September 25, 2023


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Diablo 4 – Massive Skill Trees Detailed in New Development Update

The latest Diablo IV development update is now live and this time the team over at Blizzard — with David Kim, Lead System Designer on Diablo IV putting together the bulk of it — delves into the brand new Skill system. It’s looking pretty impressive, and is presented as an actual tree too. With skills and upgrades forming the branches, and powerful passive abilities the roots.

In terms of approach Blizzard notes that this time around Legendary Items will still be powerful but the bulk of the variation will come from skills and abilities. Blizzard has been pretty open with how Diablo IV is progressing and notes that testing for the new Skill Tree system has been positive.

“We plan to put more of the player’s power back into the character to make build choices more impactful, rather than have the majority of player power coming from the items they have equipped,” David Kim writes. “That said, it’s important that we strike the right balance so that itemization choices always feel meaningful.” And on that note here’s a look at the Sorceress Skill Tree, where the branches contain skills and skill upgrades and the roots contain powerful passives.

“The Skill Tree you see above consists of many specific nodes, a sample of which you can see in the screenshots above,” David continues noting that even at max level players will only be able unlock roughly 30-40% of the entire tree. “If we imagine every single node on that massive Skill Tree affecting different skills in different ways, the path that you decide to take will determine big power increases and play style choices.”

One of the cooler aspects, the passive abilities in the roots — these will cover more general upgrades as seen below covering a mainline skill, an upgrade to that skill, and an overall passive.

Interestingly the whole Ancestral/Demonic/Angelic Power setup of tying buffs to item stats based on these three different paths is currently being looked into. According to Blizzard it “just isn’t cool enough in the current version of the pitch”. These were tied to items and as per the initial description, may have proved to be a little too complicated to keep track of. “You would need to constantly calculate each of the power levels of those items and compare with their overall power,” David notes. “It felt like an excessive amount of bookkeeping for the player.”

The final bit of very cool Diablo IV news is that Barbarian’s dual weapon switching ability is now being used as a basis to bring class mechanics across the board. The first of these will be an Enchantment system for the Sorceress, where a skill can be put into an enchantment slot. An example given is having the Meteor skill as an Enchantment, where meteors will strike at random as you attack. It makes a lot of sense for the Sorceress and Blizzard is looking to bring a distinct flavour to the Druid and other classes too.

Head Here for the Diablo IV Quarterly Update for September 2020

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