David Kim, Lead Developer at the Diablo IV design team has been discussing how he has been drawing from the Diablo player community when designing and developing Diablo IV. In a recent post, he discussing how the latest version is progressing.
Lee says he's still going through the feedback he's received on Itemization but he's been busy working out ways to add more depth and complexity to base items, including Rares) and methods to add more variation to item affixes to add a little more spice to these powers and make the choices more meaningful. At the same time the team has been looking at giving players more options on customizing items, so that we can enjoy trying out a wider range of effective Diablo opportunities rather than looking online for the optimal build.
In a Part I article, Lee promises to go into more detail regarding Itemization , but did update on other topics in the meantime.
Many people who saw the BlizzCon demo interface think that Diablo IV will lock skills to specific slots. Like a lot of features in the demo, the UI is not final and Lee promises to support Elective Mode-style skill selection. Lee promises that skill selection and assignment will always be completely open for all players.
Everyone at Blizzard is backing the community view that Ancients as they are now don't fit in with Diablo IV and need more work. Lee thinks that Blizzard could have communicated the new role of Ancient Items in Diablo IV better. He argues that he was only sharing first draft features, but is revisiting Diablo IV designs with player feedback in mind and is confident he will be able to share more details of Ancient Items in the next update.
Blizzard hasn't decided on a choice the option of character leveling and experience system and whether it should be finite or infinite, and are still reaching out for feedback. Lee acknowledged some concerns around "infinite being worse because it will eventually overshadow all the power granted by other sources". At the end of the day though, players can control for themselved how much power each system gives and whether it's infinite or finite.
Lee also points out that power increase doesn't need to be linear throughout the ranks as it can slow down as players reach higher levels. For the Diablo IV design team, the more important question is what experience feels best for players, and the team can test Endgame variatons and etsablish the power curve that makes the most sense.
We have a couple reasons for having a different experience system in addition to a level cap. A level cap gives us the ability to grant players a sense of completion. But for players who want to go deeper into the game, a second experience system allows us to capture the fun of achieving those really difficult endgame goals and ranks. We can also introduce additional depth through this system, because players will be more experienced with the game at this point. Ultimately, our goal is to create a meaningful system that provides clear choices depending on your preferred playstyle in the endgame.
After player feedback on player sources and the design team are reevaluating how much power comes from each source at any given time.
In a strong statement, Leee explained that in Diablo IV, power doesn't come mainly from items. The team wants to have a strong blend of power sources: characters naturally get stronger as they increase their levels, skills have ranks that increase power, talents provide specific playstyle choices and additional character power, and of course items grant power and meaningful choices as well.
Another to bear in mind is that Legendary powers are just one part of an item's power, and that they don't invalidate all other Affixes due to how powerful they are. For example, two to three normal Affixes are currently equivalent in power to a Legendary power on most items.
A key question that came up in player feedback was exactly how the new Keyed Dungeons in Diablo IV are different from Rifts. Keyed Dungeons will introduce greater challenges as their tiers increase through Dungeon Affixes. The majority of dungeons are real places in the world, and players will learn some information about them including what types of monsters, events, and layouts to expect. With this information, as well as the specific Dungeon Affixes being displayed on the key, players will be able to strategize their strategy before going into the dungeon. Blizzard believes this is the biggest change from Diablo III Rifts: the added planning and strategizing that takes place before you decide to run a Keyed Dungeon.