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Diablo 4 Barbarian best build, skills, aspects, gear and gems

Be careful of the thorns! They will make you bleed.

Diablo 4 has just made its way to Game Pass, meaning many new players will get to experience all the classes on offer, including the Barbarian. To fully embrace the playstyle of this class, you'll want to know how to make the best Barbarian build.

Much like the previous entries in the series, Diablo 4 has a variety of options when it comes to class choice, gear, and build diversity, and it focuses on making each class fit a distinct player fantasy. With the Barbarian in particular, you'll be looking at strength and brute force as the main driving factors behind the playstyles on offer.

To prepare your own Barbarian for all the powerful foes that dare to stand in your way, we've put together this handy guide to run through the Diablo 4 best Barbarian build, how to play the Barbarian, as well as the best skills, gear, aspects, and gems to bolster your Barb-y life.

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How to play as the Barbarian in Diablo 4

If you’re thinking about playing the Barbarian in Diablo 4, there are a few things you should know first. As one of the melee classes available in the game, you will always be close to enemies and susceptible to taking more damage. This means the Barbarian is inherently a class with a bigger health pool and can tank enemies. On the other hand, Barbarians aren’t famous as a class capable of bursting enemies or dealing big numbers, such as the Sorcerer class. This is a more slow-paced class, but still capable of inflicting a good amount of damage. And, in general, the Barbarian’s kit doesn’t offer a lot of utility in case you’re planning on running certain types of content with other players. One of the class’s positive features in this regard is the Barbarian capacity for crowd control.

The Barbarian was designed to either execute quick sequences of attacks or take enemies’ attacks to passively return the damage to them. Although the first approach works by using a build focused on Berserk, it requires a risky play style. For this build, we are going in the opposite direction, focusing on playing safer even though you need to expose your character to a lot of direct damage. The idea is to redirect the damage to enemies and make them bleed to death while you generate Fury to finish them off. Before we jump into the explanation of how you’re going to use each skill, it’s important that you understand two mechanics that are crucial to the build: Thorns and Bleeding.

In Diablo IV, the Thorn is a specific attribute that triggers the effect of damaging enemies every time your character is directly hit. Since as a Barbarian, you will be in the middle of the action, getting attacked constantly, this is an amazing stat to stack.

On the other hand, Bleeding is a status that some of your skills afflict, and that causes enemies to take damage over time. Again, the Barbarian is not the best damage dealer in the game’s roster of classes. But don’t underestimate how powerful bleeding can be. The concept behind this build is to make the most out of both effects. In order to use this build efficiently, you must work around a few skills and approach enemies with a specific mindset.

Diablo 4 Barbarian is a class to jump into action

First of all, you should remember that, in contrast to other classes, the Barbarian’s resource, Fury, is not replenished constantly. You must generate it either by taking damage or using skills. Because of that, you must approach each fight focusing on using your Basic Skill, Flay, or the Challenging Shout to lure enemies around you. It’s important to use this shout whenever it’s out of cooldown since it mitigates the damage you take and generates Fury when you’re hit. As you’re attacked, the Tough as Nail passive skill will also proc, inflicting Bleeding based on your Thorn value. After you get the enemies’ attention, start attacking with Flay since it raises your character’s Thorn value as well as the percentage of Damage Reduction.

Once this initial phase has passed, you have two options. First, you can use Whirlwind in case you’re fighting a large group of enemies. Or you can use Rupture, which damages enemies based on how much bleeding they have. While the Whirlwind is a good option most of the time, you inevitably run out of Fury to use it. Rupture is a good follow-up to Whirlwind since the latter also applies Bleeding and the former doesn’t require Fury to be used.

After this sequence, you can always pop your Challenging Shout again or use Iron Skin as a way of mitigating damage while you can’t use any other skill. Due to one of Iron Skin’s upgrades, you get healed while it’s up. Your last and most powerful ability is Call of the Ancients, your ultimate skill which summons three spirits, each capable of affecting enemies in different ways, from stuns to slow. And, even though it has one of the longest cooldowns, you should always use Call of the Ancients when it is up to maximise damage.

This is basically how you deal with encounters and the order you should use your skills. But remember that you can always run from enemies as you wait for one of your skills to get back if things don’t work perfectly for you.

Current meta and community picks for best Barbarian build in Diablo 4

With Diablo 4 having been out for nearly 10 months at the time of writing, there's a whole host of various options that can be utilised in combat and buildcrafting, and that only grows as balance changes make their way into the game alongside new seasonal systems and more.

