Diablo 4’s New Patch Is Full Of Painful Changes

Diablo IV’s first season arrives on July 20. As was previously announced, players will make new characters with each fresh battle pass. Though it might seem a little unexpected, making new characters on a regular basis is common in the world of Diablo. Sadly, the latest patch might make those future characters of yours a little weaker. In particular, if you were hoping to make use of a certain Druid build that dealt over 2-billion points of damage…well, you can’t do that anymore.

As an action RPG all about chasing numbers, leveling up a new character in Diablo is a linear path toward more and more epic powers and abilities. And with a thorough and versatile skill tree, players can build all sorts of classes to deal incredible amounts of damage to hordes of foes. But a recent update ahead of the game’s first season has made characters hit a little less hard, with nerfs that affect basically everyone. Some of these fix a few unfair exploits, while others scale back the numbers more generally. In general, it’s made for a very unsatisfying patch for the Diablo community.

OP Druid build gets the ax

For some of you, the saddest news is the Druid’s absurd billion-point damage exploit has now been removed. Previously, a specific Shapeshifter Druid build let you deal remarkable amounts of damage. This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise as Blizzard, in a statement to PC Gamer, said that this specific use of the Druid’s Shred ability was in no way supposed to be functioning like that.

Read More: Diablo IV: Three Go-To Builds That’ll Crush Everything

But it’s not just the druid that got hit. Other classes have been taken down a few notches as well.

It’s hard to pick which nerf stings the most (the answer is probably whichever class you happen to main), but virtually no one got out of this patch unscathed. You can view the nitty gritty details for each class here. Certain nerfs address unintended issues, like the Sorcerer’s Aspect of Control seeing a fix for an incorrect 3x damage bonus.

Other nerfs simply lower numbers for certain classes and abilities: The Rogue’s Siphoning Strikes now require a Lucky Hit chance of 75; the Necromancer’s Splintering Aspect Bone Shard damage was dropped from 50-100 percent to just 30 and 60. The Barbarian’s Hamstring ability only slows enemies with more than 80 percent of their health or above, and its slowing effect has been dropped by 10 percent. These only scratch the surface of the nerfs (though the Rogue was the most untouched), but there are some more general ones that strike at the core of the game’s developing meta.

Latest Diablo patch cuts at the heart of current build strategies

The patch notes indicate that Blizzard is interested in reducing Critical Strike and Vulnerable damage as they don’t want all builds to center around these mechanics. In the notes, Blizzard said:

Developer’s Note: We’re seeing Critical Strike Damage and Vulnerable Damage often viewed as a hard requirement for a build’s success in Diablo IV. We believe this is a step towards allowing more builds to flourish and will continue to make changes in support of this goal.

Those changes look like this:

  • Critical Strike Damage: Reduced by ~17%.
  • Lightning Critical Strike Damage: Reduced by ~17%.
  • Critical Strike Damage with Bone, Earth, Imbued, and Werewolf Skills: Reduced by ~17%.
  • Vulnerable Damage: Reduced by ~40%.

The change to Vulnerable Damage is perhaps the harshest, especially as many builds thus far optimize sending enemies into Vulnerable status to pile on the damage.

Live service games typically have an ebb and flow over the course of their lives. In some ways, the current community sentiment surrounding the frustrations over Diablo IV’s pre-season one patch might just be a bump in the road in what will surely be a long life for the latest action RPG. That said, swift, abrupt changes like these massive class nerfs and core changes to the game won’t do well to inspire fan’s faith in the new live-service structure.

Fan Uncovers Starfield’s Full Skill Trees Ahead Of Release

As the next Big Game™ on the near horizon, you might have a lot of questions about Starfield. We know that the game will have an enormous amount of explorable planets, but other specifics are still somewhat of an unknown—until now, that is. One fan has spent hundreds of hours compiling all known information about Starfield’s character skill system, and the results are yours to peruse.

