Diablo 4's 10K-word patch notes bless necromancers and curse barbarians for next week's season 4 PTR

Diablo 4 Necromancer wearing shop armor holding a sword and shield
(Image credit: Blizzard)

Diablo 4 is about to become a wildly different game. Starting in season 4 and onwards, every class, item, and progression system will work differently. Blizzard has released the over 10,000-word patch notes for all the changes you'll be able to test out in next week's season 4 playtest, or public test realm (PTR).

It's hard to overstate how dramatic the item rework will be. The core of the game—of any action RPG, really—is the gear you equip and how it interacts with your class. Now that you can add stats onto Legendary items and significantly upgrade them through two new crafting systems, everything will feel different. Keep in mind that we won't truly know the impact of the balance changes in the patch notes until the new context they live in becomes clear.

At the heart of this patch is a fundamental shift to how items in Diablo 4 work. Basically, you'll pick fewer of them up, but each one will have the potential to become a key element of your build through two new crafting systems: Tempering and Masterworking. Tempering lets you attach unique stats on your gear, like a chance for a necromancer's bone splinters to cast twice, and Masterworking—which will only be available at level 100—lets you significantly upgrade those stats to your liking. The idea is that no two items will look the same.

Blizzard also combed through each of the classes and fixed up the most underused skills and the skills that kept some classes unbeatable in the meta. Sorry, barbarians, that means the big bonk that could one-shot bosses won't be nearly as big anymore.

Here are the most notable class balance changes in the Diablo 4 season 4 patch notes: 

  • The strongest barbarian skills are getting heavy nerfs: Charge and Hammer of the Ancients have significantly reduced damage
  • Druids skills hit harder and flow better: Lacerate does way more damage and a Legendary Aspect makes Shred refund Spirit for more Shreds
  • Necromancer minion/summoner builds will be absurdly powerful: Minions inherit 100% of your stats and each type gives powerful bonuses to your damage output
  • Rogue grenades aren't trash anymore: New Uniques and substantial buffs to Legendary aspects make grenade skills extremely potent
  • Sorcerers are slower and colder: Infinite Teleporting is gone, but Frozen Orb is significantly stronger and hooks into a new Unique Amulet

Every elixir in the game will have stronger effects and a bigger boost to XP gains.

On top of that, Helltide open world events have been overhauled to have more monsters and a "threat" meter that will send demons to ambush you when it fills up. The Gauntlet, Diablo 4's weekly dungeon for high-score chasers, will now reward you with at least one guaranteed Unique item if you manage to meet Blizzard's par time (which is very easy to do). And every elixir in the game will have stronger effects and a bigger boost to XP gains.

There's still even more changes stuffed into the patch notes, but most of it will only make sense when we can get our hands on the PTR. Diablo 4 PC players who use the Battle.net launcher (not Steam), which includes Game Pass players, will be able to play on the week-long PTR starting on April 2. Blizzard says it will look at the feedback from it as it prepares to launch season 4 on May 14.

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.