Comparing the Diablo III barbarian and the World of Warcraft Warrior


You knew this was coming. I wrote a post back when Diablo III came out arguing that the warrior could learn a lot from the barbarian. We’re almost two years later, and we didn’t learn enough from them when Mists of Pandaria put warriors on a similar system – rage generators and rage spenders working in (at least conceptually) much the same way as D3’s barbarian and his fury get and spend moves. What’re the key differences?

For starters, the barbarian’s fury generators hit hard and feel good to use. Bash and Cleave are both solid, meaty attacks with good sound effects and a feeling of power behind them – you can easily wade into a mass of zombies or demons and kill them all with Cleave, if you don’t feel like spending fury. Some people deliberately use the Berserker Rage passive and don’t use many fury spender attacks in Diablo III, that’s how good the baseline fury get moves are. I doubt we’d ever get a warrior design that allowed us to just pool our rage to 120 and do effective damage without spending any, but it serves to show you how Diablo III has made its fury generators interesting and fun to use. The passive skills in D3 and its ability runes are wildly better than WoW‘s major/minor runes, and frankly the whole system should be scrapped and modeled after what Diablo III is doing. Allowing warriors to alter their rage so that it didn’t degenerate out of combat would solve the nightmarish feeling of watching your group get stronger while you get weaker.

In general, the strengths that Diablo III shows and World of Warcraft lacks are as follows:

  • Customization of resource – Diablo III allows you to design how fury works for you. You can have it automatically refilling itself back to full over time, so that you won’t have to start a combat with no fury. You can make it so you don’t want to spend fury, but simply hold onto it for a damage buff. The resource is moddable to how you want it to play. Compare that to rage in WoW – the closest we get is that rage can be altered by switching stances, but this is far less flexible. There are various ways for warriors to increase their rage generation – itemization, for one – but since WoW uses auto-attacks to generate rage and Diablo III completely lacks them, fury generation can be completely on the back of the fury generation attacks, which can therefore hit harder and feel more important.
  • Fluidity of play – Diablo III feels far more responsive. If you want fury, you hit things. The globe fills up, you then unleash it (or don’t, if you have Berserker Rage). There are fewer abilities to keep track of, those that you have tend to be important and often used. Diablo III barbarians have four or five abilities per slot, but only six slots total and have to make choices at every stage. Warriors have a lot of abilities that are baseline across the class, and some of these abilities are rarely used, only used in panic situations (Die by the Sword, Shield Wall) or are even bad to use outside of certain situations. Diablo III has no ‘traps’ of this kind. Hitting Cleave is never a bad idea in Diablo III, whereas using Cleave on your warrior can often be disastrous.
  • Better abilities. Some abilities are just flat out better in Diablo III than they are in WoW. Seismic Slam makes Shockwave look silly. Partially this is rooted in how Diablo III treats combat compared to how WoW does it – it’s okay for your barbarian to annihilate 35 demons with one attack, whereas in WoW combat against equal level enemies (even non elites) tends to take a few seconds. But using Diablo III’s version of Whirlwind makes you sad to go back to WoW and play your warrior, who despite being a Titan’s Grip dual wielding enormous weapons can barely manage the rage to hit WW twice.
  • There are items, passive skills, and other means to raise your maximum fury, meaning that as you level, you can have more fury available to do more with. WoW lacks any such mechanism outside of a glyph,

I doubt WoW is going to do away with autoattack, so to a degree we simply have to accept that some of our damage and rage will be coming from this source, meaning that attacks like Bloodthirst and Mortal Strike won’t see a damage increase or a rage increase. This is a shame, but it’s understandable. One thing WoW might copy is the idea of options in terms of what your rage generation attack is – rather than simply having only one that’s determined by spec, a couple of options might be preferable, with different effects. Making it so Cleave generated rage and was a useful rage generator for AoE fights would be nice, for instance – you would still use Bloodthirst or MS for single target, but when the adds came in you’d start spamming Cleave to get enough rage to throw out Whirlwind.

Frankly, the WoW warrior needs to feel more powerful. This means he needs to be more powerful, yes, but really it’s not damage that’s as important as that fluidity. Feeling your rage leak away while everyone else regains mana or energy is a terrible mechanic to keep enshrined in the game. It’s brutal to force warriors to have to start over while everyone else regenerates, and it should be long gone. More warrior attacks should have a method to regain fury on use (the Diablo III barbarian can glyph his Whirlwind to give him rage when it strikes multiple enemies, making it almost permanently useable in target rich environments, and that’s miles more fun than the fury warriors two WW and out of rage situation). In general, while the barbarian has to manage fury, the means to do so is simple and easily done, while for warriors it’s often tedious and slow. Speed it up.

