Diablo IV, like all games that rely on character complex builds, is strongly affected by what players call "the meta." Yet, the developers have plans to shake it up.
Techraptor spoke with Associate Game Director Joseph Piepiora, who provided more insight on how the team at Blizzard is planning to keep players on their toes in the future beyond Season 1, and what exactly is going to happen with Malignant Hearts when the season ends.
According to Piepiora, shaking up the meta is the goal of every new season, and the new Malignant Powers in Season 1 are indeed going to change the ways players look at their builds. There are some effects in the game that the development team wants to take a deeper look at, and an example is Vulnerable Damage. A lot of players find it necessary to have a lot of Vulnerable damage stacked. When the game launched it was a bit overturned, causing players not to want to play classes or specs that don't rely heavily on Vulnerable Damage.
When the developers identify elements that are vastly outperforming to the point that they're limiting creativity. Vulnerable Damage was already tweaked in yesterday's update, but Piepiora mentions that more is coming.
We're not making big changes to Vulnerable in Season 1, but we have plans for Season 2 and beyond, these are the sorts of things we want to change.
He explained that in Season 1 there are tons of balancing changes going in to lift up other builds and make things more viable, including what has been done with the Malignant Hearts that serve as an additional layer to allow players to find new problems to solve and new ways to maximize their characters.
We're excited about the changes to come, and we think there's even more as we go deeper in the seasons, more and more opportunities to continue to change the meta and look at other builds"
Speaking of the Malignant Hearts, which will be introduced in Season 1, Piepiora explained that at the end the season, your seasonal characters will be transferred to the Eternal realm. Their gear will remain unchanged, but the items that have Malignant Hearts slotted will have these sockets emptied.
This complete removal of the Malignant Hearts allows season-specific mechanics to actually change the way you play and they're potent enough to make a difference. If all of the seasonal mechanics persisted and transferred to the Eternal Realm, Diablo IV would end up in a situation that the content becomes so dense and complicated that every new thing added would have to be extremely small in terms of overall impact
That being said, this doesn't mean that seasonal content may never return. Piepiora explains that they will still exists on the development side, and the team may choose to bring them back at some point, change them, update them, or do something with them in the future as they like.
If hypothetically players find Malignant Hearts to be the greatest system ever added to any game in all time, we can probably assume that they'd return at some point in some format, either added to the evergreen experience longer-term and making the necessary concessions so that it happens in a meaningful way, or as part of a big update for a season.
Diablo IV is now available for PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, and PlayStation 4. Of course, you can read our full review of the game, in which our Austin Suther mentioned that it "delivers exciting and accessible ARPG gameplay, a stunning world and engaging narrative to experience, and so many activities to keep you hooked for hours on end."