Diablo 4 official artwork showing off a demon army

[Update #2]: According to the Q3 2021 earnings report call, Blizzard has pushed back the release of both Overwatch 2 and Diablo 2. 

[Update]: Diablo 4's June developer update offers a closer look at the character and monster designs.

In order to let everyone know what they're planning with Diablo 4, as well as to offer a few sneak peeks here and there, Blizzard has been releasing quarterly updates for quite a while now. Last time around they talked about their plans for the story, open world gameplay and multiplayer, while this time it's all about the skills, items and very special Uniques!

"When you gain a level, you'll receive points to spend in Strength, Intelligence, Dexterity, or Willpower, along with your skill points," the update explains. "Of course, most Barbarian builds are going to benefit from a healthy measure of Strength, but as you build out your character and decide on skills and synergies you'll want to mix in other attributes."

"Many of the nodes in each class skill tree have additional effects if you meet specific primary stat thresholds. You'll get the baseline effect of these nodes when you spend the skill points to unlock them, but get enough of the corresponding primary stat and the bonus effect will activate."

Diablo 4 screenshot showing the upgrades for Ice Blades

In other words, we'll not only have Diablo 2 style leveling, but a couple of new systems that will hopefully make it a bit more complex than "pour everything into health after you have the minimum stats required for your armor sets." In fact, if Blizzard goes all-out with this new system and adds some truly game-changing upgrades that require strange stat combinations, Diablo 4 could end up being by far the most replayable game in the series!

"We’ve also made some exciting changes to the game’s item qualities," continues the developer update. "We’re increasing the potential power of individual affixes on Magic items. We're increasing the maximum number of affixes on Rare and better items in the endgame. Legendary affixes now roll randomly (Yes, really!) on Legendary Items. And Unique items will replace Mythics."

"In other words, we think players of all skill levels benefit from not having to scrutinize every single item that drops to see if it might be an upgrade for them—blue Magic items are good, but yellow Rares are usually better. That said, we don't want to end up in a place where the right decision is to ignore every item that doesn't have a glowing orange sky-beam."

Diablo 4 comparison between Rare and Magic items

So if I've understood this correctly, Blizzard is essentially making it so all tiers of loot have a chance to be good. Yes, a legendary item will have more affixes than a boring ol' magic (blue) item, but that magic item could have far more powerful stats in order to make the choice a more tricky one. While I'm not sure how all of that will work out in practice given that more stuff is usually better, I'm happy to see they're at least trying to make magic items more relevant!

"Unique items are making a comeback in a big way in Diablo IV," reads the next part. "We're embracing the fantasy of these build-around items with completely fixed affixes, heavily thematic and usually class-specific powers, and distinctive looks."

"With the addition of the skills and passives tree, primary stat points, and changes to items in Diablo IV, we can’t wait to see all the builds you’ll create. Maybe you'll focus on skills augmented by Uniques we designed, create something from scratch out of different legendary affixes, discover a creative pairing of primary stats with specific skills, or even incorporate the odd Rare or Magic item to maximize a specific affix to great effect."

Pretty exciting stuff, all things considered! Unfortunately, that's where this quarterly update ends. You can read a few more tidbits over at the official website, and once the next one arrives, I'll make sure to let you know as I'm quite eager to see it myself.

Diablo 4 screenshot of unique items