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Diablo > Diablo 4May 30, 2023 11:50 am CT

How to use Weapon Expertise and the Arsenal System for Barbarians in Diablo 4

Barbarians in Diablo 4 are the game’s only pure melee class. Other classes can melee, of course — indeed, pretty much everyone can get in there and scrap — but Barbarians are the only class fully specializes hitting things. A group of monsters are hitting you with arrows? Run over and hit them, or jump and land on them. Surrounded by skeletons on all sides? Stomp on the ground so hard that it causes a small explosion, or hit the ground with your mace and spray them all with rocks, or just start spinning and hit them with whatever you have in your hands at the time.

That’s mirrored in the Barbarian’s unique class features: Weapon Expertise and the Arsenal System. Let’s talk about how these two Barbarian features work together.

Weapon Expertise boosts your power with all weapons

The Barbarian’s purity of purpose is distilled in the Weapon Expertise system. At level 5, Barbarians begin learning Weapon Techniques based on the weapon they’re currently using, progressing through ranks as you use each weapon type. Each Weapon Technique applies a specific buff to specific weapon types — improving as you reach higher ranks, up to rank 10 — that are automatically applied when you use that weapon. Once you reach rank 10 in a specific Weapon Technique, you also unlock a special bonus ability for that Technique for even more weapon buffs.

To level your Weapon Techniques, you don’t have to do anything different: just hit things. Seriously. Equip the type of weapon you want to rank up, use an ability that uses that weapon, and you’ll gain rank in that weapon. As an example, if you are using Frenzy as your Basic skill and Upheaval as your Core skill, simply hitting the Frenzy button will level both of your 1h weapons and hitting Upheaval will level your 2h mace.

For some weapons you can go into the Abilities tab and choose which weapon to use with that ability, giving you a little more control over which weapons you’re leveling. By default, Diablo 4 will choose the most powerful weapon you have equipped that’s suitable for the ability you’re using. For example, Frenzy requires dual wielding, so whatever you have equipped is what you use. But Whirlwind can use any Arsenal weapon, which means it will normally just pick the most powerful weapon you have equipped. If you’re deliberately trying to level that 2h axe even though your 2h mace is a higher item power, you can mouse over the Whirlwind ability and choose to always use the 2h axe with this attack.

Barbarian Weapon Techniques in Diablo 4

  • One-Handed Melee Weapons: If you dual wield two of the same weapon, your rank bonus is doubled, and your special rank 10 ability is also doubled when using two of the same weapon. If you use two different weapons, you get the bonus of both instead.
    • Axes: Increased critical hit chance against wounded enemies (i.e.below 35% HP)
      • Rank 10: +5% crit, Lucky Hit: critical hits have up to a 55% chance to grant +6% attack speed for two seconds.
    • Maces: Increased damage versus stunned enemies.
      • +10% damage at rank 10, Lucky Hit; up to a 10% chance to gain Berserking for 1.5 seconds when you hit a stunned enemy.
    • Swords: Lucky Hit: Chance to gain extra Fury when you hit a crowd-controlled enemy.
      • 10% chance to gain extra Fury, +15% attack speed for three seconds when you kill a crowd-controlled enemy.
  • Two-Handed Melee Weapons: Since you can only use one of these at a time, there is no doubling if using two of them. However, since you will always have a Two Handed Mace equipped, it is often the easiest Weapon Technique to get to Rank 10.
    • Axes: Increased damage dealt against vulnerable enemies (i.e. take +20% increased damage).
      • Rank 10: +15% damage to vulnerable enemies, +10% increased crit chance against vulnerable enemies.
    • Polearms: Gain increased Lucky Hit chance.
      • Rank 10: +10% Lucky Hit chance, +10% increased damage while healthy (i.e. above 80% health)
    • Swords: A percentage of the direct damage you deal is applied as Bleeding damage.
      • Rank 10: 20% Bleeding damage, +30% increased Bleeding damage for five seconds after you kill an enemy.
    • Maces: Lucky Hit: You have a chance to gain +2 Fury whenever you hit an enemy. When Berserking, it increases to 4 additional Fury.
      • Rank 10: +10% chance for additional Fury, gain 15% increased critical damage against stunned and vulnerable enemies while Berserking.

Equipping additional Weapon Techniques with the Arsenal System

So far this is a fairly simple system: you hit things with weapons, which lets you get better at using weapons you can hit other things. The variety of bonuses is nice, but the baseline Expertise system isn’t very interactive, because it’s determined by the weapons you have on hand.

But starting at level 15, Barbarians unlock the Arsenal System via the quest Barbarian: Masters of Battle. This quest sends you to the Dry Steppes to meet with the Ox Clan of Barbarians and learn their ways. It’s a relatively straightforward quest chain — you go and kill creatures of ascending difficulty, then kill a monster that’s been eating Ox Clan Barbarians, after which you get a nice hat and you unlock an Arsenal Technique slot. This lets you choose one of your Weapon Techniques that will always be enabled, no matter what weapons you have equipped. So if you like the 1h sword technique, but have two axes equipped? You can just apply 1h sword to your Technique slot, and always have the extra fury and attack speed bonuses even though you’re not using a sword.

No matter what you’re doing, you should take the time to unlock Weapon Expertise as soon as possible: just drop what you’re doing and head to the Dry Steppes. Unlocking that Arsenal Technique slot is a sizable buff while leveling, and it will likely come into play even more in the late game as you hone in on very specific builds and playstyles that these Techniquescan  support.

You now have access to a lot of ways to kill things, and Sanctuary has a lot of things that need killing. Get out there and hit everything you can.

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