A new Diablo IV developer update is here and comes bringing with it some surprisingly good news, and we're not talking about the cannibals here. From updated controller support to how they improved a classic couch co-op experience, the latest update is a hefty one!
Blizzard confirmed that they made some major revisions to the game's UI based on player feedback. The team also mentioned that with the changes meant a change to player goals, all in the name of ultimate game balance. That being said, Blizzard did outline some of the biggest changes that players can look forward, starting with the inventory:
"We saw a lot of feedback around the inventory, either regarding its coloring, the style/size of the item icons, or overall aesthetic. To avoid interrupting gameplay with pockets of inventory management, we’re not planning on bringing back different-sized items. However, we’ve been tackling the other points from a variety of directions.
"With item icons, we’d initially pursued a painterly style to stay in line with the overall art direction of the game, and we’re finding that it doesn’t come across as well when we’re talking about small elements in the UI. We’re now exploring another approach more directly based off the 3D models to give them natural texture and realism."
They also drastically toned down the saturation of brightness of the icons and backgrounds in a push for easier accessibility in terms of rarity indicators.
Another change that I'm personally really excited for is the ability to rebind left-click. That may sound simple, but it makes the world of difference. According to Blizzard, "A surprising number of players asked for the option to rebind their primary skill to anything but the left mouse button so that they could separate moving from attacking. Adding more flexibility to our binding options had already been on our radar for a while, and the demo feedback helped confirm that this was a customization feature that players really wanted.
In addition to giving players the freedom to assign any skill to any slot from the get-go, all skill slots can now have their keys rebound. We’re committed to supporting skill rebinding for controllers as well."
They also added the left-corner action bar: "The left-corner configuration came about because we wanted to try clearing the central combat area and freeing up the bottom of the screen where the isometric camera already sees less. However, based on usability test results, the team’s feedback, and the feedback we received from the demo, we’re going to move the default position of the action bar back to the bottom center for PC players."
When people play further from the screen, the preferred position can change, which is where the left-corner configuration becomes pretty nifty.
Blizzard also stated that because this is the first Diablo game that is developed for both PC and console at the same time, controller support was key so that players have their choice between playing with the traditional mouse and keyboard configuration or opt into a controller-fueled experience.
As far as couch co-op goes, Blizzard changed the way players experience the game together. With Reaper of Souls, if two people play together and one of the players was in the UI screen, the other one couldn't do anything. It's because of that inability to move that many felt underwhelmed by the shared experience, something they very much addressed with the fourth game:
For Diablo IV, we decided to focus on improving the favored 2-player co-op experience and set up our core progression UI screens such that they can be opened independently or at the same time.
"We iterate on this interface regularly and ease of interaction comes before visual polish, but we still welcome impressions at any stage. Everyone approaches the game with a different set of experiences and, consequently, different expectations for how things should look or work and it’s always interesting to hear these perspectives."
Now to the good part: Cannibals. Oh, and other creatures too.
"If you had the chance to watch our World and Lore Panel during BlizzCon, you learned that monsters in Diablo IV are classified into “families.” In our various panels we covered different monster families such as the Fallen, who are returning to once again terrorize Sanctuary, and the Drowned, who are a brand new threat plaguing the shores of this world. We touched on their story, combat abilities, the regions they inhabit, and how they interact with one another in a meaningful way. Now, we would like to give you a look into another new family: The Cannibals."
For those that played previous Diablo titles, more specifically Diablo III, monsters were painted with pretty broad strokes by encasing all beings into 5 categories: demon, humanoid, undead, unholy, and wildlife. While they had much to offer i in terms of the story, there was so much more room for growth and more detail. "In Diablo IV, the vast and seamless world we created necessitates a slightly different approach to worldbuilding and storytelling. It requires building Sanctuary as a living, breathing character—especially through its creatures. Since we have everything from serene ocean cliffsides to the gaping maw of Hell itself, what does that mean for the bestiary? Well, to fill those areas and make them feel real, we definitely needed to have more non-aggressive wildlife than in Diablo III. But never fear, we still have plenty of monsters to fight."
To take the lore to an even deeper level, the general philosophy regarding monsters was to make them as gritty and dark as possible and oftentimes inspired by Lovecraft. From small NPCs to giant bosses, everything got a massive rehaul when it came to making that monster family grow.
While exciting, it's important to remember that Diablo IV is still a long way away but hopefully the latest development update is enough to get fans hyped!