Which Diablo 3 class should you play in Season 26? The new Season is live, so it’s time to make a decision
Hi. I’m Matthew Rossi. You may remember me from such posts as What class should I play in Diablo 3 Season X, where I spent a lot of words trying to convince you that I was an objective voice while simultaneously cheerleading for the Barbarian class so hard that they made the Barbarian in Diablo Immortal look just like me. Rather than attempt that act of brazen chicanery again, I will simply admit up front that I love Barbariuans in the Diablo series.
They were the best class in Diablo 2 and are also the best class in Diablo 2: Resurrected. This is not a statement with even a shred of objectivity in it, because I am completely unable to be objective about this. I loved Barbarians in D2, and I have loved them in D3, and when I played Diablo Immortal and Diablo 4 at BlizzCon I loved them in those games, too. There are other classes in Diablo 3 that I enjoy playing, such as the Crusader, the Monk, and occasionally the Necromancer if I’m in the mood, but when you come right down to it, there’s no experience in the entire game series I enjoy as much as leaping headlong into a crowd of demons and exploding them all with frenzied strikes while calling down my ancient ancestors to rain destruction upon them.
This is an entirely subjective opinion, but it is an honest one, and it’s one that has stood the test of time. I am nothing if I am not loyal, and the Barbarian is the class I will always tell you that you should play in any Season of Diablo 3. And this Season? With the Echoing Nightmare upon us, and a frantic battle against waves and waves of monsters in the manifest nightmares of the defeated Nephalem of the past waiting to be waged?
Come on. That practically screams Play a Barbarian in Diablo 3 Season 26.
Everything that’s happening in Season 26
Diablo 3 Season 26 is the first time we’ve gotten an outright new gameplay mode with the Echoing Nightmare. The Season is called The Fall of the Nephalem, which certainly doesn’t sound good for our heroes, the first Nephalem to be born on Sanctuary since the Sin War. Indeed, the whole concept of the Echoing Nightmare is roughly ‘Greater Rifts on Steroids’ as the difficulty ramps up the longer you play and the more monsters you defeat, and you can increase the difficulty more quickly by putting down monsters faster.
In order to open an Echoing Nightmare — literally allowing your characters to access a realm composed of the last agonized moments of ancient Nephalem who failed to defeat the horrors of the Nephalem Rifts — you have to attain a Petrified Scream, which only can be done on a Seasonal character. These drop in Greater Rifts. Take the Petrified Scream and transmute it in Kanai’s Cube, and the portal to the Echoing Nightmare will be opened.
Once there, fight. You must battle wave upon wave of foes, fighting until you are either defeated or overwhelmed by the sheer press of numbers. Then you go back to Sanctuary and start the process all over again, because this is Diablo and we haven’t got even a shred of common sense. That’s right, ancient dead Nephalem, we go into the nightmarish, agonized memory of your last moments dying in the trials of the Nephalem for fun.
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 melee, 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.
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:
- The Echoing Nightmare of Season 26
- How to run the Echoing Nightmare
- Greater Rift changes in patch 2.7.3
- Speed leveling 101
- How to make the most of Diablo 3’s Follower changes
- 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.
Whatever class you choose (pick a Barbarian) it’ll be fun this Season.
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