Blizzard has explained its decision-making around the miniscule drop rate for Diablo 4’s coveted Uber Unique items, insisting obtaining one should be a “fall out of your chair moment”.
Diablo 4 players have criticised Blizzard for the extreme rarity of these Uber Uniques, with some saying the chances of seeing one drop are lower than winning the lottery or getting struck by lightning.
Initially, just six of these items were in the game, but following the release of the highly-controversial pre-Season 1 patch there are now seven. Blizzard warned players that this seventh Uber Unique, a World Tier 4 staff called Ahavarion Spear of Lycander, is an “extremely rare drop”. “We wish you luck in recovering it from the armies of the Burning Hells,” Blizzard said.
In an interview with IGN ahead of the launch of Season 1, associate game director Joseph Piepiora defended the drop rate for Diablo 4’s Uber Uniques. “We want players, the moment that these things actually drop, we want that to be a fall out of your chair moment,” Piepiora said. “We want that to be a really critically important thing.”
Piepiora said Blizzard wants to maintain the extreme rarity of these items in order to prevent them from becoming mandatory for builds. “If we make it so, let’s say that over the course of 10 hours, five hours even, you’re guaranteed to get this item, what that really means is that item now becomes kind of a mandatory piece of equipment that’s required for your build to feel successful,” Piepiora explained.
“We don’t want these items to fall into that space. We want them to be these really extraordinary, massive bonuses on top of basically anyone’s build that can occur on occasion. When you get them, the character is just going to feel overpowered. They’re going to feel very, very strong. That is how they’re balanced.”
Earlier this month, Blizzard added unique items to the Helltide Chest loot pool. Helltide Mystery Chests are special chests available from taking part in Helltide events. (For a more detailed look at the Mystery Chest locations check out our Interactive Map. You can filter Mystery Chest Locations at the bottom to clear some of the clutter.)
The change was welcomed by players on the hunt for Diablo 4’s Uber Uniques because the chance to obtain one, however small, from a Helltide Chest at least gave players a clear, singular farming objective.
While Blizzard is leaving the door open to changes based on feedback from the community, Piepiora signaled the developer plans to stay the course on Uber Unique drop rates, so it’s perhaps best not to get your hopes up for a significant change there.
“Now as we’ve been looking at the feedback and seeing how many these have dropped for players around the world, we are thinking internally about sorts of things we want players to be able to do, but we don’t want players to feel that this is very easy to go and target farm them,” Piepiora said.
“We don’t want them to feel like they are mandatory for your build to come online. These are the cherries and fun, exciting things for players to chase. This is a back and forth, and we’re having conversations internally on what we want to do here.”
The debate around Uber Unique item drop rates taps into a more general debate about the Diablo grind. The backlash to Diablo 4’s latest patch was fuelled by the feeling Blizzard’s changes made progression more of a “slog” in what was already considered a slow endgame.
But Piepiora said that for action role-playing games such as Diablo 4, which are meant to be played for years, perhaps even for over a decade, grinding is “an essential part of the experience”.
Blizzard is, however, exploring changes that will make grinding more rewarding, which touches on a common complaint about Diablo 4’s current endgame experience. Piepiora said Blizzard was investigating making it easier for players to look at loot and quickly identify upgrades, so they can decide what’s meaningful and move on. Blizzard is also looking at the general density of monsters so players spend less time running around inside a dungeon or a Helltide going from place to place on the hunt for enemies to kill.
“And we’re regularly looking at the rate at which players are acquiring legendary items, Sacred, and Ancestral items, how many items are getting in their inventory, how easy it is to manage those items in general on the storage side,” Piepiora continued.
“These are all contributing factors when we talk about what the end game of Diablo 4 needs to feel like. And the reality is that there’s just a lot of improvements we have to make, and we plan to make. As a live game, we have that benefit in our favor in that we know that we’re now getting this feedback.
“So while I don’t think that grinding is the problem here, I think it is the nature of the experience while going through some of these activities that can be smoothed out and made cleaner for folks. And that’s the stuff that really can we try to improve.”
Right now the Diablo team is focused on Season 1, titled Season of the Malignant, which is going live now. The new season introduces several new features while rolling out the battle pass system. For more, check out our Altar of Lillith guide as well as the complete map of Sanctuary.
Wesley is the UK News Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter at @wyp100. You can reach Wesley at email@example.com or confidentially at firstname.lastname@example.org.