Best Diablo 4 Barbarian leveling build and skills: Aspects, Arsenal, gear, and gems

Diablo 4
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All five of Diablo 4's classes offer players unique ways to challenge Lilith and her demonic armies, but out of all of them, the headstrong and tanky Barbarian is arguably the most powerful. With tons of health, intrinsic damage resistance, top-tier melee damage, and some of the best Core and utility skills in the entire game, the Barbarian is an absolute beast of a class.

To help you get the most out of your unstoppable rampaging warrior, we've put together a complete guide on the Barbarian leveling process. This includes a quick overview of the class' unique mechanics, the best Barbarian leveling skills and build, some of the strongest Legendary Aspects and Gems you can enhance your character with, and more.

Diablo 4 Barbarian: Stat priority

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Every class in Diablo 4 has four core stats — Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Willpower — with each one providing both universal and class-specific benefits. For example, Intelligence grants +0.05% to all resistances per point for every class, but it uniquely also grants x0.02% critical strike chance per point and gives x0.1% skill damage per point for the Rogue and Sorceress, respectively.

The stats that give Barbarians a class-specific bonus are Strength, Dexterity, and Willpower, with Strength being the most important stat of the three since it directly and significantly buffs the Barbarian's damage output. You can see how all four of Diablo 4's stats affect the class in the table below.

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Base StatsDescription
Strength (10)+1 Armor per point. Barbarians also receive x0.1% Skill Damage per point of Strength
Dexterity (8)+0.025% Dodge Chance per point. Barbarians also get x0.02% Critical Strike Chance per point of Dexterity
Intelligence (7)+0.05% All Resistances per point.
Willpower (7)+0.1% Healing Received and +0.25% Overpower Damage per point. Barbarians also get x0.1% Resource Generation per point of Willpower.

While your primary focus should definitely be on acquiring gear that improves your Strength, Dexterity and Willpower-boosting items shouldn't be overlooked. Dexterity buffs the chances that you’ll land critical damage, which will make the Barbarian's vicious attacks even deadlier. Willpower, meanwhile, will make it much easier to accumulate Fury since it buffs your Resource Generation (more on that below).

Diablo 4: How to play the Barbarian and Fury explained

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Understanding Fury: Like Diablo 4's other classes, Barbarians have a class-specific resource that they use as a "battery" for their Core skills and other valuable talents. This resource is Fury, and unlike something like the Rogue's Energy or the Sorcerer's Mana, it doesn't regenerate passively over time. Instead, Fury is lost when you're not actively fighting something, and can only be generated by repeatedly attacking enemies with one of your Basic skills.

Because of how Fury works, it's crucial that you're in the thick of combat as often as possible. This may make some players uncomfortable and lead to concerns about reckless "inting," but with its intrinsic 10% damage resistance, various defensive and movement speed skills, and melee-only limitation, the Barbarian class is built to be played as aggressively as possible. Only back off from your foes if you're at critical health and need some breathing room to pop a healing potion, or if you're fighting a boss with crowd control attacks you need to dodge.

The Arsenal system: At level 5, you'll gain access to the Arsenal system, which allows you to switch weapons and use the Barbarian's Arsenal selection to assign different weapons to specific skills. Each weapon type provides a unique Weapon Expertise bonus that will work nicely with some builds; for example, two-handed axes deal increased damage to Vulnerable foes, which is perfect for builds that focus on that debuff. These bonuses can be improved up to level 10 by using their corresponding weapon in battle, with the final level also unlocking an additional benefit (e.g. two-handed axes get a higher Critical Hit chance against Vulnerable enemies on top of the extra damage).

Diablo 4: Best way to level Barbarian

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As you progress through Diablo 4's excellent story campaign, there are some things you can do to maximize your effectiveness and speed up the rate at which you level. Below, you'll find a full list of all the best leveling tips, tricks, and strategies that we've taken advantage of in our own playthroughs. Note that these can be applied to any Barbarian build and playstyle. Also, many of these tips are also general in nature and are worth keeping in mind when leveling other classes as well.

