While beta has become synonymous with demo, devs like Blizzard use these playtests as a testbed for balancing their games. And balance is a crucial part of loot games like the upcoming Diablo 4.
This past weekend’s beta gave us a small taste of the game’s story with three playable classes – Barbarian, Sorcerer, and Rogue. I rolled a Barbarian for the weekend, and while the class eventually grew into its own – the early going did feel a little too weak. And many other Barbarian players felt the same way based on Blizzard’s response in a recent GamesRadar chat.
“We don’t want a player who creates a Barbarian to feel weak at low levels,” says game director Joe Shely. “So we need to balance the class so that their strength at the end game is realized in that they are powerful, but without making the game unfair at low levels.”
Shely didn’t dive into many specifics on how they would boost the Barbarian, but did single out the Hammer of the Ancients as one skill that could use a boost. A broader AOE (area of effect) would probably help the skill feel better. Especially, when clearing out swaths of enemies. I switched between Whirlwind and Upheaval since they both did better in groups of enemies.
Shely did say the team believes the Barbarian’s strengths shine in Diablo 4’s late game. But the team is using last weekend’s beta (and this coming weekend’s) to gather feedback on how the various classes play through the first 25 levels.
When most of us think about games like Diablo 4, we laser focus on the endgame – but the devs need to make sure the entire experience is fun so players make it to the meat of the game.
Blizzard will host another weekend for the Diablo 4 open beta starting this Friday (March 24). We’ll be able to play through the first act and level characters up to 25. And we’ll also get a pair of new classes to try out with the Necromancer and Druid.
After this weekend, it’ll be about two months before we get our hands on the full game when Diablo 4 releases on June 6.