Which Diablo 3 class should you play in Season 21?
Diablo’s Season 21 is now live, and by now, I think you know the bit.
I’ve done the bit at the beginning of every season. You know what I’m going to say. I know what I’m going to say. But here I am, saying it again, because it’s still true: if you haven’t decided what to play or you’re thinking of trying something new I’m here to help by telling you to play a Barbarian.
No, that’s it. Play Barbarian.
Look, I’m not going to tell you to play any other class than that. I don’t even know what you were expecting. Play a Barbarian in Season 21.
Oh, all right, we can talk about other classes too
In Season 21, we’re getting a new Elemental Buff that’s going to change things up, and Season 21 will also provide Necromancers and Demon Hunters with new sets that change up their playstyles. If for some reason you decide you’d rather play a class that’s not a Barbarian — perhaps you don’t know what love is, or simply wish to cause yourself pain in an attempt to make up for past misdeeds — then Necros and Demon Hunters are definitely worth trying out.
So let’s take a look at the available options for you to run with in Season 21.
Classes for melee players
The melee-focused classes in Diablo 3 are Barbarian, Crusader, and Monk. Each of these has a different flavor to them.
- Barbarians are my soul mates and focus on brutal mass damage with huge splash attacks like Seismic Slam, Hammer of the Ancients, and Whirlwind.
- Crusaders use a big shield to block — and in some cases redirect — damage, with withering attacks like Bombardment and Heaven’s Fury that lay waste to an area.
- Monks are nearly the polar opposite of this, with high maneuverability that allows them to avoid damage that Barbarians simply absorb and Crusaders block or reflect. Attacks like Tempest Rush and Exploding Palm allow them to deal out damage while avoiding it themselves.
Essentially, if you’re looking for a melee class, these three have three variant approaches — wade in, take a beating to dole out one of your own for Barbarians, use a shield both to avoid damage and deal it out yourself while also smiting every fool in reach on the Crusader, or nimbly sidestep threats and use the enemies’ own numbers to destroy them on the Monk.
Classes for ranged players
First off, while these classes do have ranged attacks, they can use those attacks on things up close and personal to them, so don’t worry that you’ll get surrounded — each of these classes have options to bring the pain no matter where the enemy is.
Ranged players have more class options than meleers, with the Necromancer, Witch Doctor, Wizard, and Demon Hunter all focused on dealing damage from a distance.
- Wizards are the pure stuff. Magic Missile, Ray of Frost, Arcane Orb, Mirror Image, and Teleport are just some of the tricks Wizards have at their disposal. If you want to rain destruction without worrying about things like pets or minions, Wizards are the ranged class for you. Remember, your Season journey starts at level 1 with no gear or money so you won’t have to worry about optimization for quite some time.
- Demon Hunters can focus on traps, turrets, or pets to help them as they cartwheel around the battlefield, using Vault, Strafe, and Multishot to their advantage.
- Witch Doctors are a bit of a hybrid class, relying on summoned minions and curses to soften up their enemies. Then, they either use their magic to make their minions and curses stronger and whittle their crippled foes down, or they sometimes wade in to kill their debilitated enemies. If you want to use mindless Zombies as fodder and summon Gargantuan ones to fight, Sacrifice one and watch it explode, or even rain Firebats down on your foes, the Witch Doctor could be for you.
- Necromancer is a close cousin of the Witch Doctor. If you like the concept of using minions and debilitating your enemies, but not so much the specific aesthetic of the Witch Doctor, this may be your class. The Necromancer’s flavor is fairly different, with the Witch Doctor’s kit being more The Serpent and the Rainbow while the Necromancer is more straightforwardly Evil Dead, but if you like wielding a scythe while unleashing hosts of skeletons and causing your fallen enemies to explode, Necromancers are your jam.
And while all classes get a set from Haedrig’s Gift for working through the Season Journey, both Demon Hunters and Necromancers will get new sets this time around. If you’re interested in trying them out, we cover the bonuses here, but these are the basics:
- The Demon Hunter set, the Gears of Dreadlands, is built around the Momentum mechanic buffing general damage and Strafe causing you to use your last attack again for free while also reducing incoming damage by 60% while Strafing.
- The Necromancer gets Masquerade of Burning Carnival, a set built around Simulacrum that will prevent the Simulacrum from taking damage, give it the effect of all runes, and reduce damage you take with it up by 50%, plus buff Bone Spear damage as well.
Both of these sets open up whole new ways to play this classes, making them standout options if for some reason you’re not going to play a Barbarian.
How to level, play, and make the most of your newly-chosen class
Everyone’s equally squishy and underpowered at level 1. That’s why the game starts you off with a few shambling undead in Act 1 and gradually ramps up as you clear your way through the Cathedral. If you’re just getting started with Diablo, we have guides and info to help you out:
- Everything you need to know about patch 2.6.9
- Season 21 theme is all about explosive elemental energy
- Speed leveling 101
- Campaign Mode, Adventure Mode, and what you should be playing
- Everything you need to know about gear
- Everything else you need to know about gear (namely Legendaries)
- Getting started with Rifts
- How to run (and succeed!) in Challenge Rifts
- How Paragon levels power up your character past level 70
- Blizzard’s Diablo forums, which are full of great resources
- Builds from Diablofans to help you put together a killer character
- Icy Veins’ class guides for Barbarian, Crusader, Demon Hunter, Monk, Necromancer, Witch Doctor, and Wizard
Now that you’ve decided on a character…
Actually starting a Season character is easy. Once the Season starts, there’s an option on the character creation screen to choose between a normal and Seasonal character. Seasonal characters start off with nothing — they don’t have any Paragon levels, they don’t share any stash tabs with your other character: they’re completely cut off at level 1 with starter gear.
From there, you play the game as normal, just as you did the very first time you rolled a character in Diablo 3. All the content is available to you — all five acts and Adventure Mode — so you can level to 70 doing the story, running bounties, doing rifts, and greater rifts, or you can play with friends. Season play is basically a reset that makes leveling as challenging as if you had no higher level characters to funnel you gold, gems, and legendaries.
Hopefully this post helped you decide what class to play this Season — namely, Barbarian. If you leave a comment saying otherwise, I will put my fingers in my ears and go la la la I can’t hear you, which will be fairly useless as we’re communicating via text, plus I even recommended trying Necromancers and Demon Hunters in the Ranged section.
What can I say, I’m mercurial.
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