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6 Responses to Comparing the Diablo III barbarian and the World of Warcraft Warrior

  1. Hirrus

    I think the problem was well-articulated in a tweet you made recently: “Warrior feels hobbled by Rage, while Barbarian feels liberated by Fury.”

    When you, as a Warrior, are out of Rage during combat, that means that you’ve failed in some way. Either you’ve poorly managed your Rage, you’ve failed to anticipate encounter mechanics, or you’re just in the wrong stance. The result is lost DPS and exactly enough “downtime” to look down at your keyboard in shame and think about what you’ve done until Bloodthirst or Mortal Strike is ready again. You need to worry about your Rage, and plan ahead for it.

    As a Barbarian, when you are out of Fury during combat, that means that it’s time to go back to your Fury generator until you’re full again. Sometimes your Fury Generator feels a little less satisfying, sometimes your Fury generator does less damage. But while you’re clicking around with it, you’re getting something done. Fury defines “phases” of your gameplay, and you can make broad changes to how those phases operate – or even if they exist – when you slot your abilities and passive skills.

    When you’re out of Rage as a Warrior, you have nothing (Or, rather, very little) to do. The only exception is Prot, because prot has Devastate, which can generate Rage on a crit, and can proc Sword and Board. But those are effectively random chances the Prot Warrior is dependent on, rather than actions the Warrior takes themselves. When you’re out of Fury as a Barbarian, your options might be limited, but they aren’t gone. And if they are, the first thing you should do is try and figure out how to reconfigure your abilities to prevent it from happening again.

    To put it simply: Barbarians control Fury; Rage controls Warriors.

  2. Vosskah

    Good summary, thanks Matt!

    I agree with your assessment. Maybe rage needs to pool higher and have things that lower the rage cost of abilities so we can use them more often. Most of all, I agree that combat is Diablo is a lot more engaging and could be used as a blueprint for what should be done with the warrior.

  3. Kazekraze

    I could see this being totally viable like say for instance, change how RB and WW interact, give us a baseline synergy with our AEs with our other attacks, in the same manner as say Bloodsurge.

    WW + RB for Fury : When you strike 2 more targets with Meat Cleaver, your WW is discounted to 5 rage and is on a 1second GCD. they would have to lower the damage overall on WW but it would FEEL better

    TC + Sweeping Strikes : when TC Strikes 3+ targets your sweeping strikes ability costs no rage, make the Glyph of SS Baseline

    However AE is not where any of our Specs (outside of possibly Prot) need help so.

    for Fury, replace Colossus Smash with something that doubles our rage generation for 6 seconds from all sources, give auto attacks a chance to reset this (haste might gain value?)

    for Arms, make overpower free, and toss on a chance to reduce the cost of heroic strike by 20 rage, it would give Arms a reason to hit HS.

    Overall I agree, warriors need to be DOING MORE all the time.

  4. suntiger745

    Great, now you’re tempting me to go play Diablo 3. I’ve hardly time enough to do everything I want to do in WoW! 😛

  5. Bullbar

    Now the Crusader in D3 has something that has been talked about recently…a 2h weapon + shield. Want that for prot warrior!

  6. Grab your bucket of popcorn, this turned out way longer than I expected.

    The problem with trying to compare Barbarians and Warriors is that Warrior rage generation and spending is very often constrained by cooldowns, while Barbarians don’t have the same issue with Fury. Warriors are also very much limited by the game’s own trinity-based encouter design.

    A Barbarian spams her Fury generator, builds up to a full bar, then spams her Fury spender to drop it down so she can build up again. If a skill generates Fury but has a cooldown, it will very likely provide some sort of control/movement/survivability boon to the Barbarian on top of smoothing out Fury generation. Likewise, if a skill consumes Fury and has a cooldown it is likely either a highly damaging attack or a very valuable boost to your character’s control/movement/survivability (Sprint is a good example).

    Warriors don’t and cannot have the same level of depth as Barbarians. For one, Barbarians have a limited amount of skills they can use at any given time, and they need to balance raw damage with defense. A DPS Warrior needs to do nearly nothing, ability-wise, to improve her survivability or control: after all, it’s the tank’s job to keep others alive, and as long as you know how to stay out of the fire you should be fine.