Looking at what's hot right now, website Wowhead presents a selection of strong endgame builds, focused around abilities like Charge, Double Swing, Upheaval and more.

Upheaval in particular has a new item added with Season of the Construct that's directly linked to it, one that guarantees the ability to Overpower every 25 seconds, as well as deal 10-20% increase damage. Furthermore, with thi Aspect of Sundered Ground, that 25 second timer is reduced by 4 seconds whenever Upheaval Overpowers a Boss or Elite enemy, making it all the more potent.

The Barbarian's skill tree in Diablo 4, showing the Charge skill.
The Barbarian's skill tree in Diablo 4, showing the Double Swing skill.
Left: The Charge skill in the Barbarian's skill tree. | Right: The Double Swing skill in the Barbarian's skill tree.

On top of this, the Barbarian received a slew of buffs this season for several of its skills and gear including additional damage increases and Fury Gain for abilities like Bash and Flay. They also increased the damage reduction granted by the Aspect of the Iron Warrior, as well as grant a sizeable buff to Gohr's Devastating Grips that increases its Ranks of Whirlwind and overall damage.

As with any ever-evolving game like Diablo though, it's worth keeping an eye out in-game to see what abilities and gear are most appealing to you, as well as what might be the most suitable for a particular encounter or activity.

Diablo 4 Barbarian best skills

In this section, we listed all the Barbarian skills you need to pick in each node in Diablo 4. When maximising all of them, there are still going to be a few Skill Points left which you can use to unlock abilities that you can use in specific situations as you see fit.

Basic Node

  • Flay: This is your basic attack and the one responsible for inflicting Bleeding damage for a period of time. You want to also pick Enhanced Flay so you can unlock the Combat Flay upgrade. This one increases your Thorns and Damage Reduction stacking four times this effect.

Core Node

  • Whirlwind: With this attack, your character can move around while they spin their weapon hitting enemies around them. Because activating this skill costs Fury points per second, you can’t keep using it all the time. However, by picking its enhancement, you gain 1 Fury for hitting regular enemies and 4 Fury points for Elites. Go for the Furious Whirlwind upgrade to inflict Bleeding on enemies.
  • Endless Fury: This is a passive skill you find in the Core node that increases the quantity of Fury your Basic Skill generates when using Two-Handed weapons. With more Fury, more time you can spend spinning around killing demons.

Defensive Node

  • Challenging Shout: When used, this skill taunts enemies and reduces the damage you receive. But to get what we want from this skill, you must pick the Enhanced Challenging Shout – which increases your Maximum Life while the shout is active – and any of the upgrades. The Tactical Challenging Shout is a good option in case you feel you’re lacking Fury regeneration and the Strategic Challenging Shout is also solid if you want to increase your character’s Thorn value.
  • Imposing Presence: This is one of the passives you find in the Defensive node that increases your Maximum Life. Because other skills synergize with Maximum Life, this is an important skill to have.
  • Outburst: With this skill, you not only receive a flat quantity of Thorns but also some extra based on your Maximum Life.
  • Tough as Nails: Besides giving you extra Thorns, this skill also inflicts Bleeding damage based on the Thorns you have.
Using the right rotation of the Barbarian skills in Diablo IV can is the key to play this class

Brawling Node

  • Booming Voice: With this passive, you can increase the duration of your shouts to up to 24%.

Weapon Mastery Node

  • Rupture: This skill hits enemies causing a flat value of damage plus the total Bleeding they have. It’s important to know that whenever you use it, the Bleeding effect is removed from enemies, so you need to apply it again. You should get the Enhanced Rupture to add to this skill some area-of-effect damage and upgrade it to Fighter’s Rupture, which heals based on your Maximum Life.

Ultimate Node

  • Call of the Ancients: By invoking the three spirits to help you, this skill is great against single or groups of enemies. Once you have upgraded it to Supreme Call of the Ancients, it also becomes a good tool for crowd-controlling.
  • Tempered Fury: It simply increases your Maximum Fury, allowing you to stack more Fury points.
  • Invigorating Fury: This passive skill heals you based on your Maximum Life every time you spend 100 Fury points.

Key Passives Node

  • Gushing Wounds: In the last node you have access to in the Skill Tree, you can find this passive that increases the Bleeding amount based on your Critical Strike Damage bonus. Besides that, whenever you Overpower a bleeding enemy you create an explosion that deals Bleeding damage for a brief period.