  • Play on World Tier 1: Adventurer. Between World Tier 1 and 2, we recommend leveling on World Tier 1 as a Barbarian. While World Tier 2's 20% XP boost is nice, the enemies are harder, and Barbarian is pretty tough to play in the early game as it is. World Tier 1 will make the experience smoother, leading to more consistent progression.
  • Party up with friends! By squadding up in Diablo 4 multiplayer co-op, everyone in your party will get a 10% XP buff (it stacks with the buff from playing on World Tier 2). For more reasons than one, Blizzard's new ARPG is best experienced with allies at your side.
  • Prioritize gear with Strength and/or Core skill buffs. Strength is the Barbarian's most important stat across all builds, as it directly increases your damage and Armor rating. Meanwhile, gear that boosts your Core skill (or your Fury generation so that you can use them more) will enhance the power of your main damage-dealing ability.
  • Level up your healing potion as much as possible. Barbarians get hit more than any other class due to their nature as a tanky frontline brawler, so having a reliable health potion that you can use for big bursts of healing is important. Thankfully, upgrading your health potion is easy, and can be done at any Alchemist as long as you have the required items.
  • Complete every side quest in sight. Available side quests can be identified by the blue exclamation marks on your map and UI, and completing them will give you a good amount of both XP and Gold.
  • Explore the open world and complete world events, dungeons, and strongholds. All of these activities reward you with lots of XP and Gold, and will also raise your Renown rank (which will, in turn, give you even more XP). Completing dungeons also unlocks Legendary Aspect bonuses you can imprint on your gear at the Occultist NPCs in major towns and cities.
  • Avoid fast traveling. The convenience of fast travel is great, but you'll miss out on tons of XP if you don't hack and slash your way from point A to point B. The XP from all that killing adds up.
  • Steadily play through main story quests. While you shouldn't rush through the game, main quests do provide large chunks of XP when completed. If you feel like your leveling progress has slowed with the above methods, try progressing the story a bit. You'll likely unlock fresh areas to explore, new side quests to complete, and more.

Best Diablo 4 Barbarian leveling skills: Whirlwind build

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You can make plenty of great setups with the Barbarian skill tree in Diablo 4, but after trying several of them out, it's tough for us to recommend anything other than this incredible Whirlwind build. If you've seen the videos of endgame Barbarian players one-shotting fearsome bosses like The Butcher and other deadly enemies, know that they were using a setup very similar to this one. Notably, the build is still fantastic despite nerfs Blizzard hit it with close to the game's full launch.

At its core, this build is all about taking advantage of Lunging Strike's mobility to leap between enemies and build up Fury quickly, which you'll then use to power the extremely powerful Whirlwind Core skill that can shred entire rooms of demons in seconds. You'll also have access to the Leap skill that allows you to quickly close the distance on any enemy outside of Lunging Strike's range, as well as various shouts and buffs that boost your movement and attack speed, damage, damage resistance, Fury generation, and more. These shouts also apply buffs to your allies, making this build incredibly useful in co-op play.

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2Lunging StrikeBasic
3Enhanced Lunging StrikeBasic
5Battle Lunging StrikeCore
6Enhanced WhirlwindCore
7Furious WhirlwindCore
8Rallying CryDefensive
9Enhanced Rallying CryDefensive
10Tactical Rallying CryDefensive
11-14Whirlwind x4Core
15War CryBrawling
16Enhanced War CryBrawling
17Power War CryBrawling
19Enhanced LeapBrawling
20Power LeapBrawling
21HamstringWeapon Mastery
22Booming VoiceBrawling
23Raid LeaderBrawling
24Booming VoiceBrawling
25Aggressive ResistanceBrawling
26-28Prolific Fury x3Brawling
29-31Pit Fighter x3Weapon Mastery
32Call of the AncientsUltimate
33Prime Call of the AncientsUltimate
34Supreme Call of the AncientsUltimate
35Unbridled RageKey Passive
36-39Rallying Cry x4Defensive
40-41Raid Leader x2Brawling
42Booming VoiceBrawling
43-45Heavy Handed x3Ultimate
46-48No Mercy x3Weapon Mastery
49Pressure PointCore
Renown 1-2Pressure Point x2Core
Renown 3-5Guttural Yell x3Brawling
Renown 6-7Thick Skin x2Weapon Mastery
Renown 8-10Counteroffensive x3Weapon Mastery

