Diablo 3 Barbarian Passive Skills

In this Diablo 3 Barbarian Passive Skills list, we will be going over all 15 passive skills the D3 Barbarian has access to, including what they do and when they are unlocked. You will then find a discussion on which passives are the best to pick up for your Barbarian.


What Are Diablo 3 Barbarian Passive Skills?

Passive skills are traits which are active all the time. Once equipped, you do not need to use them and they do not take up space on your skill bar.

There are 15 total Diablo 3 Barbarian passive skills available but you can only equip 3 at a max. You unlock your first slot at level 10, your second at level 20, and your third at level 30.

Diablo 3 Barbarian Passive Skills List

Here are the 15 passive skills available to players:

  • Pound of Flesh. Unlocked at level 10. Increases your chance of finding a health globe by 25% and increases your health gained from health globes by 100%. Not very good in my opinion – stick to Abilities to regenerate health like Revenge if health is a problem for you.
  • Ruthless. Unlocked at level 10. Increases your critical strike rate by 5% and increases the bonus damage you deal from critically striking by 10%. Excellent passive, increases your baseline DPS by about 8% when you first unlock it and can increases it more and more as your critical hit rate goes off. If you get a lot of bonus damage to crits, it does lose some value.
  • Nerves of Steel. Unlocked at level 13. Your armor is increased by 100% of your Vitality. Good for group play when you are going 1 hand and shield or even in PvP for a tank style build.
  • Weapons Master. Unlocked at level 16. Excellent trait for boosting your damage. More powerful for Swords, Maces, Daggers, and Axes. Less powerful for Polearms, Spears, and Mighty Weapons.
  • Berserker Rage. Unlocked at level 20. You inflict an additional 25% damage while at maximum Fury. Can be used as part of a single-target build which relies on Frenzy, Revenge, and other non-spammable abilities to generate Fury.
  • Inspiring Presence. Unlocked at level 20. Doubles the duration of your shouts and you regenerate 1% of your maximum life per second while Shouts are active. Would rather see you use Unforgiving if buffing with Shouts is your concern.
  • Bloodthirst. Unlocked at level 24. Gain 3% of all damage done as life. Definitely not worth picking up when there are other Barbarian passive skills which increase your raw DPS by 10%. You can get 3% damage dealt as life from gear much easier than you can get that much boost to your raw DPS.
  • Animosity. Unlocked at level 27. Increases Fury generation by 10% and maximum Fury is increased by 20. Would rather have the damage bonuses as you will get much more damage from your Fury that way.
  • Superstition. Unlocked at level 30. Good passive skill to use against any heavy casting-oriented bosses you otherwise are having trouble with as well as a standard skill for tank builds used for group play.
  • Tough as Nails. Unlocked at level 30. Increases armor by 25% and increases Thorns damage dealt by 50%. Works best if you have a shield since Shields have such a high armor rating. Thorns seem to have been nerfed the last part of beta so I no longer thing a thorns skill is worth it, but could be wrong if the right gear is out there.
  • No Escape. Unlocked at level 35. Increases the damage dealt by Ancient Spear and Weapon Throw by 10%. Critical hits reset the cooldown of Ancient Spear and critical hits with Weapon Throw refund 14 Fury. Too weak to mess with, 10% enhanced damage is worthless on 1 ability when you can pick up that much from Ruthlessness and the latter affects every ability.
  • Relentless. Unlocked at level 40. While below 20% Life, all skills cost no Fury and all damage taken is reduced by 50%. I would really like to see this boosted up to 30% Life, when you only have 20% of Health left you are not going to be living much longer the way enemies deal damage. Perhaps useful for Hardcore players or in PvP since death means you no longer get to play, but not strong enough for me to use regularly for regular game modes and of course for tanking builds.
  • Brawler. Unlocked at level 45. As long as there are 3 enemies within 8 yards, all of your damage is increased by 30%. You spend a lot of time with 3 enemies within 8 yards in Diablo 3 and that is a massive damage boost. Very good talent for clearing regular enemies. The only downside is that it is not really active during bosses.
  • Juggernaut. Unlocked at level 50. The duration of control impairing effects on you are reduced by 20%. In addition, whenever a Stun, Fear, Immobilize or Charm is cast on you, you have a chance to recover 15% of maximum life. This is a PvP passive skill. I think that 20% reduction is a little cheap and it would be much more in-line with other abilities at 30%. It really comes down to the proc rate for the heal – if it procs above 30% it is worth it for PvP, if the proc rate is less its not really worth grabbing.
  • Unforgiving. Unlocked at level 55. You no longer degenerate Fury. Instead, you gain 1 Fury every 2 seconds. This looks really good on paper, but consider the Fury generation bonuses to be very small. The real difference is you start fights with a full Fury. The best use for a full Fury pool is to be able to buff your teammates with Shouts before engaging a tough boss and perhaps being able to use one of your Rage skills immediately against tough opponents. Then again, you can always grab Ancient Spear with the 30 Fury Rune and Leap with the 30 Fury Rune and be at near full Fury anyway at the start of a fight.
  • Boon of Bul-Kathos. Unlocked at level 60. The cooldown on Earthquake, Call of the Ancients, and Wrath of the Berserker is reduced by 30 seconds. If you use Wrath of the Berserker, this increases the maximal possible uptime of Wrath of the Berserker from 15 seconds every 120 seconds (12.5% uptime) to 15 seconds every 90 seconds (16.67% uptime). If we figure you are using the damage rune on Wrath of the Berserker, using that skill would be an easy 130-140% damage increase for that time. Multiplying it by 12.5% means an overall increase in damage of 16.25%-17.5% whereas multiplying that by 16.67% means an average increase in damage of 21.67%-23.38%, or about a 5-6% increase in damage. This does not even include the fact that the damage-boosting passive skills will boost the damage of your Rage abilities. Boon of Bul-Kathos is not worth it over other damage-increasing abilities, even for those Rage abilities.


