One-Handed vs. Two-Handed Weapons in Reaper of Souls

Reaper of Souls itemization guru Travis Day returned to that giant forum thread where he dropped his item update info last week, and made a few comments about One-Handed vs. Two-Handed Weapons in Reaper of Souls. Comments I found baffling, but more on that after the quote:

PS – What are your thoughts on 2h’s vs 1h’s at the moment?
Travis Day: We are going to make some adjustments to 2handers, they could stand to be better. Not sure how much of a change we will end up making but we agree they are a bit lack luster atm compared to the 1h counterparts.

Lets dig into the 2h complaints for a second. It seems to had discussed 2h vs 1h at one point in a previous design meeting and as a result investigated them relative to each other. The end result was that 2h are actually in a good place relative to 1h.

So I’m curious what specific 2h vs 1h comparisons are people referring to? Are we talking 2h staves for Wizards and WDs vs 1h + orb/mojo? Or are we talking 2h axe vs 2 1h axes?

I’m puzzled by this, since 2H weapons seem so far below viable in Reaper of Souls I thought it was intentional. The general DPS range of high quality rares or legendaries is around 2000-2300 for 1H vs. 2400-2600 for 2H. That doesn’t seem like enough of damage advantage for 2H to offset all the other added bonuses you can get from off-hand items like quivers or orbs or mojos, and if you dual-wield you get 2 sockets, the second of which is adding around 130% more DiabloWikiCritical hit Damage. As a result I’ve yet to see a 2H option for any of my characters in RoS that wasn’t at least 10-20% lower total DPS.

1H vs. 2H on a 720k DPS Monk.

1H dual wielding vs. 2H. Well-geared lvl 70 Monk.

Two-handers in RoS can have much higher stat bonuses, and may roll double the LpH as well, but the loss of life steal, the fact that weapons no longer roll with Critical hit Damage as a possible mod (it’s found in small quantities as a special bonus on a very few legendary weapons), the fact that 2H never get two sockets, and their much slower swing speed (which results in many fewer proc chances) makes two-handed weapons, as currently construed, a poor weapon choice. (The only popular 2H weapons in Diablo 3, the DiabloWikiSkorn and DiabloWikiManticore, were both useful despite their very slow speed since they rolled with giant DPS, thanks to inherent Crit damage, huge stat rolls, and the Manticore could get 2 sockets while the Skorn could get life steal. All of those advantages are gone from 2H weapons in RoS.)

But as I said, I thought this was intentional on the part of the devs since the Crusader has a passive skill that lets him wield a two-handed melee weapon in one hand. I figured the RoS devs had tried to balance 1H vs. 2H, found that impossible (carrying on the “2H sucks” tradition from D1, D2, and D3) said, “screw it,” then balanced the 1H vs. 2H purely for the Crusader to have a choice on weapons and passives.

Perhaps I just haven’t seen it done right, since Travis seems to think 2H weapons are a much more viable option than anyone I’ve talked to.

Do any of you guys have a good word for 2H weapons in D3 or RoS? Would you like to see them more viable, and if so, how? Bigger potential bonuses to all the key stats? Inherent Crit Damage or a chance for two sockets to match the crit granted by dual-wielding socketed 1H weapons? Other inherent bonuses to 2H weapons? Less emphasis on IAS to trigger powerful proc effects?

Tagged As: | Categories: Blizzard People, Blue Posts, Diablo 3, Items


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  1. I think that 2-hand should definitely be viable, and I have a few ideas for how to do it.

    For starters, your idea of making 2-hand be possible to have two sockets is very valid, and logically makes sense. The weapon is larger, so there is enough room for an extra socket. I think this would be a great method.

    2-hand weapons should also have higher damage than they do now. Alternatively, they should have the same DPS, but also the same attack speed. Currently they mostly have slightly higher DPS, but much lower AS. If AS was the same as normal weapons, and the damage was 2-300 DPS higher, then it would be a real trade-off. Do you want more damage, or do you want the utility of an off-hand, which might have other properties that you would want. For this to happen, though, I think that 2-hand crossbows would have to not work with quivers. Otherwise the DH would have an unfair edge, as she could equip her off-hand with a 2-hander, while no other normal class can, and the Crusader only can if he takes a passive for it.

