Diablo 4’s loot rework is a huge win, but a new problem needs attention

Make me earn it.

No one arguing in good faith could reasonably claim Diablo 4’s new season, Loot Reborn, hasn’t been a massive boon for the game’s longevity. The game reached a new all-time peak of over 28,000 players on Steam over six months after its initial launch thanks to this season’s major overhauls to loot systems, upgrades, class balance, and more. With all this knob-turning and sweeping modification, however, comes a new problem: game balance.

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Diablo 4 is now too easy

When I say game balance, I don’t mean how one class performs compared to others. Gone are the days of Barbarian and Sorcerer supremacy: now every class has a nearly equally-busted collection of fantastic builds. No, I mean game balance of the player-versus-enemy variety. The game is, for the majority of an average player’s experience, easy to a degree that borders on braindead.

This isn’t an unexpected result of objective increases to player power and agency in the form of Tempering and the new, absolutely bonkers affixes it brings. Even just throwing a few build-appropriate affixes on your weapons will give you more felt power than ten or fifteen levels would. But still, in an effort to preserve “fun,” it seems the team more than slightly overshot the mark, resulting in a leveling experience that feels about as frictional as a freshly-Zamboni’d hockey rink.

Until endgame, the game is a breeze

Diablo 4 World Tier 3
Screenshot from Destructoid

I knew there was a slightly more serious problem than the game being a little too easy when I was face-rolling Capstone Dungeons (required to progress to the next World Tier difficulty) upwards of 20 levels earlier than I should have been just to feel something. Even then, when I’d progressed to a zone where enemies’ levels displayed an ominous “you’re not supposed to do this yet” red hue, I was cutting them down all the same.

To be fair, blasting enemies in the dozens, hundreds, and thousands is fun.. for a little while. But after reaching level 80 or so my eyes are starting to glaze over every time I enter the game, run headfirst into the Helltide after popping a Profane Mindcage and utterly decimate every foe with the press of a button. Even World Bosses die in a matter of seconds. There’s no longer a measuring stick for player power besides the endgame Pit because from the moment your build starts to function until the moment enemies start one-shotting you in the Pit, the amount of pushback you’ll be getting from foes will remain around zero.

The Diablo 4 grind is no longer rewarding

How to get and use Stygian Stone in Diablo 4 Season 4
Screenshot from Destructoid

Diablo 4 is primed to be the perfect “brain-off” game. Action RPGs in general are my go-to “second screen” games that I use to catch up on YouTube videos which may or may not have recently included a four hour essay on the failed Star Wars hotel. But the “brain-off” properties should probably come after you’ve spent some time crafting a build, earning great loot, and upgrading your character until your mere presence causes rooms of enemies to explode instantly. By offering this fantasy almost immediately, players are being robbed of the draw of action RPGS entirely: to start out annoyingly underpowered and eventually becoming a God.

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