Baldur’s Gate 3 Builds: Barbarian Class Guide. In this Baldur’s Gate 3 Barbarian Class Build Guide, I’m going to be covering my Barbarian Build for Early Access, and showing you what I’ve found to work best. I’ll be doing more Build Guides at the launch of Baldur’s Gate 3, but for now, let’s look at how you can use a Barbarian effectively in the first Act of the game.
Best Baldur’s Gate 3 Barbarian Builds Features
- Abilities: Strength, Constitution
- Subclasses: Berserker & Wildheart
- Unique Feature: Rage
- Hit Die: +12 HP + CON Modifier
Baldur’s Gate 3 Builds: Barbarian Class Guide
Barbarians are well-known for their Rage together with their innate ability to take advantage of it, which is unseen in any other Class. Anger is what fuels their Strength and subsequent impact in Combat, allowing them to deal massive damage in multiple turns without severe repercussions besides taking a Long Rest here and there. For others, however, their strong bond with nature and animals gives life to their ferocity. Because of these factors, Barbarians are independently resilient and they can carry their weight in encounters when it comes to inflicting melee or ranged damage. This makes them highly skilled warriors.
Barbarians are proficient in Simple and Martial Weapons and Shields but they can’t don Heavy Armour, unlike Fighters. However, this shouldn’t be an issue given how durable they are thanks to their high Constitution and decent Armour Class (AC).
Baldur’s Gate 3 Barbarian Character Creation
In this section, we’ll take a look at how to set up your Barbarian during Character Creation for best results. You don’t have to follow this to the letter, and this will likely change at the full launch of the game. However, this will hold you in good stead during Early Access.
For Background, choosing the one that provides you with the Athletics Strength Skill should be acceptable especially since Constitution doesn’t have Skills related to it anyway. You can then choose a Background that boosts Wisdom Skills, specifically Outlander to improve Survival.
The first Race that works well for the Barbarian Class is the Shield Dwarf. This is due to the +2 Strength and +2 Constitution that you gain. Strength boosts the damage dealt by this Class whereas Constitution improves your max HP and survivability as well as your overall Armour. Despite this, you won’t be making use of the Barbarian’s Unarmoured Defense. Even if your Dexterity and Constitution Modifiers are both accounted for in your AC, you’ll benefit more from equipping Medium Armour.
Although you’ll have 17 Strength and 17 Constitution to start with, by the time you reach Level 4, you’ll be able to allocate 1 point each to either Ability thanks to the Ability Improvement Feat. Doing so will yield a high combination at 18 points for Strength and Constitution. Moreover, the Shield Dwarf grants Darkvision to help you land melee attacks in the dark within a certain range as well as Poison Resistance.
An alternative to this Race is the Wood Half-Elf. This grants you a more balanced Ability Score spread starting at 16 Strength and 16 Constitution by investing 1 point to each respective Ability as part of the Race’s feature. However, you’ll only be able to maximize Strength at Level 4 so take note of this as well. On top of Darkvision, you also gain Fleet of Foot, enhancing your Movement Speed and thereby allowing you to cover more ground as a Barbarian.
Last but not least, if you want to play a Race that is the most balanced by retaining 16 Strength and 16 Constitution without any negative Ability Modifiers, then you ought to consider the Human. The only caveat to this is you don’t get additional perks you otherwise would should you choose the Shield Dwarf or the Wood Half-Elf so it’s definitely something to consider as well.
Skills aren’t super important but given that you’ll have average Wisdom relative to Charisma and Intelligence, it’s better to select Skills that fall under this Ability. As such, you can go with Animal Handling and Perception.
Your primary Ability as a Barbarian is Strength to successfully hit targets and to effectively damage them using melee weapons especially when Rage is active. It also affects your jump distance in addition to your carry weight capacity. For this reason, you’ll want at least 16 in this Ability during Character Creation, and likely 18 later on. Other than this, you should focus on Constitution for improved survivability.
You can then add points into Dexterity to enhance your AC and then Wisdom but the latter won’t matter much since it won’t influence your damage. However, it’s worth considering that Wisdom will affect the outcome of corresponding Skill Checks. Your Ability Spread should look something like this:
Baldur’s Gate 3 Barbarian Level 1 Rage
Barbarians are known for their Bonus Action, which is Rage that they immediately have access to at Level 1. What this does in combat is it allows you to deal extra +2 damage on your Damage Roll with the Weapons you’re wielding, may it be melee or improvised, and this also applies to the objects you’ll throw at enemies. The cool thing about Throw is you get to pick up the Handaxe you hurled, for example, so you can reuse it in future encounters. This is essential if you choose the Shield Dwarf Race since the distance you travel isn’t as far as that of the Wood Half-Elf’s.
