Best Starting Class for Diablo 4

Diablo 4 gameplay

Best Starting Class for Diablo 4

If there’s one thing that’s unchanging across the Diablo franchise, it’s the importance of the player’s initial class choice. Whether returning to Diablo 4 as a lapsed player, booting it up for the first time, or entering the latest season with your 15th character roll, choosing a starting class is a monumental decision that affects almost every aspect of the moment-to-moment gameplay. Though Diablo 4 has fewer classes than both Diablo 2 and Diablo 3 (something that Blizzard aims to rectify in the game’s first major story DLC), each of the game’s starting classes brings something worthwhile to the table whether playing in solo or co-op; eternal (campaign) or seasonal realms.

Choosing between one of Diablo 4‘s main classes — Barbarian, Druid, Necromancer, Rogue, or Sorcerer — will impact the various builds that are available to players as well as impact the viability players have as solo combatants in the title’s endgame challenges and higher difficulty tiers. And while the buildcraft aspect of Diablo 4 is nowhere near as complex as what players will find in ARPGs like Path of Exile, there’s still plenty of strategization when it comes to choosing both the right class for your playstyle and the right build for that specific class. Further, with the upcoming changes as part of Season 4 and its “Loot Reborn” updates, players may soon discover that their favorite builds are no longer as powerful in the new meta, prompting the need for trying out new classes and prescribed progression paths.

Eternal Realm or Seasonal Realm – The Difference

Before diving into the classes themselves and the pros and cons of each, it’s important to understand the key differences between Diablo 4‘s two Realms — Eternal and Seasonal.

Players can think of the Eternal Realm as the main story campaign of Diablo 4. Choosing to create a character and start in this realm locks the character for use only in the campaign, which has its own set of endgame challenges and loot to chase after. While the common consensus about the Eternal Realm is that it’s the de facto “single-player” mode for Diablo 4, it’s important to acknowledge that the game is an always-online, live-service ARPG that features drop-in/drop-out co-op. New players to Diablo 4 should at least clear the campaign once before attempting to complete the seasonal content that drops as part of each new Season, though it’s also worth noting that creating a Seasonal character gives players the option to experience or skip the campaign right from the outset.

So if the campaign is accessible in both Eternal and Seasonal Realms, why should anyone ever create an Eternal Realm character? The short answer is that Eternal Realm characters are largely immune to the various changes to the meta that come about as a result of each new season. As an example, the first Season of Diablo 4 introduced changes that made selecting a Druid an excellent choice, but as of the current Season (Season 3), Druids are one of the worst class choices overall. Also worth noting is the fact that all Seasonal characters become Eternal characters at the end of that season, so even if players choose to start with a Seasonal Realm character they’ll eventually be able to use it in the Eternal Realm after the end of the current Season.


Diablo 4 gameplay

©Diablo 4 gameplay screenshot – Original

  • First Appearance: Diablo 2
  • Games in the Series: Diablo 2, Diablo 3, Diablo 4
  • Archetype: Tank/Melee Fighter

The Barbarian is Diablo 4‘s physical powerhouse and one of the more contentious classes in the game. The original sentiment surrounding the Barbarian was that it was too imbalanced and not that fun to play, which Blizzard has been actively working toward correcting since the game’s open beta ahead of its launch last year. As of Season 3, the Barbarian is arguably the best current class, with some truly game-changing builds that make use of some of its best abilities and gear to see players absolutely melt massive enemy mobs and quickly take down bosses.

As in previous Diablo games, Diablo 4‘s Barbarian has the highest DPS and strength of any class in the game, and its signature gameplay loop can make playing as one a blast as long as Blizzard hasn’t nerfed the class in the current season. For every attack that the Barbarian lands, it gains Fury which can then be spent on incredibly powerful abilities geared towards either tanking and absorbing damage or dishing it out in massive amounts on enemies. Essentially, Barbarians need to start attacking and keep attacking, using their defensive abilities to their advantage and entering the fray before anyone else.

Barbarians also have the unique ability to equip 4 weapons at once, which can provide some incredible bonuses to stats and abilities at the cost of needing to really focus on getting the right aspects and enchantments for all that gear.

