One of my favorite parts of Diablo is the diverse builds you can either find or force through your abilities, class options, and items. I may be in a relative minority, but I even liked Diablo III and the wide diversity of builds it has late in its lifespan, though I have my gripes about how the builds are implemented for sure.
While the details we got are relatively sparse compared to the other stuff (likely because I assume class design and items are one of the last things they focused on) I’m liking what we see so far, and it solves some of Diablo III’s issues while not wholly discarding the good ideas it had.
Diablo IV: Classes, Builds, and Customization
One of the most gratifying details was how they mentioned they are handling Set items differently this time around. While Set items are returning and should presumably powerful still, they mentioned they are putting a lot of focus in ensuring that Sets are not the be-all, end-all of the character power-ups. Stand-alone Legendaries are being designed to match or exceed the power of set bonuses, so people can feel free to customize their playstyle with discrete, specific power-ups rather than extremely focused sets.
Little else was explained about items save that standard affixes (increased base stats, crit chance, etc.) are returning for items, the rarities are largely the same (common, magic, rare, Legendary = Set, with Ancient versions of both returning) save that Primal Ancients are out, and Mythic items are in; powerful and rare items that have not one, not two, but four Legendary affixes at once.
Rune Words will also be returning, with Condition and Effect Runes which can be combined as you will, and will somehow be able to be progressed. These provide Conditions like “When the player is stunned” and Effects like “Gain 400 armor,” which, when combined, become a Rune Word that says, “When the player is stunned, they gain 400 armor”. Simple and interesting.
These items, of course, exist primarily to assist the core things you’re building around: classes (and their abilities) and skills. Currently, we only know of three classes, though presumably there will be more: Sorceress, Barbarian, and Druid.
The Sorceress is a mistress of elemental damage, seemingly focusing on the three primary elements of Fire, Cold, and Electricity.
The Barbarian is a mobile, tanky fighter with a unique ability: to equip four weapons at once and swap between them on the fly. This gives the Barbarian the most Legendary item slots of any class.
Druid is a shapeshifter capable of transforming between their human, Werewolf, and Werebear forms at will. Using a relevant ability instantly and seamlessly swaps them to the associated form; a Druid in human form can hit the button to slam the ground as a Werebear, immediately shifting, then immediately transition to Werewolf when the ability for a claw swipe is pressed, and then back to human when you want to call lightning from the sky.
Skill trees can modify all abilities, and you gain points as you level (also by finding skill tomes as loot). These skill points not only unlock and power up skills, they can completely change how they work; for example the Barbarian’s Rallying Cry has an unspecified effect (going by Diablo III it may be similar to War Cry which gives allies a boost to Armor) but when upgraded can grant the Unstoppable quality, breaking and providing brief immunity to control impairing effects.
All of this sounds like a great foundation, and more unique mechanics may spice that up even further (there is already a dodge move for each class that provides the ability to evade attacks and retaliate; I’m not sure if it has iframes or not) as more details are released over time.