Will Diablo 4 have an Elective Mode for character builds?
The Diablo development team has been holding to their commitment to communication following the Diablo 4 announcement at BlizzCon. So far, we, the community, have enjoyed a post-BlizzCon letter from Game Director Luis Barriga and two blog posts by Lead Systems Designer David Kim. Each piece has shared answers to community questions, addressed potential changes, and provided elaboration on the details that came out of BlizzCon. In the first Systems Design blog post, David Kim addressed a concern folks have pondered since the BlizzCon demos: Are the devs doing away with Elective Mode?
The short answer is, “No!” — Diablo 4 will have an Elective Mode. But that may mean nothing to you if you don’t even know what Elective Mode is or why it’s important. So let’s break it down.
What is Elective Mode, and why do I care?
Elective Mode is a checkbox in Diablo 3‘s Gameplay menu that unlocks skill mappings to the category slots. It was added during the game’s beta, in part due to feedback about the “locked-in” skill UI that was part of the new skills interface. Initially, the new interface was meant to make classes easier to learn, acting as a clear-cut guide for builds. The skill interface was meant to be a great equalizer, opening up the game to less-savvy players; Elective Mode kept the game from alienating the experienced player base.
Enabling Elective Mode unlocks your character’s build in D3. Want to have Vault, Preparation, and Companion — all skills in the Hunting category — on your Demon Hunter at the same time? Elective Mode is what makes it happen. In addition to opening up the categories in general, Elective Mode lets you shuffle around your skills. Map your mobility skill — your Blood Rush, Steed Charge, Teleport — to your right-click, your main attack to left-click, whatever you want. Mind you: This is not the same as changing your key bindings, where you assign something aside from the numerical keys to use skills. Elective Mode allows you to fill your ability slots with any abilities you want, regardless of category.
Elective Mode and Diablo 4
The game demos during BlizzCon showed a limited-skill UI, as the game is still in early development, but it was enough to raise concerns among the player base that there was a repeat of the D3 beta experience coming down the pipe. Fortunately, this appears just to have been a limitation of the early demo that was available on the floor at BlizzCon. In the first Systems blog, David Kim confirmed the UI is nowhere near finished, Elective Mode-style skill selection will be available, and that “skill selection and assignment will always be completely open for all players.” You can breathe a sigh of relief.
This information becomes ever more interesting following Kim’s second Systems blog focusing more on itemization. The introduction of Angelic, Demonic, and Ancestral Power on gear will add a new dimension to the skill system. Do you want those boots with an affix requiring 50 Demonic Power to boost your Sorceress’s damage-over-time ability, even though you’ve been focusing on Angelic Power? What is the best item for your build: the Legendary with strong stats, or the Rare that empowers your skills?
Now, add in the late endgame consumables briefly touched on by Kim, described as an “Elective Mode for items.” Not only will build development progress through leveling, but it will also continue as the player progresses through increasingly difficult content, keeping the build a factor the player is continually considering, tweaking, and improving. It’s a strong contender for keeping players engaged!
Is my build style safe?
Hopefully, the direct “we will support this” statement means Elective Mode is locked in. Remember that the usual caveats apply to this news: Nothing is guaranteed, nothing is final, and nothing is safe (okay, the devs have not said this last one). The Diablo dev team has never shared this level of detail this early before, so it could all go sideways and end up as five levels of Whimsydale instead of a gritty nightmare-scape. The level of communication seems to be paying off so far in terms of keeping the community engaged and, if we’re lucky, it will see us all the way through until launch.
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