However, the damage for light objects is not significant at the moment. If you hurl a Thrown Weapon like Spears and Handaxes, the damage you deal is equal to their corresponding Weapon damage. But if you throw light objects like books, mugs, and Shields, you only inflict 1 damage. Heavier objects like the Scale Mail Armour and even a corpse will let you deal 1-4 Bludgeoning damage.
Going back to Rage, you gain Advantage on Strength Checks and Saving Throws, letting you traverse areas such as climbing or jumping with less difficulty. Remember that it’s crucial to attack a target or be attacked in return in the next and succeeding rounds after you enter Rage, otherwise, it will end earlier than 10 turns. To recharge this after 2 uses, you need to take a Long Rest.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Barbarian Level 2 Class Features
At Level 2, your Barbarian gains Reckless Attack, giving you an Advantage on your Attack Roll while dealing 5-16 Slashing damage. The caveat is enemies also gain the same Advantage against you. This shouldn’t be an issue as long as Rage is active before using Reckless Attack. You’ll be able to survive hits since Rage grants resistance to slashing, bludgeoning, and piercing damage so you only take half the damage.
Plus, you have a higher max HP due to your Constitution as well as improved AC thanks to Medium Armour. Note, however, that Reckless Attack is only applicable to melee attacks, which means you can’t use this if you plan on throwing a creature or an object at your target.
Additionally, you gain a passive known as Danger Sense. What this does is make you more attuned to your surroundings. So you’ll likely improve the chances of avoiding damage from traps, surfaces, and even Spells since you gain an Advantage on Dexterity Saving Throws. Keep in mind that this is only applicable if you’re not incapacitated, blinded, or deafened in any way.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Barbarian Level 3 Subclass and Class Features
At Level 3, your Barbarian gains one additional Rage charge to enter Rage more often. You can also choose between the Berserker or Wildheart Subclasses, which will provide you with new Rage features. Your decision depends on whether or not you prefer to deal the highest amount of damage possible or if you intend to experiment with a variety of Actions that the Barbarian can perform. Regardless of the Subclass you choose, Rage can still be used for 10 turns as long as you attack enemies or they attack you per round.
As a Berserker, your Rage transforms into Frenzy, which opens up a lot of different options. Frenzy treats Improvised Weapon Attack as a Bonus Action rather than an Action. You even gain access to other Bonus Actions like Frenzied Strike and Enraged Throw. Frenzied Strike lets you deal Weapon Slashing Damage while Enraged Throw enhances Throw since the damage you inflict now accounts for your Rage’s extra damage and Strength Modifier as well as the object’s weight.
As such, you deal higher damage while knocking enemies down, and you’ll no longer become susceptible to Exhaustion unlike in D&D 5E after Frenzy ends. Because of this, you won’t gain a Disadvantage on Ability Checks nor will your Movement Speed be cut by half.
Conversely, Wildheart calls the aid of a spirit animal to help fuel your Rage and gain additional abilities. You’re also able to speak with animals due to the Spell of the same name, no matter what spirit animal you select. In Baldur’s Gate 3, you can choose from the following 5 Beastial Hearts:
- Bear Heart – Improves resilience and durability by gaining resistance to all damage except psychic damage so this includes Spells as well as Physical Damage. Moreover, you can heal yourself with Unrelenting Ferocity.
- Eagle Heart – Inflicts Disadvantage on the enemy’s Attack of Opportunity against you, which reduces the chances of getting hit when you move within their line of sight. You can also use Dash as a Bonus Action. Additionally, you gain Diving Strike to lunge on an enemy and deal Slashing Damage. However, you have to be at least 1.5 m above them, otherwise, you can’t use this Action.
- Elk Heart – Boosts your Movement Speed, which you need especially if you’ve chosen the Shield Dwarf Race. You can also charge into enemies and render them Prone with Primal Stampede.
- Tiger Heart – Boosts your jump distance and lets you attack 3 enemies at once, similar to Cleave, with Tiger’s Bloodlust. This also inflicts Damage over Time (DoT) with Bleed. However, you’re not likely to kill or notably weaken enemies because they will each take only half of your Weapon’s damage.
- Wolf Heart – Buffs your allies by granting an Advantage on their melee Attack Rolls provided that they hit enemies who are near you. They also gain extra Movement Speed with Inciting Howl.
Between these two Subclasses, the Berserker provides you with greater damage since you’re able to attack twice in your turn. This is due to the Bonus Actions you gain rather than the single Action you can perform if you were to choose the Wildheart Subclass.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Barbarian Level 4 Feat
At Level 4, you can choose your Feat where you’ll be taking Ability Improvement to place 1 point into Strength and Constitution, amounting to 18 each. Doing so will not only boost your Attack and Damage Rolls due to the +4 Strength Modifier you gain but also bring your max HP up to 49, which is huge!
