We've put together this Diablo 3 Barbarian guide to get you up to speed on the most furious class in Blizzard’s action role playing game. This handy guide gives you all the most important info about the Barbarian from Diablo 3 at a glance.
You Should Play A Barbarian If: If you love charging into the heat of battle and dominating your enemies with strong melee attacks, or tanking damage for your allies, then the Barbarian is for you. Specializing in fighting against multiple opponents, a Barb's "quick weapon swings whittle down the number of weaker foes in seconds, while their slower, ground-shaking slams and stomps can send approaching hordes reeling and crack the armor of mightier foes."
Background: The Barbarian is the only class that exists in both Diablo 2 and Diablo 3. They're a tough melee class who have been shaped to be "as strong and unyielding as stone." As they're the only class to carry over from the previous games, their story has evolved from where we last left them. Twenty years after the events in D2 devastated their culture, Barbarians are now a nomadic people who wander around Sanctuary looking for battles in order to forget about their broken homeland.
The key features of the Barbarian include melee mastery, brutal attacks, shouts, and taking hits. With their melee mastery, Barbarians can swing mighty weapons that ordinary warriors would never be able to lift. They use this ability to fight with full-sized weapons in both hands. A Barbarian's brutal attacks allow them to quite literally knock the bones completely out of their foes.
Shouts are fierce war cries that a Barb uses on the battlefield to bring out a battle frenzy within themselves and their allies. Shouts can also send foes fleeing in terror. Finally, a Barbarian can take hits like no other class in Sanctuary. With their incredible strength, Barbs can equip shields and heavy armor that make them more adept at tanking than any other hero.
How You Play A Barbarian: Kind of like the Monk, and the Demon Hunter to a lesser extent, Barbarians have to build their Fury resource up in order to pull off skills that will deal the most damage to their foes. Fury builds both as the Barbarian takes damage and as they dish it out. The best way to get the most out of a Barbarian is to charge from one pack of enemies to the next in order to keep your Fury from degenerating too quickly.
Barbarian Equipment: Like all of the classes in Diablo 3, Barbarians get their own one-of-a-kind equipment including mighty belts, one-handed powerful weapons, and two-handed devastating weapons. Mighty belts are the Barbarian's more stylish piece of attire. They wear these to show off their strength as well as a way to display their trophies. Barbarians are the only class who can dual-wield one-handed mighty weapons like clubs, axes, hammers, swords, and more. Naturally, Barbarians are also the only class who can equip two-handed mighty weapons. These are weapons like clubs the size of tree trunks or axes that were "seemingly made to be wielded only by statues." Naturally a Barb swings slower with these weapons, but if they do manage to connect with an enemy, it's going to hurt.
Barbarian Skills: Barbarians have 22 available skills in total in Diablo 3 which are divided in to three different types: Fury Generators, Fury Spenders, and Situational skills. Whereas other classes (except for the Demon Hunter and Monk) have skills that feel like they could be interchanged into any tree, the Barbarian's three types of skills are all very distinct. The Fury Generator skills usually generate between 3-15 Fury while also dealing damage. There are a good variety of high damage and utility skills within the Fury Generators, and it will be up to your personal playstyle to choose which skills will be the most fun for you to use in each situation.
Fury Spenders vary more in Fury cost. These aren't just the hard-hitting skills that you're going to want to unleash upon your enemies once you've generated enough Fury: they're also skills that give a bit of versatility to the class. For example, one Fury Spender, Hammer of the Ancients, costs 20 Fury and damages all of the enemies in front of you for 200% weapon damage with a 5% chance to crit. But, the skill Sprint is also a Fury Spender and all that does is increase your movement speed by 40% for 3 seconds.
Finally, the Barb's Situational skills are all very different from one another and they each offer various benefits. Some of them are usable on cooldown, like Ignore Pain, Wrath of the Berserker, Call of the Ancients, or Earthquake. Meaning, you can use them as regular abilities as long as you have the Fury to spend on them and they aren't on cooldown.
Other Situational Barbarian skills like Revenge have a chance to become available in different situations. Revenge, which inflicts 220% weapon damage to all nearby enemies and heals 5% of life for each enemy hit, has a 15% chance to become active each time you're hit by an attack. Playing a Barbarian requires careful attention to such detail.