    Finally, there should be an effort to separate the ‘class’ of 2-handers from 1-handers. That is to say, you should want 2-handers for different builds than you want 1-handers for. 2-handers should have a different class of primary affixes that are more likely to roll on them, making them a good choice for a specific style of build. I think that all 2-handers should spawn with some amount of +splash damage. Also, they should only be able to roll with +skill affixes for single-target skills, and have higher-than-normal rolls for them: for example, if on a 1-handed sword the roll for +skill X was 7-15% increased damage, the roll for +skill Y on a 2-hander should be 12-25% increased damage. This cements the idea of 2-handers as being especially good for pushing through single-target damage and making one skill really strong, while still providing a bit of AoE through splash damage. This narrows the number of builds that want 2-handers, while simultaneously making 2-handers a more optimal choice for certain builds. If you want to prioritize single-target damage, 2-handers should be the hands-down best at helping you ramp damage and push it through. If you want a more balanced character, 1-handed works better.

    • Great ideas. If two-handers would spawn with different affixes that would make for more interesting choices.

      • I think that the main feature MISSING from 2 Handed Weapons is something that has been missing for a long time; Block.

        If you every study martial arts and watch people fight with a staff you often see them using it to block attacks. So, an obvious way to improve 2 handers is to offer a small amount of block for every two handed weapon.

        The thing to imagine here is that the wielder is holding a very large weapon. It, in itself, is something nearly impassable.

        Not only would this make sense from a fighting perspective but, it would also ‘make up’ a bit more for the unusable missing slot piece.

        no brainer fixed

        • The defense boost idea is a good one, and actually has roots from D2, The Safety Spears that you could craft (with % defense bonus and DR/MDR), Steel Pillar war pike, and even some pole-arms had similar stats.

        • Giving 2H weapons inherent properties was a common suggestion back in the pre-D3 days, and putting some block, or +defense, or other such bonus on them is an idea I think could work. That wouldn’t make them anywhere near parity, since only fairly expert players would know to appreciate the function, while most players would just go for the bigger numbers (ala Skorn/Manticore).

          The most obvious problem in RoS is that 2H stuff just doesn’t have nearly enough DPS, partially since dual wielding or off hand adds so many more affixes. The 2nd socket you get with dual wielding is another 130% crit damage, or else you’re using some offhand item to gain IAS, crit chance, +resource, ApoC, etc, and those are stats the 2H can’t match.

          Hence 2H either needs some more possible stats, some inherent properties, or just the ability to roll such high numbers that it triumphs, Skorn-style.

          I also think the removal of life steal in RoS is a factor, since that made going 2H much more viable in D3. 2H in RoS can roll much higher LpH to make up for the slower attack rate, but it just doesn’t compare to 6% LS, especially since spiky damage is much reduced in D3 and you can survive much longer with regen and other gradual healing.

          • I facepalmed a bit when they brought up this topic, but I am glad Blizz is actually open to a discussion about it. 2Handers really just need huge damage. The damage they do doesn’t even begin to approach the survivability hit you take from losing a shield. The decision should be between killing much faster and losing a lot of damage mitigation, or playing much safer with your shield, and killing slower. While having block or defensive stats is good for a legendary weapon, having it across the board on 2Hers muddies the waters in situation where you want to develop divergent playstyles.

            Dual wielding provides a nice middle ground, where you forgo the block of the shield for offhand stats, IAS, and the survivability that more LoH grants. It lends itself to on-hit effects.

            IMO, a massive damage increase is needed to get them to a place where they’re a viable choice over a shield, especially with the life steal removal, as you said.

    • “I think that 2-hand crossbows would have to not work with quivers. Otherwise the DH would have an unfair edge”
      They already made X-bows not to roll with higher stats in one of previous patches, so they simply can leave them w/o change.

      Don’t forget about this awesome 2-H Mighty Weapon with “Sesimic Slam’s reduced cost”. So this idea – 2-H for single targer, 1-H for AoE – is not a good idea 🙂 Though rest is nice.

  2. Didn’t they change most skills in RoS to be based on weapon damage rather than DPS? Wouldn’t that mean that 2-handed weapons are better for skill spam while 1-handed is better for procs/attack speed?

