Diablo 4 director on loot: 'Getting this right is at the top of our minds'

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

A post-BlizzCon update from Diablo 4 game director Luis Barriga recaps what was undoubtedly a better experience for the studio than last year's show, saying that the team was "floored by the overall reception—especially from long-time Diablo players." He also reassured fans that Blizzard is paying close attention to conversations in the community, and that it's aware of one topic in particular that's "burning hotter than the rest."

"We’ve been taking this week to assess and discuss our takeaways from BlizzCon, and we love all the deep discussions happening around the art, features, systems, and world of Diablo 4. We’re also excited about a cool update we’re planning for you in February of next year. It will be the first in a series of quarterly updates where we’ll share behind-the-scenes looks at our progress going forward," Barriga wrote.

"We also know that one topic is burning hotter than the rest. We want you to know that we are having the same conversations about items and stats that you are having—whether on the official discussion threads or external sites, we read it all! Getting this right is at the top of our minds, and in the coming weeks our lead systems designer David Kim will provide a few clarifications, share some of his thoughts, and address some of your open questions. We hope you check it out and let us know what you think."

Frustratingly, Barriga doesn't say what that hot-burning topic actually is. Personally, I'm mad about the always-online requirement, but that's a carryover from Diablo 3 and doesn't seem as widely bothersome this time around. I suspected it might be the recent news that Diablo 4 will have microtransactions, a traditionally touchy topic: Details apparently haven't been nailed down but designer Joe Shely told streamer Quin69 (via PCGamesN) that players "will be able to acquire cosmetics" through an in-game shop.

A Blizzard rep clarified that Barriga was actually referring to 'itemization'—that is, the depth and complexity of loot and its impact on character builds. It's definitely a point of concern, on both Reddit and the Blizzard forums. This post, by Blizzard forumite Stonewater, goes deep into the topic, and while it's primarily an opinion piece it really highlights how seriously some players take it. Their concerns are no doubt exacerbated by the way Diablo 3 missed the mark.

Blizzard addressed some early concerns about itemization during the Diablo 4 Systems and Features panel at BlizzCon, but the rep said the development team wants to ensure that everyone is fully up to speed. 

"We have been seeing a lot of discussion within the community about the depth and complexity regarding D4 itemization," they said. "The team would like to share some additional context in the coming weeks around itemization and address some of the community's open questions."

If you haven't seen it yet, here's 24 minutes of Diablo 4 Barbarian gameplay, 20 minutes of Druidic action, and a breakdown of the lore and biblical references in the cinematic trailer. There is currently no release date for Diablo 4.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.