Blizzard has been enjoying prosperity lately with the inevitable defeat of Gearbox's Battleborn,” (who recently announced their final update) with the ever-popular “Overwatch,” and the growing community of “Diablo III” players. “Diablo III,” released in May of 2012, has seen a number of patches, debugs, balance fixes, and additional content, all making the game more palatable and playable for fans new and old. The latest announcement of the Patch 2.6.1 has players across the globe salivating with excitement as new game balance and Legendary Set Bonuses increase dramatically.

This has made previously unplayable characters, like the Barbarian (who couldn't make it past the more difficult season objectives solo) a viable option.

‘Diablo III’: Perfect timing for an upgrade

On June 27th, the “Diablo III” servers were set ablaze with the release of an old fan-favorite from previous “Diablo” games: the Necromancer. During beta gameplay, it was obvious to even the greenest of players that the Necromancer was a force to be reckoned with. Powerful combos, unparalleled crowd control, and an army of minions with incredible damage potential made the Necromancer easily the best character. At $14.99 for a download, the newest addition to the “Diablo” family demanded adequate payment for content that spent months in beta testing.

Unfortunately, this over-saturated the servers with Necromancer Builds, from Bone Tornado to Rathma's Army of the Dead, leaving little room or use for other characters. From Demon Hunters in this summer's Season 10 to Necromancers in this most recent Season 11, there has been a battle for the leaderboard throne, but none is as strong a contender as the shiny new death magician.

Season 12: Why the Barb is a serious contender for the leaderboards

Last season, the Barbarian struggled to make waves in Torment 10 difficulty, much less pass greater rift 50 (60 if you really put in the paragon points) while average Necromancer builds easily surpassed 80+, making the Barb a less-than-viable choice, especially among casual gamers.

This new patch has so many goodies, especially for the Might of the Earth Set bonus, as well as accompanying legendary items Band of Might, Bracers of Destruction, and Fury of Vanished Peak, with increased damage reduction and strong increases in damage per second. Some highlights include:

  • Might of the Earth 6-set bonus: Increase the damage of Earthquake, Avalanche, Leap, Ground Stomp, Ancient Spear and Seismic Slam by 5600% (compared to the previous 1200%)
  • Fury of Vanished Peak's damage bonus reaches 500% with additional 10% fury cost reduction
  • Bracers of Destruction goes from 300-400% to 400-500% damage bonus.

Combine these with the old favorite Lut Sox, and the area of effect (AoE) for Earthquake becomes a viable solo build, especially in over-crowded Greater Rifts.

Even stronger than this, the Whirlwind Barbarian is said to have surpassed even Greater Rift Level 118 in beta testing, which is a huge improvement from previous seasons. The Barbarian is becoming one of the strongest area damage and AoE characters.

What 'Diablo III' has given us thus far

More characters are getting even more power. For example, the Crusader’s Blessed Hammer/Falling Sword build is seeing major buffs to legendary items like Faithful Memory, which further buffs The Seeker of the Light build. The Captain America Shield Throw build is also becoming more viable with increased buffs to ricochets and damage, if not just a fun build to play on low Torment difficult levels.

Demon Hunters are getting yet another melee item to build a character around: Lord Greenstone’s Fan.

The damage buff for Fan of Knives has not only doubled, but it still stacks 30 times. It truly is a patience build, but could possibly be a good cubed item for a Shadow Set build, with Karlei’s Point gaining 1.5x more Hatred power per enemy already hit by the Impale ability. Wraps of Clarity also get a great 15-20% damage reduction boost.

The Monk has seen significant boosts in damaging abilities with The Fist of Az’Turrasq, Scarbringer, and Cesar’s Memento’s double damage boost, and Binding of the Lost’s and Spirit Guards’s 15-20% damage reduction boost, much like the Demon Hunter’s.

One of the biggest game changers is to the still infantile Necromancer, with Bloodsong Mail finally being corrected not to have the rune that forces all of your skeletons to explode when using Command Skeletons, but still gaining the effects of the other 4 runes and a 100-125% damage buff.

This makes one of the most powerful pet builds in the game significantly more deadly, especially with other crowd-controlling effect items and abilities on. Of course, the Golem Breeches got one of the only de-buffs, but the sorcerer of death was already, arguably, much more powerful than any other character class.

Nilfur’s Boast has catapulted the Meteor Wizard up to nearly S class, combined with Tal Rasha’s Elements. Also, speaking of pet builds, Zunimassa’s Haunt set bonus damage has gone up by 3000%, sending the Witch Doctor into Torment 13 readiness.

Blizzard knows how to keep a game fresh. Now, if only avocados could follow suit.

Season 12 kicks-off on November 9th at 5 pm, PDT in North America. Although every character class has received some incredibly generous bonuses, this will definitely be the season of the Power Barbs.