Best Diablo 3 Barbarian Passive Skills

For offensive oriented Barbarians, it is hard to choose anything other than Ruthless and Weapon Master for your first two slots. These represent huge damage increases across the board, and you really cannot argue for any other passive skill as other traits do not increase your damage nearly as much as these first two.

The real discussion then becomes whether or not to pick up Berserker Rage or Brawler. Berserker Rage deals 25% additional damage when your Fury bar is full. If you have not played a Barbarian much, you know that with 25% enhanced damage, you can use nothing but Frenzy and abilities which cost no Fury along with an occasional but powerful Fury spender like Wrath of the Berserker and deal huge damage to single targets.

On the other hand, Brawler is like the opposite of Berserker Rage. Brawler does massive damage against packs of enemies as it boosts your damage by a massive 30% when multiple enemies are around and lets you spend your Fury. Berserker Rage is not useful when clearing random packs as you will be wanting to spend your Fury and you spend a lot of time without Fury when clearing to a boss. Brawler does have the disadvantage of not being useful against bosses since these are usually 1v1 fights.

So you have Brawler which is good at clearing weak enemies and Berserker Rage which is good at taking out bosses. Both are very good at these tasks. If you do not want to switch your passive skills depending on the encounter, I think you have to side with Brawler, as you simply will end up spending more time clearing random enemies than you will attacking bosses.


Defensive Barbarians or Group Play

Of course, if you are playing with a group and using a sword and shield and have been tasked with soaking up damage by your party members (this works best in arranged groups, not pick ups), you can consider picking up Nerves of Steel, Tough as Nails, and Superstition.

Once you reach a higher level, I would toss out Nerves of Steel/Tough as Nails (depending on which one offers you the least extra armor, most likely Tough as Nails) in order to pick up Unforgiving or Inspiring Presence. Starting tough encounters with a full Fury pool lets you buff yourself and your teammates with your Shouts before you start. Shouts are very powerful buffs and provide much more than the few % of extra mitigation you get from Nerves of Steel.

Diablo 3 Barbarian Passive Skills List

The Barbarian has a high-quality problem – no matter what build you go with, there enough great D3 Barbarian passive skills that you have to think hard and really analyze the skills in order to pick the best one for your build.

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