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DiabloSep 29, 2020 4:00 pm CT

Diablo 4 classes all have unique gameplay mechanics, like Sorceress Enchantments revealed in today’s dev update

Game Director Luis Barriga has given us a lot to mull over in the latest Diablo 4 development update. But to my eyes, the most interesting update is about the Sorceress and the Enchantment system, which lets the class turn active skills into passive skills.

It’s a gameplay element that’s unique to the class much as the Arsenal system is to Barbarians. The Diablo team is working on a unique mechanics for each class in Diablo 4, which isn’t something I’ve seen in a Diablo game before. It gives each class a distinct and different playstyle, with the wild elemental powers of the Sorceress compared to the frenzied melee attacks of the Barbarian.

So what is the Enchantment system, and what other Diablo 4 news do we have? Let’s take a look at the dev update.

Enchantments give the Sorceress choose big passive buffs

Every class has active skill slots, similar to what you’re familiar with from Diablo 3. But the Sorceress also has Enchantment slots. Skills can be pleased in either slot, but when in the Enchantment slot, they’re no longer available as active skills: instead they become passive buffs.

For example, Ball Lightning, when used as an active skill, is pretty straightforward: you summon a ball of lightning that slowly moves into your enemies. But used in the Enchantment slot, it becomes a passive ability that forms Ball Lightning randomly. Essentially, instead of a spell you cast it becomes a proc ability. So instead of summoning Ball Lightning when you cast the spell, it becomes something that happens periodically while you’re playing, meaning you can’t control when it happens but you also don’t have to do anything — it’ll activate on its own while you’re playing. Another example was the Meteor spell. Used as an active skill, you call Meteors down on your enemies. Used passively in the Enchantment slot, it becomes a nice bonus ability — periodically, while using your other damaging skills, Meteors will rain down from the sky on your foes. In the case of Ball Lightning, the trade off for making it a passive with the Enchantment slot is that you no longer get the bonus mana effect of the Crackling Energy that you normally would get.

I find this fascinating both because it makes the Sorceress a class which can make decisions on what spells it wants to actively cast and control vs. what spells it wants as buffs that engage on their own. It gives the class a unique playstyle that entire builds could be built around. And on top of that, the dev update specifically mentions that a similar unique mechanic is in the works for Druids, and I’m fascinated to see what it is and how it plays.

A redesigned skill tree prioritizes player choice

As cool and interesting as the Enchantment system seems, we did find out more. The team’s internal testing has led to a significant redesign of skills and talents: a new skill tree allows for a great deal more depth and complexity to these choices. The skill tree works in a progressive way — you gain skill points that you can spend on the upper level of the tree to unlock choices further down the tree, including passive abilities that buff your overall playstyle. The goal is to reach one of several possible end-goals as you advance in level.

One thing that’s made clear is that you’ll have to make choices as to what skills to prioritize and what build you want. You’ll only be able to unlock somewhere between 30 and 40% of the overall tree at max level, meaning that there simply won’t be enough points to get every option you want.

Also, certain nodes on the Skill Tree will affect different skills in different ways, meaning that you could have the exact same skill as another player — we’ll use Ball Lightning again as an example — but your build means that your version of Ball Lightning has a higher chance to summon the Crackling Energy effect, while theirs does more damage.

There’s a lot more to look at here. There are changes to the Ancestral/Demonic/Angelic Powers, changes to how gear was contributing to player power (too much, as it turns out), and updates on the End Game Progression system, which is the spiritual successor to Paragon levels in Diablo 3. So if you’re interested in more details about how Diablo 4 is shaping up in development, head over to Blizzard’s official site for more details.

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