Barbarian Base Skills

  • Bash: Bash enemies with your weapon, dealing damage and having a 20% chance to stun. Requires a bludgeoning weapon.
  • Flay: Flay enemies, dealing damage and inflicting Bleed over 6 seconds. Requires a slashing weapon.
  • Frenzy: Unleash a flurry of blows on enemies, dealing damage and increasing attack speed by 20% with each pair of hits (maximum 60%). Requires dual-wielding weapons.
  • Lunging Strike: Lunge forward and strike enemies, dealing damage.

Barbarian Fury Skills

  • Rend: Cleave enemies in front of you, dealing damage and inflicting Bleed. Requires 25 Fury.
  • Hammer of the Ancients: Slam the Barbarian’s hammer down, dealing damage in an area. Requires two-handed bludgeoning weapon and 20 Fury.
  • Double Swing: Sweep the Barbarian’s weapons from opposite directions, dealing damage to enemies caught in the center. Requires dual-wielding weapons and 25 Fury.
  • Upheaval: Fling debris from the ground at enemies, dealing damage. Requires any two-handed weapon and 30 Fury.
  • Whirlwind: Rapidly attack enemies in a spinning circle. Requires 5 Fury per second.
  • Upheaval Barbarian Build
  • Hammer of the Ancients Barbarian Build
  • Bash Cleave Barbarian Build (Endgame)
  • Dust Devil Barbarian Build (Endgame)
  • Leap Quake Barbarian Build (Endgame)


Diablo 4 gameplay

©Diablo 4 gameplay screenshot – Original

  • First Appearance: Diablo 4
  • Games in the Series: Diablo 4
  • Archetype: Shapeshifter

The Druid continues to experience some fairly substantial fluctuations in its usefulness, with the class routinely going from best to worst in a single season. As one of Diablo 4’s “long game” classes, playing as a Druid requires patience in order to see it fully pay off. However, once players get a good build going and the right aspects, the Druid offers one of the best power fantasies in Diablo 4. What makes the class truly unique is the ability to shapeshift into a bear or werewolf with certain builds, with each option having particular synergies with other Druid skills for maximum effectiveness.

Aside from their shapeshifting abilities, the Druid also has command over the land itself, using the power of nature to subdue enemies and inflict any number of debilitating status effects. There again, the Druid’s immense potential is counter-balanced by the class’ relatively plodding progression, which makes the early hours of a character using the class particularly painful in comparison to more immediately satisfying classes and builds. Still, when it comes to buffs and debuffs, perhaps no other Diablo 4 class is as effective at boosting party stats while debilitating enemies.

Similar to Barbarians, Druids build up Spirit energy by attacking enemies and using specific abilities that generate the resource. Afterward, Druids can use their Spirit energy to activate special Spirit skills that form the cornerstone of most of the best builds for the class.

Druid Basic Skills

  • Earthspike: Smash the ground, impaling the first enemy hit and dealing damage. Each successful hit increases the chance to deal Crushing Blow by 10%. Generates 12 Spirit.
  • Maul: Shapeshift into a Werebear and maul enemies, dealing damage and fortifying yourself. Generates 18 Spirit
  • Shred: Shapeshift into a Werewolf and shred enemies. 30% chance to hit twice. Generates 8 Spirit.
  • Storm Strike: Generate electricity around the Druid’s weapon, striking enemies and up to three nearby targets. Generates 12 Spirit.
  • Wind Shear: Summon a damaging gust of wind, damaging enemies and increasing movement speed by 5% (30% maximum). Generates 12 Spirit.

Druid Spirit Skills

  • Landslide: Crush enemies between large chunks of earth. 10% chance to deal Crushing Blow. Requires 30 Spirit.
  • Pulverize: Shapeshift into a Werebear and slam the ground, dealing damage to all nearby enemies. Requires 30 Spirit.
  • Tornado: Summon a tornado that moves outward from the Druid and deals damage to enemies it contacts. Requires 20 Spirit.
  • Pulverize Druid Build
  • Landslide Druid Build
  • Earth Bear Landslide Druid Build (Endgame)
  • Stormclaw Druid Build (Endgame)
  • Shifter Pulverize Druid Build (Endgame)


Diablo 4 gameplay

©Diablo 4 gameplay screenshot – Original

  • First Appearance: Diablo 2
  • Games in the Series: Diablo 2, Diablo 3, Diablo 4
  • Archetype: Summoner

The Necromancer is undoubtedly one of the best classes in Diablo 4, a position that the class has held in its previous incarnations as well. The highlight of playing as a Necromancer is being able to set things in motion by summoning skeletons or corpses and then watching the chaos unfold on screen. If players plan out their build correctly, there’s every possibility that a Necromancer can clear out entire screens of enemies in just a few seconds thanks to some incredibly powerful abilities that synergize well with one another. That said, the initial power of the Necromancer in Diablo 4 has since been rebalanced to make the class less broken than it was at launch.

