Diablo 4 devs talk levelling, skills and a potentially infinite endgame

(Image credit: Blizzard)

We may have been kept in the dark for years about the existence of Diablo 4, but now that developer Blizzard has confirmed it's on its way, we're getting regular updates on what to expect from the upcoming hack-and-slash dungeon crawler.

In a developer diary posted to the Diablo blog, lead systems designer David Kim has shared thoughts on the direction the game is taking.

Firstly, Kim discussed the concept of Itemization. Blizzard appears to be hoping to create far more flexibility in the way it lets players accrue power – not just through the items they collect, but through skills and levelling and item customisations. As a result, it appears it is hoping to do away with the idea of an "optimal" build that someone can simply search for online, in favor of more dramatically different play styles based on the above factors.

Also, despite appearing to the contrary during the Blizzon Diablo 4 demo, the user interface will not lock skills to certain slots, and will instead offer an "Elective Mode", allowing players to assign skills as they desire.

Endgame finalization has a long way to go

Any hardcore Diablo player knows there's more to the game than merely beating the story and seeing the credits roll, and that the endgame challenge of creating an ever-more powerful character is, arguably, where the real beauty of the game rests.

But as yet, according to Kim, "We haven’t decided whether the character leveling and experience system should be finite or infinite."

"We have a couple reasons for having a different experience system in addition to a level cap. A level cap gives us the ability to grant players a sense of completion. But for players who want to go deeper into the game, a second experience system allows us to capture the fun of achieving those really difficult endgame goals and ranks. 

"We can also introduce additional depth through this system, because players will be more experienced with the game at this point. Ultimately, our goal is to create a meaningful system that provides clear choices depending on your preferred playstyle in the endgame."

Regardless of the way the endgame is finally delivered, Blizzard is looking to make a game that you could theoretically play forever.

Diablo 4 will launch on PC, PS4 and Xbox One and, given the distant release date, likely the PS5 and Xbox Project Scarlett, too. No firm release date, however haas yet been set.

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Gerald Lynch

Gerald is Editor-in-Chief of iMore.com. Previously he was the Executive Editor for TechRadar, taking care of the site's home cinema, gaming, smart home, entertainment and audio output. He loves gaming, but don't expect him to play with you unless your console is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system. Before TechRadar, Gerald was Editor of Gizmodo UK. He is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press.