    All the Rage must be earned and spent offensively, and that’s where the current design fails. I have three issues I would like to point out:

    1 – Fury generation: one of the reasons the Barbarians “feel” more fun is because they have full control over their resource generation. Yes, they’re basically just spamming things over and over by holding the mouse button over the target, but at least it’s all in the players’ hands. Warriors have their Rage generation split between autoattacks and active Rage generators. Because autoattacks generate Rage, the active generators must have a cooldown. Of course, if all Rage came from damage taken and Bloodthirst/Mortal Strike without a cooldown Warriors would be forced to spam attacks every single GCD, which could get a little tiresome for some people. Any sort of downtime on the target would cause an even greater feeling of uselessness.

    2 – Cooldowns: the “meaty” attacks are limited by cooldowns. The Barbarian doesn’t have a very complicated set up to dealing damage. Fury is generated by one ability, temporary boosts like Frenzy (Maniac) and Overpower (Killing Spree) are activated, Fury is quickly spent by another ability. Occasionally you have Earthquake and its medium cooldown tossed in. Warriors can’t pick and choose what abilities they use to generate or spend Fury, and the fact that both generators and spenders have cooldowns makes their gameplay much more limited.

    3 – Choices: I think the true heart of the matter is that Warriors don’t get to make any choices. Barbarians have to pick and choose what they do. They can go full glass-cannon and try to rush other things down. Let one of those wail on a boss unhindered and its damage is just obscene. The same Barbarian may elect to go for toughness and grind two dozen targets gradually but safely, self-healing all the damage she cannot avoid. Or she can choose to stride a middle path between staying alive and doing damage, tweaking things around until she finds what’s comfortable for her. She can even choose to focus on more AoE damage or more single target potential.

    Warriors don’t get that choice. They can’t choose what skills to use or not. All they have to do is apply damage to the target. Anything that’s not directly related to that is forgotten. There is no balance between staying alive and doing more damage beyond positioning during a fight. Nearly the full depth of the Fury Warrior gameplay is knowing how to work around Colossus Smash. Arms is almost metronomic in its build up and expenditure of Rage. Neither works well when caught in an unexpected situation. While the Barbarian can quickly readjust to buy herself time when caught in a dangerous situation by stunning the targets, using Rage-generation cooldowns, etc., a Fury Warrior caught with Colossus Smash on cooldown and no Raging Blows saved up loses a lot more of her damage potential.

    My, that was a lot of text for very little in terms of conclusions. So let me attempt to save face by presenting my wishlist for a Warrior revamp:
    – Rage generation from autoattacks removed or reduced to only crits generate a small amount of Rage.
    – Rage generators (Mortal Strike and Bloodthirst) rebalanced and revamped to have no Cooldown. Flat rage generation for them, increased by haste. This is to give Warriors control over their Rage generation.
    – Cleave made a Rage generator and rebalanced, dealing damage to all targets in front of the Warrior and generating the same amount of Rage as the single-target Rage generators.
    – Rage spenders consolidated. One single-target (Slam and Raging Blow) and one AoE (Sweeping Strike and Whirlwind) Rage spender for each spec. Neither have cooldowns.
    – Mortal Strike stacks a 5% damage bonus on your Rage spenders, up to 5 stacks, lasting for 10 seconds. Every Rage spender used reduces that bonus by 5%.
    – Bloodthirst has a chance to proc a 50% damage bonus on your next Rage spender, lasting 5 seconds. Alternatively, it has a chance to generate extra Rage and reduce your GCD by 0.75 seconds for your next attack.
    – Slam and Raging Blow each have their own effects beyond just raw damage. Slam could reduce the damage the enemy deals to the Warrior, Raging Blow could heal the Warrior for a small amount (3%, maybe). Rage costs would have to be adjusted accordingly.
    – Berserker Rage, Shouts and the likes remain, as emergency rage generators.
    – Utility or high-damage attacks retain their cooldowns and mechanics, with Rage costs and cooldowns worked out as needed. If say, Avatar turns out to allow Rage-capped Warriors to burst people down too easily, give it a rage cost as well as a cooldown.

    This is a very rough idea of what I’d like Warriors to do. Less set-ups, more bashing things. Hopefully encouter design in this situation would also give players a reason to look for more survivability as well as raw damage.

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