Diablo IV | Thoughts On Season 1 Malignant Content

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There were some things about season 1 in Diablo IV that were better than expected and some stuff I just felt disappointed about. Overall, it was more than I was expecting and because of that, I ended up feeling they did not take things far enough. In classic Blizzard fashion, you could tell where the effort was and where it was lacking.

Since I decided to go with the campaign most of the season 1 content was locked till I finished that off. That required unlocking World Tier IV. I felt that might be a little excuse and just doing so when the player unlocks World Tier III should have been more than enough. In my eyes, there is just something about not making the player wait forever if they still want to enjoy the campaign where you can start tossing new things at them even if they have not finished off some capstones.

Once I did, however, I was rather surprised at how front-loaded the effort was from Blizzard. It made me think perhaps they were going after the crown that Path of Exile had held for so long over the years for putting out amazing seasons time and again. It did not take too long before I realized I had to adjust my expectations.

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In Blizzard fashion, I got super hyped when it seemed like I might get some amazing trailer that popped up for the season's content. I, however, was expecting something more in-depth to quench my thirst. Instead, it felt like they were just tossing some concept art between some background and foreground added in to give the illusion it was something more.

I was however thrilled there seemed to be some kind of story behind The Malignant. I was even more thrilled once the cutscenes were over I got a little what’s next that seemed to indicate a new season quest marker that I had to keep my eye out.

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I was tasked with entering into several shorter dungeons to slowly start unfolding the mystery of The Malignant. Along the way, I quickly learned about the new system in place where I'd go around collecting caged hearts that I could then place into my jewelry sockets in my gear.

The storyline went on for quite a lot longer than I was expecting. I was expecting two quests later for it to just dump me and be done. Instead, it progressed along and even required entering into higher and higher world tiers. Which I felt was a great touch for those who skipped the campaign as they would need to progress into more challenging worlds to finish the storyline.

There can be a point where I realized trying to compare Diablo IV to Path of Exile was going to leave me disappointed. At least for now. Perhaps in the next or even a year from now they will end up nailing season down into something you just have to play every time one of these rolls out until you are far too burned out from the game and need a break. Any Path of Exile player knows that feeling all too well in an ARPG.

What I hope does not end up happening is Diablo IV turning into Diablo III as far as seasons go. I recall quite a lot of playing Diablo III over the years where a season was just a chance at a fresh start, a new set of nerfs, and a new season journey. If they did anything else, it would have been a shocking season for sure.

So, in terms of effort for season I in Diablo IV they blow away seasons III by a mile if they keep going down this path, they have outlined in the first one. I think it’s a great direction they are going, and I hope over time they just get a lot bolder with it.

Something, however, tells me depending on how bold Diablo IV gets with its seasons will be entirely up to budget-based revenue. If they don’t make enough to keep the investors happy off selling skins and the season journey premium, I can quickly see effort putting into a new season every quarter replaced with just trying to shove down our throats paid DLCs like they failed to do in Diablo III.

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With that said I do find it interesting that when we encounter special season elites, they drop a floating heart. You then have to interact with that floating heart which brings the creature back to life that you have to defeat again for the actual reward of a caged heart.

I was hoping that this way of going about it would be solving a long-term Path of Exile with seasonal content. By allowing you to kill what is more or less an ordinary elite. Then it allows you to engage with the actual season creature. However, the season creature did not feel any harder than when you took it down in the first place.

It would have been interesting instead if Diablo IV pushed the bar. This puts the player into quite an intense battle if they choose to engage with the season's content further than taking down an elite. That would solve the annoyances of when players just want to avoid season content in a way without hindering them. Sadly, they did not do that.

I’m also wondering if Diablo IV will end up falling into the same trap as Path of Exile. They feel compelled since money and resources are spent making a season to keep any new game mechanics that are added forever into the game. Since season II is not out yet that is a question, I could not easily find an answer to, and will have to wait and see what the next season brings and if they decided that is a route they are going to take.

