Diablo general manager Rod Fergusson had some reassuring words for Diablo 4 players concerned that they won't be able to respec their characters because the cost will be too high: It won't be.
Respeccing is simply the act of reassigning your character's skill or ability points because there's a new meta, or you want to try something different, or you just got bored. In games like Diablo 4, where character builds are central to the experience, a lot of players enjoy being able to experiment: I, for instance, made a barbarian in the Diablo 4 beta who liked to bash heads with a huge hammer; in the second beta weekend, I switched him up to a sword-swinger. (I didn't like that nearly as much, though, so I switched back.)
In Diablo 4's early game, respeccing is free, but as your character's level rises, so does the cost, paid with in-game gold. The Diablo 4 beta capped players at level 25 so it was impossible to see just how expensive it might get at high levels, but in a November 2022 interview with IGN, Fergusson said some players might decide it's better to just create a whole new character than redo their current one.
"There's going to be a point in time where you go, like, oh, I'd like to be a different barbarian, but it's too expensive to undo everything I've done. It's actually better for me to roll another barbarian and start a new one, and go fresh," Fergusson said. "And we wanted that, that notion that with each level you progress down a character, you're becoming more and more attached to it, and getting more and more settled with it."
Not everyone was enamored with the prospect of having to start over in order in order to play around with high-level builds, though, particularly those of us who don't have quite as much free time to sink into games as we used to. HackTimhack91 cut right to the point on Twitter: "We're all older now and really don't want to have to remake characters (huge time waste) instead of being able to more easily redistribute skill points," they wrote.
In response to that tweet, Fergusson implied that Blizzard isn't going to be as hard-ass about respeccing high-level Diablo 4 characters as he'd originally indicated. "It's not prohibitively expensive and we've made it easier by being able to refund a single skill point or the entire tree at once," he tweeted.
That's brought a mix of relief and continued consternation in the Diablo 4 subreddit. "This is a good step imo but I hope they also don't make the cost negligible so it actually feels like people have a build like a traditional RPG and people don't just freely use all the skills whenever they want for any situation," hs_serpounce wrote.
Redditor khrucible replied that "it never was prohibitively expensive, just expensive," adding, "That [IGN interview] quote was so out of context and parroted around like you had to restart if you made a mistake which was completely false from the start."
Elendel19 echoed khrucible's comment, saying, "It’s not that you can’t change your build, it’s that you can’t change your build 5 times a day to min-max the exact content you’re doing moment to moment. If you want an optimized sorc for both pve and pvp, you will want to make 2 characters."
"Don't think anyone really thought you literally had to restart, but rather that you basically will have to restart," redditor simplytatered wrote. "The communication was that, at some point, you'll spend more time farming money to respec than you would to simply level a new character, and so the latter would be better at that point and beyond. That sucks and seems like a meaningless limitation."
Of course, Fergusson's statement is vague, and "prohibitive" is entirely subjective: Beta testers estimated that a full respect would cost more than 12 million gold, which Elendel19 reckoned can be earned in a day or two—but that's likely a day or two of much harder grinding than I'd be interested in doing. We won't really know how it's going to work out until Diablo 4 comes out on June 6, but for now at least eager fans can take a little comfort knowing that Blizzard isn't' aiming to go too hard on them.