Although Diablo IV’s early access beta wrapped up on March 20, another one will run from March 24 through 26. This window gives you access to all five classes, two of which—the Druid and Necromancer—were initially unavailable. While none have anything in common, other than their propensity to kill evil shit, one thing you might’ve noticed if you jumped into Sanctuary last weekend was how unbalanced they were. According to Blizzard, that’s entirely the point.
Diablo IV is the fourth entry in Blizzard’s long-running isometric action-RPG. Following the events of Diablo III, this new game puts you in control of an angel-demon baby hellbent on putting a lid on the fiery bottle of Hell. It doesn’t totally reinvent the wheel. Instead, it’s the perfect podcast game, something you can slash through with your brain off at the end of a long day. I enjoyed the handful of hours I put into the early access beta, and I’m stoked for the progress I’ve made with what I’ve dubbed my shadow Rogue to carry over to the open beta this weekend. But maybe the reason why I was having so much fun with Diablo IV was because of my class choice, and Blizzard seems to reaffirm this.
In an interview with the British culture and entertainment site NME, Diablo general manager Rod Fergusson said not all of the game’s classes should be equal in power at the same time. Some are better than others, just not forever.
“There is a lot of balance there, but the trick around balance is that it’s a balance over time—not a balance of the moment,” Fergusson said. “Not all classes at level five should have the same power. Due to the enchantment specialization, Sorcerers will have the most skills of any class because [with] Barbarians having four weapons, they will have the most legendary slots of any class. When you take that across all of them, there will be different points in time [where] a Barbarian is in some ways a little underpowered compared to some of the other classes in, say, the first 10 to 20 levels.” Oof. Ouch, even.
However, Fergusson’s comment does make some sense—”some” being the operative word here. There’s no reason why a Sorcerer should feel as strong as, say, a Druid in the early levels of the game. The same goes for a Necromancer versus something like a Rogue, which is incredibly powerful off the rip. Still, though, that the Barbarian is a chump at the beginning of Diablo IV is a bummer, especially considering that the class starts with the most strength.
The community seems to feel this, too, essentially noting that Barbs’ muscles are all for show. On the game’s subreddit were folks dissing Barbarians for feeling weak, having a hard time beating bosses, and lacking mobility. Twitter players expressed the same sentiment, saying the class is “grossly underpowered.” It won’t always be that way, though. Fergusson clarified that when Barbs hit the mid-to-late game, particularly with the number of legendary weapons they can hold, the tanky class can start bodying devils and demons.
“But when you get to level 30 to 40 and legendaries are falling a lot, Barbarians can be super strong,” Fergusson said. “Then there are things around skill gap, which I think is built into it. I think the agility and mobility of a Rogue is harder to play than a Necromancer that has 12 skeletons fighting on their side that they can just send out and fight.”
And speaking to GamesRadar+, game director Joe Shely reiterated Fergusson’s point, saying that Barbs players will see some tweaks that should make the mid-to-late game grind less frustrating and more satisfying in the long run. Bless.
“We don’t want a player who creates a Barbarian to feel weak at low levels,” Shely said. “So we need to balance the class so that their strength at the end game is realized in that they are powerful, but without making the game unfair at low levels. Of course, with a game like Diablo IV, the classes aren’t balanced such that everyone is exactly the same power level 35, 36, 37, and beyond. Their overall [power] needs to be balanced against each other, and they need to be balanced especially in the end game, in the mid game broadly, and the early game.”
Kotaku reached out to Blizzard for comment.
There’s comfort in knowing that the class known for its strength should see a few adjustments to prove that the muscles aren’t compensating for something. Still, though, it sucks knowing that players who go for the swole class will have a tough time in Diablo IV’s early levels. Sorry to all the Barbs out there.