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Blizzcon 2019: Diablo 4’s combat is like a greatest hits album of past games

A recurring theme among developers and designers at Blizzcon 2019 seems to be learning experiences. Developers are pulling ideas the entire Diablo franchise.

Diablo 4’s developers hope the lessons of the past can be used to craft an excellent combat system. Players will be able to dispatch hordes of demons in all-new ways in the next installment in the Diablo franchise. Whether you’re a shape-shifting druid, a battle-hardened barbarian, or an ice-slinging sorceress, features both old and new will make your combat experience smoother than ever.

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Druids are making a return from Diablo 2, wolf companions and all. These shapeshifters wield Earth and Storm magic and can move between animal forms. Players can unlock skills that take advantage of both werewolf and werebear forms.

Shape-shifting is an iconic ability for the class, but Diablo 4 offers a new twist with fluid transformation between forms. You can swipe at enemies using werewolf claws just before transforming into a bear to rush an oncoming wave of demons, and back again to werewolf form. Your character will quickly switch to whatever form is needed for your equipped skills with seamless animations. Certain buffs can activate upon taking specific forms, such as a resistance buff that activates when you become a bear.

Barbarians are a mainstay for the franchise, but that doesn’t mean an old dog hasn’t learned a few new tricks. Barbarians will be the only class in Diablo 4 able to equip up to four weapons at once.

Barbarians can equip two one-handed weapons and two two-handed weapons at any given time. Your character on-screen character will then switch seamlessly between said weapons, depending on the skills you have equipped. These changes, known as the arsenal system, will also let Barbarians equip more legendary items than any other class.

Another class making its comeback is the Sorceress. What this class lacks in defense, it more than makes up for in ranged damage. Players will be able to bend the elements of fire, ice and lightning to their will, casting a mixture of old and new spells.

One such new spell is known as “Conduit,” and it transforms the player into a ball of pure lightning. For the duration of this spell, your sorceress will enjoy immunity and the ability to warp across the battlefield while causing AOE damage along the way. Players wanting to give foes the cold shoulder can use the revamped chill mechanics to slow enemies or freeze them solid.

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With the skills and talent trees returning, players will be able to specialize their adventurers on an incredibly granular level. Blizzard’s emphasis on fast-paced, crushing combat will not only let you waste your enemies quickly, but bring those builds to life in a vivid, visceral way.

These systems are all in the early stages of development, and Blizzard has stated that they are considering various approaches to combat design in Diablo 4. They do however seem to be drawing upon the strongest aspects of previous titles, to bring fans the most refined experience yet. The choices they’ve presented thus far are a promising start.

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