Diablo 4 developers gently suggest players should 'take a break' if the endgame grind's wearing them down

Lorath, an aging horadrim with silver hair and a beard, flashes a rare smile.
(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

As reported by Gamesradar+, a developer livestream last week featured an offhanded remark by associate game director Joseph Piepiora while they were discussing Diablo 4's seasonal structure.

"When you’ve reached all the goals and done the things you think are important, take a break, that's fine [...] we do the same thing," he then goes on to add "when a new season [arrives] and there's new things for you to come check out, that's a great time to come back [...] that's exactly when you should come back and check out Diablo 4 fresh."

That's a good mentality in theory, and it jives with a design statement set out a little earlier in the stream by Rod Fergusson, franchise general manager: "We want somebody who buys the game a year from now to not feel like they're a year behind [...] seasons allow us to have that fresh start for everybody."

It reminds me of how Naoki Yoshida, director and producer of Final Fantasy 14, addressed the question of how to maintain motivation while playing. "Do come back and play it to your heart's content when the major patch kicks in, then stop it to play other games before you [get] burnt out, and then come back for another major patch."

This idea has generated a lot of good will for Square Enix's flagship MMO because Final Fantasy 14 doesn't build itself upon any brutal grinds. You simply do the content, and then it's done. The same cannot, however, be said for Diablo 4.

In a thread titled "Longtime Diablo 2 Player Here - Diablo 4 Loot System is Just Not Fun", user Eastern-Track-8009 writes "I feel like after 40 levels or so in Diablo 4, the loot just got super repetitive and was merely micro upgrade upon micro upgrade."

Meanwhile, Blizzard's latest clamp-down on ultra-rare items still has players enraged, accusing the design team of stopping people from skipping the grind queue instead of targeting issues that were actually ruining their fun. Of course, these are meant to be ultra-rare items—but they're in the game, people will want them, and they're obscenely unlikely to drop.

Even PC Gamer's Sarah James has had her fill, and I'm pretty much feeling the same. I've no desire to grind out my druid to level 100, because even at around level 58 the progress has felt absurdly slow. Scrambling across the overworld to find every fully-poseable mint-condition Lilith action figure lost its appeal pretty quickly, too.

I've no doubt that Piepiora means what he's saying, and seasons are a good way to achieve the team's stated goals. However, those goals clash hard with Diablo 4's general stinginess with upgrades, experience points, and gold. Legendaries can even be rendered utterly useless due to randomisation

It's all well and good to say players should take a break once they've "reached all the goals" and done all the "things they think are important", but thanks to a punishing levelling structure, most players are burning out before they actually do either of those things. Combining seasonal alts with a neverending treadmill strikes me as an ill-advised attempt by Blizzard to have its cake and eat it too.

Maybe Blizzard will respond to feedback and make the journey to 100 less horrid over time, or maybe we'll all get loot-sick and succumb to the cult of the rat. Either way, you'll be able to play the new season with its accompanying battle pass on July 20.

Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.