Diablo 4's strongest builds are being nerfed in the name of increasing build variety: 'Our goal is not to make you weaker'

Diablo 4 Sorceress in red robes
(Image credit: Tyler C. / Activision Blizzard)
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Since launch, Diablo 4's strongest builds have been fueled by the exceptional power of multiplying two damage stats together to get a really, really big number when you hit an enemy. In season 2, the math will work differently, resulting in lower damage numbers, but a wider range of possibilities for your build, Blizzard announced during its Campfire Chat stream today.

Look up any Diablo 4 build guide and you'll be told to take every skill and item that increases your Critical Strike Damage and Vulnerable Damage. Both of these percentages—which could be as high as 150 or more—would multiply with each other and rocket your damage numbers up, letting some classes hit bosses for millions of points of damage.

In a patch alongside the beginning of the Season of Blood on October 17, your bonus Critical Strike Damage and Vulnerable Damage will be added together and then multiplied by a set percentage for each stat. Your Critical Strikes will always multiply your damage by 50% and hitting Vulnerable-afflicted enemies will always multiply your damage by 20%. So, instead of the absurdly high numbers you'd get before, the total amount caps out at 80% (1.5 x 1.2).

This change significantly reduces the grip that builds focusing on both of these stats had on the game while, if it all works out, still maintaining a strong incentive to combine them when it suits your desired playstyle. And, like the recent list of excellent quality of life changes, should ideally add much-needed variety to the game.

"Our goal is not to make you weaker, it's to make everything have more parity, and we're going to balance the whole game around this new world that we live in in the Season of Blood," lead class designer Adam Jackson said on the stream.

In addition to making monsters slightly weaker to compensate, Blizzard is adding damage bonuses to items and skills, or, as Jackson says, into "player interaction." One of the examples showed a current Sorcerer Paragon node that reduces your cooldowns and mana cost by 5% for every Conjuration skill you have on your bars. In season 2, that node will now reduce the cooldowns and mana cost of your Conjuration skills by 10% and make them deal bonus damage equal to 3% (multiplicative) of your bonus fire, lightning, and cold stats.

The goal is to add value to specific stats based on your build rather than encouraging everyone to chase after the same broader stats, like Critical Strike Damage and Vulnerable Damage. Those stats will still be useful, but they won't feel like they're required.

Most of these changes will be felt after level 50 in Diablo 4's endgame, but Blizzard says it's planning on continuing this design philosophy in the future so that there are more viable builds to use from the start.

Many of season 2's upcoming Vampiric Powers were designed with this in mind, and will hopefully lead to a lot more variety than the one Malignant Heart everyone used in season 1.

Diablo 4 season 2 launches on October 17.

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.