Diablo 4 employs a level scaling system designed to make monsters relevant to players at all times.
Blizzard’s upcoming action RPG guides the player through its various zones as they make progress on the campaign, and here it should feel like you’re a little more powerful than the creatures you face.
“We don’t want a part of the game to ever become utterly trivial, such that there’s no reason to return to that place,” associate game director Joe Piepiora explained to Eurogamer in an interview.
Once you complete the campaign and you create a new character, you’re given the option of skipping the campaign. Choose that and Diablo 4 thrusts you into the world of Sanctuary at level one, plonking you down in Kyovashad, the main town in the Fractured Peaks area.
It’s here that Diablo 4’s post-campaign feature set presents itself. The Whispers of the Dead feature tasks you with completing bounty-like missions set across Sanctuary, all in service of an ancient tree. These missions grant big rewards.
“And when you’re playing in that world, you could play in the Fractured Peaks, you could play in Scosglen, you could choose to go down to the swamps in Hawezar,” Piepiora said.
“When you play in a skipped campaign state version of the game, the world is all going to scale to you entirely.”
There is an exception: Strongholds. The recent Diablo 4 beta contained three of these Strongholds (Malnok, Kor Dragan and Nostrava), each a self-contained dungeon clearout challenge that, once complete, unlocks new gubbins.
Each Stronghold will be a few levels above your character level, which makes it a challenge you may want some pals to help with. Strongholds, then, have a fixed level floor.
“You could choose to go and engage with that when you want,” Piepiora said. “If you think like, I’ve got a really good legendary item I just found, I really like my build, this area is level 32, I’m level 25, I’ll try it – we want to give you the option to try to clear these things early if you want, and you get rewards for doing that. You don’t have to.
“But generally speaking, we want the whole game to feel like it does scale to you.”
It’s worth explaining how level scaling works in the context of Diablo 4’s World Tiers, too. World Tiers affect the difficulty of the game. Tier 2 is designed to offer the equivalent of a normal difficulty, with Tier 1 similar to an easy mode, or a story-focused mode. The levels of monsters are the same across Tier 1 and 2, Piepiora confirmed.
Play in Tier 3, which you gain access to after completing a level 50 Capstone Dungeon at the end of Tier 2, and monsters are higher level than you broadly. You can choose to stay in World Tiers 1 or 2, and the monsters will never get higher than level 50. You could be level 60 and still wander around and finish your collections or hoover up any side quests, and you’ll cream through monsters because you’ll be much more powerful.
If you want to step into a higher difficulty, there’s better gear to collect, but the monsters are more powerful, and the challenge increases accordingly.
“You can get a couple of levels higher than the monsters in the area if you out-level a region, particularly during the campaign,” Piepiora said, summing up. “But beyond that we want you to feel like you have to fight against these creatures, you have to keep pushing.”
But how does level scaling work if you’re playing the campaign co-op? Diablo 4 development chief Rod Fergusson recently explained in a series of tweets.
“The host of the party owns the state of the world,” Fergusson confirmed. “If you’re aligned (aka at the same point in the quest line) then you all progress. If there is a misalignment (like you invited someone new half way through) then they won’t get the story quest progress/XP until they catch up.
“So if you’re playing with a group that’s not committed to playing together, it’s always best to have the player with the least amount of progress to be the host.”
Diablo 4 scales individually for players, so, questline progress aside, a level one character and a level 30 character can play together.
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