Baldur’s Gate 3 characters come in all shapes and sizes, but none embody raw power and primal fury quite like the Barbarian. Barbarians have become a popular choice for players seeking to roar and wreak havoc on their foes (in no particular order). However, choosing the right Barbarian subclasses can greatly impact your playstyle and effectiveness in the game.
So, as much as you hate to read as a bonafide boneheaded Barbarian, we’ll have to explore the three Barbarian subclasses available in Baldur’s Gate 3 to help you make an informed decision on which one suits your character the best. After this, you can roar all you want.
Barbarian Subclasses compared to the D&D tabletop
Unlike some classes in the game, Barbarians don’t select their subclass right away. Instead, Barbarians unlock their subclass at level three, presenting players with delayed gratification.
Moreover, one of the Barbarian subclasses was changed from the official Dungeons and Dragons 5e rulebook. “Path of the Totem Warrior” was replaced with “Wildheart,” which functions somewhat similarly. Note that there are only three subclasses as the expansion rulebooks for D&D 5e were omitted, likely because they’re too powerful.
Let’s delve into the details of each Barbarian subclass.
Berserker Barbarian – Too angry to die
If you’re yearning for unbridled fury and brute force, the Berserker Barbarian subclass is tailor-made for you. It’s the quintessential Barbarian experience: simple, brutal, and loud. By choosing this path, your Rage ability transforms into “Frenzy,” amplifying your resistance to damage and boosting your offensive capabilities.
With Frenzy, you gain access to two unique actions: “Frenzied Strike” and “Frenzied Throw,” allowing you to unleash devastating or improvised attacks and manipulate your environment during combat. You can now more effectively throw people around.
As you progress through higher levels, you’ll acquire additional benefits such as “Mindless Rage” at level six, which prevents you from being Charmed or Frightened, and “Intimidating Presence” at level ten, which instills Fear in a target.
The Berserker Barbarian excels at being a formidable tank and damage dealer, making it an ideal choice for those who revel in taking on hordes of enemies head-on. While it may not offer the same versatility as the Wildheart Barbarian, its raw power and easier gameplay should make it more appealing for newbies.
Wildheart Barbarian – You took ‘roaring’ too seriously
Wildheart Barbarians are in tune with nature, resembling Druids in their connection to the natural world of Faerun. Upon choosing this subclass, you immediately gain access to the “Speak with Animals” spell, a valuable ability that can assist in solving various puzzles and interactions throughout the game.
The defining feature of the Wildheart Barbarian is the “Bestial Heart,” which allows you to attune yourself to one of five animals: Bear, Eagle, Elk, Tiger, or Wolf. Each Bestial Heart grants you a unique bonus upon entering a Rage and provides an extra action.
Here’s a breakdown of the Bestial Hearts:
- Bear Heart: Grants bonus damage resistance (excluding psychic damage) and an action called “Unrelenting Ferocity” that can heal you for 3 to 10 HP.
- Wolf Heart: Gives allies an Advantage on Attack Rolls against enemies within 2 meters of you and an action called “Inciting Howl,” which allows nearby allies to move an extra 3 meters during their next turn.
- Eagle Heart: Allows you to use Dash as a bonus action and imposes a Disadvantage on Opportunity Attacks against you. It also provides the “Diving Strike” action, which lets you leap onto a foe without taking falling damage and knocks them prone.
- Elk Heart: Increases your movement speed by 4.5 meters and offers the “Primal Stampede” action, which allows you to charge forward, dealing 3 to 6 damage and potentially knocking enemies prone.
- Tiger Heart: Enhances your jump distance by 4.5 meters and provides the “Tiger’s Bloodlust” action, allowing you to attack up to three enemies and apply the Bleed effect.
Come level six, you gain access to “Animal Aspects,” with a total of ten to choose from, each granting a permanent buff. Here’s what each Animal Aspect offers:
- Bear: Doubled carrying capacity, Advantage on Strength Checks.
- Chimpanzee: Resistance to Falling damage, throwing camp supplies Blinds the target (basically a food fight).
- Crocodile: Movement on water-based surfaces is increased by 3m. On slippery surfaces, you gain an Advantage on Saving Throws against being knocked Prone.
- Eagle: You gain Darkvision up to 12m, Advantage on Perception Checks.
- Elk: Movement speed is increased by 1.5m for yourself and nearby allies.
- Honey Badger: 50 percent chance for a free Rage, if Poisoned, Frightened, or Charmed at the start of your turn.
- Stallion: Dashing action grants you temporary hit points equal to twice your level.
- Tiger: Doubled Strength Modifier on Attack Rolls against Bleeding or Poisoned targets, gain proficiency in Survival (this, along with the Tiger Heart, is our top pick for maximum damage).
- Wolf: You gain Proficiency in Stealth, you and nearby allies add your Dexterity modifier as a bonus to Stealth Checks.
- Wolverine: Attacks on Bleeding or Poisoned targets Maim them (can’t move, Disadvantage on DEX Saves) for one turn.
The Wildheart Barbarian’s versatility and access to various animal-themed abilities make it a top choice for those looking to explore diverse playstyles and enjoy the role-playing opportunities that come with it.
Once you’ve grasped the intricacies of the Barbarian playstyle and are looking for a more intermediate experience with the class, Wildheart is recommended over Berserker.
Wild Magic Barbarian – You ate a spellbook to ‘digest’ it better
Anyone who seeks an element of unpredictability and randomness in their Barbarian gameplay will find the Wild Magic Barbarian quite ecstatic.
This subclass offers a unique and chaotic experience. When you enter Rage mode as a Wild Magic Barbarian, you also unleash a random spell, which can lead to both favorable and unpredictable outcomes both for you, your enemies, and your allies.
As you progress, you gain “Bolstering Magic: Boon” spell slots at levels six and nine, allowing you to grant yourself or allies an additional 1d4 bonus to their Attack Rolls and ability checks. At level ten, the “Unstable Backlash” ability triggers another Wild Magic effect when you take damage or fail a saving throw.
While the Wild Magic Barbarian may not be the most strategic choice, it injects an element of spontaneity and surprise into your adventures, making it an excellent option for those who prioritize entertainment value over optimization. Moreover, it’s the closest to a support role that the Barbarian will assume.
You can always re-spec later
Whether you choose to commune with animals, unleash your inner fury, or embrace the chaos of wild magic, each Barbarian subclass has its unique charm and appeal. So, take your time, consider your character’s personality, and embark on your journey through Baldur’s Gate 3 with Barbarian subclasses that resonate with you the most.
Experiment a bit and see whether you’re the caveman, the sabertooth he’s fighting, or the shaman laughing at both of them. You can always re-spec at Withers for a small fee anyway.