Ahead of Diablo 4’s season one, Season of the Malignant, Blizzard has just released a big update. Version 1.1.0 is designed to prepare Diablo 4 for the season’s start, but it also includes hundreds of bug fixes, some new items and aspects, and various balancing/gameplay changes. Sounds good, right? Updates to games are generally a positive thing. Not in this case. Players are very unhappy with the latest Diablo 4 patch, and it’s not hard to see why.
It’s the changes to supposed “balancing” that have people up in arms, with it now being harder to gain experience and many character builds suddenly becoming ineffective thanks to certain skills and abilities being nerfed. The response has been overwhelmingly negative on social media and Diablo’s official forums, and we can only imagine it’s taken Blizzard by surprise. Hot fixes are incoming to fix some unintentional effects of the patch, and Diablo 4’s Global Community Developer Director, Adam Fletcher, swiftly announced a ‘Fireside Chat’ stream is incoming on Friday to discuss some of the changes in more detail. But just what is it that has made players so angry about Diablo 4’s latest update?
Let’s start with the good. Each character class has a new unique item and a new legendary aspect. More loot to find is always a good thing. Your map discovery progression and Altar of Lilith unlocks are now also account wide, so you won’t have to explore again as a new character. And you’ll get more renown for completing side quests and dungeons. Silent Chests should drop better loot, too.
Diablo 4 patch notes: Changes to Affixes
But that’s where anything meaningfully positive begins and ends. It’s the changes to item affixes that has players really irked. Cooldown Reduction, Critical Strike Damage, Vulnerable Damage and Damage to Crowd Controlled Enemies have all been reduced across the board. If you have a character build that relies on one of these – which a lot of late-game players do – you’re suddenly going to be hitting a lot less hard that you were pre-patch.
Core stat bonuses (Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence and Willpower) on weapons have also been halved. Rather than being 50% stronger on weapons, they’re now 25% stronger.
In the patch notes, Blizzard says these changes are for the overall health of the game. “Many affixes are too efficient,” it says. Blizzard wants to “increase the overall flexibility of items”. Essentially, it doesn’t want people relying on a small number of affixes in crafting their endgame builds.
It makes sense on paper, but with Cooldown Reductions reduced by a blanket 30% and Vulnerable Damage reduced by 40%, that’s a huge blow to characters built around those affixes. We can’t help but feel that smaller, incremental changes would have been more effective.
To compound things further, a number of Damage Reduction affixes have been reduced by 20%, and Total Armor by 30%. So many characters are going to find themselves doing less damage to enemies and also taking more damage themselves. Not an ideal situation to be in.
Some affixes have been buffed by 20-25%, however. You’ll find that Physical, Fire, Cold, Lightning, Poison, Shadow and Non-Physical damage types are now 25% more powerful than they were before, and any Damage to Frozen Enemies affixes have been increased by 20%. Moreover, some Damage Over Time effects are 40% more powerful, and lots of Skill Damages have been buffed. But these seemingly aren’t enough to counter the steeper reductions across item affixes.
Diablo 4 update: changes to experience gain
Perhaps the most concerning changes for us in the latest Diablo 4 patch are those that affect how your character gains experience. In many situations, it’s going to be much harder for your character to level up.
The most detrimental of these changes is to level scaling in the open world and in dungeons. In World Tier III and IV, monsters will now trail behind players in terms of level. In World Tier III, monsters will be minimum level 55. But they’ll stay at level 55 until your character is level 60. At which point, they’ll remain five levels behind until they reach their cap of level 70.
The same is true in World Tier IV. There, monsters’ base level is 75, where they’ll stay until players are level 80, then will always remain 5 levels behind.
As per the patch notes, “this change does not affect World Bosses, Legion Events, Fields of Hatred, Helltide or Nightmare Dungeons”. In those areas, enemies will be the same level or higher, depending on the event type.
But it means that in the open world – which includes random events, cellars, side quests, completing Tree of Whisper challenges and general exploration – some players are going to net next to no experience. Diablo 4’s open world was something to be excited about. But now once you’ve completed the story, it seems like there’s little to no reason to continue spending time with it. We’re not sure why Blizzard would make this change; now, playing through Nightmare Dungeons or the Helltide are the only real viable endgame activities. It’s short-sighted, at best.
This is compounded even further by Blizzard’s other change to experience gain: bonus experience for killing monsters that are a higher level have been nerfed.
Previously, killing a monster one level higher would net you a 15% experience bonus. That’s now down to 1.5%. At three or more levels higher, you previously got 25% bonus experience. Now, it increases 1.5% per level, up to 10, where it caps at a 15% bonus.
This is primarily to stop players power-levelling new characters by teaming up with high-level characters. But it also has a detrimental effect on players who simply like to push themselves into higher difficulties. Without the same level of reward, there’s little impetus to play outside of your own level bracket. Why bother switching to World Tier IV until you actually are level 75, for example?
Diablo 4 update: a kick in the teeth?
Had Diablo 4 launched with these latest changes already in place, chances are players wouldn’t be quite so irate. The real problem is, players have had six weeks with the game, spending hours upon hours putting together their builds in order to feel powerful and conquer much of the game’s content. Valuable resources have been used, rerolling affixes on items to make them viable for end game use.
Having these affixes now made much less useful feels like an insult at this point. Such sweeping changes shouldn’t need to happen after a game is launched – supposed imbalances of this level should have been identified in testing. It paints a picture that Blizzard was either blind to the power of certain affixes and mechanics – such as Vulnerable – or simply knew they existed but wanted to get the game out of the gate and fix it later. Neither is good.
Ultimately, the update feels like a kick in the teeth for most players, like Blizzard is saying “thanks for playing our game, now have less fun with it”. Being the first major update to Diablo 4 since it launched, players were (rightfully) expecting some valid quality of life changes. What happened to expanded stash space, an update to character skills that are currently pretty much useless, and fixes to broken side quests? (Yes, plenty have been addressed, but some remain broken post-patch.) Instead, they got nerfs that make them weaker, and tweaks that make the game more of a slog.
The short answer is, we simply need to adjust to playing with Diablo 4’s latest update in place. That means changing our characters accordingly to make better use of a wider range of skills. It’s unlikely that Blizzard is going to completely roll back any changes that have been made as part of update 1.1.0, but things are likely to be tweaked over the coming weeks. We already know at least one hot fix is coming to fix the broken Aberrant Cinders drop rate.
But due to the huge outcry from players, we feel like Blizzard will have to address some of these changes somehow. We’ll find out more at the Fireside Chat later this week – more details on when that will take place should be coming later today.