Like other classes, Necromancers have a recharging resource that they must manage, with the class’ Essence behaving in a similar way to the Sorcerer’s Mana or Druid’s Spirit. Attacking enemies will generate corpses, which players can either use as a means to summon a skeleton army or simply set up traps for enemies. Few builds in Diablo 4 are as satisfying as the devastating Bone Spear Necromancer build that generates piles of corpses and then detonates them to wipe mobs in no time at all.

Notably, the Necromancer is a great build for solo players who are looking to clear the campaign for the first time and are just getting into Diablo 4. The class starts off strong and only continues to get better through natural progression, and its leveling builds are just as satisfying as the more specialized endgame ones.

Necromancer Class Skills

  • Blight: The Necromancer causes a Blight that deals damage and leaves an affected area that deals damage over time to any enemy within it.
  • Corpse Explosion: Detonate a corpse that deals damage to any surrounding enemies.
  • Corpse Tendrils: Summon vines from a corpse that pull in enemies and deal damage while causing Stun.
  • Reap: Attack in an arc using an ethereal scythe. Successful hits reduce the Necromancer’s incoming damage.

Necromancer Abilities

  • Death’s Embrace: Enemies in the Necromancer’s proximity deal less damage and take more damage.
  • Fueled by Death: The Necromancer can consume corpses to deal increased damage.
  • Grim Harvest: Consume corpses to generate Essence.
  • Hewed Flesh: Dealing damage has a chance to generate a corpse at the enemy’s location.
  • Summoner Necromancer Build
  • Bone Spear Necromancer Build
  • Blood Lance Necromancer Build (Endgame)
  • Shadow Summoner Necromancer Build (Endgame)
  • Ring of Mendeln Summoner Necromancer Build (Endgame)


Diablo 4 gameplay screenshot

©Diablo 4 gameplay screenshot – Original

  • First Appearance: Diablo
  • Games in the Series: Diablo, Diablo 4
  • Archetype: Assassin/Thief/Archer

When it comes to dealing with large groups of enemies, few classes are as strong as Diablo 4‘s Rogue. Along with the Necromancer, the Rogue is one of the best choices for solo players hoping to clear the main story campaign thanks to its wide variety of mobility options and surprisingly effective weapon imbuements. Rogues are the only class in Diablo 4 that has skills specifically built around imbuing weapons with damage types, and each of the three imbuements opens up their own build paths based on the status effect they impart.

In terms of crowd control, one of the best imbuements to invest in early on is the Frost Imbuement that imparts Chill on enemies. With the Rogue’s ability to slow and then freeze enemies, large mobs become sitting ducks and easy fodder whether playing solo or co-op. Further, Rogues are arguably the only class in Diablo 4 that specializes in both melee and ranged combat, making them one of the most well-rounded options in the game and a great choice for those who want a class capable of doing a bit of everything.

Rogue Class Skills

  • Combo Points: All basic attacks build Combo Points that the Rogue can use to activate certain skills.
  • Exploit Weakness: The Rogue can exploit enemy weaknesses, dealing critical hits and 60% increased damage against affected targets.
  • Shadow Realm: The Rogue pulls enemies into the Shadow Realm, dealing 50% more damage and improving all stats while in the realm.

Weapon Imbue Skills

  • Acid Imbue: Adds Poison damage to the Rogue’s attacks and skills.
  • Frost Imbue: Adds Chill damage to the Rogue’s attacks and skills.
  • Shadow Imbue: Adds Shadow damage to the Rogue’s attacks and skills.

