Diablo 4's first big patch is here, and it's almost entirely game balance tweaks

Diablo 4 screenshot
(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

Hello everyone, we're still two days from the release of Diablo 4 and I'm already tired to trying to keep up with class balance tweaks. It has been negative two (-2) days since launch, sorry, two days since early access launch for people who paid more and two days until proper launch and we've got our first patch and it's... almost entirely nerfs and buffs. Class balance tweaks!

The patch rolled out just a few hours later, and a brief overview of the notes shows some nerfs for Barbarians, Rogues, and Sorcerers, while Druids got a few buffs and Necromancers got almost exclusively buffs.

Most notably, Barbarians' Challenging Shout had its damage reduction per skill rank halved, while Rogues' Dark Shroud damage reduction per shadow per skill rank was also halved and sorcerers lost two seconds off of Shimmering Teleport's damage reduction. Several other Barbarian skills were nerfed, and their notable Gohr's Devastating Grips item was absolutely piledrivered into the dirt: Its Whirlwind explosion damage gained was reduced from 50-70% down to 16-26%. Meanwhile, 15 of the 16 tweaks to Necromancers increased their power.

Blizzard was very clear about their reasons for the patch, saying in the notes: "While we want players to both feel and be truly powerful, some Class builds and synergies are outside of our bounds for what is reasonable for the health of the game, so we are reducing their effectiveness. As an example, we generally want to avoid creating situations where players can survive unreasonably high amounts of damage for long periods of time because it too greatly warps our vision for how combat should be in Diablo IV."

Also, I found this bugfix very funny: "Fixed an issue where if a Sorcerer uses Deep Freeze and is affected by another effect that would freeze them, it caused them to be permanently stunned."

The patch was announced in a note posted last night on Blizzard's forums by community manager PezRadar about two hours before the patch itself launched. Forewarning was given for those playing in hardcore mode: "Because there is a new update and we have players playing in hardcore, we want to make sure you all are given a heads up regarding these changes beforehand," it said.

While I understand the nature of live service games means that these tweaks feel urgent to many people, for my part, I hope this isn't the pace of balance updates we can expect from Diablo 4. Patches tweaking how skills work every two or three days will very, very rapidly become tiresome when every time you log in your character works differently. I can only hope that this whole damage reduction thing must have been a really urgent issue visible only from Blizzard's backend stats.

You can read the whole set of patch notes on Blizzard's website.


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Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.