo Immortal gave the Diablo 4 devs the confidence to build a new class that isn't a "classic archetype of the D&D world" with the Spiritborn.

Freelance contributor

Kaan freelances for various websites including Rock Paper Shotgun, Eurogamer, and this one, Gamesradar. He particularly enjoys writing about spooky indies, throwback RPGs, and anything that's vaguely silly. Also has an English Literature and Film Studies degree that he'll soon forget.