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

Posted 19 Jul 2014 by

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.


    Tagged As: | Categories: Blue Posts, Diablo 3 Patches, Diablo 3 PTR, Items, John Yang