As a Bethesda-style RPG, Starfield will feature a set of skills you can invest in on top of its exploration and combat. If you’ve played Skyrim or recent Fallout games, you’ll likely know what to expect. But for a game generating as much interest as Starfield, there’s still so much more to learn ahead of its September 6 release. In an attempt to help on that front, one Redditor has compiled what appears to be the game’s entire set of player-earnable skills. Keep in mind however, that while impressive, this information has been pulled from pre-release footage, and so may not be entirely representative of the final game. Still, this is an impressive feat of aggregation, and taking a peek is a decent way to pass the time until the game finally launches.

Pre-order Starfield: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop 

In a Reddit thread titled “After almost 200 hours of research, here is the complete skill system used in Starfield,” user asd8dhd shows off their impressive body of work in a 44-page document.

While it bears repeating that this is all based on pre-release footage and some specifics are expected to differ in the final build of the game, the document reveals that Starfield is likely to break up its skills into the following categories:

  • Physical Skills (such as boosts to damage resistance, increases in health, resistance to infection and addiction, and melee combat)
  • Social Skills (such as persuasion, diplomacy, and bargaining)
  • Combat Skills (seems specific to certain weapon types like lasers, pistols, shotguns, rifles, etc.)
  • Science Skills (features different schools of study like geology, medicine, xenobiology, and astrophysics among others)
  • Tech Skills (focuses on robotics, ship piloting, and ship weaponry)

The document outlines five different skill trees across Novice, Advanced, Expert, and Master. And while certain skills might not be present in the final game, it stands to reason that the final version of Starfield will hew very closely to what’s in this document. You can view all the screenshots the information was pulled from here.

Oh, and if you’re interested in checking out all the star systems that’ve been seen in trailers thus far, check out this page by yet another intrepid pre-release Starfield investigator.

This research is an impressive effort, having taken literally hundreds of hours. It puts my failed attempt to review every chicken parm sandwich in my area to shame.

New Leak Shows Nick All-Star Brawl 2’s Full Roster

A new image of what appears to be the entire character roster for upcoming fighter Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 has seemingly leaked online, giving players a huge look at who else will be fighting alongside Garfield and SpongeBob SquarePants.

Announced on July 27, All-Star Brawl 2 is the follow-up to the original Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl released back in 2021. That game built up a lot of hype before launch, but once out it garnered mixed reactions. Many loved its tight, Smash Bros.-like gameplay, but it also got criticized for feeling low-budget. Another problem players had with it was the fact that some popular Nickelodeon characters were missing. The newly leaked art for All-Star Brawl 2 seems to indicate some of those fan favorites are showing up for round two, but also that some past fighters won’t be returning.

An image shows what looks like the leaked splash art for All Star Brawl 2.

Screenshot: Game Mill / Nickelodeon

On August 1, an image of what appears to be the full splash art for All-Star Brawl 2 began spreading across Reddit, Twitter, and the ResetEra forum. The origins of the image seem to trace back to an Amazon listing that was quickly deleted, but not fast enough apparently.

Kotaku has reached out to Game Mill and Fair Play Labs about the leaked image, but received no comment.

All-Star Brawl 2’s potential new characters

Looking at the artwork, we can spot nine new characters who weren’t seen in the game’s first trailer and who are yet to be confirmed by the game’s developers or publisher.

  • Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • Gerald from Hey Arnold
  • Plankton from SpongeBob SquarePants
  • Grandma Gertie from Hey Arnold
  • Ember from Danny Phantom
  • Norbert and Daggett from Angry Beavers
  • El Tigre from El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera

The supposedly leaked artwork—which remember, hasn’t been confirmed by the devs yet—also includes five characters we saw in the game’s first trailer and screenshots:

  • Donatello from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Raphael from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Jimmy Neutron from Jimmy Neutron
  • Squidward from SpongeBob SquarePants
  • Vlad Plasmius from Danny Phantom

Finally, the artwork shows 14 characters who first appeared in the original All-Star Brawl and who appear to be returning for the upcoming sequel.

  • Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • April O’Neil from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Danny Phantom from Danny Phantom
  • Garfield from Garfield
  • Jenny from My Life as a Teenage Robot
  • Korra from The Legend of Korra
  • Lucy Loud from The Loud House
  • Nigel Thornberry from The Wild Thornberrys
  • Patrick from SpongeBob SquarePants
  • Ren and Stimpy from The Ren & Stimpy Show
  • Reptar from Rugrats
  • Rocko from Rocko’s Modern Life
  • SpongeBob from SpongeBob SquarePants
  • Zim from Invader Zim

The All-Star Brawl characters who might have been cut

If you’ve played the first game, this might be the point where you start going “Wait a minute, does that mean [Insert Character Here] has been cut from the sequel?” And the answer is…maybe!

According to Fair Play Labs studio director Diego Rodriguez in an interview with Polygon, not everyone is coming back for All-Star Brawl 2. Rodriguez called the decision on who will and who won’t return “probably one of the hardest” the team had to make.

“A lot of thought came into it,” said Rodriguez. “We looked a lot at the reaction on the roster of the first game, what were the more requested characters by the community, and also what we can achieve with the vast list of amazing Nick characters, and of course, we had Nick input as well. Just wait a bit and you will know who made it and who didn’t!”

Based on the leaked image, these are the characters who possibly haven’t made the cut for the sequel:

  • CatDog from CatDog
  • Helga from Hey Arnold!
  • Hugh Neutron from Jimmy Neutron
  • Leonardo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Michelangelo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Oblina from Aaahh!!! Real Monsters
  • Powdered Toast Man from The Ren & Stimpy Show
  • Sandy from SpongeBob SquarePants
  • Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Toph from Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • Lincoln Loud from The Loud House

But wait, before you get out your pitchforks and start yelling at people on Twitter or whatever Elon Musk is calling it this week, let’s keep a few things in mind. One, it’s possible the leaked artwork doesn’t show every character in the game. When a similar piece of splash art leaked ahead of the first game’s launch, it didn’t include Nigel, who was added later. Secondly, dedicated fans have combed through all the screenshots and released videos and discovered some evidence that some of these characters (or at least their stages) will return in the sequel.

Really, until the developers confirm who is in the game and who isn’t, we won’t know for sure. But all you CatDog fans out there, be prepared for some heartache when Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 launches later this year.

Competitive Pokémon Is Full Of Cheating According To New Data

A week after the winners were crowned at the 2023 Pokémon World Championship in Japan, a new survey of the Pokémon Scarlet and Violet competitive community appears to show just how rampant “cheating” is in the hit Nintendo Switch game. The data looked at recent teams fielded by pros and found that barely 50 percent of them were legal under the current rules of the game.

“We’ve gathered [more than] 850 recent rental teams and analyzed them with our usual *free hack checks*. A season finale of Chris Brown’s nightmare!” tweeted Kurt, the creator of the unauthorized Pokémon save editor PKHeX, referencing The Pokémon Company’s current director of esports. “Looking back at this year and years prior, we still see a roughly 50/50 split of teams being illegally modified.”

Several competitors were disqualified from this year’s World Championship due to stricter checks for hacked Pokémon, leading to a massive controversy across the fandom over what exactly constitutes cheating and whether The Pokémon Company needs to take steps to make competing more sustainable. Players have to spend hundreds of hours grinding through the games and training new teams whenever strategies change, leading some to simply “generate” their preferred teams using tools like PKHeX instead. They aren’t any stronger than normal Pokémon, but they are massively easier to acquire.