In situations where your Lunging Strike and Unbridled Rage-buffed Whirlwind rotation isn't cutting it, you can summon your ancestors for help with the excellent Call of the Ancients Ultimate. When used, this Ultimate spawns three temporary Barbarian companions capable of dealing tons of damage and keeping enemies distracted so you can heal up if necessary or get extra hits in.

By putting one point into Hamstring, we also gain the ability to Slow every enemy we inflict Bleed on using Battle Lunging Strike and Furious Whirlwind. This effectively makes it impossible for foes to get away from you once you're in melee range, and also allows us to constantly proc No Mercy's increased Critical Strike chance against Slowed monsters.

For your main weapon, we recommend using a two-handed sword or a two-handed axe. The former deals 20% of your direct damage as Bleed damage — a perfect bonus to go with the Hamstring skill — while the latter synergizes with Pressure Point's ability to make enemies Vulnerable by dishing out extra damage to Vulnerable targets (this extra damage is applied on top of the additional 20% Vulnerable enemies already take). Both weapons are an excellent fit for this build, so ultimately, it's a matter of preference.

Which Barbarian Weapon Technique should I choose?

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Once you reach Level 15 and complete the Masters of Battle quest in the Dry Steppes, you'll unlock a new feature of the Arsenal system called the Technique Slot. With this, you can effectively choose one of the system's Weapon Expertise bonuses to equip permanently. This buff will then apply to all of your attacks, regardless of whether the weapon you're using matches the Technique you've chosen. Note, however, that your Weapon Technique will not stack with Weapon Expertise buffs that grant the same effect. We've listed all of these Technique bonuses below.

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Weapon TechniqueDescription
1H AxeIncreased Critical Strike Chance against injured enemies. Double this amount when using two Axes.
1H MaceIncreased damage to Stunned enemies. Double this amount when using two Maces.
1H SwordGet a chance to gain 5 Fury when hitting a Crowd Controlled enemy. Double this chance when using two Swords.
2H AxeDeal increased damage to Vulnerable enemies.
2H MaceGain a chance to gain 2 Fury when hitting an enemy. Double the mount of Fury gained while Berserking.
2H Sword20% of direct damage you deal is inflicted as Bleeding damage over 5 seconds.
2H PolearmGain an increased Lucky Hit Chance.

If you're not using a two-handed sword as your main weapon in the above Whirlwind build, you should definitely go with the Two-Handed Sword Technique so that 20% of your damage is dealt as Bleed damage. This will make everything you do proc Hamstring constantly, which is extremely powerful. However, if you are using a two-handed sword, go with the Two-Handed Axe Technique for a big buff to the damage you dish out against Vulnerable targets.

In general, these are the two best Weapon Techniques for most Barbarian builds, as many of them focus on taking advantage of the Bleed or Vulnerable status effects. Don't be afraid to experiment, though, because every Technique buff can be powerful with the right setup.

Diablo 4: Best Barbarian Aspects, gear, and gems

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Whether you're using our Whirlwind build or plowing through the game with a build of your own, you'll need some gear to round things out and provide you with valuable stat and skill bonuses. For the most part, you're dependent on what the game drops for you, though you're sure to get lots of good options since Diablo 4 showers players in loot.

As a Barbarian, you mainly want to keep an eye out for gear that increases your Strength, Dexterity, and/or Willpower, buffs your Core skill's effectiveness, or improves your survivability in some way. These benefits will enhance the best things about the class, making already great builds even better.