Like all of the other Diablo 3 classes, Barbarians can only have six skills active at a time. You start out with your most basic active skill at level one and you unlock the ability to use extra skills at levels 2, 6, 12, 18, and 24. Barbarians also unlock passive skill slots at levels 10, 20, and 30.
As you're making your way through Diablo 3 as a Barbarian, there are a few skills to keep in mind. These are skills that will prove to be most useful, or are a bit more potent than others.
Rend: Unlocked at level 5, this skill costs 20 Fury to use and it strikes all nearby enemies. It causes enemies to bleed for 210% weapon damage over 3 seconds. It's not the hardest-hitting ability, but it's a very effective way to take down multiple enemies at once.
Leap: Unlocked at Level 8, Leap generates 15 Fury (if you hit an enemy) and allows you to leap into the air towards enemies and deal 85% weapon damage to any that are within eight yards of your destination. Not only is the animation for the skill a lot of fun to watch, but it makes going from one pack to the next fast and furious.
Frenzy: Unlocked at level 11, Frenzy generates 3 Fury per attack and allows you to swing your weapon for 110% weapon damage. However, each swing increases the attack speed of Frenzy by 15% for four seconds, and it can stack up to five times for a total of 75% attack speed. If you are dual-wielding weapons and run into a pack of enemies swinging 75% faster, then you're going to be doing a ton of damage very, very quickly.
The combination of Leap, Rend, and Frenzy is a terrifying one. A basic, yet effective way to play the Barbarian is to Leap into a group of enemies, get Frenzy maxed to five stacks, build up Fury, and then spam Rend to take your enemies down even faster. With weaker enemies it's hard to get this combo off, but against swarms of average strength or tougher baddies it's one of the best way to kill the most enemies as fast as possible.
Passive Barbarian Skills: In Diablo 3 you can only equip one passive skill once you get to level 10. Your choices at level 10 are Ruthless and Pound of Flesh. At level 13 Nerves of Steel unlocks, while at level 16 you get access to Weapons Master. The next time you unlock a Passive Skill slot, at level 20, you'll also unlock Berserker Rage and Inspiring Presence. Passive Skills are just that: abilities that you don't have to cast but grant passive advantages to your Barbarian.
The passive skill Ruthless simply increases your critical hit chance by 5% and critical damage by 50%. Pound of Flesh increases the chance of finding health globes by 25%, and allows you to gain 100% additional health from them. Nerves of Steel increases Armor by 100% of the Barbarian's Vitality, and Weapons Master gives your Barbarian a bonus based on the type of weapon that's in your main hand:
Swords/Daggers: 15% increased damage
Maces/Axes: 10% chance to critical hit
Polearms/Spears: 10% attack speed
Mighty Weapons: 3 Fury per hit
Inspiring Presence will double the duration of your shouts, as well as regenerating 1% of the Barbarian's Life every second for 60 seconds after using a shout. And lastly, Berserker Rage will boost your damage by 25% while the Barbarian's Fury is at maximum capacity.
Personally, I favored the Weapons Master passive skill with my Barbarian in Diablo 3. Ruthless would be my second choice, but as the situational skills that would benefit the most from Ruthless can be few and far between, making it a bit of a gamble, I picked Weapons Master. It allowed me to try out all of the weapons available to my Barbarian and get unique bonuses. A very nice way to try out each of the weapon types and see for yourself how you like to play.
I usually don't play the Warrior-esque classes in video games, as I tend to favor ranged characters. That said, the Barbarian in Diablo 3 is ton of fun to play, and I love how their strength is portrayed. The enemies they hit go flying, spreading blood and bones everywhere, and you can really feel an axe or sword ripping them apart. It's pretty exhilarating to feel such strength from a character, and even though I usually don't play classes like this, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the Barb. There are also a lot of different ways to play this class which I love as well.
What do you think of the Barbarian in Diablo 3? Let me know in the comments below, and tell me how you set up your Barbarian's skills if they're different than the ones I used. Also be sure to check out our Diablo 3 Demon Hunter Guide, Diablo 3 Witch Doctor Guide, Diablo 3 Wizard Guide, and our Diablo 3 Monk Guide for everything you want to know about the other Diablo 3 classes.