Diablo 4 is all about builds: How your class, stats, skills, and equipment come together to enable you to kick the most demon ass in the least amount of time. Some builds are very powerful, others not so much, but one—the "Lightning Shred Druid 2.0," as streamer Moxsy calls it—is doing so much damage, it might as well be broken.
As noted by IGN, Moxsy has been sharing his odyssey of destruction on Twitter over the past several days. He came just shy of 1 billion damage on July 7:
I don't know if that was actually the highest damage ever hit in Diablo 4 up to that point, but it's undeniably impressive.
Just a day later, though, he basically doubled that whopper with a 1.8 billion damage punch in the chops to an unlucky minion of Hell.
Ouch, that's gotta sting:
So how can this kind of mega-deletion damage be possible? It's not a bug or an exploit, but a carefully crafted build that takes advantage of legendary item aspects and "double-dipping" to stack increasingly massive amounts of damage in the Shred attack.
There's a lot of complexity involved in pulling it all together, which Moxsy breaks down in detail in a build at DPS Check, but our in-house Diablo 4 pro Tyler Colp laid it out for me like this:
- Waxing Gibbous axe to guarantee Shred crit strikes
- Dire Wolf's aspect makes Grizzly Rage (Druid ultimate skill) reduce Shred Spirit cost so you can spam it
- Aspect of the Rampaging Werebeast stacks critical strike damage for every critical strike you get while in Grizzly Rage (which is all the time with Waxing Gibbous)
- Stormclaw Aspect makes Shred critical strikes deal a big percentage of the damage as Lightning damage to enemies around you, and when it triggers (all the time with Waxing Gibbous) it double dips on damage multipliers—which you stack with all your other gear, skill points, and Paragon points
The tl;dr, as he put it, is that the build deals "constant big critical strike hits that double dip on damage modifiers and constantly trigger area-of-effect lightning damage."
"With this build, we are stacking well over 1,000% crit damage to enemies," Moxsy says in his video explainer. "And the more crits that we hit in Grizzly Rage, the more this additive crit damage multiplier is going to stack up ... and we're critting all the time."
There's a certain element of randomness to the whole thing, as some Diablo 4 dungeons are apparently more conducive to massive damage stacking than others. Also very important is that you have to be killing everything, everywhere, all at once: Moxsy said his damage spikes didn't get serious until he started “snowballing” by one-shotting elites and large packs of enemies.
Of course, that becomes a problem in fights against powerful bosses like Uber Lilith, where there aren't large packs of fodder to feast on in order to build up your damage stack. But as streamer echohack demonstrated, it's still achievable—in fact, they landed a 2.1 billion damage shot on Uber Lilith at one point, and were able to absolutely smoke the game's toughest enemy in just 90 seconds.
Unlike the Lightning Shred Druid, which uses relentless high-speed murder to build up damage, Echohack's "Shred Poison Druid" relies on stacking massive poison damage and proccing a huge critical hit. So it suffers from the opposite problem: It's great for one-on-one throwdowns with big heavies, but is much less effective in standard dungeon runs.
"When you're bouncing between enemies, [the poison aspect] never activates," Moxsy said in his analysis of echohack's build. "The only way to get that aspect to actually activate is to poison an enemy and then walk significantly further away from them, and then dash in.
"Poison damage, for the most part, for ad clearing isn't really great because you're not able to stack it up. But for a tanky boss, you can stack it up really hard."
As absolutely bonkers as these numbers are, they may in fact be just the beginning: Moxsy said he believes that under the right circumstances, players should be able to do single strikes of 100 billion damage or more.
"I think that's honestly on the low end," he said. "I haven't found a Lethal Shrine [which adds critical damage bonus to lightning strikes] and [had] all the stars aligning at the same time, but I do think we could legit break the integer cap."
I don't have the patience to play videogames this way, but I can't be too critical of those who do: After all, I built my Elden Ring character specifically so I could insta-fry enemies rather than give them a fair fight. But at some point you do have to wonder whether Diablo 4 is a little broken, or at least that some bits of it are in serious need of a nerf.
Sure enough, in a statement sent to PC Gamer, Blizzard confirmed that these outrageous damage numbers shouldn't be happening.
"This behavior is unintentional," a Blizzard rep said. "The team is looking at changing it in the near future in order to improve the balance."
Personally, I think that if you can build it, you should be able to rock it, but it's not really surprising that Blizzard wants to tamp the druids down a bit: Big numbers are fun, but it's fair to say that this is a little out of hand. A more specific timeline on the potential change wasn't provided, but I'd expect to see some sort of adjustment fairly soon—so enjoy the action while you can, Shred Druids.