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d3 Developer Chronicles: Wrath of the Wastes

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Wyatt Cheng discusses the Wrath of the Wastes Barbarian set in this new, semi-regular blog series.

The Diablo team wants to communicate more with players and thus the Developer Chronicles were born. The first topic is the Wrath of the Wastes set: while Whirlwind is an iconic Barbarian ability, the set is underpowered.

Wyatt explains that Whirlwind can cause performance issues and that the team is happy with the fact that Wrath of the Wastes is used for speedfarming, while other sets are better for high Greater Rifts. However, they do want to slightly buff Whirlwind and the set in general.

Blizzard LogoBlizzard Entertainment

Hey everybody, Wyatt Cheng here.

Communication is key to a great community, and we’re aiming to improve the ways in which we deliver important information to our players. What you’re reading now is our next communication experiment: a semi-regular blog where we tackle the most commonly discussed questions and feedback from the community. Welcome to Developer Chronicles!

Today's Topic: Wrath of the Wastes

For our first topic, we wanted to address a common question from the Barbarian community. For the last few patches, we’ve seen a lot of requests to buff up or redesign the Wrath of the Wastes set. Whirlwind is a very iconic Diablo ability, steeped in the history of the series, so it’s natural for it to be a fan favorite.

There’s a lot going on here. Before we get started, the most important takeaway is that we want to make sure a Whirlwind-based playstyle has a place in Diablo III. Therefore, providing ways to make Wrath of the Wastes a reasonable choice as compared to other Barbarian sets is definitely on our list.

The last few patch cycles haven’t seen a lot of changes for Wrath of the Wastes for two reasons:

  1. We are trying to cut down on the number of changes we make to live items. It’s been a longstanding policy that we avoid making changes to Legendary items. Set items tend to be the exception. Our typical approach would be to buff Wrath of the Wastes and Whirlwind by adding new Legendary effects to the game. However, there are a lot of interactions that happen between Wrath of the Wastes and the other Barbarian class sets, particularly Raekor and Immortal King’s. Many of these sets get combined, so in order to prop up Wastes specifically, we have to do so in a way that doesn’t necessarily further buff the other class sets. Otherwise, the gap doesn’t really change. We have some other ideas on this front that we are also exploring.
  2. Straight talk: Whirlwind causes performance issues. Many of you may remember performance issues during Patch 2.1.0 and 2.2.0. We have been (and will continue to be) making performance optimizations with each patch. However, our initial investigations identified Whirlwind as one of the skills that caused heavy strain on our servers. The more people using Whirlwind, the more it exacerbates the issue. This means we don’t necessarily want everyone using Whirlwind—at least, not until more server optimizations have been made.

Aside from this, it’s unrealistic to expect that all 24 class sets (plus Legacy of Nightmare and its boundless combinations) are going to be balanced 100% equally across the board. There is often a “best” build for each purpose, whether that’s for Nephalem Rifts, group play, or solo Greater Rift pushing. Generally, the goal is to get a variety of builds close enough that playstyle preferences or gearing differences allow some choice and variety.

In the case of the Barbarian, it makes sense that Wrath of the Wastes will always be a favorite when it comes to chilling out and farming Rifts. But it may not be the best choice for pushing your solo Greater Rift. We’re okay with some sets serving specific purposes and the Whirlwind playstyle has a special place in our collective Barbarian hearts, so we hope to see some changes to support the playstyle in a future patch.


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i'm a bit salty right now, i thought wrath of the wastes was a new d3 expansion being announced >_<. i only play wizard so im unfamiliar with the other classes tier sets. I feel both foolish and disappointed at the same time :(

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2 hours ago, demonardvark said:

i'm a bit salty right now, i thought wrath of the wastes was a new d3 expansion being announced >_<. i only play wizard so im unfamiliar with the other classes tier sets. I feel both foolish and disappointed at the same time :(

For a second I thought the same thing!

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Whirlwind is so O P that they can't buff it anymore for fear it will shred the servers to bits.  Sucks that some sets can't be as competitive for a reason like this, still love the game though. Still going to farm for a nice skull grasp later today. 

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Whirlwind itself needs to be buffed on the set. One might think that the Dust Devils do a ton of damage from the 6-piece bonus and if they indeed hit stuff, they are decent. But, they do not always hit stuff and then the twisters and all their great damage is a waste. Another problem with the set: whenever I see a high level WW Barb they do not use Rend - myself included. So, that set bonus is a waste and could be changed to something more appropriate.

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