Well before before Diablo 4 came out, Blizzard wanted to get ahead of the narrative that the game would be selling cosmetic armor sets that outclassed those found in the game. Not in terms of stats, as we’re just talking about cosmetic skins for the armor transmog system in the game. But style is still style, and as such, Blizzard released a bunch of side-by-sides showing how there are both cool shop items but equally badass earned looks.
However, I am starting to grow a little skeptical of this claim. Don’t get me wrong, there are badass looks in the game you can get for free. However, you usually see people use the same 4-5 cool armor sets or especially neat pieces, and many armors are barely different or even just color palate changes from others.
So, after you put together some cool looks, you’ll realize that uh, yeah, the store really does have a lot of unique looks you won’t find anywhere else, and they just keep adding more. Rarely a day goes by without the store tab flashing with some new look for sale for anywhere from $15-25. These sets are also the only place you can get new things like skin warpaint/tattoos or unique effects like the Sorcerer energy crackle. Those are not found in the game as loot/unlocks at all.
The upcoming season does not look like it will change all this, and in fact, may amplify the problem. In pre-launch interviews, we know that the battle pass of the season will offer class-neutral cosmetics. But that’s the paid track of the battle pass, not the free one. New class-specific looks will be added to, you guessed it, the store.
We simply don’t know if Blizzard will bother adding significant new armor sets to the game. The only thing seems like it will add will be Uniques, where you’ll need two copies, one to dismantle, to get it in transmog. Maybe that’s good enough depending on what’s added, but it still seems like it’s paling in comparison to paid entries.
Another issue is that there is no path to these armor sets without paying. Many games will allow you to scrape and save at least some amount of currency to buy armor sets you want. Destiny has Bright Dust, Fortnite puts V-bucks in its battle pass. But in Diablo there are zero ways to earn store currency at all, so you can only pay, and the prices are just goofy.
I am skeptical of the original claim that in-game armor and store armor will continue to have parity. Even since launch I’m seeing the split, and I think the upcoming season may actually make this worse.