Updated — Diablo 3 Two-Handed Weapons: Viable at Last?

Making cool fan art viable, at last?

Making cool fan art viable, at last?

Blizzard continues to pursue the impossible ARPG dream of making two-handed weapons viable, and big changes are coming soon to the PTR. It’s a whole new world… Diablo 3 Two-Handed Weapons: Viable at Last?

John Yang: We’ve been discussing 2-Hander buffs for a while now. Right now on live, 2-Handers are almost always less powerful than dual-wielding 1-Handers for a few different reasons, and we wanted to rebalance them for Patch 2.1. We had two options to address the issue:

  • 1) Make new 2-Hander passives and buff existing 2-Hander passives for Barbarian, Monk, Witch Doctor, and Wizard.
  • 2) Buff all 2-Handed weapons baseline and adjust Heavenly Strength accordingly.
  • After trying both options out internally, we decided to go with option 2. This solution has two desirable benefits: 1) it’s immediately noticeable to all players when they pick up a 2-Hander and see the DPS number both significantly higher than a 1-Hander and higher than pre-Patch 2.1 2-Handers and 2) changing 1 passive is less of a jarring overall change for players than changing/adding 4 passives.

    In the upcoming PTR patch, you should see the DPS of 2-Handed Melee Weapons increased by 23-26% across the board. The goal is to get the raw DPS of a 2H build to be close enough to the raw DPS of a Dual-Wield build that the weapon choice is mostly determined by the legendary powers on the item and by the build you are using. Some of the tradeoffs of 2-Handers vs. Dual-Wielding are that 2-Handers are intended to make more efficient use of resources and hit harder for skills with cooldowns while Dual-Wielding is intended to generate more procs, Life on Hit, and give more of certain stats. Currently, the raw DPS gap is large enough that Dual-Wielding feels like it is always the right answer.

    To summarize the changes:

    The DPS of 2-Handed Melee Weapons has been increased by 23-26% across the board.
    This applies to the following weapon types:

  • 2-Handed Maces
  • 2-Handed Mighty Weapons
  • 2-Handed Axes
  • 2-Handed Flails
  • 2-Handed Staffs
  • 2-Handed Swords
  • Daibos
  • Polearms
  • In direct response, Heavenly Strength will now reduce damage done by 20%. With both changes, Crusaders using a 2-Hander should see a very small DPS increase.

  • This change is retroactive to existing live items.
  • This change only affects level 70 two-handed melee weapons.
  • This change affects two-handed melee weapons of all rarities.
  • We are still considering additional changes if needed but this should be a solid step towards making 2-Handers viable again for all classes.

    We’ve been debating this issue since long before D3 was released, and always the issue isn’t just about damage, it’s about all the other bonuses players get from using two items instead of one big two-hander. It’s simplifying the issue to just count up the primary affixes, but you’re looking at 4 or 5 on a 2H vs. 8 or 9 or 10 with dual or off-hand item, plus dual wielding you can get 2 gems for 260% crit damage, and much faster attack rate.

    As a Hardcore player, I’d need to see *much* higher DPS from a 2H to consider giving up all the other bonuses and survival boosts I get from two weapons. Plus I just generally prefer faster attack rate over slower, bigger hits and tend to favor builds that are about speedy hitting. Other players like different things though, which is what makes games with variety fun.

    So what do you guys think? Will these two-handed boosts make polearms and diabos and all the rest viable choices at all? In a few special cases (like Skorn in D3v)? Or can Bliz actually make 2H a reasonable choice across the board?

    Update: John Yang returned to the thread the next day to add replies to some of the more common questions and objections.

    As for bows not getting the same treatment, no reason for it since DHs have quivers to add stats.
    John Yang: You hit the nail on the head here. Currently, 2-Handed Crossbows/Bows are very competitive with 1-Handed Crossbows because Demon Hunters can use a quiver with any bow type and as a result, 2-Handed Crossbows/Bows do not require a rebalance.

    The only thing left unanswered is the extra socket, which is such a large DPS boost, does warrent concern.

    I’m guessing the reason they don’t add the 4 stats and extra gem slot is … Crusaders. They still get to use a shield and get the 4 stats and a gem slot, no second crit gem but still.
    John Yang: Increasing the stat rolls on 2-Handed weapons so they are equal to two stat rolls of a 1-Handed weapon is a common suggestion and one we’ve definitely considered. Unfortunately, this solution would have the undesirable consequence of enabling only one class “Crusaders” to have the highest possible amount of certain stats from gear (e.g. Cooldown Reduction) when using both a 2-Hander and a Shield.

