Bad news, Barbarians: The big Diablo 4 patch that went live today has brought an untimely end to one of your most powerful endgame builds by fixing a bug that was causing Hammer of the Ancients to do way more damage than it was supposed to.
Like other builds we've seen, this particular Barbarian relies on a very specific mix of abilities and equipment, but it ultimately hinges on the Hammer of the Ancients skill, which uses two-handed blunt weapons to do large amounts of damage in a small area directly in front of the player. What really catalyzes its power is the Legendary Aspect of Ancestral Force, which causes a percentage of that damage to radiate outwards.
It's complicated, as is generally the way with overpowered Diablo 4 builds, but Maxroll.gg has a breakdown of how it all comes together—except it doesn't all come together that way anymore, thanks to today's pre-season patch. Several aspects of the Barbarian were dialled back in the patch—they can no longer stack Ripping, Skullbreaker, and Anemia aspects to deal "extreme amounts of damage," for instance—but the change that's particularly relevant to this build is a fix to "an issue where the outer edge of the quakes granted to Hammer of the Ancients via The Aspect of Ancestral Echoes was dealing far more damage than intended."
A lot more damage, as it turns out: Enough so that, according to redditor Soysauceonrice, Barbarian players on PC were intentionally missing enemies with their hammer swings so they'd be hit by the bugged area-of-effect damage instead. (The bug was present on all platforms, but was most easily exploited on PC, according to the post.)
Blizzard acknowledged the scale of the change in a brief developer's note: "We recognize this adjustment is a significant decrease to the Hammer of the Ancients Barbarian build, but we do not want its strength to be reliant on an underlying bug."
The presence of the bug was widely known, as was Blizzard's plan to fix it. Here, for instance, is Diablo 4 Daily talking about the Hammer of the Ancients bug earlier this month:
Despite that forewarning, many players on the Diablo 4 subreddit were not happy with the change. "Nerfed [Heart of the Ancients] so gl ever killing Uber Lilith now and nerfed hamstring to be useless," redditor ObbyMan wrote. "This class is dead lmao."
"Hot garbage, less Shockwave damage, less vulnerable dmg, less crit dmg, all 4 weapons we can use got nerfed and less armor," MidgeMo_o opined. "It's a shit class now and a shit build."
"No point playing this shit til the 20th when i can leave my Barb to slowly die, HoTA shoutless barbs aren’t wanted," Tretrue3 vented. "Uncommon L from blizzard for punishing us for not wanting to fucking scream and then be useless for 10 seconds after spinning to win."
Not everyone was upset by the change: Soysauceonrice, for instance, acknowledged that the bug "needed to be fixed."
"There were a ton of Barbs snorting all that copium insisting that the damage dealt was intentional," they wrote. "Guess we got our answer."
It's a tough spot for Blizzard to be in. As Diablo 4 Daily said, it's not really a nerf, it's a bug fix—the Barbarians were never supposed to be doing that kind of damage with that particular ability. But players who designed their builds around the bug are understandably disappointed to see their characters rendered limp unless they respec.
Of course, Barbarians aren't the only ones with reason to complain. Sorcerers were also nerfed by the patch, and unlike Barbarians, the consensus among players is that they already sucked.