Ultra-powerful Barbarian build in Diablo 4 has its wings clipped by bug fix

Ethan Dean
Diablo 4 Barbarian Abattoir of Zir clear

Barbarian’s in Diablo 4 are in a spot of bother after one of their most powerful builds just died due to a bug fix. The hammer fell on Hammer of the Ancients after Blizzard fixed a well-known issue with the skill in the Season 3 update.

Barbarian players in Diablo 4 who weren’t enraptured by the spin-to-win playstyle of the godly Whirlwind build had a reliable backup until recently. Hammer of the Ancients (HoTA) is a skill that uses powerful Two-Handed Hammers to do focused damage in a small area.

An automatic take for Barbarians who hunger for the HoTA is the Legendary Aspect of Ancestral Force. This Aspect takes the considerable force of a Shout-buffed HoTa and causes a percentage of that damage to burst outward for AOE.

In a heavily optimized meta-build, players had been relying on a bug that caused the outer edge of HoTA’s Aspect boosted shockwave to do far more damage than intended. Thanks to the recent 1.1.0 patch, that bug is no longer and HoTA Barbarians are less imposing as a result.

Hammer of the Ancients Barbarian
HoTA was racking up damage in the millions prior to the Season 1 patch

The build focused on deliberately missing enemies with the HoTA skill so that they would instead take potential millions of damage from the shockwave. Reddit user Soysauceonrice educated fellow users about the advantage this gave PC users in particular.

“On PC, you can purposefully miss your target to make sure that the target is hit not by the main attack, but by the AOE that dealt the bugged damage,” they explained. “Consoles cannot purposefully miss and cannot exploit the bug as reliably as on PC.”

Players were already less than pleased with the general gameplay changes in the Season 1 patch but HoTA Barbarians more than others. Of course, Blizzard has been aware of the issue for some time and forewarned of an incoming fix.

Community Manager David Fletcher flagged the issue all the way back in June in a Twitter thread. A developer’s note in patch 1.1.0 explained that while the fix would alter a popular build “we do not want its strength to be reliant on an underlying bug”.

Diablo 4 Developer Note Patch 1.0.1
Developers have confirmed that the issue was an unintended one in the Season 1 patch notes

Most players did recognize that the damage was unintentional and while bad for the build, the fix was good for the health of the game. “It’s gonna be big. But makes sense. It was wild,” one user opined.

For a HoTA build that doesn’t rely on bugged damage, check out our Barbarian build guide. If you want to get a head start on how to optimize it using Season 1’s Malignant Hearts, we’ve got info on that too.

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