Diablo 4 season 4 'Loot Reborn' will change almost everything you know about the action RPG

Diablo 4 season 4 screenshots
(Image credit: Blizzard)

I'm not exaggerating when I say that almost everything you know about Diablo 4 is about to change. I played with most of what's coming alongside season 4 last month on a playtest server and, like many others, am now counting down the days until the real thing goes live on May 14.

Diablo 4 is going to feel like a new game—and a better game than the one last launched last year. The worst parts of it have been entirely reworked in season 4, like its overly complicated loot and limited build crafting. Blizzard's name for the season, "Loot Reborn", is genuinely an understatement; this is Diablo 4 reborn.

The first thing you'll notice when season 4 begins is the lack of a seasonal mechanic on par with the vampiric powers in season 2 or the robot spider companion in season 3. Season 4 won't give your character a bunch of new toys to play with that disappear when it ends. It doesn't need that kind of twist. Instead, Blizzard has kept the seasonal theme light so the spotlight stays on all the new permanent additions to the game.

More from PC Gamer's Diablo 4 season 4 interview

Diablo 4 — Inarius, the rogue Archangel, hovers in midair with tendril wings of light outstretched.

(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

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Season 3 feedback: Will vault dungeons return?
Solo boss farming: Blizzard's answer to the group advantage

Helltide is the star of season 4 and where you'll help the Iron Wolves, a group of mercenaries that first appeared in Diablo 2, with cleansing demon-infested regions of Sanctuary. Crushing monsters and a new boss in the now-redesigned Helltide open world events will earn you reputation with them, rewarding you with gear, boss-summoning items, and crafting materials, like the new Tempering manuals. The last reward will even grant you a Resplendent Spark, an ultra-valuable crafting material used for making an Uber Unique of your choice (you'll need four in total).

Blizzard also confirmed to me that there will be "seasonal only elixirs that are substantially more powerful than their normal counterparts," which probably means  the ones players found on the PTR last month that made Helltide monsters harder are coming, too.

The rest of the season is an opportunity to experiment with Diablo 4's overhauled loot, two new crafting systems, new endgame dungeons, and new elite bosses.

  • Loot 2.0: Items have fewer and stronger stats on them and won't drop from monsters as frequently as before
  • Item trading: All items (except Uber Uniques) can now be traded between players as long as they didn't alter them with crafting
  • Greater affixes: Legendary and Unique items have a chance to drop with extra powerful stats
  • Tempering: A new crafting system that allows you to add stats onto items that change how skills work, like the ability to set off a Corpse Explosion as big as your screen
  • Masterworking: An endgame crafting system that lets you boost stats on Legendary and Unique items up to 12 times
  • Codex of Power 2.0: Legendary powers, or aspects, found on gear are automatically saved so you can add them to items whenever you want—it also saves loads of stash space
  • The Pit: A 200-tier set of randomized endgame dungeons made for testing your character against the game's toughest monsters and bosses
  • Helltide 2.0: Hour-long events that take over a region of the world and fill it with heaps of monsters and opportunities for loot (now available in all world tier difficulties)
  • Tormented bosses: High-level versions of the existing bosses that reward extra loot
Lessons learned from the season 4 PTR

Diablo 4 cinematic screenshot

(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

Dust Devil barbarians won't tank your fps: Blizzard says the "visual noisiness and the amount of things you can spawn" have been reduced from the PTR
Monsters in The Pit will exceed level 199:
Blizzard says it "found some aspects of The Pit were a little bit too easy."
Crafting material cost improvements: Blizzard says the cost to imprint Legendary aspects has been "substantially reduced" and salvaging items rewards more Veiled Crystals
The chance to fail Masterworking has been removed: Blizzard says it will "mildly increase the material requirements" for Masterworking instead
The Elemental Surge Tempering affix has been nerfed:
Blizzard says that's been adjusted "to be a real number now."
Uniques won't look that different, yet: Blizzard says it's "toying around" with the ability to Temper Unique items (or something like that) in the future

That may seem like a lot, but those bullet points don't do the update justice. There are way more changes to classes and other smaller systems that will make Diablo 4 a smoother experience than it is right now. Take necromancers for example: Their skeletal minions have been underwhelming since release, but now they're responsible for some of the strongest builds in the game. We're getting the complete opposite of the painful season 1 patch that knocked everything fun and powerful in the game down a peg. Blizzard wants every class to have something as broken as a barbarian bonking a boss for a billion damage.

But season 4 isn't all about finally getting to stretch Diablo 4's skills and systems as far as you can, it's also the start of a new era for the action RPG as it enters its second year.

"This is really a new framework for us to continue to build upon in the future," associate game director Joe Piepiora told PC Gamer in an interview last week. "As a live game, we want to continue to build upon the fantasies we put in place so far and make these systems even more compelling in more interesting ways for players to go and have fun goals to chase but also have fun ways to increase their power."

Piepiora and lead class designer Adam Jackson teased the idea of expanding the item crafting systems and adding more tiers to The Pit in the future. That "future" won't be later in season 4, and I get the feeling it won't even be in season 5. My hunch is that it'll be in Diablo 4's first expansion, Vessel of Hatred, when it drops later this year. And I expect we won't have long to wait until we have the answer.

For now, we're getting what is Diablo 4's biggest and most important update ever, and it's going to go live with 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.