Which Diablo 3 class should you play in Season 30?
The next Season of Diablo 3 approaches and the Lords of Hell return for Diablo 3 Season 30, starting on January 12. So what class will you play in Diablo 3 Season 30 to stop them? Barbarian. Choose Barbarian. They are the best class ever and you’ll be so cool if you do.
Diablo 3 isn’t going anywhere and there will be more remixed Seasons for us all to play in the future, but with the end of Season 29 and the start of Season 30, we’re once again given the opportunity to start Diablo 3 over again with a fresh slate. With that opportunity comes almost zero responsibility, because you can choose any class you want and switch to a different one if you don’t like how they’re playing. So, if you make the mistake of choosing a non Barbarian class? You can always change your mind and start a new Barbarian later.
Season 30, in addition to returning the Lords of Hell theme from Season 25, also brings back the Altar of Rites from Season 28 and the Visions of Enmity from Season 29, now permanent fixtures of the game. Between the meta-abilities of the various Lords of Hell legendary gems and the powers granted by the Altar of Rites, you’ll have some contemplation as to which class you really want to play. Like, say, Barbarians.
Season 30 and the Shards of Evil
The Season Theme is the Lords of Hell soul shards, which we last saw in Season 25. To give you a basic beginning understanding of the Season, there are three new Shards that act as Legendary gems you can socket into your helm — one for each of the Greater Evils Ba’al, Mephisto, and Diablo. Then, there are another four Shards you can socket into your weapon, one for Azmodan, Belial, Duriel, and Andariel. None of these Soul Shards has a particular class bias, so they don’t affect your choice of class to play in Season 30, although you can certainly farm for ones that complement your chosen class’ core strengths.
Psst. Play Barbarian. You know you want to.
Since this is a returning power, we already have an in depth look at the Soul Shards from their appearance in Season 25. To sum up the basics, the Prime Evil Soul Shards have the following ranks that you can increase as you play through the Season:
- Rank 0: A unique power based on the Shard type
- Rank 1: Attribute augments to % Life, cooldown reduction, resource cost reduction, % extra gold from monsters, or % experience
- Rank 2: Primary attribute augments a single stat such as Strength, Intelligence, Dexterity, Vitality, All Resistances, or % reduced damage from ranged attacks
- Rank 3: A second unique power pulled from a pool of three available for each Shard
For the Soul Shards of the four Lesser Evils, things are slightly different.
- Rank 0: A unique power based on the Shard type
- Rank 1: Attribute augments to damage, % critical hit damage, % increased damage vs. elites, life per hit, or thorns damage
- Rank 2: Attribute augments to single damage type stat — Cold, Fire, Lightning, Poison, or Physical
- Rank 3: A second unique power pulled from a pool of three available for each Shard
The baseline power from each Soul Shard allows you to customize, with one of three from the Greater Evils in your helm and one of four options in your weapon. No, Barbarians, you can’t socket two of the weapon shards when dual wielding weapons. What are the powers you can mix and match?
- Baal’s Fragment of Destruction: You move unhindered through enemies. Each enemy you pass through will be marked by destruction for 7 seconds. Each marked enemy that dies removes 1 second from one of your skills on cooldown. If the Mark of Destruction expires before the enemy dies, you lose 2% of your maximum health as damage. Marks are not applied if you are below 35% health.
- Mephisto’s Shard of Hatred: You deal 15% reduced damage while you have 3 or fewer enemies within 25 yards. If more than 3 enemies are within the same distance, you deal 10% increased damage per enemy.
- Diablo’s Sliver of Terror: Your cooldowns are increased by 25%. For every skill on cooldown, you take 12.5% reduced damage and deal 75% increased damage.
- Andariel’s Essence of Anguish: Every time you deal poison damage to an enemy you increase your cooldown reduction, movement speed, and damage received by 5% for 10 seconds. Max 10 stacks.
- Azmodan’s Stain of Sin: You deal 25% less damage. When you kill an Elite enemy, you spawn a pool of blood that increases the damage non-elite enemies receive by 250% and lasts 7 seconds.
- Belial’s Dregs of Lies: Reduce the damage of enemies hit by 33% for 5 seconds. Damage you deal is reduced by 50%.
- Duriel’s Remnant of Pain: Your Critical Hit Chance is reduced by 15%. Attacks against incapacitated enemies are automatically critical hits.
You’ll notice some give and take for these powers, making it important for you to consider which of the Shards you want and how your class of choice can potentially overcome the limitations while capitalizing on the new powers granted by them. For just one example, a Barbarian character with the proper talent specialization could use their Whirlwind to pull nearby mobs into close range, making Mephisto’s Shard of Hatred a very attractive option for them.
Soul Shards are a farmable drop and can be upgraded using the Hellforged Embers that drop as well. While the main power of each Shard is always the same, the rest of the powers granted by increasing the Rank of your Soul Shard are random, meaning that you might have to keep farming for a while in order to find a combination of powers that suits your class and build. As another example, a Demon Hunter with the proper abilities could make excellent use of the Diablo’s Sliver of Terror and Andariel’s Essence of Anguish combination, with the Sliver of Terror counteracting the Essence of Anguish’s extra damage on you while the Essence of Anguish reduces your cooldowns so that you can use them more often, creating a feedback loop that keeps you buffed with the Sliver of Terror’s damage reduction as you trigger your cooldowns again and again.
But play a Barbarian instead.
The Altar of Rites
It’s pretty safe to say that your new Barbarian (okay, really any class like say Crusader or Monk or Witch Doctor or Wizard or Necromancer or Demon Hunter, if those are your jam) will already have a fair amount of decisions to make in terms of those Soul Shards and their give and take powers. But let’s not forget the Altar of Rites, returning to Diablo 3 for the first time since Season 28.
I think it’s fair to say that the Altar of Rites adds a kind of capstone meta-talent system to the game that adds a fair amount of complexity to Diablo 3. We cover the Altar with a lot of detail here and here, but for the purpose of which class you should play in Season 30 — and beyond, really, as it’s a permanent addition to the game — I would argue that it doesn’t really affect your choice of class too much, Each class gets access to the special abilities granted by the Altar of Rites and you can progress the Altar in any of them. You find the Altar just outside of Sanctuary on your way into the game, so it’s not even hard to get started. It can be very expensive, in terms of both time and resources, but that’s as the game progresses. The first five or so choices aren’t too dear for anyone.
So I am here again asking you to choose Barbarian as they are the best class, or at least the best class if you like screaming, leaping around, spinning and smashing things. And really, don’t we all?
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:
- A guide to Soul Shards in Diablo 3
- The Altar of Rites returns for Season 30
- How to run the Echoing Nightmare (Now a permanent feature in Diablo 3)
- Greater Rifts
- Speed leveling 101
- How to make the most of Diablo 3’s Followers
- 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.
So, after all that, what class do I recommend for Season 30? Well, I’m personally going to start off on a Barbarian, with Crusader, Monk and Wizard as my picks for alts, and Wizard definitely leading the pack. But that’s just me. The way Diablo 3 works, you can succeed on just about any class once you have the proper gear and spec sorted out, so take a gander at all those powers and decide which one sound like the most fun to you.
Psst. It’s Barbarian. Yelling and thrashing and spinning and smashing. It’s the best choice for the inner Tasmanian Devil in us all.
Originally published June 14, 2018. Updated August 31, 2022.
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