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Diablo > Diablo 4Mar 21, 2024 10:00 am CT

Spend less time sorting and more time slaying with Diablo 4’s improved itemization system, coming with Season 4

Diablo 4 is about to upend itemization with a new philosophy that stresses quality over quantity. These changes do a lot to streamline gear, with fewer confusing, situational affixes more powerful affixes that will be easy upgrades, which should make it easier for everyone to sort through gear and find what’s worth equipping. The changes should really improve the game for more casual players leveling up, but it also offers a lot for serious Diablo 4 players with new options to upgrade and customize gear in the late game.

These changes will go live across the game starting in Season 4 on May 14, after testing on the PTR in April. After some rocky starts, this will be Diablo 4’s first PTR, and it’s aimed at making sure the team gets things right. These are big changes to complicated systems, and they could use a good test run: so be sure to jump on the PTR when it opens on April 2 and give things a shakedown.

But for now, let’s talk about all of the itemization changes coming to Diablo 4.

Diablo 4’s new gear philosophy is quality over quantity

You get a lot of loot in Diablo 4, but a lot of it isn’t very good. With this redesign, the team intends to give players less loot but better loot. That means you’ll spend less going through mountains of drops to find that one drop that’s good — and hopefully you’ll be surprised and delighted when you get a drop, rather than sighing as you sort through your inventory one more time.

These changes to Affixes streamline the gear system:

  • Fewer (but more powerful) Affixes. There will be fewer gear Affixes, but the Affixes that remain will be more powerful and more broadly applicable to multiple builds. That means you’ll find Affixes that do things like +damage rather than affixes that provide more niche buffs like +damage to vulnerable.
  • Fewer Affixes per item. Gear will also have fewer total Affixes, with just two on rare items and three on legendary items, but each Affix will be more powerful to make up for the reduced quantities.
  • Greater Affixes offer bigger boosts. Greater Affixes are 1.5x stronger than the a max roll of a normal Affix, and can randomly appear on Ancestral gear in World Tier 4. Gear can potentially proc more than one Greater Affix.

Blizzard is also changing how gear drops, letting Unique gear drop at lower levels and guaranteeing better gear at higher levels:

  • Uniques can drop in World Tier 1 and World Tier 2. You don’t have to wait until you’re halfway through the game to get cool unique items: they have a chance to drop much earlier in the game.
  • Guaranteed Sacred and Ancestral items. In higher World Tiers, you’ll always get better gear: in World Tier 3 you’ll only get Sacred drops and in World Tier 4 you’ll only get Ancestral drops.
  • Guaranteed level 925 items. If you’re killing monsters that are level 95+, when Legendary items drop they’ll always be item power 925.

And one more thing:

  • You can trade Legendaries and Uniques, but not Uber Uniques. Once you’ve upgraded an item, you can no longer trade it. So even if a piece of gear isn’t great for you, you can give it to a friend.

Combined, this should mean more gear drops are upgrades, and it will be clearer when pieces of gear are upgrades. Plus if you get a piece that isn’t great for you, it isn’t just vendor trash: you can trade it to someone who can use it. As the developers explained, the changes are meant to help you spend “less time sorting; more time slaying.”

All Legendary Aspects will be in the Codex of Power

All Legendary Aspects will now be in the Codex of Power, so there will never be a need to hold on to a Legendary item because it has an Aspect you love, and you can’t replace it until you find another item with the same Aspect. Believe me, constantly hoarding Legendaries with the Aspect that summons Ancients when I charge was getting old, so I’m glad to see this change. It will also save inventory space, as the Aspect crystals for these abilities won’t exist anymore: everything is in your Codex.

Instead of extracting Aspects from Legendary items to hoard your favorite Aspects, you’ll salvage Legendary items to upgrade Aspects in the Codex of Power. Each Aspect has 16 ranks to upgrade through, and higher ranks — which equate to higher rolls on drops — will only drop on higher World Tiers. This upgrade system also means that the Codex of Power doesn’t just contain low-roll Legendary powers: it can include powers that are just as good as the best drop once you’ve upgraded your Aspects.

These changes should make Legendary Aspects much easier to manage — and make it easier to upgrade your gear without waiting for the right Legendary to drop. If you get a piece with great stats, you can put your favorite Aspect on it and get back to gameplay quickly.

Customize your gear to make it perfect for your playstyle

The current upgrade system is going away, to be replaced by Masterworking and Tempering. The devs want the best items to be “a journey,” and the new crafting system adds more upgrade tiers and more customization options. When you find a great item, you may hang on to it through endgame, upgrading it along the way.

Masterworking is a new upgrade system, letting you upgrade gear through 12 ranks. Each rank improves the affixes on your gear — Masterworking only upgrades affixes, not item level or damage — and every four ranks instead of improving all of your affixes a small amount, it upgrades one affix a great amount, randomly. (If you’re not happy with which affix was upgraded, you can reset the Masterwork, forfeiting the materials, to try for a better stat.) Masterworking will also further improve Greater Affixes, if your gear has them. Expect it to take plenty of time and a serious collection of late-game materials to fully Masterwork your gear — it will definitely be a journey.

While Masterworking is fairly similar to the current upgrade system, Tempering is brand new: it lets you add new, unique affixes to your gear. Tempering Affixes are tailored to specific builds, and these Affixes drop in Tempering Manuals in the world. Each Manual contains a number of different Affixes within a category: weapon, offensive, defensive, utility, mobility, and resource, each of which can only be applied to specific gear slots, much like Legendary Aspects. For example, the Manual: Natural Motion includes a variety of Affixes for boots and amulets that affect mobility, but you’ll also find books for specific classes and specializations, like Bone Necromancers. Tempering an item randomly picks an ability from the manual to apply to the item, but you can reroll it (up to a fixed number of times). Sacred items can have one Tempered Affix, Ancestral items can have two Tempered Affixes, and Uniques cannot be Tempered at all.

One element of gear upgrades is remaining (mostly) the same: rerolling Affixes is still done via enchanting at the Occultist. However, there is now a cap on the cost of enchanting, whereas the price used to increase every time you re-enchanted the item to try to find the perfect stat. With the price cap, it will be easier to keep trying for exactly what you want.

Combined, all of these system changes represent a significant overhaul of the Diablo 4 gear system. Ideally, it means you get less loot you don’t care about and more loot you do care about, as well as making it easier to upgrade and modify your favorite items as you level up. Though you’ll certainly continue to hunt for the perfect drops — particularly with Greater Affixes — the upgrade system will be key to making your gear its very best, turning crafting and upgrading into a significant endgame activity.

Hopefully this system will make it easier for all of us to wrangle Diablo 4’s complicated loot system, letting casual players pick easy upgrades while letting max level players carefully tailor their gear with upgrades. We’ll see how well the system works in practice next month when the PTR goes live.

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