    • You are right, two-handers are better when resource management is an issue. It rarely is however and usually there are better ways to tackle it as well.

      Sadly, that’s really the only way in which two-handers are better. Their damage is okayish, but you get less diverse stats with them (made all the more important now that we can only have 4 primary stats), much lower attack speed (easier to get stuck where you don’t want to, I would never use them in HC) and in the case Legendaries only one powerful affix instead of two, which is another huge blow for them.

  3. All else being equal, two-handers should do more damage per second than one-hander+off-hand or dual wield. I’m not saying this because I’m some 2-hander lover who wants his spec to dominate above all others, I’m saying it because it’s the only way that two-handers would be as attractive as the other options.

    All else being equal, faster attacks are better than slower attacks, simply from less overkill alone.

    None of this takes into account the crusader of course, but the crusader’s passive should be balanced around the itemization, not the other way around.

  4. That is one thing I have never really understood about 2handed weapons, across all MMO’s, ARPGs and etc, is why they universally be slower than 1-handed weapons. It makes no sense. If I am using two hands to swing something, it will be swung pretty fast, unless it is a good deal heavier. Axes and Pikes, yes, but a monk staff or a spear? Monks should get a passive bonus to attack speed with 2handed weapons. Barbarians should get a passive bonus to damage with 2handed weapons. Wizards should get a passive bonus to arcane regeneration and damage when using a staff. Something that motivates people to build towards a spec or something, around 2-handeds.

    • My thoughts exactly!

      I really can’t stand te fact that the character that is supposed to be all about finesse and speed, the Monk, gets a class specific weapon that doesn’t fit that archetype.

      Just make the attack speed on par with a single-handed sword and only slightly increase the damage (but keep the bigger stat bonusses!). Same goes for the Barbarian and, indeed, the Wizard.

    • universally must be slower* …I hate that i can’t correct that. #thuglife

  5. Gone through and recommended some of the comments above, lots of good suggestions

    From my experience of playing D3V, the 1-handed weapons are better, I think having weapons play a part with class specific bonuses helps, but at the same time, makes me feel that if I don’t use that staff with my monk instead of a 2-handed katana, then I’m penalising myself based on personal look and animations of the weapon.

    Blizzard, take note!

  6. Once again his statements proves that they just have no idea how to improve such simple things. Just look at the comments above, there are very good suggestions to really make 2h weapons viable and fun. Now 2h are at the same useless spot as shields. It’s not the game that sucks, it’s the devs that don’t generate any reasonable ideas for more than 2 years…

  7. An interesting idea was said in topic that 2-handers should incline a certain style of gameplay, let’s call it ‘slow and confident’.
    Despite of it’s innate slowness, a 2-hander can grant you some special power.
    Not just a DPS stuff (like 15% attack speed from two 1-handers), but maybe something more powerful.
    These can be:

    – Increase area of AoE skills by X%
    – Increase all/some proc coefficients by X%
    – Every attack have a chance to stun enemy for X sec
    – Every attack have a chance to inflict Bleed for X% of monster HP over Y seconds.
    – Every monster attack have a X% chance to reflect Y% of it’s damage.

    This can be innate bonus of any 2-hand weapon itself, or can buff/replace existing, rarely used passive skills (1 for each class).

    • So, you mean like PoE, where all weapon types had different innate stats? Like, a good design that pomoted diversity yet specializaion?

  8. I never grabbed a beta invite but have been playing on the PTR for a little over a week now. 2H-ers are still not able to compare with a 1H + off-hand. I’ve read a couple great ideas in the comments above. If all else fails though, they should simply give them an overall damage boost. I don’t really even see how Bliz can think they’re in a good place. You’re giving up an off-hand legendary slot (with which the new loot system makes that a huge deal, HUGE deal), tons of stat bonuses on the off-hand, and swinging slower which affects proc effects & resource management.

  9. Could Mr. Day and company show some of the actual comparisons as to why they think 2h are in a “good place” relative to 1h. I would really like to see their reasoning and examples of their design ideas.
    Surely all the players are not missing the viability of 2h weapons.

