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Blizzard reveals how hard the nerfs to Diablo 4's sorcerers and barbarians will be next season as it outlines a new balance philosophy

 Diablo 4 Sorceress wearing red metallic armor looking down at her hands.
Diablo 4 Sorceress wearing red metallic armor looking down at her hands.

It's official: Barbarians and sorcerers won't rule Sanctuary in Diablo 4's next season, at least not using the same builds that absolutely crushed season 2. On a developer stream today, Blizzard said tomorrow's patch notes will include fixes to the bugs that fuel the strongest builds in the game, as well as changes that elevate the weakest ones.

Barbarians who spent the season bonking bosses to death with a single hammer blow were actually benefiting from a skill upgrade whether or not they put a point in it. Any brbarian using Hammer of the Ancients had a big 30% multiplicative damage boost for free. That will be fixed when season 3 launches on January 23, which might dethrone HotA as the best skill in the game. Likewise, the orbiting lighting balls of destruction that almost every sorcerer abused this season won't tear through enemies quite as fast when Blizzard fixes a bug related to the attack speed bonus from the Enhanced Ball Lightning skill upgrade.

After the gut punch that season 1's patch 1.1 brought when Blizzard dramatically lowered everyone's power by reworking how damage is calculated, these nerfs are rather light. Jackson repeated the promise Blizzard made during an emergency stream following the brutal update last year: nerfs will always come with considerably more buffs, and all of it will be announced before it happens so people can prepare.

Going forward bug fixes are the priority, senior class designer Adam Jackson said. Blizzard doesn't want to ruin anyone's fun in a new season, but if something is not working correctly, it will try to fix it fast. If a build is wildly overpowered due to something Blizzard overlooked, however, the decision to nerf it will be based on "qualitative types of feedback" from players and how much it impacts the rest of the game. "We're going to really try and lean on the side of not changing unless we really feel like it's needed to keep the game healthy."

"Our strategy with players is to communicate early and communicate often," Jackson said. "We want to let you know particularly when it comes to nerfs what's coming and really what we're thinking."

Diablo 4 Balance Roadmap slide with start of season philosophy and mid-season philosophy listed
Diablo 4 Balance Roadmap slide with start of season philosophy and mid-season philosophy listed

Tomorrow Blizzard will release the full patch notes for Season of the Construct, but Jackson teased some of the biggest changes on the stream:

  • Barbarians' AoE Shout buffs won't be as mandatory to use on every build

  • Sorcerers will get buffs to Meteor as well as a new Unique item tailored for it

  • Rogues will see power added to ranged builds and reworks to all three Unique bows

  • Druids have buffs coming to their Spirit Boon passive abilities

  • Necromancer minions, particularly Golems, will be more powerful

Uber Uniques in Season 3

Diablo 4 boss loot tables - Duriel
Diablo 4 boss loot tables - Duriel

In the Q&A portion of the stream, Blizzard said Uber Uniques, Diablo 4's ultra rare items, won't change in season 3. You'll still have to work your way up the endgame boss ladder to farm Duriel for the best items in the game.

Now we're left with one big question: how does the Seneschal companion tie into all of this? There are loads of skill combinations you can give your little spider buddy, including a unique tuning stone that mirrors the single best item in the game, but it's still unclear which builds will benefit the most from having a permanent companion.

That'll be the first thing I want to dig into when Diablo 4 season 3 starts next week on January 23.