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If that ends up being the case, I already have quite a few concerts about way too many crafting benches in the game. Just this season's content alone has its crafting and if they end up piling up years of each one having their being added to the game that going to be quite a mess.

There was also what I feel is a massive oversight on their Blizzard's part. That is in terms of not having a season tab in inventory and storage for season drops. I can’t express how annoying I quickly found it for hearts to be filling up my main inventory and for invokers to fill up my consumables tab.

At least they give you the option to salvage the hearts for needed ichor material that is used for crafting invokers. This was however another place I felt was a letdown. I ended up unlocking the highest invokers and fighting the hardest Malignant and felt the rewards were disappointing compared to normal drops.

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I was rather pleased with the prospect they added individual dungeons all over the map being called tunnels. This allowed you to more quickly target farm for drops if needed in dungeons that were slightly shorter to run than a nightmare, at least it felt that way.

I do think it was also a nice touch to still have random encounters with Malignant creatures outside of the tunnels, say if you are running nightmare dungeons. I, however, quickly found myself skipping over those encounters instead of triggering and refighting the creature for the rewards unless I was running Malignant instances themselves.

I also loved the idea of when you were in the tunnels, and you fought what felt like the “final” boss for the dungeon. You are not done yet. You had a further section to run down that forked into two different rooms that had further fights.

One of the forks leads you into a room where you get to decide between two different encounters. The choice you make then determines the type of heart that drops. With each heart class having quite a wide range of different stats it could have rolled.


The other direction along that fork if you were in a tunnel dungeon that had it led you to a locked door. To unlock that door required having an invoker. This led you to a much grander fight with Varshan the Consumed.


This is also where further progression came into play for the season content. Once you are far enough in the storyline for it you get a recipe to craft your first invoker. To unlock the door to the Varshan fight you need to progress upward in the world tier unlocking the next tier’s worth of recipes and crafting further along.

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This, however, starts to become quite an expensive ordeal to keep up if you want to keep fighting Varshan over and over again. As you can see in the one, I was about to craft a lower-tier invoker, forgotten souls, and field rose. The fields rose alone are some quite completive resources I just can't get whenever, and I have quite a finite amount of that I'd be farming for every few hours anyways.

I can at least say spending those resources so I could fight the hardest of them all a Tormented Echo of Varshan provided quite an interesting challenge for me to overcome. More so since I summoned it only being level 71 and it was level 80.

Needless to say, I had a few failed attempts before I got the better of Tormented Varshan. Thankfully the tunnels don’t have a limited number of revivals you have before the dungeon gets closed. It would have sucked if I was not able to defeat it and was out of the resources in crafting.

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As far as the hearts go, I do feel they add a lot more depth to the game and are needed in different builds. They can be quite powerful or even hinder you if you don’t use them right depending on which one it is.

I just wish they did not break them into different socket colors. It already sucks trying to get a decent enough ring for example. Then needing that ring to also have rolled a vicious heart socket for example adds an unnecessary layer of yet another thing I must have on that item to consider upgrading. Not having the hearts, I want on my next upgrade would be a downgrade in many cases.

Final Thoughts

In the end, I was not that thrilled with the reward from my first couple of Tormented Varshan. While it was cool to see an ancestral unique drop it was like the hearts were not the ones, I needed. The hearts that dropped were also not ones I needed. In fact, by the time I fought the hardest Varshan, I already had everything I needed.

Final Thoughts

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Seems to be quite the fitting end for a far too late into the early morning grind this ended up being. Bad loot followed by even worse loot. I was bound to find some upgrades worth taking soon enough. For now, however, I needed a much-deserved break from downing a boss and running quite a few Nightmare dungeons.

I do believe overall this was an amazing first step for a season from Blizzard. While many gamers out there wish they had done a lot more. We all know they could have done a lot less. I hope they continue to refine things and amp them up to the next level. I however fear in the end Blizzard will be Blizzard and once they have a cookie-cutter outline for seasons, they won’t veer from it.

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Screenshots were taken and content was written by @Enjar about Diablo IV.