One-Handed vs Two-Handed
Using 1Handed versus 2Handed weapon types generally comes down to preference. However, for maximizing character effectiveness, 1Handed options have the highest potential. Achieving high DPS with a 2Handed weapon is a lot easier, but with the right combination of a 1Handed weapon and a +DMG off-hand item, you can actually achieve higher DPS values. A 1Handed weapon will also allow you to carry a shield. A shield will become extremely beneficial to your survivability late game.
I recommend using a 2Handed weapon when synergizing with a skill that inflicts damage on proc iff it procs more often than you can attack. In such a case, your “attack speed” is based on how often it procs and not your weapon type. Choosing a weapon that has the highest damage per strike will then maximize your DPS.
The Barbarian, Monk, and Demon Hunter can all duel wield providing a +15% attack speed bonus (The Demon Hunter’s off-hand quivers provide this same bonus). This is great for maximizing attack speed, but doesn’t significantly raise your DPS. For these classes, a 2Handed weapon is required for strictly maximizing their DPS, but a 1Handed weapon can be used for the additional attributes and protection.
The Wizard and Witch Doctor have off-hand items (orbs and mojos) that directly increase their weapon damage. Having these +DMG modifiers will allow them to have 1Handed weapons that output greater DPS than 2Handed weapons.
Fast Attack vs Hard Hit
Focusing on 1Handed weapons, do you now choose a fast weapon or a slower, harder hitting weapon? The slower weapons have higher DPS and are generally recommended. Finding +APS (attacks per second) gear will also greatly improve these weapons. You generally only choose the faster weapon if your character’s skills rely on procs such as critical hits or other skill specific ones.
Faster weapons can become the best to wield if you find tons of +DMG gear. I’ve developed an equation that models the relationship between +DMG and +APS for determining whether using a Dagger (fastest weapon) or a Mace (slowest weapon) will output more DPS:
MaceDPS = DaggerDPS when: (+DMG) = 443.33 * (+APS) + 392.5
This means that for the dagger to have greater DPS than the mace, you need an additional 392.5 Damage right off the bat, and another 443.33 Damage per point of +APS. Given the relationship, maximizing DPS is significantly easier by using the mace with +APS gear.
You should also take a look at which affixes can appear on a particular type; there may be certain affixes you value more that are more likely to appear on one type than another. The website D3Inferno keeps track of this information.
Of course, the best item to use is always the one you have access to right now, no matter what type it is…
*Item data displayed above are from the official Diablo III game guide website pre-launch. This information is not guaranteed to be up to date.