    Adding an extra socket to a 2-Hander effectively translates into more DPS. Yes, we could do that, but as some players have begun to point out, Critical Hit Damage is a problematic stat for us. Because it multiplies with Critical Hit Chance, it causes both of those stats to feel overly mandatory. We would much rather further increase 2-Hander base damage than give out more Critical Hit Damage.

    To give an extreme example for this topic, if we increased the base damage of 2-Handers by 10x, 2-Handers would definitely not need an extra socket or higher stat rolls in order to be competitive. That example tells us that we can continue making the distinction that 2-Handers hit harder and make more efficient use of resources while 1-Handers generate more procs and have more of certain stats, and not have to settle for a solution that unfairly gives a higher cap of certain stats to Crusaders or exacerbates the issue with Critical Hit Damage.

    The current 2-Hander buff is a safe first approach. We don’t want to swing the pendulum in the other direction and make 2-Handers the only option, so we are moving carefully. Thanks for all of your feedback, suggestions, and number-crunching; keep it up.


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    1. One hand and shield doesn't even get mentioned, nor one hand and dps-offhand (like quiver, orb, or mojo.) Are those not supposed to be able to compete with dual wield (when applicable) either?

      When I play hardcore I have a shield at all times because, hey, damage prevented = not dead. And it really kills the dps. Generally speaking, the difference is so great that doing more dps keeps me alive more than a shield does since everything dies before it has a chance to hit me, compared to when I have a shield.

      So are shields just plain not supposed to be fun for anyone but a Crusader?

      Choosing between dual wield, one-and-off, and one-and-shield (or for DH, a 2h-and-off), has always made numbers blur in front of my eyes, so I just stick to one-and-shield, always, to make things simple. At least I didn't have to consider 2h as an option since it was so non-viable.

      Having a shield makes my dps suck but it's how I choose to play. Shame it isn't a balanced option though.

    2. They aren't buffing bows, so quivers are unaffected. The lack of a 2nd gem might mean that 2h bows are still top tier. Shield is different in that you're sacrificing dps for toughness. Now you're sacrificing more to use a 2hander, but if dual wielding was an option then it doesn't change. What's the problem? Having 3 choices is worse than 2?

      Shields are definitely a balanced option: see hardcore.

    3. Finally! I know everyone was sick of finding 2 handers, except for my Crusader recently.

      I hope they don't just buff damage without giving us some interesting mechanics to go with it

    4. Good changes.
      My Monk can now do SC/T2 (killed Malty without firing near-death-experience)
      Thanks to the change to dex into armor and the dmg of 2H weapons…

      Yet I think monks could have more defensive passives and less offensive passives: the skill that turned dex into armor is now an offensive skill.

    5. A necessary change, but probably not enough on its own.

    6. More is needed, i think, in terms of pure DPS increase, the range of affix value needs to be also increased. Hevanly strenght needs thus alos cut the value of stat affixes accordingly. My dream since release is to run a hard hitting 2-hander bard.

    7. @vileguy: I play hardcore. I'm like the only one I ever see with a shield, except Crusaders.

    8. It's not enough. It's just flat out, not enough. 2-handeds are just flat out too slow. That's really why nobody uses them. There are some really good 2-handeds that have nice effects, but they are just too. darn. slow. When you are holding something with two hands, you have the strength to swing it around pretty fast unless it's ridiculously heavy. Monk staffs should be just as fast as 1 handeds. Period. I am ok with them having one single gem slot, but that means they need to be doing more than just 25% more damage, maybe 50% more damage to account for that, since your crits won't hit anywhere near as hard as 1hand crits will. Sustained should be 2 handed, versus Burst spikes 1 handed.

    9. I never cared about attack speed (except for Spectral Blades Wizards 😛 ) and prefered bigger damage once, rather then small damage multiple times. Always prefered 2-Hander's on my Barb, so I'm glad that they want to buff them.

    10. ok to barbarian , not certain to monk but any wizard. WD will give them a try? sorry no.

    11. They still need to tune up the stats that roll on a 2hander to compete with dual wielding and one hander + offhand.

      Right now, it's still 260% crit damage for dual wielding vs. 130% crit damage for 2 handers. Who's going to make that tradeoff?

      Plus, if you're going heavy cooldown reduction (quite a few builds out there), then you absolutely NEED the 10% CDR from both weapons or the offhand. Meanwhile, 2handers also max out at 10% CDR, meaning a huge loss in eDPS.

    12. They should add more legendary affixes , not only crusader affixes.
      Almost every 2handed weapon that has legendary affix is built for crusaders , I love my crusader but I would also like my monk to use Daibos and my Barbarian to use 2Handed Swords.
      This is an amazing step forward , it only took them half a year to understand what the community has been saying since the final patches in RoS Beta.
      I just hope they learn not to try to justify every action they take with crazy arguments like the ones for 2handers and just say we will keep an eye on it and if it needs changing we will do it , that should be their universal answer to everything , no more stupid answers to something the whole community is asking for.

