The following guide and video have been created on March 24, 2015 on the Diablo 3 Patch 2.2 PTR, build 30537. Note that anything shown here may be subject to change until the final release candidate build goes live.
The Diablo 3 Patch 2.2 will be released on April 7, 2015, heralding the start of Season 3. The synopsis of the latest content update is that it makes many more character builds viable for Torment 6 difficulty thanks to new and revised items as well as several new game mechanics. Especially hardly used primary and secondary skills including associated (older) legendary items will profit a lot, and defensive shortcomings have been addressed, too, to make such builds work in Rifts and higher level Greater Rifts.
The following guide for the popular barbarian demonstrates how the patch makes a previously mediocre "fun" build really shine in the endgame. If you have been waiting for an update that finally delivers on the promise of the earth-shattering, monster-smashing "hammer" barbarian, this guide is for you!
The Immortal King's Call barbarian set gets a huge improvement with the Diablo 3 patch 2.2. Its bonuses have been shifted around, modified, and a seventh set item gives you more room for improvisation/build options (see the following picture). Getting permanent Ancients with just two set items easily puts you at Torment 3/4 difficulty right from the start. The next bonus, available at 4 set pieces, basically grants you permanent Wrath of the Berserker. The ability that was frowned upon when perma-Berserker "Spin to Win" barbarians became the ultimate playstyle in classic Diablo 3, is now back after one year of Reaper of Souls patches. Barbarians, rejoice! The 6-piece set bonus adds even more enhanced damage if both 'Call of the Ancients' and 'Wrath of the Berserker' are active. This bonus has been lowered significantly from initially 500% to 100% with the current PTR build, but it seems to be appropriate considering it's an open-ended set so that you can make a lot of current and future items and builds work with it.
The defining items/sets of this build
The other set this build uses is Bastion of Will (Focus & Restraint), a ring pair that has been revised for patch 2.2 (see the above picture). The mechanics of 'Bastion of Will' has changed: You now have to use primary skills/resource generators & resource spenders to get the full damage bonus, which is ideal for our barbarian who uses Bash as primary and Seismic Slam as secondary, main skill. The damage bonus is added on top of the 6-piece bonus of the 'Immortal King' set, resulting in 200% increased damage total.
The next key item in this build are the new Mortick's Brace bracers which enable all runes of Wrath of the Berserker at once. This is an extremely mighty legendary affix on both the offensive and defensive/healing front. Combined with the revised 'Immortal King' and 'Bastion of Will' sets, we're now looking at a true barbarian powerhouse that only needs a fitting weapon, which in this build will be the Fury of the Vanished Peak legendary Mighty Weapon. The speciality of this two-hander is the reduction of the Fury cost of 'Seismic Slam' by 40–50% which allows us to use this powerful ability permanently. We have to use 'Bash' just for keeping up the full damage bonus of 'Bastion of Will'.
Two legendary gems (out of three max.) are recommended for this high instant-damage focused build: Bane of the Trapped because we'll use the Permafrost rune of 'Seismic Slam', and Pain Enhancer which grants us the bleeding effect and great attack speed increase at gem rank 25. As third gem you may want to pick a defensive one like Esoteric Alteration or the Molten Wildebeest's Gizzard from Season 2.
As mentioned above, a chilling 'Permafrost'-runed Seismic Slam will be our main, cost-reduced main attack including good crowd control. Bash will be used just every couple of seconds to keep up the full damage bonus of 'Bastion of Will', which is working quite well because we gain a lot of attack speed increase from both our 5-rune Wrath of the Berserker and the 'Pain Enhancer' gem. Depending on how crowded an area is, we'll also use Ground Stomp with the 'Wrenching Smash' rune to pull enemies closer before we apply our mighty strikes.
Call of the Ancients with the 'Ancient's Fury' rune serves as powerful Fury generator because we'll be spamming 'Seismic Slam', and War Cry with the 'Impunity' rune provides us with solid defense which we'll definitely need because we're always jumping right into the fray with our short-range slams. Wrath of the Berserker with all runes enabled through 'Mortick's Brace' is the "skill backbone" of our build in terms of offense, defense, and healing. It's almost pemanently available, and when activated it increases our sheet DPS (damage per second) by factor 1.5, triples our toughness (after 'War Cry/Impunity') and increases our healing by factor 5-7 (depending on what your base healing is).
The skills used for this build
Of the passive skills we pick all the best defensive ones: Superstition (reduces all non-Physical damage), Nerves of Steel (increases Armor) and Tough as Nails (increases Armor (and Thorns damage)), plus Boon of Bul-Kathos (reduces the cooldowns of 'Wrath of the Berserker' (and 'Call of the Ancients'/'Earthquake')). The reason for this choice are (high-level) Greater Rifts. While you can literally murder Torment 6 difficulty with this build without incorporating any defense beyond that from 'Wrath of the Berserker', pace changes as soon as you enter Greater Rifts where monster damage increases dramatically. Without max defense and healing, you will not be able to stand in the middle of the all the dangerous ground effects to slam your foes (in time). Unlike the new patch 2.2 'Wrath of the Wastes' Whirlwind set, the revised 'Immortal King' doesn't come with a built-in defense bonus (except the option of perma-Ancients with the 'Together as One' rune), and common defense "add-ons" like 'Aughild's Authority' or 'Blackthorne's Battlegear' are not an option because we've used all our equipment slots. So, all our defense goes into the passives for this particular build if we want to farm Greater Rifts.
The following test run has been recorded on the patch 2.2 PTR (without the legendary drop rate buff) in a level 35 Greater Rift.
Note how the barbarian can fairly safely pave her way through the monster packs even though she stands right in the middle of the action. Also important is the fact that 'Seismic Slam' does decent damage against the final Rift Bosses, which is not the case with the popular 'Furious Charge' barbarian who uses the 'Legacy of Raekor' set. The enormous fun playing a really strong "hammer" barbarian comes as an extra bonus!
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April 9, 2015
Removed until further notice: Mortick's Brace
Mortick's Brace (see the above picture) was removed from the game with the launch of the Diablo 3 patch 2.2 because it has been deemed too powerful (also see my blog about this topic here). The bracers were an important item in the Seismic Slam build described in this blog, especially their defensive portion. Until this gets fixed, I recommend to use the Ancient Parthan Defenders as replacement.