What you need to know
Diablo 4 Season 3 launched on January 23, and the Season of the Construct hasn't been received well.
Players are criticizing the broken story quest and trap mechanics in the game, as well as the underwhelming pet theme.
Developers have responded that they are taking the feedback seriously and have already agreed that improvements need to be made.
Diablo 4 Season 3 started with promise, introducing new dungeon activities named Vaults, a thematic tie-in to the legend of Zoltan Kulle, and a customizable Seneschal companion to aid players in battling demons. Unfortunately, like Season 1 Season of the Malignant, this is looking to be Season of the Conflict so far. That conflict being between the players disliking the trap system, and developers who believed it would enhance gameplay mechanics. "This season is so bad that I actually went back to play my eternal character," reads one Reddit thread, reflecting the community's sentiment. Let's delve into what's gone wrong.
A broken questline
Within the first day of the season, it became evident that the story questline for Season of the Construct was broken for some players, rendering them unable to complete it due to an issue where players couldn't interact with the required Brazier to upgrade their construct and advance the main quest. While Diablo devs swiftly issued a workaround and fixed the problem with a hotfix, the sea of discontent still rages.
In Adam Fletcher's post, he mentions that the team is tracking player feedback and will provide updates to the community later. But what feedback is he referring to? Let's break it down.
Those darn' traps!
The trap system in Season of the Construct was a bold choice, and by bold I mean the very nature of a Diablo game is wanted to move as fast as you can and kill things as fast as you can. You want to kill monsters, kill them fast, so they drop loot that you can equip to kill harder monsters. And kill them faster! The cycle repeats ad infinitum. This is the gameplay loop, and traps This contrast with the typical Diablo experience, where speed and aggression reign supreme.
For me, I started my seasonal character as a Rogue, and oh boy it felt good to be a Rogue again after playing Necromancer who has the movement speed of a slug. I could Dash! I could Shadow Step! I could equip Dark Shroud and gain some movement speed. Ah, it felt good to be a Rogue. Until I ran down a corridor of traps.
You can't do this at pace because you have to slip into alcoves on the way down to avoid the hellfire and arrows being thrown at you. Ah, this might not be as fun as I thought. And I'm not the only one.
This, of course, isn't the first time we've seen traps in an aRPG. Path of Exile has the Labyrinth which is full of traps, puzzles, and enemies. The difference being you get huge rewards for completing it, making it a little easier to stomach. The Labyrinth also received criticism for being tedious and frustrating, but broad changes were made to make it easier later in the game's lifecycle. A Diablo season doesn't have that luxury of time, it needs to be engaging out of the gate, and it needs to learn from the mistakes made before it.
Underwhelming Construct Pet
I haven't advanced enough in my own journey yet to pass judgment on the Seneschal Companion, so far I'm enjoying Floof running around next to me and electrocuting demons, but I mostly forget it's there. Unfortunately so do many players even at higher levels. The main criticisms so far include that the pet just isn't impactful enough. It lags behind the player and doesn't fulfill its role as a formidable ally in battle. To quote Raxxantarax in his 'State of Diablo 4 Season 3' video:
"The pet attacks too slowly. He throws an attack, he looks over here. He checks his watch, he throws an attack over there. He shuffles around a little bit. He thinks he attacks over there. I want it to look like the Army from the Night King in Game of Thrones."
There also seems to be a generally low uptime of specific abilities you assign to your pet making the whole experience feel passive and unengaging.
Season 2 Season of Blood was... too good?
I tweeted at the start of the season that perhaps the reception to Season 3 could partly be attributed to how good Season 2 was. By calling it "too good" I was being hyperbolic of course, but what I actually meant was the activities in Season 2 felt fast-paced, in line with Diablo's essence, and were rewarding, particularly during the leveling stages. The journey from 1-50 was incredibly fun with the overworld events like Blood Harvests having huge mob density and often tying in the Whisper events which are already a great source of XP as I recommend in my guide to levelling up fast in Diablo 4.
We had raining loot around the Siphons, and the Vampyric powers were impactful with powers like Metamorphosis and Hematoma being essential to some builds.
Is there anything good about Season 3?
It's not all bad. Despite the criticisms, there are positives to highlight. The questline, including voice lines from Zoltun Kulle and cheeky nods to previous iterations of the game like the 'mysterious cube' left on his desk, feels like a great fan service.
Additionally, the Gatehall Town introduced in this season consolidates vendors efficiently. The only other waypoint that does this well is the Tree of Whispers which doesn't have every single vendor available.
The balance between the classes is better this season than it ever has been, as displayed by the varied builds completing the race to level 100 on streams. The huge Patch 1.3.0 has really had an impact on the tier list and I'm happy I can actually play a ranged Rogue again rather than sticking to melee.
The Season of the Construct theme with its stones doesn't consume any stash space. Whilst the Vampiric theme of Season of Blood had its own tab, it still required certain currencies, called Pacts and Cleansing Acid that did take up stash space. Not much, but every bit of space counts when you are loot farming.
The uptime on Helltides being increased to every hour with only 5 minutes of downtime is great and means everyone gets a fair shot at collecting materials from this. Another thumbs up for this change.
My not-so-final thoughts
I feel almost bad writing this when I'm so early in my own Diablo Season 3 journey, but it's hard to ignore the consensus I'm seeing from the community and friends playing the game. Its clear there is room for improvement here.
I'm normally itching to play a new season of Diablo and enjoy the leveling process immensely, but even in my baby World Tier 1 state, I found the traps a drag, and promptly put the game down and returned to Palworld. The only analogy I can liken it to is that Diablo is normally my comfort food, a game I want to play and switch off my brain from the outside world. The trap system makes it difficult to enjoy for me personally and Palworld feels like the Happy Meal I need right now. So I'll be hitting that until there are at least more updates from the dev team on if any fixes are coming.
I do want to emphasize that it's perfectly acceptable to explore new things within the game, and there's no need to express anger or hostility towards the developers on Twitter. A dedicated team has clearly put a lot of effort into crafting the theme for this season, even incorporating new voice lines from a beloved character. If the theme doesn't resonate with you, that's okay. Personally, I didn't find Season 1, Season of the Malignant, enjoyable, but I still had a great time with Season 2. It's all about experimentation, and that's a positive aspect. Seasons come and go, after all.
Just remember to give it a try before committing to the Premium Battle Pass, of course!