  10. They are viable because they are much more resource efficient on wiz/wd.

  11. I love that every time this guy talks, it reveals more and more about the current state of the game. This is pitiful. No awareness to the effects of the changes they are making on their product…

    The development has an utter stubbornness on how they see things and as things should be about the game. They clearly don’t have any idea how the game is played and perceived from outside their headquarters.

    I am still baffled with his question on 2Hs. He is asking US, what is wrong with the 2Hs…
    Anyone who plays the game for an hour and makes 2H vs 1H+off-hand comparisons would see the problem.
    This shows either 1) he does not play the game (of course, this cannot be), 2) he is so embedded in his view that he does not even see things as they are…

    I have mostly (maybe 98%) played a Witch Doctor since launch and I have only considered Skorns as a 2H weapon due to (as Flux aptly explains) life steal, higher DPS, and chance for CD. In the end, I didn’t switch because I felt I had higher chance for better alternatives with 1H+off-hand choices, doubling my combinations. Only select 2Hs were OK in D3. The rest were obviously quite worse choices compared to possible 1H+off-hand combinations.

    After reading articles on changes coming in RoS for 2H’s, I became sure that 2Hs remain an option for only Crusaders. In the current iteration, 2Hs take their place among the rubbish the game throws at you for seeming rich.

    I completely agree on the viability of a bunch of fixes. There has to be an incentive for the players to choose 2Hs. Separate set of affixes sounds wonderful and relatively higher DPS is a definite thing.

  12. Just bought a 2 handed sword for my barb and I have been thinking about this very issue, right now the only thing that stands out is how the character looks with the weapon, everything else is a downgrade.

    But, these things tend to happen when little one hand daggers can compete damage wise with massive two handed axes. There needs to be a bit of “separation” in weapons for the whole list of choices to have some nuance there.

    As was mentioned above, the AS hit alone is enough of a penalty in the new game, and along with the loss of the legendary affix imbued offhand its even more of a kick to the junk. I think its safe to give these two handed weapons a real damage boost with these facts in mind.

    In Diablo 2 the massive two handed war pikes and pole-arms were some of the most damaging weapons in the entire game, the longer spears also had a attack reach advantage which was kind of cool. They also had more sockets than other weapon types.

    I miss my two handed spears. 🙁

    Lots of good suggestions above, no real reason to not see some improvement on this front.

  13. So if nobody has done it yet on the original thread we should summarize:

    1) 2h Legendaries need to be as legendary as two one handed items (both in effect, stats, sockets, and dmg).
    2) Either attack speed boost (dont like this) or a special proc coefficient just for 2h to improve triggering.
    3) Possibly different affixes which are not available on 1h to create build options
    4) optional offset of dmg loss with defensive stats (putting them somewhere between dual wield and sword and board).

    • The defensive stats idea is certainly interesting. I’m not sure it’s really fitting for a barbarian with a giant 2H axe though to be getting defensive benefit from it, although it makes more sense for say a staff or spear user.

      I think it would be even better to have more versitility between the weapon types: 2H axe = pure offense, staff = defensive weapon, spear = something in between. It would certainly be a big step above the weapon type simply changing what the graphic looks like.

    • As an alternative to #3, Disciple of Erebos proposed a great idea not too long ago, namely that weapon types should boost the damage of specific skills, even without affixes. I feel that the bonus doesn’t have to be that high for this to be an effective change (maybe 10-20%). Keeping it low would have another benefit, namely that we would still be relatively free to choose any skills we want.

  14. I agree, 2hers need a buff, they just aren’t high enough damage ATM.

  15. Don’t forget in D2 at least weapons had attack ranges. Literally, in that big 2 handed weapons could hit enemies further away than something like a dagger could. A lot of good ideas here, but it’s all fruitless/pointless. This design team is totally unwilling to add any depth to their shell of a game.

    • Came to post this exact point. If weapons had ranges, you’d see more pole and 2h sword users like a D2 WW barb or Spearazon. Wouldn’t help 2H bows I guess, but they can already use quivers to offset. The range point is one of the main differences, IMO it doesn’t make sense for the Gidbinn to strike at the same range as The Grandfather.