Diablo 4 Barbarian best gear

When it comes to selecting the best gear for Barbarians in Diablo 4, it's important to keep in mind that it's difficult to know whether you're getting a piece of equipment with the best stats for your build. Due to this, you should prioritise using the ones that increase your Thorn, Fury, and Critical Strike Damage to synergize with your skills.

Now, when it comes to some good Legendary equipment to use with this build, we have some solid options. You can run a Horned Cudgel of the Dire Whirlwind, a legendary two-handed mace with an aspect that increases Whirlwind’s Critical Strike Chance by 10% for each second the ability is channelled – up to 40%. Another good option is the Dust Devil’s Circle legendary ring which adds to your Whirlwind the effect of leaving behind Dust Devils that deal damage to enemies. With this item, as long as you keep spinning, you increase the chances of mini-hurricanes appearing on the field to attack enemies.

In Diablo 4, there are some good weapons for the Barbarian

Diablo 4 Barbarian best aspects

As you progress through Diablo 4 and complete dungeons, new aspects become available to you in your Codex of Power. Considering this can be printed into your rare pieces of equipment, you should try to unlock them. Although keep in mind that Codex of Power aspects aren't as powerful as those found on Legendary gear in the wild.

For this build specifically, there is the Needleflare Aspect (unlocked by progressing through the campaign), that increases the area-of-effect damage from your Thorns. The Aspect of Ancestral Echoes (unlocked at the Ancient Reservoir in Hawezar) is great too, since it adds the chance of summoning an Ancient whenever you use the Whirlwind to do the same action.

Aspects are a great way to improve your build as a Barbarian in Diablo 4

Sticking with Whirlwind, the Dust Devil's Aspect produces Dust Devils that damage surrounding enemies when using Whirlwind. There's also the Aspect of the Dire Whirlwind, which increases the Critical Hit Strike Chance each second Whirlwind is in use.

Diablo 4 Barbarian best gems

When it comes to gems for Barbarians in Diablo 4, Emeralds, Rubies, and Skulls are the best options. At the same time, you can spice your gear up with a Topaz, for example, in the weapon you use for Basic Skills.

Emeralds are at the top of the list because they increase your Thorn value when placed in pieces of armor. They can also increase your Critical Strike Damage to Vulnerable enemies – the effect you get from Flay – if used in weapons.

Not as useful as Emeralds, Rubies are still a good option when used in your armor, because they increase your Maximum Life.

This Diablo 4 Barbarian build needs gems such as Emeralds to work perfectly

Now, Skulls are here as the gems with less priority since it doesn’t necessarily help the build by adding values or synergizing with skills. On the other hand, Skulls help with survivability, by either increasing the healing you received when equipped in armor pieces or regenerates life when killing enemies when equipped with a weapon.

How Seasons affect Barbarian builds in Diablo 4

With the seasonal structure in Diablo 4, a fair number of the builds and gear available may depend on the features available in that particular season on top of the usual balance updates and new gear added.

However, whilst many new pieces of gear and balance updates will continue to be in effect beyond the end of whatever the current season is, elements that are specific to a particular season are taken out of the game at the end of the season. This means any builds you have utilising those elements would have to be reconfigured or adapted to whatever remains in the game as a permanent element.

This results in a meta that's more likely to evolve over time and may mean lesser used builds and abilities move up in the chain on the regular - of course, dependent on what aspects and abilities are enhanced each season.

As an example of all of this in play, if you take the game's Season of the Construct release, this features an upgradeable spider-like Construct machine companion that'll accompany and fight alongside you all throughout Sanctuary.

An example of one of the season-specific systems - this is for Season of the Construct, and shows the customisation and upgrades that can be applied to the Construct companion you can utilise during the season.
This is the season-specific feature of Season of the Construct - the image shows the customisation and upgrades that can be applied to the Construct companion during the season. | Image credit: Activision Blizzard

Whilst elements rotate out at the end of their respective seasons, it is worth noting that various items and gear from these seasons have been reprised since their first appearance. As an example, certain Malignant Hearts and Vampiric Powers from the game's first two seasons have returned in another form as an item or piece of gear that can be looted and equipped even beyond the end of the current season.

With the constant influx of new items, both season-specific and new or reprised, there's often always a new way to play that you can check out in Diablo 4, and it opens up much more experimentation and a variety of ways to challenge your foes.

If you're looking for more general information and advice on Diablo 4 as a whole, be sure to check out our tips and guides page. For more on class builds, check out our pages covering the best Sorcerer build and best Druid build.

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