In addition to standard upgrades at the Blacksmith, you can also improve your gear with Gems that you can find or craft at Jeweler vendors once you reach level 20 and complete the Priority Quest you're given to speak with the Jeweler in Kyovashad. Here are our favorite Gems to use with Barbarian weapons, armors, and jewelery, along with the benefits that each of them provide:

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GearWhich Gems to use and why
WeaponSkulls for health on kill, Ruby for Overpower damage
ArmorEmerald for Thorns damage, Ruby for maximum HP increase
JewelrySkulls for extra Armor points, Diamond for resistance to all elements

Best Diablo 4 Barbarian Aspects and where to find them

While adventuring through the lands of Sanctuary, you'll get access to Legendary Aspects, either as effects you earn from dungeons that you can imprint on Rare gear using the Codex of Power, or as effects on pieces of Legendary gear pieces that drop. These Aspects can and will significantly improve the effectiveness of your build, making them a must-have if you're planning on heading into the post-campaign endgame.

Below, we've listed 10 of the best Aspects you can use with our Bleed and shout-heavy Whirlwind build, with the best ones marked as priority Aspects that you should hunt down as soon as possible (or keep an eye out for, if they can only be found on Legendary drops).

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Legendary AspectPowerLocation
Aspect of Anemia (PRIORITY)Lucky Hit: Direct damage against Bleeding enemies has up to a [20-30]% chance to Stun them for 2 seconds.Kor Dragan Barracks, Fractured Peaks
Aspect of Berserk Ripping (PRIORITY)Whenever you deal direct damage while Berserking, inflict [20-30%] if the base damage dealt as additional Bleeding damage over 5 seconds.Mournfield, Dry Steppes
Bold Chieftain's Aspect (PRIORITY)Whenever you cast a Shout Skill, its Cooldown is reduced by [2.7-5.4] seconds per Nearby enemy, up to a maximum of 12 seconds.Found on loot
Aspect of MightBasic Skills grant 20% Damage Reduction for [2.0-6.0] seconds.Dark Ravine, Dry Steppes
Aspect of the Crowded SageYou heal X amount of Life for each close enemy.Found on loot
Aspect of the ExpectantAttacking enemies with a Basic Skill increases the damage of your next Core Skill cast by [5-10]% up to 30%Underroot, Scosglen
Edgemaster's AspectSkills deal up to [10- 20%] increased damage based on your available Primary Resource when cast, receiving the maximum benefit while you have full Primary Resource.Oldstones, Scosglen
Aspect of Ancestral EchoesLucky Hit: While Call of the Ancients is on your Action Bar, damaging enemies with Leap, Upheaval, or Whirlwind have up to a [40-50]% chance to summon an Ancient to perform the same Skill.Ancient Reservoir, Hawezar
Aspect of Limitless RageEach point of Fury you generate while at Maximum Fury grants your next Core Skill [1-2]% increased damage, up to [15-30]%Found on loot
Aspect of the Dire WhirlwindWhirlwind's Critical Strike Chance is increased by [3 - 8]% for each second it is channeled, up to [9 - 24]%.Garan Hold, Scosglen

To extract Legendary Aspects from drops and/or imprint them onto your existing gear, you'll need to visit the Occultist vendors found in every town or city. Note that Aspects extracted from gear pieces can only be imprinted once, so use them wisely! Also, since you'll be frequently swapping out your weapons and armor while leveling, you should prioritize imprinting your amulet and rings until you reach the end of the campaign. These drop much less frequently, making them great "vehicles" for Aspects.

Above all else, focus on having a good time!

While the build and skill recommendations above are arguably the best way to level a Barbarian in Diablo 4, you shouldn't stick to them if the Whirlwind playstyle doesn't sound fun to you. Try out lots of different build ideas and see what you enjoy — Diablo 4 respecs aren't super expensive, so there's no harm in experimenting.

Stay tuned for more builds from Team Windows Central over the course of the next several days, including builds for the game's other classes and endgame builds that you can take into Diablo 4's post-campaign content.

Diablo 4 is out now and is available on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One consoles, Windows PC, PS5, and PS4. It's one of the best Xbox games for fans of dungeon crawlers and hack-and-slash combat, and we've been having an absolute blast with it.


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Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.