When it comes to retaining the player-base, the dark and gritty tone of Diablo 4 weighs only as much as the endgame progression system. There needs to be a design that convinces the average adventurer to keep jumping into hell without becoming a frustrating and meaningless grind. Blizzard understands the importance in such regard and wants the community to drop in their thoughts.
Posting on the official blog earlier today, lead systems designer David Kim stated that the endgame progression of Diablo 4 is currently undecided between a finite and infinite leveling system. There are pros and cons to each but generally, an infinite leveling system becomes worse with time as it eventually overshadows all the power granted by other sources.
Blizzard could increase the amount of power granted by the various sources in a finite level system but even that will come with some concerns. As such, the developer wants to find a middle ground for Diablo 4.
We [Blizzard] believe the more important question is what experience feels best for players, and we can playtest various approaches to tuning to find the power curve that makes the most sense.
Hence, as of now, Blizzard is considering to integrate two different leveling systems in Diablo 4. One of them will be tied to the character through a level cap, giving a “sense of completion” to the player. Those who want to go further will have a second experience system to watch that will basically be tied to the endgame content. Having two different leveling systems will allow the developer to cater to both player-bases and introduce additional depth by providing choice based on preferred play-styles.
One part of the endgame will be keyed dungeons, which will replace the rifts from the last installment. These dungeon keys will feature random affixes for greater challenges and according to the developer, will have players planning and strategizing beforehand. For example, a particular dungeon affix might add a “lightning pulse” where players are chased by a ball of lightning, dying immediately when touched. In such a dungeon, players will need to think about increased mobility.
Blizzard is looking to create the perfect entry into the franchise with Diablo 4 by amassing all the good from Diablo 2 and enhancing that experience by adding modern-day improvements. One of them is the potential support for cross-play, something that was hoped to be there for the last installment. Blizzard did mention certain technicalities that need to be ironed out first.
Diablo 4 remains in development for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, and without a release date.