The curious thing about internet avatars is their capacity for wish fulfillment. Like the gamma radiation that gave the Hulk his inexhaustible strength, the anonymity and malleability of the internet grant us the ability to present to the world a visual representation that matches the attributes of our innermost desires.

Admittedly, I have always been a comparatively small person with regards to both stature and mass, so it is no wonder that I have always gravitated towards the muscle-headed characters in video games to represent not who I truly am, but who I most sorely wish to be: the massively built, but agonizingly slow brute who sacrifices his body on the front lines to preserve justice and order in a chaotic realm.

A Pillar of Strength

Amongst the five classes Blizzard has provided for us in the much-awaited and soon-to-be released Diablo III, the simple and straightforward Barbarian class will once again be an option for those of us who prefer the strong, silent type. Ever since the initial release of Diablo in 1996, the Barbarian character class has always provided an anchor of strength and dependability in the chaos of a frenzied battle.

In any given dungeon-crawling party, the Barbarian will always be the first one to rush headlong into a horde of monsters while the rest of the party stays back. And after a whirlwind of blood, bone, and sinew, the Barbarian will always be the one to scream out one of two things: “Huzzah!” or “REVIVE, PLEASE!”

This time around, Blizzard has gotten a little more creative in establishing differences between the character classes with respect to how characters garner energy to execute their unique skills. For instance, the Barbarian no longer has a gauge for mana, but instead possesses a meter for a quantity known as Fury.

The Ground Pound and the Fury

The Fury meter rises whenever the Barbarian either takes damage from or deals damage to any monster, and when the Barbarian has amassed enough Fury points, he or she can unleash an attack with special properties and effects.

For instance, the Barbarian starts the game off with the “Bash” attack skill, which is a standard attack that generates Fury with each successful hit and has knockback properties. Once the character reaches Level 2, however, he or she will gain the ground-pounding “Hammer of the Ancients” skill, which is stronger and has an area effect, but uses up 20 Fury points.

As your character levels up, you are given the option to choose from even more standard and Fury-based attacks, each with unique properties. Eventually, further leveling up your character will add even more specialized skills to the bar on the bottom of the screen. Some are passive abilities that enhance your character’s statistics and attributes, but the active ones, which are hot-keyed to the numbers 1-4 on your keyboard, give you new skills in four categories: Defense, Might, Tactics, and Rage.

As your character progresses further, you will also unlock different runes for each of these skills, which will further enhance or modify their properties. For instance, attaching the “Clobber” rune to the “Bash” skill changes the attack’s properties from knockback to stun. You can only equip one skill for each category and only one rune for each skill, which further accentuates the customizability of your character’s repertoire.

Simple and Direct. I Like that in a Barbarian.

In the first two Diablo games, the Barbarian/Warrior would frequently be the class that novice gamers flocked to because of ease of use. Since the early levels of the game were always so straightforward, there was little to no finesse necessary to maintain the character, and most of the monsters in the early stages of the game were weak enough to overcome with simple brute force and basic self-healing.

However, as the quests inevitably progressed in difficulty, the slow Barbarian’s limited range would be of little use against more powerful monsters with higher hit points, ranged attacks, or the ability to teleport, and this glaring weakness emphasized the need to work in a party that contained good healers and support mages. Although it may be too early in the beta to tell for sure, this will probably be the case with Diablo III as well.

Come Hear the Lamentations of the Women

Should you choose the barbarian as your initial character, expect smooth sailing for the first half of the game, as your strength and constitution will be more than ample to face the early menagerie of monsters and bosses. Not once did my Barbarian (name: StrongBad) even come close to needing to heal himself throughout the first three hours of play simply because his capacity for damage was so ridiculously high. The ability to dual wield 1-handed weapons at the expense of a shield will also double your damage-dealing capabilities, making the game flow even more smoothly and quickly.

And sure, your clumsy, clumsy fingers may be too unwieldy to draw a bowstring of any sort, and your thick, meaty brain may not be capable of comprehending and reciting even the most basic grade-school magicks, but, let’s be honest here. Who needs a bow and magic anyway? Cowards, that’s who.

Well, cowards and people who might have a much easier time with the second half of the game. Barbarians, choose your party members wisely.

For more class-specific strategy, be sure to check out our other Diablo 3 class mini guides!

• Demon Hunter

• Witch Doctor

• Monk

More to come!