Rogue Ranged and Melee Skills

  • Arrow Barrage: Fire a volley of arrows at foes in a particular direction.
  • Rain of Arrows: Leap into the air and fire arrows down at an area, dealing damage to a group of enemies.
  • Caltrops: Deploys caltrop traps as the Rogue dashes backward.
  • Dash: Quickly dash in the direction the Rogue is facing.
  • Shadow Step: Teleport the Rogue directly behind a target.
  • Penetrating Shot Rogue Build
  • Twisting Blades Rogue Build
  • Dual Core Rapid Fire Flurry Rogue Build (Endgame)
  • Poison Twisting Blades Rogue Build (Endgame)
  • Shadow Step Rogue Build (Endgame)


Diablo 4 gameplay

©Diablo 4 gameplay screenshot – Original

  • First Appearance: Diablo
  • Games in the Series: Diablo, Diablo 4
  • Archetype: Spellcaster

There’s a strong case to be made for the Sorcerer being the best-ranged class in Diablo 4, though that power comes at a cost. No other class is as much of a “glass cannon” as the Sorcerer, with players trading off immense offensive capability for a virtual lack of defense. Playing as a Sorcerer solo can be quite difficult as the game progresses, though there are some builds aimed specifically at making the class viable for single-player sessions. As a bonus, the Sorcerer is the only resource-managing class whose resource pool (Mana) passively regenerates.

Once players reach the endgame with a Sorcerer, there’s perhaps no other class that comes close to the pure damage potential, though the speed at which those abilities can be cast isn’t quite as fast as the Barbarian. While Sorcerers might deal more damage per attack, the Barbarian still has the higher DPS thanks to the speed and frequency at which they can spam abilities with enough regenerating Fury. That said, the Sorcerer can simply hang back like the Necromancer and let Chain Lightning rip through groups of enemies, which makes them a great addition to any co-op party without a ranged attacker.

Minor Destruction Skills

  • Arc Lash: The Sorcerer uses a lightning arc to shock enemies in front of them and deal damage. Restores Mana on return.
  • Fire Bolt: Throw a flaming bolt at enemies, dealing damage and causing Bleed.
  • Frost Bolt: Throw a frost bolt at enemies, dealing damage and causing Chill.
  • Lightning: Throw a bolt of lightning at enemies that deal damage, bouncing to nearby enemies and dealing 30% less damage on each subsequent hit.

Major Destruction Skills

  • Chain Lightning: The Sorcerer throws a bolt of lightning that chains to nearby targets after striking an enemy. Requires 35 Mana.
  • Charged Bolts: Throw 6 Lightning Bolts that travel along the ground in random patterns, dealing damage to enemies in their path. Requires 18 Mana.
  • Fireball: Throw a ball of fire that explodes after hitting an enemy, dealing damage in an area. Requires 30 Mana.
  • Frozen Orb: Throw an orb that causes Chill and then explodes into several Frost Bolts. Requires 40 Mana.
  • Ice Shards: Throw 5 Ice Shards that deal damage to enemies. Deals additional damage to enemies affected by Chill or Frozen status. Requires 18 Mana.
  • Incinerate: The Sorcerer calls forth a concentrated blast of flame, damaging and burning enemies. Damage increases every second enemies are caught in the blast. Requires 20 Mana per second.
  • Incinerate Sorcerer Build
  • Chain Lightning Sorcerer Build
  • Frozen Orb Sorcerer Build (Endgame)
  • Meteor Sorcerer Build (Endgame)
  • Ball Lightning Sorcerer Build (Endgame)

Solo vs. Co-Op: How Diablo 4’s Classes Stack Up

There are plenty of considerations to make regarding class choice when it comes to the decision to play Diablo 4 solo or in co-op. Some classes clearly perform better as part of a group, while others are well-rounded enough to work in either single-player or multiplayer. Notably, Rogues and Sorcerers can be somewhat tough to pull off as solo players on higher world tiers and in endgame challenges, and playing as a solo Druid can be incredibly difficult in Diablo 4‘s early hours.

In terms of the best classes for both solo and co-op, it’s hard to argue against both the Barbarian and the Necromancer. Both classes have great damage potential and easily spammable abilities that prevent enemy mobs from ever overwhelming the player. That said, there are builds for every class aimed at making them viable in solo or an integral member of a co-op party, so choosing the best class varies depending on who players are joining up with or what kind of play style they tend to gravitate toward.

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