Blizzard on this week's Diablo 4 nerfs: 'We know it is not fun ... we don't plan on doing a patch like this ever again'

During an emergency 'uh oh, everyone's mad' livestream today, Diablo 4 community manager Adam Fletcher said that this week's controversial patch, which heavily nerfed overall player damage output and survivability, is not something Blizzard plans to repeat. 

"We want to acknowledge everyone's feedback in regard to reducing player power," said Fletcher. "We know it is bad. We know it is not fun ... We also want to talk about what we were trying to achieve specifically with this patch and with the changes that players ended up seeing. And then, separately, we do want to also talk about how we don't plan on doing a patch like this ever again."

Associate game director Joe Piepiora went on to explain some of Blizzard's thinking behind the patch. The goal was to slow down builds that were "blasting through content"—which is fun, Piepiora admitted—to keep any one stat, particularly cooldown reduction and vulnerable, from dwarfing the effectiveness of all the others. However, knowing that this week's nerfs were "painful," Diablo 4's developers say they're going to make changes—without totally backpedaling on the 1.1 patch.

"Ultimately, what we're trying to do is make the game more fun for players," said game director Joe Shely. "The players are at the heart of everything we're doing, and if players can't believe that, as the game evolves, the game will get more fun, we're not accomplishing our goals."

The following Diablo 4 changes are coming soon to alleviate some of the pain from the last patch:

  • Nightmare dungeon difficulty will be hotfixed today, increasing the enemy density in them substantially, and in Helltide events as well
  • Buffs to underused Sorcerer and Barbarian Legendary aspects in 1.1.1
  • Adding an additional stash tab in 1.1.1
  • Elixir stack size will be raised to 99 in 1.1.1
  • Respec gold costs will be reduced by "about 40%" in 1.1.1

The patch that will contain most of these changes, patch 1.1.1, will be here within two weeks, say the devs. Notably, they didn't say that they'll be rolling back any of the most controversial changes in patch 1.1, such as the massive nerf to Sorcerer’s Devouring Blaze.

Diablo 4's leads also announced some changes that won't make it into the 1.1.1 patch, but are coming sometime in the future:

  • Uber Uniques will drop a little more often than they do now
  • Crowd control skills will be more effective with the increased enemy density changes
  • World Tiers 3 and 4 will introduce new activities to incentivize you to work towards them
  • The UI team is excited about skill loadouts, but there's no timeline for the feature—sounds like a long way off
  • They want to improve filters to make it easier to compare items
  • They plan to add more ways to farm specific Uniques and Aspects
  • They'll talk about Sorcerer survivability on next week's stream, and are aware of the issue with too many one-shots at high tier difficulties
  • They want to reduce inventory pressure that stems from players hanging on to too many extracted Aspects
  • Necromancer minion survivability and viability is being looked at
  • Treasure Goblins will drop Legendary items more often

The devs also made some promises about how they'll handle future balance changes to avoid a repeat of this week's community shock and dismay. 

  • Future hotfixes and patches will have their notes published before they go live
  • Future balance updates will allow "some builds to be overpowered" until "compelling alternatives" have been introduced
  • Big balance shifts will "occur at predictable times, like at the start of a Season"
  • However, if an OP build results from a bug, they'll still fix it quickly. (A recent example was a Barbarian build that relied on a bug that was fixed in 1.1.)

A number of players are not thrilled that nothing in the latest patch is being reverted and that the most promising changes are still far off. Even though Blizzard admits it failed at smoothly addressing balance issues in this instance, players are having trouble believing that things will change in the future.

"I'll say that my confidence in this group is extremely low, not because of the changes they are talking about, but because they were clearly very confident in this last patch and surprised by how bad it was," one Reddit commenter wrote in a thread about the stream.

Associate Editor

Tyler has covered games, games culture, and hardware for over a decade before joining PC Gamer as Associate Editor. He's done in-depth reporting on communities and games as well as criticism for sites like Polygon, Wired, and Waypoint. He's interested in the weird and the fascinating when it comes to games, spending time probing for stories and talking to the people involved. Tyler loves sinking into games like Final Fantasy 14, Overwatch, and Dark Souls to see what makes them tick and pluck out the parts worth talking about. His goal is to talk about games the way they are: broken, beautiful, and bizarre.