The NetEase team has been a little on the quiet side since starting the closed beta for Diablo Immortal. Now the team, led by Game Director Wyatt Cheng, has a full blog post about what they learned from the closed beta that ended in January, as well as what we can expect from the game.
When it comes to making a Diablo game, the core gameplay of slaying demons and walking away with sweet gear for your efforts remains at the heart, but the social elements of an MMO matter. Creating opportunities for social play are important, and one way they attempted this was through bounties. Bounties were repeatable, randomly-selected quests that you could complete and turn in for rewards. However, while this did lead to a lot of group play, it wasn't always balanced. The team will adjust bounties to be a solo feature in release after closed beta showed that some players who were assigned dungeon bounties were forced to group and some groups lost players who didn't want to play through multiple dungeon runs.
When it comes to grouping, Diablo Immortal also has raiding, and the Helliquary 8-person encounter proved popular in the beta, but there were requested adjustments. Grouping again, along with matchmaking, were cited as needing some fixes, but the difficulty levels too were requested. As a result, there will be multiple difficulty levels for each boss to enable more players to finish the raids. They want to release a new boss every month and give the challenge a sense of progression so this will enable adjustments to difficulty and loot to let more players enjoy it.
Group activities also include Warbands for groups of players who want to play together regularly. They decided to increase the size of Warbands to 8 players and add new features that will make them feel more cohesive. The improvements they’re looking to implement here also incorporate lessons from the Helliquary reactions and changes there.
When it comes to the game’s Battle Pass and in-game purchases, there were some snags. The pass got good feedback, but will need tweaks to the Boon of Plenty to feel more valuable. In a related issue, the Legendary Gems system will also get changes after many felt it locked players into one character, and the team wants you to be able to play your alts.
In another big change, which comes from Senior System Designer Kris Zierhut, the Cycle of Strife is getting overhauled. While the team isn't ready to reveal all of the changes coming, the core structure of this feature won't revolve around dark houses and a final group but it will be based on Clans competing with each other. This also goes back to other social features and this relates to the overall cohesion. Player feedback indicated that creating dark houses didn't really Foster longer-term social relationships because at the end of every cycle there was mostly upheaval. The new design will let your clan become a Dark Clan and if your clan succeeds the going against other clans and overthrows the Immortals, your clan will be elevated to the next Immortal Clan. The cohesive element comes in that your Immortal Clan will stay together and you can invite to other Dark Clans to become Immortal Allies.