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.