Welcome to the Whirlwind Barbarian Leveling Guide! This is a staple from the Diablo franchise and is an amazing leveling build for Barbarians. When played correctly you can gather and kill groups of monsters and rapidly move on. Fury generation is a consideration early on, but once that's solved this build can clear anything in the game.
To support Whirlwind we take a lot of the standard tools for leveling. Lunging Strike is our generator because it gives us an infinite dash. Then we load up on 2 shouts: Rallying Cry for Fury generation and movement, and War Cry for Berserking and extra damage. The final skill we take is Leap which gives us a tremendous mobility boost and generates resources. This kit makes leveling smooth and enjoyable.
This guide takes you all the way through the campaign to Level 50 so you can blast the endgame. Let's get started!
Iconic Spin to Win ✔
Decent Area Damage ✔
Beginner Friendly Playstyle ✔
❌ Weak Single Target
❌ Requires Aspects to Work
❌ Difficult Fury Management
Season 2 - Season of Blood
Diablo 4 Season 2 introduces a new questline to hunt down the Shadow Vampire forces of Lord Zir across Sanctuary. With Lilith's blood still residing within our bodies, the infliction put upon us is harnessed throughout our leveling, granting access to new Vampiric Powers. Completing the seasonal questline, partaking in the seasonal Blood Harvest event and collecting Potent Blood are the main ways of obtaining and empowering these abilities. Check out the full Season 2 Guide from Chewingnom to learn more!
- There are 22 Vampiric Powers, separated into 2 different types:
- 15 Minor Vampiric Powers - Require 1 to 3 Pacts to be activated.
- 7 Major Vampiric Powers - Require 6 Pacts to be activated.
- There are 3 different types of Pacts:
- Ferocity Pact have a Crown icon.
- Divinity Pacts have a Chalice icon.
- Eternity Pacts have a Skull icon.
- Pacts can roll only on Armor pieces (Helm, Chest Armor, Gloves, Pants, Boots).
- Helms & Boots can have up to 3 Pacts, Pants can have up to 4, Chest & Gloves can have up to 5. This gives you 20 Pacts max!
- You can use Cleansing Acid - All to remove all Pacts from a piece of Armor and place new Standalone Pacts to meet your Powers requirements to activate. Cleansing Acid can be altered at the Alchemists to target 1 of the 3 Pacts only.
- Once you have equipped the right Pact Armor pieces, you can activate Vampiric Powers in the Sanguine Circle through the character screen. Powers require varying amounts of different types of Pacts, pay attention.
- You can use Potent Blood acquired from Blood Seekers to upgrade your Vampiric Powers from Level 1 to Level 3.
With this in mind, let's look at the top 5 best Vampiric Powers and how they impact this build:
Best-in-Slot Vampiric Powers
- Hemomancy (Minor) - Adds AoE damage, and a source of healing based off of your Maximum Life.
- Bathe in Blood (Major) - Provides a huge damage bonus for Whirlwind while you stay in the pool.
- Sanguine Brace (Minor) - This power allows us to easily maintain Fortify which gives us a damage bonus with Counteroffensive .
- Prey on the Weak (Minor) - Allows you to inflict Vulnerable when you apply Vampiric Curse to them.
- Metamorphosis (Major) - Empowers your Evade granting Unstoppable, dealing damage, and inflicting Vampiric Curse.
Most Vampiric Powers can be purchased with Potent Blood, which is acquired by participating in the Blood Harvest event in the overworld. A few powerful abilities, including Metamorphosis , are rewards for completing quests in the seasonal quest line. Getting Metamorphosis requires finishing the last quest in the seasonal quest line, but it's well worth the trouble. Note that one of the best Vampiric Powers for leveling, Hemomancy, is not automatically cast while channeling Whirlwind, so it will be necessary to interrupt channeling every 4 seconds to deal optimal AOE damage.