      As that will likely never happen at this stage, 2H weapons need:
      – higher possible max damage
      – higher possible stat rolls
      – possible to roll more than 1 socket

      2H weapons could use:
      – an inherent property, this is where crushing blow might work or even a bonus to CHD
      – or affixes only available on 2H weapons

      2H class specifics :
      – Daibo could use inherent block
      – Bows/xbows can still use quivers
      – Mighty weapons generate more fury. I think if a Barbarian cleaves a bunch of monsters with a Skorn, he’d get more of a rush than shanking them with a pig sticker

    • Yet in D2, only the fastest weapon from some class was usable since they were not the same DPS but really the same D. At least they corrected that.

  16. There’s also the innate 15% IAS for dual wielding.

    I think the main thing is 2 handers should roll 2 sockets instead of 1. The only difference between 2h and dual wield is number of sockets, DPS, and the attack speed from IAS. The attack speed in terms of proc chance isn’t an issue, because proc chance should be affected by attack speed. It’s a little rough for classes like barbarian that lose resource when out of combat and thus are less likely to start a fight with a spender, but it’s actually better for classes like wizard and witch doctor because they don’t need to use generators.

    I can’t guess which weapon type has the advantage, but given the importance of crit in vanilla, the extra socket is probably the most meaningful; however, having 2 different legendary special effects might be just as meaningful. I’d say 2handers are probably at a disadvantage, but giving them 2 sockets would make it a lot closer.

    • Two sockets are the place where we should start. Test it and then think about further buffs if needed. There is no point in 2H to not have 2 sockets.

  17. 2Handers should have different Proc coefficiency to make up for the lack of IAS , they should get increased dps , I don’t think adding Block chance on its own is going to make it a whole lot different because then you could just grab a shield and if it made 2handers too viable then going for a shield with 1hander would be that much less attractive , we don’t want to replace one situation for another.

    They need to either get 2 sockets or even better , optimize the gems so that they have 1H/2H bonuses instead of just Weapon Bonus , so that it might not get out of hand with people buffing the weapon damage with rubies and then adding crit damage.
    If weapon damage is going to make crusader too powerful then slam a 10% dmg nerf as a penalty for using 2handed+shield , with the increased weapon damage it shouldn’t make much of a difference to them.

    Add Crushing Blow to 2handers ONLY , make it a smaller %Health per proc and give it a a small chance.
    Using 2handers should also have say 30% Splash chance instead of the fixed 20%.

    There are so many ways to go on about how to make 2Handers viable , shame the developers don’t know anything about their game and their testing teams have absolutely no clue , they should really hire some professional gamers for testing.

  18. I, Clavdivs, The God, am glad that plebeian Trevis has finally acknowledged little known fact that 2-handers are next to unusable. After 2 years of living in denial, he may even admit that sword+board is not too effective, either. In his infinite wisdom and patience, The God will once again repeat all the flaws which lead to this sorry situation:

    – Inherent dual-wielding (Why so? How come two weapon are 15% faster/better than one? This bonus is thorn in divine eye, and should be compensate by equal bonuses for other playstyles)
    – No apparent advantage of two-hander wielding (damage bonus is way to low compared with one-hander, affix number is the same, affix power is not nearly enough to compensate 2nd item in other hand)
    – Off-hand bonuses are way too good compared to bonuses offered by two-hander, often exceeding them in dps, while having other advantages as well

    That being said, there are numerous things Blizzard could (have done 2 years ago, or) do to remedy this – many stated above, but The God feels repeatability is needed – this is practically the same suggestion given in October 2012 by divine being godself, publicly:
    1. Two handers have more affixes than one handers, and their power is greater
    2. Base damage is significantly greater than current
    3. Weapon range is greater (for a supposed situation where weapon actually differs, by range and other properties aside cooldown)
    4. There is inherent block chance or defense bonus for two handers
    5. Second socket is possible, under assumption that gems actually get unlikely balance, in which case even the third one would be appropriate

    The God suggest reviewing shield mechanic, in following manner:
    1. Shield offer %-based damage reduction, which is either complete or %-based, and not at all as is now
    2. Nothing else.

    The God is happy that Blizzard itemization expert has acknowledged flaws, so that healing can begin!

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