According to Kurt’s data, roughly 17 percent of World Championship teams had hacked Pokémon on them. That may have even included the 2023 champion, Shohei Kimura. Kurt’s analysis found his important grass/poison-type Amoonguss had a modified ATK IV stat of 0. Another top competitor, Tang Shiliang, beat 2016 champion Wolfe Glick in the early rounds. He appeared to be fielding a couple of possibly hacked Pokémon as well. It should be noted that simply having “genned” Pokémon doesn’t mean the owner actually did anything elicit. Players often trade for teams, sometimes offering payment in exchange, and don’t always know if what they’re getting in return is the real deal or slightly modified.

Those modifications can be uncovered using PKHeX, the very same tool used to create them in the first place. “PKHeX has an extremely powerful ‘legality checker’ feature which can identify which encounter a Pokémon originated from, under what conditions it learned moves, and checks other features,” Kurt told Kotaku. It also looks for the “Home Tracker” associated with using the game’s online storage tool, as well as analyzing random number generation patterns in search of anomalies.

How badly these shortcuts rank on the scale of cheating remains a heated debate. For some fans, it ruins the spirit and integrity of the game whose core fantasy revolves around painstakingly raising Pokémon like virtual pets. Others see it as an impediment to more people competing in online play and discovering the joys of high-level Pokémon play. Despite creating PKHeX, Kurt doesn’t consider its use in competitive play blameless.

“Sure it’s not an advantage during the battle (combative), but the time saved can be instead spent on brain training (understanding the meta/as many teams as possible),” he told Kotaku. “This year’s analysis didn’t change my mind about anything, but it makes it more clear the entitlement that some players have. They don’t understand that the future will likely not be as accessible as the cheat-enabled present.”

Kurt thinks it’s unlikely the next Nintendo console will have the same security flaws that made hacking so rampant on the Switch and isn’t hopeful that the company will introduce more official shortcuts for competing. “If players don’t get accessibility changes now, they’ll likely be in for a rude awakening in the future.”


Blizzard Deletes Diablo 4 Season 2 Trailer Full Of Errors

A necromancer attacks a cloaked figure.

Image: Blizzard

Diablo IV’s vampire-infested new Season of Blood goes live on October 17. In addition to new quests and gear, season 2 also promises a big overhaul of how XP and damage are calculated. The math can get pretty complicated. Even Blizzard’s own trailer got it wrong, which the studio ended up pulling after it was roundly mocked online.

“Check out some of the best quality-of-life changes coming with Season of Blood,” read the description of a nearly two-minute video posted on Diablo IV’s social media channel on October 13. As first spotted by PCGamesN, it was quickly taken down after fans noticed a bunch of errors in the footage. However, it has since been immortalized in a reaction video by Diablo YouTuber and streamer Raxxanterax. “I’m trying to build some hype for your new season, but you’re making it real hard.”

One section mixes up the “before” and “after” comparisons of a rework that will streamline Nightmare Dungeons and increase enemy density within them, and another touts overhauled mounts without really showing what’s changing. But the main section of the video that drew the ire of fans was a part breaking down how the math calculating XP earned and damage dealt will change starting in Season of Blood.

A before and after slide shows a switch from “1,000 x 40% = 1,040 XP” to “(1,000 x 1.2 = 1,200) 1.2 = 1,400 XP.” Unfortunately, neither is mathematically correct. What it’s intended to show is that rather than XP percentage bonuses being purely additive they will be multiplied, providing additional gains. It was hardly the biggest of blunders, but combined with everything else it became easy fodder for internet dunks.

When Season of Blood goes live it will fundamentally change how stats like damage and resistance are calculated as well. The patch notes are 10,000 words long. If everything goes off without a hitch it could be the second wind Diablo IV needs right now. Then again, with so many changes going into effect simultaneously, I’m sure more than a few bugs will be discovered after season 2 begins.

Update 10/17/2023 2:36 p.m. ET: Blizzard announced that the official start of the season has been delayed by a few hours due to some complicaitons with the build. Today is also Diablo IV’s debute on Steam.


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