The Barbarian is hyped up as the most popular class going into Diablo 3. I don’t know how long that will last or if by the time you are reading this that this is still true. Either way the Barbarian is a solid class capable of farming, doing massive AoE damage, strong direct damage and who has awesome survivability and mobility. An ideal leveling build should be a balanced build between direct and AoE damage, survivability, resource regeneration and mobility (in that order). It can then be adjusted based on playstyle and based on the current challenges your Barbarian faces as it progresses.
Levels 1 through 14 are just a warm up. You’ll face the Skeleton King by level 8 and then move on from there. You will unlock one passive and 5 of the 6 skill slots. The base build at level 14 will probably look like this: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/barbarian#beYVf!Z!a.a The main abilities here are Cleave, Seismic Slam and Ground Stomp. While Leap is tempting it just doesn’t seem as strong in the long run. The skill rune Rupture is selected to improve Cleave and Defeating Crash to improve Ground Stomp. Ruthless is the obvious passive to choose since the general difficulty of Normal isn’t going to be high, damage will be your best friend.
During levels are busy as you fill your ability slots and start to define your character’s unique build.
- At level 17 you can grab Threatening Shout which is an important buff to keep up at all times.
- At level 18 you can enable the Stagger skill rune for Seismic Slam which adds a stun effect.
- At level 19 you will unlock your Rage skill slot but only be able to fill it with Earthquake. This is a high cost ability that deals a massive amount of damage to everyone in the room.
- Finally, at level 20 you’ll unlock your second passive ability. Weapons Mastery is the best choice for damage, which will enhance your damage based on the type of weapon you’re using.
At this point, your leveling build might look like this: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/barbarian#beYVgT!ZY!aaa
It’s likely that in the early 20s you will, for the first time, start to have to pay attention more carefully to game mechanics and your own abilities. Level 30 is the end of Normal Difficulty so you will probably be wandering through the third Act for the first time.
- At level 21 I’d switch to Furious Charge, this is a great mobility and damage ability.
- At level 22 I’d switch to Battle Rage from Threatening Shout.
- At level 24 you’ll unlock Giant Stride skill rune on Earthquake, grab this for secondary tremors.
- Also at level 24 if you’re struggling, you can swap one of your damage passives for Bloodthirst for survivability.
- Finally at level 25 you’ll unlock the Shattered Ground skill rune on Seismic Slam which is more appropriate for leveling than Stagger.
At level 25 your leveling build might look something like this: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/barbarian#beXSiT!ZY!aZa..a
At this point will you be completing normal difficulty and you will have unlocked every active ability. You should experiment as much as possible with things and see what you enjoy most and what works best for you. Based on the goals stated above I would:
- At level 26 grab Marauder’s Rage for Battle Range.
- At level 27 activate Battering Ram for Furious Charge.
- At level 28 grab Trembling Stomp for Ground Stomp.
- At level 29 Earthquake gets Chilling Effect, grab it.
Finally, at level 30 you will unlock your third passive ability. There are a lot to choose from, I might grab Inspiring Presence until level 45 when I can grab Brawler. At this point your build might look like this: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/barbarian#beYSiT!ZYX!aZbaaZ
At level 30 you should complete the first run through and get started in Nightmare. Continue to test new abilities and skill runes. When you start repeating content that you are familiar with it’s a good time to experiment with builds you’re unfamiliar with. Otherwise the above level 30 build will work until level 45. If you don’t like the play style adjust active abilities, if you need more survivability, damage or fury adjust the passives.
This is the final stretch. You will transition from Nightmare to Hell difficulties and have just about every ability and skill rune available to experiment with. Hopefully by now you have a general idea of what play style best matches you. The leveling build I recommend is explained above and the only improvements I would make are:
- At level 47 grab Broad Sweep to improve Cleave.
- At level 45 grab the passive Brawler to replace Inspiring Presence.
- At level 48 you can grab Strength of Earth for Seismic Slam.
- At level 54 grab Bloodshed for Battle Rage.
- At level 58 grab Dreadnaught for Furious Charge
- Finally at level 60 you could possibly switch to Leap (if you haven’t already) and rune it with Dreadnaught.
Once you reach level 60 checkout the other Barbarian Builds at Diablo 3 Artisans. If you enjoyed this guide, please consider sharing it with your friends or subscribing to Diablo 3 Artisans!
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