Being a truly insufferable dweeb, I immediately gravitated towards the Sorcerer class in Diablo 4, and had a pretty good time turning the legions of hell into sparking pools of electrified sludge. But it seems not everyone had quite the same power fantasy. People who elected to play as the closed beta's rippling, musclebound Barbarian have been lamenting that the class feels weirdly weak, unable to weather the blows that its up-close-and-personal, melee-focused combat style exposes it to.
But Blizzard tells GamesRadar that it has plans to change that. Diablo's game director Joe Shely says Blizzard doesn't "want a player who creates a Barbarian to feel weak at low levels," and that the devs will be using feedback from the beta period to "balance the class so that their strength at the end game is realised in that they are powerful, but without making the game unfair at low levels.”
Shely makes it sound like the really difficult part of rebalancing Barbarian will be threading the needle in such a way that it doesn't upend every other class in the game. Because the game's various classes aren't all equally powerful at any given level, it can be a bit of a fine-wire act to tune them up or down in a way that doesn't end up making other classes feel more or less useful.
In other words, I imagine it'd be pretty easy to just amp up the Barbarian's damage output or defence abilities, but you could just end up making some other class feel as relatively underpowered as the Barbarian does right now.
That's probably why Shely didn't go into huge detail about how the Barbarian would be pepped up, but he did at least note the Hammer of the Ancients skill as one that could do with a little more oomph. On the flipside, he remarked that the Sorcerer's frost abilities were "really strong" at the moment—although he added that lightning leaves something to be desired—so that probably heralds an end to my go-to tactic of just hurling frost orbs in every direction whenever I enter a room.
We've only seen three of Diablo 4's five announced classes so far: the Rogue, Sorcerer, and Barbarian, with the remaining two—Druid and Necromancer—set to become playable in the open beta coming this weekend. That kicks off this Friday, March 24, at 9 am PT / 12 pm ET / 4 pm GMT, with preloads becoming available tomorrow.