I think the system can still use a lot of improvement. No barbarian who is trying to progress on inferno should take warcry with any other rune than impunity, or atleast it's simply the best choice for what the skill is designed to do making all others sub par. It's still hard to say how gear will affect skill customization because right now it boils down to revenge, ignore pain and wotb are a must. Thing is revenge and wotb will scale with gear aswell so why take a fun skill like ancient spear, weapon throw?
I don't even run with the traditional fury spenders, just wotb completely trivialising fury so far i've seen a lot people doing the same, gear might fix this and the traditional fury spenders might become more meaningfull. Still i think it's a poorly designed system, you should care about your resource system at all times, or atleast more frequently than every 2 minutes. So why do i run it? it's damn effective that is why.
Builds really aren't that limited so much as some things work really well. Demon hunters and wizards aren't even worth talking about, because they are able to skip the need for survivability and cheese the game by blowing things up instantly. Monks and barbarians are forced to have high survivability, usually through a shield and defensive passives, but there's more freedom with your skills. Barbarians, for example, have ignore pain, furious charge, revenge, overpower, or whirlwind to heal themselves, but if you get a good amount of life gain on hit, you can get away without using these. People are using high dps stun/knockback builds, tanky revenge builds, blow all your cooldowns and kill-em-quick builds, throw builds, crit-whirlwind builds, and even sprint builds, all of which are viable at least through act 2 inferno. I'm sure there are other possibilities that people haven't publicized.
Also, as has been said many times, the reason things are so rocky is because most of us are using items that are far from perfect. I'd say for most of us struggling with act 2 inferno, our items average about 30-40% of what would be perfect. As our gear gets better, we gain freedom to sacrifice defensive focus (similar to the cheesy DH and Wizards) and have more options.
Ignore pain is actually not that good for tanking. It's more of an "oh !@#!" button, but overall I find it better to use something like threatening shout to reduce damage more reliably.
WotB isn't trivializing fury. It's the small damage increase from fury spenders (especially when you consider revenge spamming for AOE and frenzy for single target), and the fact you simply can't afford to lose defensive abilities if you want to live in inferno.
It's not the skill system that is messed up, it's the skills themselves that are messed. And of course the monsters being absolute murderers for the melee classes compared to how hard of a time they have to deal damage to ranged classes. Not that ranged classes don't take damage, but if they try hard enough, they take a lot less than the 70% the barb/monk 30% damage reduction is supposed to make up for.
Whenever they tweak incoming damage from monsters in Act2+ Inferno, you will see far more build variety. Right now there just isn't much freedom b/c we are forced to use so many defensive abilities and passives to survive.
I agree 100% that fury spenders need to be buffed to become more appealing. Most of them simply aren't that useful right now.
How many viable builds were there in D2? In D3, currently in Inferno, there are 4-5 skill combinations that are very successful in Inferno, such as crit/ww, tank and weapon throw just to name a few. I find myself altering my skills on a daily basis.
Problem is with any game, unless all the skills are identical, there are going to be one set of maximized efficiency skills. This happened in D2, this will happen in D3. People will always take the path of least resistance, so to think a game can offer unlimited build variety is naive. However, you have to admit the nice job Blizz is doing despite of it.
Except if it's hard enough to figure out the maximum efficiency build (and there are many ways for Blizzard to do that, some of those stuff they actually did, but they messed up enough for it to not show in-game), then nobody will be able to agree on which build is the most efficient, and then you will have build variety. Right now there is basically one build that is "best" for killing the toughest enemies with cheapest gear, and as you gear up more builds "open up". While some Blizzard developers think this isn't conceptually flawed design, I think it's pretty terrible, because it effectively means the other builds are simply not viable for those who want to progress without farming more than the players using the better build. Balance doesn't mean just that there are multiple possible builds, but that it's a tough choice which build to use at most/all gear levels.
Currently, if you are not a full tank, you need more gear than someone who is. There's no real way to debate that when you look around a bit and play a bit yourself. Inferno is currently made so that you must either be an uber tank that kills super-slow or an uber glass cannon that dies in 1 hit, and the glass cannon option is simply not an option for a barb (while tank isn't an option for at least the ranged classes), since sooner or later you'll have to hit something in melee and then you'll have to take that hit. Anything trying to balance it so you do high damage yet still can take some hits before you die simply requires much much more gear. Of course, since glass cannons can die in 1 hit and get overkilled for several times their HP, they can actually get away with a lot less gear than a tank, which is why barbs are much more difficult to progress with.
Right now there is basically one build that is "best" for killing the toughest enemies with cheapest gear, and as you gear up more builds "open up". While some Blizzard developers think this isn't conceptually flawed design, I think it's pretty terrible, because it effectively means the other builds are simply not viable for those who want to progress without farming more than the players using the better build.
Their design is fine but other factors make it bad. Optimal isn't as important as viable works if viable allows for farming the best items. Currently you need optimal to get ilvl 63 items. Once they fix that, viable builds can do act 3/4 hell for ilvl 62 and act 1 inferno for ilvl 63. That's how it should have been to begin with and a major error on Blizzard's part. It was very important in diablo 2 that you could get great items like shaftstop and vamp gaze in nightmare.
If one build for barbarians works really well with bad gear, that's fine and that only makes it optimal for that situation. There could be a different build that's optimal for farming act 3 when you have a higher level of gear, and maybe another for act 4 and yet another for when your gear is super good. The point is that even if something is optimal for 1 thing, it can't be optimal for everything (unless you're a demon hunter) and what's important is that it's a game for having fun. People should find builds they enjoy and play them, even if it's only 90% as effective as the optimal setup.
I don't like the idea of getting good items by running easy stuff. Especially if all you need is to run act 1 4x as fast as act 3, when act 3 is many times more difficult. Who in his right mind will farm act 3 then?
Besides, it doesn't matter what drops where. Build variety needs to be fixed by balancing out the skills based on both challenging and farm content. I don't want a "best farm build" and "best act 3 build". That's not build variety. Build variety is when nobody can agree which build is the best for doing act 3 and everyone end up using a different one due to not being able to agree on what is best. The current system allows this to happen, but the balance between the skills themselves does not. The skill system is fine (even great), they just need to adjust the skills.
I'm not totally opposed to ilvl 63 items dropping in Acts 1 and 2, but i think the chance is too high if this goes through as stated. You can go back to Act 1 with a good 2-hand build and basically 1-shot everything in your path. Also, every elite pack will drop at least 1 rare at 5 NV, and it's very easy to find and kill A LOT of elite packs very quickly in Act 1.
I would prefer a much lower drop rate on ilvl 63 pieces in Act 1. Something more like 1/8 or 1/10 the chance of Act 3+.
At the end of the day, I notice people saying 'me and everyone else is forced to use the build to survive' and I can't help but think that this is just because they are lazy, and googled 'good build for inferno' and took the first viable one they saw. I did this too. Since then, I've tweaked mine around a core 'idea' and still had success, with the added feeling that I worked at least some of it out myself. How about you stop complaining, and at least tweak around for a bit before coming to the conclusion that being creative is just too hard and resorting to the one and only build you complain exists. I might be wrong though, you all might be awesome theorycrafters who have all come to the same conclusion after hours spent at the spreadsheets.
I've seen on this site in fact, the 'build guide' has so many comments where people say 'I disagree, you can keep this fundamental idea and tweak it to be more effective by...' and others disagree. Case in point that while a few skills remain fundamental (and as noted they always will in any game that has assignable skills), at least there is room for changing it around the edges (every D2 Hammerdin however was identical down to the nearest skill point).