    13. From the looks of it they are just boosting the damage. They are doing nothing to account for the sockets, affixes and speed that you give up when using a twohander. No new mechanics or even changes to twohanders so that they can roll higher affixes.

      One possibility is that they really believe that it is just a damage problem. Some more damage on the weapons and people will flock to them. Another possibility is that they can't think of a good way to tweak Heavenly Strength. If they do anything more that a slight damage tweak they will need to scrap that passive and give up something that they hyped on the Crusader.

    14. How about leg gems can be socketed in 2h weapons? (but not 1h.)

      • And/or change two (2) stats at the Mystic. Giving up special abilities that off handers, have would also require some of those 2 handers to have them. I love Fux's idea but it may unbalance things with 4 leg gems instead of 3.

    15. I've just tested this, 1 solid 2h vs dual wield, sheet-dps has increased (716k vs 780k), so -1 emerald does not matter? my clear time on a t5 rift was just slightly slower with the 1-hand. I really like this. I've been wanting to run with messerschmidt's reaver skin for so long! Flux, re gems in 2-h, that is a great idea!

    16. I believe the math is showing that the new 2h damage puts them ahead of dual weild as far as damage and DPs go. Procs still need to be accounted for but the monstrous weapon damage should not be underestimated.

      Also its important to compare skills that account for attack speed and those that don't. For example earthquake is 100% independent of attack speed. Dual weild DPS sheet damage is both inflatef by 15% aspeed and lower than 2h even including the inflation from a speed.

    17. i do admit, my toughness took a hit of 2m, so a considerable one. but this hasnot adversely affected me on t5, at least.

    18. Should be good for channeling builds at least. Only thing I can see holding it back that I don't believe there's any 2 handers with % increased elemental damage.

      • Shaefers's and Maximus come to mind. Maximus on a good roll is already a beast, I can't imagine it after the patch on my crusader.

        Again, the problem is a simple fix and Blizzard is unwilling to fix it. Remove Critical damage and Critical hit from stats/paragon. Problem solved, rebalance everything around it.

    19. "Yes, we could do that, but as some players have begun to point out, Critical Hit Damage is a problematic stat for us."

      Begun to point out years ago?

    20. I've already been making good use of 2h weapons. For example, I have a lvl 70 Scourge with a -25 lvl requirement. Put in the hands of my new WD at lvl 45 and have been rolling T3 ever since. Can't wait to see that 20% buff there! Looks awesome with WD running around with that massive, green-swirling blade. Will be nice for sorc followers, too (Skorn).

      BTW…PLEASE give us more follower gearing options, including set bonuses! I really miss flexibility in follower equipment. For me gearing up is a big part of the fun.

    21. If you are going with a CDR build, another big problem with 2-handers is that you have to give up 10% CDR off the top, plus another 10% if you are using the 1H sword to complete the Born’s set.
      This is a bit frustrating given that 2-handers are looking to be a nice damage boost to cooldown skills.

    22. Even with this buff, it's STILL bad business for a Wizard. Sources give Wizards many things, among them: Crit Chance, Extra damage (around 400), Main Stat, Toughness Stat (Vit, Armor, % Life), Extra Skill damage, Extra Elemental damage and Cooldown Reduction, Resource Cost Reduction and a few less important others, like APoC.
      And I didn't even mention some special benefits (ex.: Electrocute can hit the same monster more than once, etc.)
      A Wizard has no big incentive to forego the benefits of a Source.

    23. I, Clavdivs, The God, find very encouraging and promising that Blizzard partially acknowledges the problem, and proposes semi – no, way too strong word – a 'hardly-viable' solution, after only 26 months since launch and immediate recognition of the flaw by players. [Divine Irony ends]

      What is not encouraging at all is the fact they act (again, the problem was 'solved' once – according to the patch notes, at least) as they never saw any of hundreds of threads called '2-hand weapons viability' and many, many points taken there – instead, they start anew?!

      Since so much on topic was said already since the launch, divine wisdom finds no reason to repeat anything – perhaps they will acknowledge problems in sword-and-board style in the next couple of years… [Divine Irony ends yet again]

      The God, in his infinite wisdom, declares that this is still a good sign – as all decisions to change the game mechanics, ones which are fundamentally flawed. Under the condition, of course, that the cited part doesn't represent an idea in its completeness, which we experienced in the past, but the new path in which the game is heading – actual solving of the existing problem, instead of ignoring, denying or "acknowledging and doing nothing".

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