5 ridiculously broken Diablo 4 season 4 PTR builds that we may never see again

Diablo 4 — Inarius, the rogue Archangel, hovers in midair with tendril wings of light outstretched.
(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)
Diablo 4's new item crafting

Diablo 4 character Lilith with a pleased look on her face

(Image credit: Tyler C. / Blizzard)

Loot is now customizable in Diablo 4 through two new crafting systems: Tempering and Masterworking

Tempering lets you apply class-specific and supplementary stats onto your gear.

Masterworking replaces the current upgrade system so you can strengthen items even more than before with three chances to supercharge a random stat, including Tempered ones.

Diablo 4's new era begins with its next season on May 14. After months of work, Blizzard revealed its massive loot overhaul coming alongside season 4. Items are now customizable, easier to understand, and more powerful than ever before.

In the season 4 PTR, or beta test server, barbarians were spawning hundreds of tornadoes that could instantly kill the hardest bosses in the game—and your frame rate. Blizzard has already said PTR builds that trivialize the game are at the top of the nerf list, but I doubt it will remove them altogether.

Players settled on a few builds for every class that will be especially potent for climbing the ranks of Diablo 4's new endgame dungeons. In The Pit, enemies scale up to level 200 and you'll only have a few minutes to blast through them for the best rewards. The best season 4 builds will balance speed and damage with just enough survivability to avoid getting smashed by bosses at the end of each run.

To get an idea of how powerful the new item crafting systems are and what to expect for your favorite class next season, I've found the five strongest builds from the PTR. These surely won't be as strong in season 4 as they were in the PTR, but they'll still be great starting builds as you adjust to all the new changes.

I've also rated each one for how likely Blizzard will nerf it using a scale of one grimace emoji to five.

Sorcerers found the secret to immortality, again 

Nerf risk: 😬😬😬

Erase the number on the "days since sorcerers were immortal" sign because they did it again. With the power of Tempering, infinite Flame Shield is possible, giving you 100% uptime on a skill that makes you immune to all incoming damage.

All you have to do is get lucky with a solid roll of the "Flame Shield duration" affix on your helmet, chest piece, and amulet and death won't be a problem anymore. This build requires you to press three buttons—Flame Shield, Frost Bolt, and Teleport—to speed through dungeons untouched. You could put other skills on your bar, but you won't be using them.

For a faster build, check out the "Nova Sorcerer" build by Mekuna (one of the world's fastest Diablo 4 players) that makes it look like you're playing Diablo 2. 

Necromancer minions played the game for you 

Nerf risk: 😬😬

The boys in bone are back and they're doing ridiculous amounts of damage… maybe too much damage. Necromancer minions are finally good and there are several existing builds they can slot into. But most people want a build dedicated to having a skeleton army and I'm excited to say that it's not only possible, but will be extremely potent if Blizzard doesn't change anything.

How to construct a minion build is a little up in the air still. As long as you take everything you can in the skill tree, Paragon board, and list of Legendary powers associated with minions, you and your skeletons will thrive. Most of this is because minions inherit 100% of your necromancer's stats now, which means they are essentially as powerful as you are by default. Stack more bonuses on top, like the ability to make the entire screen weaker with a curse that covers the whole screen (through Tempering), and then relax as your undead posse finishes the dungeon for you. Pray that Blizzard lets minion necromancers be happy for once.

On the PTR, necromancers could use a new unique amulet to make a skill trigger high-damage effects way more than it should, dealing millions of damage. It will absolutely be nerfed, but Diablo 4 streamer Macrobioboi has a video explaining exactly how broken it really was.

Rogues could bathe in poison and survive 

Nerf risk: 😬

Rogues don't look like they'll be as absurdly strong as some of the other classes in season 4 unless Blizzard steps in and juices some of its lackluster skills. But one of the most popular builds from the launch of the game, Twisting Blades, was doing work in the hardest levels of The Pit.

Rogues have the unique ability to coat their weapons in poison and a new Tempering stat allows you to do it multiple times before the skill goes on cooldown. The result is a build where you surround yourself with poison-coated daggers and leap into a pack of monsters. It's risky—as most close-range rogue builds are—but the amount of poison going out activates a bunch of passive skills that give you temporary invulnerability. With precise execution, the build can survive just about anything.

Or you can pray that Blizzard doesn't nerf the "Elemental Surge" Tempering abilities that fuel rogue builds dependent on triggering huge bursts of poison damage, like this one from M1PY.

Barbarians were casually causing natural disasters 

Nerf risk: 😬😬😬😬😬

Dust Devil barbarians prompted lead class designer Adam Jackson to reiterate that the PTR tuning "is not final."

Imagine a normal view of someone playing Diablo 4 with the classic health and resource orbs at the bottom of the screen. Now imagine the rest of the screen is filled with so many overlapping orange tornadoes that you can barely tell what class they're playing. That is what it's like to be a barbarian spawning hundreds of bigger-than-normal Dust Devils through an "increased size" Tempering stat.

The build is fairly simple: spam attacks and spawn tornadoes until everything is dead. World bosses, normal bosses, level 200 bosses, it doesn't matter—nothing survives barbarians with an apocalypse in their pocket.

It's hard being the best class in the game every season. Out of the barbarians' 20 ways to instantly kill the hardest bosses in the game, one of them was recently hit with some massive nerfs. Barbarian expert Rob2628 investigated how bad Hammer of the Ancients got hit and still found a way to bring the big bonk back. 

Druids evolved into gods capable of doing trillions of damage for free 

Nerf risk: 😬😬😬😬😬

I have never seriously played a druid in Diablo 4 and it took me about an hour to set up what was easily the most broken build in the PTR. Druids can use Tempering to add a stat onto their weapon that increases the duration of their Hurricane skill. That alone means you can sprint through dungeons with a near-permanent AoE around you. The problem is that Hurricane isn't all that strong on its own.

Through a bug that nobody seems to understand, if you gather up all the damage bonuses from using a separate skill to trigger Hurricane, in this case Boulder, the damage quickly ramps up into the trillions. You don't need good gear and, as I found out, you don't even need to utilize the druid's unique class mechanic for passive bonuses (oops). No thoughts, only Hurricane.

Playing this Hurricane druid is like selecting the eraser tool and dragging your mouse through a dungeon full of monsters. The numbers simply don't mean anything once they hit the trillions.

Druids are actually in a kind of weird state: several skills on the PTR were unusable due to various bugs. They did, however, gain the same benefit as necromancer minions did for their companions, so you can technically run a build all about your pet wolves.

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.