I think this will be my last Diablo 3 post for a bit. I’ve grown somewhat weary of the game’s insane difficulty curve and last night’s 50 solo attempts on Belial, when I could kill pretty much anything before him, were a fairly clear sign to me. I then decided to ask my brother the Barb to come along. He has decent gear but he died way faster than I did and he did as much damage as my companion does solo.
This particular post will go over the seemingly un-ending disparity between ranged and melee character.
As as DPS player (and in D3, everyone is DPS) you have two primary concerns. Dealing damage and staying alive to deal damage. For a ranged player, you need to worry about ranged attacks, which have a travel time. You need to worry about floor effects, which you can move out of. In point of fact, you can avoid 95% of all damage unless it’s AE. That means you can focus 95% of your effort into stacking DPS stats. So for example, a DPS Wizard would have 40-50K DPS without much effort and about 20-25k hit points.
Now as a melee, you need to worry about the same things except with a different spin. Ranged attacks still happen, it’s just you don’t have the time to avoid it since you’re face to face. Ground attacks are harder to see because you’re surrounded by enemies. Then there’s the melee damage that every enemy does that you need to mitigate. Depending on the potential damage intake, what was successful originally might be completely out of date a few hours later. As an extreme example, if you can face-tank the Butcher in Inferno, there are still really strong odds that you will die to the bees in Act 2 about 5 minutes later. No matter what you do, you will always need a defensive focus, especially on self-healing. So your DPS needs have to drop since you’re focusing on defense near equally (if not more). It isn’t uncommon to find a Barb with 60k hit points and less than 20k DPS.
Let’s not forget the one-shot attacks that neither class can take. So no matter how much defense the melee might take, that 1 hit is going to kill you.
Rare/elite/champions have affixes that give them different abilities. Let’s see how ranged and melee compare.
- Arcane – ranged can avoid them easily, melee need to navigate through them to get to target
- Avenger – ranged shouldn’t get hit at all but melee take a beating when only 1 is left
- Desecrator – ranged can avoid completely and melee need to pay attention to where they are standing
- Electrified – ranged can avoid most of the effects while melee will eat about 30% of it
- Extra health – same problem for both
- Fast – a near guaranteed death for ranged and you can’t keep them away, while melee are generally good
- Fire Chains – ranged can move out of it while melee need to continually move position to not get hit
- Frozen – ranged can complete avoid it and melee can rarely get out of the frozen effect range
- Health Link – same issues for both
- Horde – Depends on the other affixes. Typically a worse deal for melee since you now have twice as many hitting you
- Illusionist – A issue for ranged without good AE attacks but melee, just wow. They can go from 3 people on them to 9 in a flash.
- Invulnerable minions – ranged without piercing and an open spot to kite are dead, melee need amazing life on hit to live through it. Usually pure death
- Jailer – can be a pain for ranged but most have abilities to break it. Melee are good here, unless you get a Desecrator.
- Molten – Not too bad for ranged, as long as you avoid the fire trail. Melee need to keep their distance and once an enemy dies, move away to avoid the explosion
- Mortar – Currently broken range where ranged can avoid it nearly completely and melee can still get hit
- Nightmarish – No effect on ranged if they don’t get hit, huge pain in the butt for melee who will get hit continuously
- Plagued – No effect on ranged unless cornered, melee need to avoid the very large pools
- Shielding – Same problem for both but the ranged can avoid the potential damage while the enemy is immune
- Teleporter – A larger issue for ranged as an enemy can close the gap quickly, can be a pain for melee if they teleport away
- Thorns – Really bad for ranged since they hit in slow heavy shots and have poor self-healing while melee are usually full of self-heal abilities
- Vampiric – No effect on ranged unless they get hit, really bad on melee if they don’t have enough DPS to offset the enemy healing.
- Vortex – Bad on ranged if they are too close with no exit strategy, no effect on melee
- Waller – Can be bad on ranged if you get cornered with no exit, no effect on melee
By and far, the affixes benefit ranged players. Unless you get an invulnerable minion, fast or thorns enemy, you can usually blow through them. Melee in the meantime are praying for vortex wallers.
Hopefully patch 1.03 will address this but until that day comes, there’s no reason anyone should bother playing anything but a ranged class.