One of our primary goals with class changes in patch 1.0.4 is to help improve build diversity. Of course, this has been a goal for the Diablo III development team since launch, but our approach this patch has been a little different. For 1.0.4, we're taking a good look at some of the most unpopular skills for each class, figuring out why they aren't being used in your builds, and then seeing how we can make them better — either by redesigning how they work or just buffing the hell out of them.
For barbarians, we focused on improving the following areas:
- Bash and Cleave are not very attractive compared to Frenzy
- Many of the damage-oriented Fury Spenders don't do enough damage to justify the spot on your bar
It’s easy to see why Frenzy is the most popular Fury Generator right now. It generates a solid amount of Fury, it has the highest single-target damage of any Fury generator, and it has the highest single-target healing using Life on Hit. The bonus attack speed also provides good combat mobility as well as the option to focus all your damage on a single target or distribute it between multiple targets as needed. We're going to buff Bash and Cleave to be viable alternatives to Frenzy for people who would like to try a different play style.
From a design perspective, Bash should be the definitive choice when it comes to maximizing your Fury generation. That’s not the currently the case, and given the current state of the game, this means attacking the problem from two sides. First, we need to make Fury a more attractive resource to build up (which also means making Fury Spenders more attractive, which I talk about below). Second, we’re going to increase the amount of Fury generated by Bash from 6 to 8, as well as the amount of weapon damage done by Bash from 150% to 165%. The goal is to make Bash not only a very compelling option if you decide you want to focus on Fury generation, but also an appealing single-target alternative to Frenzy if you don’t enjoy its mechanics (like having to manage Frenzy stacks). Currently, Frenzy surpasses Bash in single-target damage as soon as you have your third stack of Frenzy, and it feels like the breakpoint should be around the fourth stack instead. These changes should help better balance the appeal of the two skills.
Looking at the three basic Fury Generators (Frenzy, Bash and Cleave), the role of Cleave is fairly straight-forward: it should be the clear winner when there is more than one target to hit. In a single-target situation, however, Cleave will always perform worse than Bash and Frenzy. While this is intended to a degree, the amount of single-target damage you currently have to give up feels too great to make the trade-off worthwhile. At an extreme, if Cleave did almost exactly the same damage as Bash or Frenzy, but had the ability to hit a second target when one was around, Cleave would definitely become that “clear winner.” So, to make it more appealing to some players, our goal is then to find that sweet spot between where Cleave is now and doing the same single-target as Frenzy and Bash. We’re going to increase both the damage and proc coefficient on Cleave to close the gap when fighting a single target.
For many players, using Hammer of the Ancients, Seismic Slam, or Rend just doesn’t seem worth it. To make these skills more attractive, we're going to straight up buff their damage across the board. How much? Well, we noticed that more players use Battle Rage than any of these other Fury Spenders, but Battle Rage is less exciting to use and doesn’t quite evoke the same visceral joy. So, we used Battle Rage and Frenzy as our starting point. We basically asked ourselves the question "How much damage would Hammer of the Ancients have to do in order to make Frenzy + Hammer [of the Ancients] as appealing as Frenzy + Battle Rage?" Players who really want to go the extra mile for the most damage could go so far as to combine all three skills together, so we kept that in mind as well.
Hammer of the Ancients vs. Battle Rage was a simple starting point, but we used similar approaches with Seismic Slam, and Rend. The basic idea was: Fury generation isn’t attractive to players because Fury spending isn’t attractive to players, so what do the numbers need to be to fix that? To continue using Hammer of the Ancients as an example:
- We're increasing its base damage from 200% to 325%
- We're increasing the damage for Rolling Thunder from 155% to 275%
- We’re increasing the damage for Smash from 270% to 406%
And to provide another example, here’s what we’re doing with Rend:
- Weapon damage increased from 210% over 3 seconds to 700% over 5 seconds
- Lacerate weapon damage increased from 271% over 3 seconds to 903% over 5 seconds
- Bloodbath weapon damage increased from 60% over 3 seconds to 100% over 5 second
With these improvements (Whirlwind and Seismic Slam will be receiving similar tweaks to improve their viability), we hope to see Fury Spenders become more appealing for all levels of play.
But What About…
I'll close by adding that there are no changes planned for either Sprint or Battle Rage, so all you crazy double tornado barbarians will still be able to log in after 1.0.4 goes live and continue with your current build. Or, you can try out some of the new toys we’re adding. Either way, we hope you have fun and are looking forward to 1.0.4!
Be sure to check out our other class previews for patch 1.0.4:
Wyatt Cheng is a Senior Technical Game Designer for Diablo III. He is currently trying to convince a friend to make him a baneling plushie doll. (Any takers?)