Patch 1.0.4 Preview: Barbarian

Like the bus service, you wait for a bus for ages and then three come along at once. Hot on the heels of last nights Legendary update which, on the whole, has been well received, Blizzard have released an update detailing the changes planned for some of the Barbarian skills (others classes to follow).

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 DiabloWikibarbarians, we focused on improving the following areas:

  1. Bash and Cleave are not very attractive compared to Frenzy
  2. Many of the damage-oriented Fury Spenders don’t do enough damage to justify the spot on your bar

Fury Generators

DiabloWikiFrenzy: (db)

barbarian frenzyIt’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.

DiabloWikiBash: (db)

barbarian bash skillFrom a design perspective, Bash should be the definitive choice when it comes to maximizing your Fury generation. That’s not 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.

DiabloWikiCleave: (db)

barbarian cleave skillLooking 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.

Fury Spenders

hammer of the ancientsseismic slamrendFor 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!

Previews for the other four classes are ‘coming soon’.

So what do the barbarians think of this? Do you approve of the changes? Is it enough or do you think Blizzard need to go further with changes to the Barb’s skills? Have you dumped the barbarian and think this will get you playing him again?

Related to this article
  • Legendaries 1.0.4 vs 1.0.3 Comparison Charts
  • Vote: What do you think of the v1.0.4 patch?
  • 1.0.4 Undocumented Changes

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    38 thoughts on “Patch 1.0.4 Preview: Barbarian

    1. No passive changes? Or just no info on passive changes?

      I think some of the passives are flat out boring and have that “+5% to crap” feel they said they wanted to get away from. Hell, something like Galvanizing Ward on a Wizard can be out done by a single bloody affix on a single bloody item.

      • I think their goal of this “blog” was to explain their approach to buffing the Barbarian as well as give some basic changes. Hence no passive or rune changes were discussed.

        As far as nerfs, they know they can’t nerf anything. If something was going to be nerfed it would have happened in a hotfix by now. And at the moment the double tornado build is the only thing that “feels” like playing Diablo in this game to me. I mean I’m so powerful that things die as I simply run past them, it’s awesome.

        As for these buffs, I am a 2h barb. I finally stopped using my build and switched to tornado just so I could finish inferno. But my old build is about to receive a massive buff. I used cleave, hammer of ancients(smash), earthquake, and I think leap, charge, and something else. Anyways, if everything in my old build is buffed I’ll be enjoying the change.

        • They did mention specific runes in some cases. What gets me is that they didn’t mention some other rarely used skills like the one that summons the ancients, or warcry runes other than the resistance one.

          • That because its a basic statement of the kind of changes they are doing and why, not a list of every change (need the full patch notes for that).

    2. Don’t play a barbarian so I don’t know all the nuances of the class but these changes sound good. I like that they don’t plan to nerf fun builds that already exist.

      • I’m actually surprised they didn’t nerf some of the sprint tornado effects. Like I asked the guys on the recent barb podcast, do you think that build is intentional? I do not; I think bliz meant sprint to be a sort of situational escape/movement skill, and didn’t figure that players would find a way to use the tornado rune effect, with critical hit chance gear, and other skills, to enable the best barb builds in the game.

        But apparently they’re fine with it working as it is. Note that they are nerfing the other proc/exploit type build, the wizard energy twister mega critical hit build, though they say new uniques with very high crit hit chance will more than make up for it.

        My question here is the same as on the podcast… why just the barb and wiz have such awesome abusive builds, and nothing so crazy for the monk/wd/dh? If, as I think, those builds are basically happy accidents for the barb/wiz, then it’s not a hard question to answer. None of them were intended and so we just happened to get 2 of the 5 chars with awesome builds possible by using multiple skills + very high critical hit chance.

        I do wonder what other classes would have along similar lines, though. Say if there were a DH passive that dropped cool downs or added hatred/discipline with every crit. What skill usages would change? Perma-SS? Obviously that would be an exploit. I haven’t played enough high level monk/wd to pull up possible examples off the top of my head.

    3. Am a little surprised that there is no nerf to revenge/sprint.
      And no mention of any changes to the passives.

      Final verdict: Double tornardo build is still the best, nothing interesting to see. Bring on the other class previews.

      • They said no nerfs, remember?

        As for double being best, do you see some of those damage numbers? I will probably still use double because I find it really fun, but I can’t categorically say, based on this short preview, that it will always be the right choice for everyone to use it!

      • If one thing is clear it’s that they don’t think the game is too easy right now, even with everyone using the current ideal builds. So there’s no reason to nerf anything, instead they’ll buff up everything else to that level to improve variety.

    4. Awesome news. I’ve been running a Frenzy Smite build ever since it unlocked. Will be good to go back to some of the other generators.