If you’ve chosen the Wood Half-Elf or Human in Character Creation, then you may want to consider taking the Great Weapon Master Feat instead of investing +2 points into Strength. So you can combine Reckless Attack with Frenzy, and then use Great Weapon Master. The -5 penalty to Attack Rolls for this Feat isn’t going to be as significant due to the Advantage that you gain from Reckless Attack. Not only will your hits land, potentially allowing you to perform another attack in the form of a Bonus Action, but your overall damage will be boosted by +10, which is ultimately huge.
When it comes to the Barbarian’s Equipment, it’ll be up to you to decide what type of Weapon to use. Wielding a Two-Handed Weapon such as the Very Heavy Greataxe from the Blighted Village, Maul +1 sold by Dammon, or Sword of Justice from Anders will definitely improve your overall damage.
Alternatively, you can go ahead and slay Commander Zhalk from the Nautiloid to acquire his Everburn Blade. On top of its Slashing Damage, the Everburn Blade inflicts 1-4 Fire Damage for every successful attack. If in case your HP keeps reaching 50% or less, then wielding the Blooded Greataxe from the Druid Grove together with the Helmet of Grit would make a good combination. The Greataxe will let you deal extra Slashing Damage while the Helmet will grant a Bonus Action to take advantage of the situation.
With all of these Two-Handed Weapons, it’s important to consider the added value they provide in terms of their corresponding weapon actions. The Everburn Blade, for example, grants the Cleave and Lacerate Actions as well as the Pommel Strike Bonus Action, which can notably debilitate targets.
Additionally, make sure to have Thrown Weapons in your inventory because they’ll more often than not come in handy.
In terms of Armour, you’ll be using Medium Armour in Early Access. The best Medium Armour so far is Lae’Zel’s Githyanki Half Plate to provide you with a total of 17 AC. If you go for the One-Handed Weapon and Shield setup, you’ll further boost this to 19 AC. Regardless of what path you choose, this is going to be better than not equipping Armour at all because Unarmoured Defense only grants 16 AC while wielding a Two-Handed Weapon.
Even if you have to be attacked by enemies per turn, going in on the offensive by hitting them first with melee or ranged options will ensure your survival instead of taking too much damage due to your average AC. Not only do you have better AC with Medium Armour, but your HP is also enhanced due to your high Constitution.
For Accessories, it’s essential to have Crusher’s Ring to improve your Movement Speed by 3, especially if you’re a Shield Dwarf with limited distance covered. You can also equip the Haste Helm to further increase your Movement Speed at the start of an encounter and gain +1 to Dexterity Saving Throws. And finally, the Speed Lightfeet is nice to have because upon using Dash, you receive 3 Lightning Charges, which each grants +1 to your Attack Roll and at least +1 to your Damage Roll.
The Barbarian is a very heavy-hitting Class that’s made all the more effective thanks to Enraged Throw and Improvised Melee Weapon. These allow them to deal enough damage from a distance while inflicting lethal damage up close. With the Berserker Subclass, you get to attack twice in your turn because of the Bonus Actions you gain as if you were executing an Extra Attack at every turn.
As a Barbarian, you’ll concern yourself with managing your Rage charges before hitting Level 3 since you initially have 2 of them. Although engaging in Long Rests isn’t a restriction in Early Access, finishing encounters one after the other without interruption will make your experience smoother. As such, it’s essential to activate Rage when you either go against a strong enemy like the Owlbear or big groups. This way, you can utilize the 10 turns you have with Rage.
For the Very Heavy Greataxe, you gain access to Gargantuan Cleave, which lets you deal 6-22 Slashing damage. Although there’s a small chance that you’ll become off-balanced for one turn, you should still execute this Action because you’ll most likely succeed on your Strength Saving Throw. On the other hand with Sword of Justice, you can make use of Tyr’s Protection, which is a Bonus Action, to grant yourself with +2 AC at the start of an encounter since you can no longer cast Spells when you become enraged.
This will protect you even more but you’ll have to defer using Frenzy in the next round since it’s also a Bonus Action. Note that the Spell’s effect will continue even if Frenzy is active.
Lastly, try to throw Weapons or objects from a higher elevation than your target in order to gain +2 on your Attack Roll.
Stay tuned for more Baldur’s Gate 3 content as we take a look at Classes and Builds, and be sure to drop by our Twitch Channel if you have questions about the game. If you need something specific, check out our Baldur’s Gate 3 Wiki which is being worked on night and day!