This Is How We Do It

This Is How We Do It
What You Didn't Know About Attack Speed in Diablo 3

CJ Miozzi | 14 Mar 2015 03:30
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Attack speed in Diablo 3 can be a confusing topic. Your initial impression may be that attacking faster is always better, but upon some reflection, you'll quickly realize that that isn't the case. So let's talk about why faster attack speed is not always desirable, and the related issue of how to know whether a weapon with a different attack speed from your current weapon is an upgrade or not.

Do I want "Increases Attack Speed" on my gear?

In the current meta* of Diablo 3, Attack Speed has largely fallen out of favor. While this may change in the upcoming patch 2.2, for the time being, slow-hitting two-handed weapons reign supreme over faster one-handed weapons. This is partially due to generally being able to achieve more damage with two-handed weapons, as well as two-handers possessing certain indispensable Legendary attributes, but the most prevalent reason boils down to resource management.

Yes, faster attack speed will make you hit more often in a given time frame, thereby increasing your DPS*. Stacking attack speed makes the Damage figure in our character sheet rise, stroking our ego and making us feel good about how powerful our character is. However, that number is unrepresentative of actual combat scenarios.

Diablo 3 DPS Damage

The problem with the Damage figure is that it assumes continuous, uninterrupted, infinite attacking. In other words, it assumes you never have to stop attacking in order to travel to the next pack of monsters, you never have to dodge an incoming attack, and you never run out of resources. How often is that the case for you? Roughly zero percent of the time? Thought so.

That last point is particularly important - faster attack speed less efficiently spends your resources. If I'm a Demon Hunter with 125 Hatred and I want to cast Cluster Arrow, which costs 40 Hatred, does it really matter how fast my attack speed is? I can get off three shots before I'm out of Hatred - whether I get off those three shots in three seconds or two seconds is far less important than how much damage each of those attacks is dealing. Critical Hit Damage, Critical Hit Chance, or a slower weapon with higher base damage will all result in more damage per Cluster Arrow. In other words, you're getting more bang for your buck, spending resource less often but making each expenditure deal more damage.

The current meta is focused heavily on builds that do not use resource generating attacks and instead only focus on resource spending attacks. Or rather, they rely on their resource spending attacks to deal the vast majority of their damage. This means that once you run out of resources, your DPS is effectively zero, and your attack speed doesn't really matter. You want to get the most out of every point of resource you spend, and you do that by opting for Critical Hit Chance and Critical Hit Damage instead of Increases Attack Speed whenever the option is available.


*Check page 2 for a glossary.

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