      May even give me a reason to roll a 2nd barb named Korgoth 😀

    5. Huh, that was a lot shorter than I expected. There’s certainly gonna be way, way more changes than this. I’d be surprised/disappointed if nearly every skill/rune doesn’t get at least a tweak here or there. (Such as the non-tornado Sprint runes.)

      • they won’t reveal everything yet,but uodate should be next week so we will find out soon enough

    6. hmmm, was hoping for a bit more info on other skills, but so far so good. I mean this is just a preview, full stuff will be listed in the actual patch.

      Really wanna know what will be done to Call of the Ancients as I really wanna use that skill.

    7. Barb is now the most OP class, 100 % uptime on overpower 100% uptime on wotb still not nerfed.

      hmmm, so monks now monks need a HUGE buff to keep things fair, otherwise there no point in playing anything but barbar 😐

      Barb is now disgustingly overpowerd ! so lets so if they make monk as OP and cannot be killed just like with double tornado and perma uptime on many OP skills.

      let the qq’ing begin

      • the idea is to make the other builds as effective as the current builds that you call OP. Lets hold hope that this will be the case.

      • What!? While I can agree WW/Sprint/Battle Rage/high crit chance/high LoH is ludicrous, it is in no way more overpowered/ludicrous than a Wizard with Twister/Critical Mass/high crit chance/high arcane power on crit… spamming infinite frost novas, diamond skin, explosive blast, or whatever the ffff they want. Then there is Archon which they can enter almost at will when the mob density drops. Hell, popping Archon is a debuff for these Wizzards, that is how ridiculously overpowered spamming the not-ment-to-be-spammable skills is.

        I don’t play either of the above builds. Oh I played them before they became the wide-spread defacto builds, because honestly, they are the only way to survive playing these classes without dieing repeatedly to the asinine affix combos, but these builds are complete cheese. I want the game fixed, but it seems Blizzard is only interested in creating more cheese.

        Also, what the hell is buffing the damage output of the other Barb skills going to do? Yes, it will create diversity in what skills you are able to DPS with, but DPS output is not the Barb’s problem. The Barb’s problem is he can’t tank/heal for crap without the cheese. The devs went on and on about potion spamming and how it need to be fixed. With the cheese they only thing they fixed was removing the need for the potion.

    8. Boosting whirlwind? Really? Things are going to die even faster now (not that I’m complaining or anything).

    9. “Buffs only, no nerfs” is a really terrible strategy if they plan to keep that up.
      Sometimes nerfs really are the best way to go.

      • they are actually just buffing skills that aren’t viable right now to achieve some build diversity. I always hated those who scream nerf that char, nerf it good because my toon is underpowered, nerf those other chars. I never saw this ending good…
        nice examples are Diablo2 barbs and SW TOR Sith Inquisitor, both are chars i never played again. Well the latter i stopped completely because it was broken in so many places!

      • but the problem is the current “OP” builds are fun so it would suck if they killed them. For now it’s better to buff the other skills and we’ll see what happens.

        • Yeah, not saying they have to nerf any of the current strong builds. Just that it would be bad if they are afraid of ever nerfing stuff.

          If it is always just buffing, the end result will be easier and easier content. On top of Blizzard already nerfing the content before taking class buffs into account.

    10. Those damage numbers on the new HotA and Rend are actually pretty exciting! Looks like I’ll be able to use my 2-hander again!

      Now all they need to do is lessen the Life steal penalty in Inferno since an 80% reduction makes it absolutely worthless to the far superior Life on Hit property. Heres to hoping the Life Steal passive gets a massive boost (5-8% with no difficulty penalty would be nice, would need something else though to make it worthwhile…maybe +3% max life as well?)

      • well, some ppl have 200k DPS, so with 5% steal that’s 2k life each hit…not too bad compared to LOH

        • Hm, please point me to ppl who have 200k dmg with barb.. A then what’s easier, get 200k dmg or 2k LoH apart from at least thousend other modifiers for each skill that determine LoH or LS calculation.. 🙄

    11. I just want an alternative to Revenge-on-recharge spam. I like the Throw Barb concept a lot now, now that Richochet throw barbs can do like 9 zillion damage with that legendary weapon.

    12. There’s another huge advantage of not spending any fury, a little passive that boost your damage by 25% when your fury globe is full.

      While boosting fury spender’s damage is great, I hope they also take into account the damage lost by not using Berserker Rage as well.

      25% is huge in Infernal.

      • What’s the problem? Barbs can take weapon mastery or crit passives instead with MUCH stronger fury spenders. Only difference is their auto attack damage is possibly weaker

    13. “Bloodbath weapon damage increased from 60% over 3 seconds to 100% over 5 second”

      That’s still 20% a second there brains, nice increase lol!

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