Skill Tree & Gameplay
To start off we have to put 2 points into Basic Skills to unlock the Core Skill section. Lunging Strike is easily the best choice because it doubles as a mobility skill with infinite dashes. This also increases our damage and Fury generation on mobile Bosses.
Point 1: Lunging Strike
Point 2: Enhanced Lunging Strike
Whirlwind is the centerpiece of this build. It is a close ranged attack that spins around you. We then take Enhanced Whirlwind which we are in dire need of to assist with Fury management. We also take one additional rank of Whirlwind to increase its damage by 10%.
Point 3: Whirlwind
Point 4: Enhanced Whirlwind
Point 5: Violent Whirlwind
Point 6: Whirlwind
Adding Mobility & Fury Generation
Our quality of life increases as we pick up our shouts. Rallying Cry is incredible because it gives us Fury generation and Movement Speed. War Cry gives us a nice damage boost and the invaluable Berserking buff for 25% Damage and 15% Movement Speed from Enhanced War Cry.
We grab Leap to increase our movement, jump over terrain, and to generate Fury from Power Leap. Make sure you land on an enemy or you don't get the Fury! If you are almost out of fury, use Rallying Cry before leaping onto enemies to gain almost 100 fury.
We also pump up our damage by maxing Whirlwind.
Point 7: Rallying Cry
Point 8: Enhanced Rallying Cry
Point 9: Tactical Rallying Cry
Points 10-12: Whirlwind
Point 13: War Cry
Point 14: Enhanced War Cry
Level 15: Place 2H Swords in your Technique Slot to apply Bleeds.
Point 15: Power War Cry
Point 16: Leap
Point 17: Enhanced Leap
Point 18: Power Leap
Passives and Wrath of the Berserker
Now we head toward our ultimate: Wrath of the Berserker. This provides additional movement speed, fury generation, and a huge damage boost that solves this build's only weakness: low single-target damage. Tough Elites melt in seconds when you activate this ultimate ability.
We grab a few more passives that give us additional movement speed and fury generation. Swiftness gives us more much-needed movement speed and Prolific Fury boosts our Fury generation while Berserking.
Points 19-21: Swiftness
Point 22: Aggressive Resistance
Point 23: Prolific Fury
Point 24: Wrath of the Berserker
Point 25: Prime Wrath of the Berserker
Point 26: Supreme Wrath of the Berserker
Key Passive: Unbridled Rage
Unbridled Rage is a game changer - it more than doubles our Whirlwind damage, but also doubles its Fury cost. This makes the gameplay feel significantly different, and takes some getting used to, but it's not a bad thing. Rather than spinning for 5 seconds dealing okay damage, we can dump our fury into Whirlwind and spin for 2 or 3 seconds and slaughter everything around us.
However, many players feel that getting Unbridled Rage this early in the game makes Whirlwind feel awkward. You may opt to get Unconstrained instead of Unbridled Rage during the leveling process. However, bear in mind that it is recommended to switch to Unbridled Rage in endgame content once you get enough Resource Generation bonuses to support the higher Fury per second cost.
We need to spend 6 points to unlock the Key Passive, so we'll put points into Prolific Fury and Counteroffensive to increase our fury generation and damage output.
We also get Battle Lunging Strike at this point since we'll be using our basic attack more frequently.
Points 27-28: Prolific Fury
Point 29: Thick Skin
Points 30-32: Counteroffensive
Point 33: Battle Lunging Strike
Point 34: Unbridled Rage
Improving Lunge and Leap
To further improve our fury generation and movement speed, we will take Battle Fervor which enables Leap to grant us Berserking. We will also get additional ranks in Leap to reduce its cooldown and increase its damage. Since we're using Lunging Strike more frequently, it makes sense to increase its power. Finally, we'll get Booming Voice to increase the duration of Rallying Cry and War Cry.
