Diablo 4 has had a tumultuous life so far. Blizzard Entertainment’s prized ARPG was released to high praise for its deep build mechanics, amazing atmosphere, and fun story. The game’s first season was disappointing, however. It heavily nerfed builds, extended grinds, and featured seasonal content that felt like reskins of base game content. Season two faired better with a vampiric theme. It introduced a timed event, vampire powers to augment builds, and close synergy with the established whispers mechanic, making its activities especially rewarding. But what about the lastest DLC, “Season of the Construct?”
Diablo 4‘s highs and lows have put a lot of pressure on season three to establish a majority for either side of the spectrum. Known as “Season of the Construct,” it fails to do so by riding the line between strong and weak. It features a buried vault of automatons unleased on Sanctuary by the demon Malphas.
Like all of Diablo 4‘s seasons thus far, the story of season three is largely negligible. The story’s presentation is helped by allowing the player to go straight through it without tying progress to the season journey, but that is the only improvement. Season 3’s story is short and predictable at its core. Players learn about the construct threat, track down Malphas, and kill them like most demons in the series. The season’s story ends up not adding much to the lore or world of Diablo 4, but hopefully, that is being reserved for its coming expansion, Vessel of Hatred.
You can find the real meat of Season of the Construct in the seneschal companion and new seasonal activities. Let’s start with the seneschal. The seneschal is a small spider-like construct that shares the player’s attributes, like attack speed and critical hit chance. You can equip Seneschals with two abilities at any given time, ranging from shooting lightning bolts to projecting a protective barrier around the player. The abilities share enough variety between them to fit well alongside any class or build. However, players have to unlock most of them through the seasonal activities. This means that you can easily spend dozens of hours with a suboptimal setup.
Each ability has three slots each that players fill with modifiers known as tuning stones to augment them. Tuning stones include various effects. They allow an attack to hit more enemies, increase the player’s critical hit chance, or cause an ability to damage over time. You can use these to customize your seneschal’s capabilities more granularly while leveling them up as you play. The seneschal is a fun idea, but it fails to match up to the second season’s build-defining powers. It is easy for the player to set up once before forgetting about it moving forward.
“Season of the Construct” and its activities are a similar exercise of fun ideas being implemented in disappointing ways. The activities are built around the central theme of construct traps. Traps like arrow turrets, spinning flamethrowers, and spiked floors that add environmental hazards in a way the game has been sorely missing. The season’s new randomized dungeons, known as vaults, feature long stretches of traps. Sometimes there are even entire rooms that mix them together to create interwoven hazards. Players fight around the traps to make some very interesting and fun encounters. The experience is much less fun when there is nothing but traps, resulting in a slow easy crawl.
Players can also find new towers that spawn throughout the overworld. Enemies spawn around the towers while they act as traps themselves. Players that kill the enemies can interact with the tower to collect elemental essence. You can then turn in numerous elemental essences at a brazier to summon a difficult enemy that drops seneschal options. These side activities also reward pearls that can be spent at the start of vaults to gain stacks of Zoltun’s Warding. Traps hitting players in the vault remove one stack of Zoltun’s Warding. Players with at least one stack at the end of the vault are rewarded with an extra chest. It is a fun mechanic, but is frustrating when you get stuck in a quick series of hits from traps.
Season three also comes with a variety of quality-of-life changes and end-game additions that help round out the package. It introduces a new weekly dungeon called the Gauntlet that features a leaderboard for players with end-game builds to compete with. It also adds timers for world bosses and legion events, decreases the wait time between Helltides, and increases stash space. These additions help Diablo 4 as a whole feel more well-rounded and polished. Although, they do little to counterbalance the patchy quality of the seasonal activities toward the positive.
Diablo 4‘s third season, “Season of the Construct,” makes a solid case for jumping back in to level a new character and flesh out a new build, but it fails to be as strong of a season as Diablo has proven it can support. Season three’s misses are disappointing, but seeing the developers trying so many new ideas each season is encouraging. We can only hope that future seasons are more successful in those ideas.
Daiblo 4: Season of the Construct is available now on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.