As a gamer, there are few things more disheartening than committing yourself to one particular class, only to find that it is completely broken. At first, you try to convince yourself that the people complaining in the forums do not possess the elite gaming abilities that you do – that you will succeed where they had failed. You spend many a sleepless night wandering the deepest recesses of the gaming world, hoping for that one elusive drop. Finally, you get it, and while it does make you a bit more formidable you still cannot survive the next difficulty level, despite having tried multiple builds. You watch in disbelief as others, far less skilled and geared than yourself, blitz through the enemies you cannot – all because they are playing a more well-balanced, or in some cases exploitable, class. Such is the maligned fate of Diablo III’s Barbarian and Monk – or is it?
Admittedly, melee classes in Diablo III are at a bit of a natural disadvantage. Because they are forced to rely on damage mitigation – as opposed to ranged classes that are designed to never come within melee range of their foes – they must be able to stack enough vitality, armor, resistances and other mitigating resources if they are to survive more than one vicious hit. For instance, the Demon Hunter playing on Act II of Inferno will get one shot by a variety of mobs, especially Champions, and although their best survival skill Smokescreen was recently smacked with the nerf stick, they still possess an arsenal of abilities designed to help them kite fearsome foes around the map with relative ease. Even the most geared Demon Hunter will die from time to time, but they will be able to progress and eventually get the gear required to make soloing the later acts of Inferno more reasonable.
It appears that no matter what the Barbarian does to enhance their constitution, they run out of luck early in Inferno. In full survival mode they are able to mitigate a tremendous amount of physical damage, and with the proper gear have ample hit points and resistances, and yet it is still not nearly enough. This is because Barbarians by nature, and Monks for that matter, must take hits. They can justify the use of Seismic Slam spam, but at best they’ll become a gimped, low-damage version of a superior ranged class. And no matter how high a Monk’s dodge or life regeneration, one fearsome hit from the wrong enemy and it’s game over.
Melee classes particularly suffer against Champions. In Hell, they’re encouraged to stay away from some combinations, but in Inferno there is not a single grouping of Elites that gives them even a decent chance of surviving the encounter. Arcane, molten, jailer – dead. Frozen, waller, vortex – dead. Perhaps if they had a category entitled weak hit, lower life and scared they’d succeed, but alas that is not meant to be.
But does all this mean that the Barbarian and the Monk are simply unplayable on Inferno? It is probably too early to gauge since most of the Act III and IV Inferno gear has not yet made its way onto the Auction House just yet. It appears that the best strategy right now is to roll a ranged class in the meantime, save up a tremendous amount of gold and buy the best available gear for your melee character. Also hope that Blizzard buffs melee classes instead of continuing to nerf ranged ones. I admit that Wizards soloing Inferno with 4,000 life was utterly absurd but too many hotfixes and the game will become unplayable. We want hard, but we don’t want to have to kite mobs around for 45 minutes, only to die thanks to one mistake.