Point 35-37: Battle Fervor
Point 38-41: Leap
Points 42-45: Lunging Strike
Point 46-48: Booming Voice
After gathering all Renown in Diablo 4 you have 10 extra Skill Points to spend on every character. Your first priority is to spend them toward the leveling progression we've shown above. Once you've reached the end, put them into these remaining passive skills to further increase your damage. The Wallop skill is recommended here for players using Bludgeoning weapons - however you should be using the highest item level weapon(s) that you have. If you're not using a Bludgeoning weapon, take Imposing Presence instead of Wallop.
Points 49-51: Pit Fighter
Points 52-54: Slaying Strike
Points 55-57: Wallop
Point 58: Aggressive Resistance
Once you start collecting gear with Fury Cost Reduction and Resource Generation affixes, as well as Bold Chieftain's Aspect and Aspect of Echoing Fury, your build is ready to transition to the Whirlwind Barbarian Endgame Build Guide.
Check out our Renown Guide to unlock all your additional rewards efficiently.
Barbarian Arsenal System
The Arsenal System allows Barbarians to use a specific weapon for every attack skill, each granting different Bonuses. The Technique Slot grants us 1 additional Arsenal Power of our choosing for every attack. The logic here is to use our 2 most powerful weapon bonuses to crush our enemies!
Unlocking the Arsenal System
The Arsenal System automatically unlocks when you reach Level 5. Opening the Expertise tab (Shift + C) shows all the different weapon types and their bonuses when using them. The Technique Slot unlocks at Level 15 via the Masters of Battle quest in the Dry Steppes which is very easy to complete. Simply walk northeast of town, kill some enemies, then walk west to a cave to slay the beast. After returning to town the Technique Slot will be yours!
Until we get Metamorphosis we will take the Two-Handed Sword technique because this makes every attack apply a Bleed. However, once we can make our enemies Vulnerable, Two-Handed Axe technique will increase our damage more than Two-Handed Sword technique.
Learn more details in our full Barbarian Arsenal System Guide.
Gear Progression & Global Stat Priorities
Leveling up in Diablo 4 is similar to most other ARPGs and MMOs - we're at the mercy of what drops. For the most part this means replacing Rares with better Rares all the way up to 50. If you're lucky enough to find some Legendaries or Uniques they can provide a significant power boost (discussed in the next sections). Assuming you don't find any of those, let's look at some key stats to look for along the way:
Hint: Press SHIFT over an item to compare it to what you're wearing!
Since Whirlwind can utilize any type of weapons, you always want to be on the lookout for the highest item level (and therefore highest base DPS) weapons that you can find.
Only upgrade the weapon you're using for Whirlwind at the Blacksmith and socket them with Emeralds.
Armor pieces typically grant us Defense and Utility stats, except the Gloves which offer a tidal wave of Offense. Here are the important stats to look for:
- Helm: Cooldown Reduction, Skill Ranks, Strength.
- Armor: Life, Strength, Armor.
- Gloves: + to Whirlwind, Critical Strike Chance.
- Pants: Life, Strength.
- Boots: Movement Speed, Strength.
Jewelry provides powerful Offensive stats that help us on our leveling journey. Pay close attention to the rolls as higher leveled pieces aren't always better:
- Amulet: Defensive Skill Ranks, Fury Cost Reduction, Damage, Movement Speed.
- Rings: Damage to Close Enemies, Physical Damage, Damage While Berserking.
Do not upgrade Armor or Jewelry while leveling. Socket Armor with Rubies and Jewelry with Diamonds!
Codex of Power
The Codex of Power is a collection of Legendary Aspects you can imprint onto Rare or Legendary items at the Occultist. They unlock after completing specific Dungeons located around Sanctuary. For leveling there are a few powers that can significantly help us if we have the funds to imprint them:
Top 3 Codex Leveling Powers in Order:
|1. Offensive Aspect of the Dire Whirlwind||Garan Hold|
|2. Offensive Aspect of the Expectant||Underroot|
|3. Edgemaster’s Offensive Aspect||Oldstones|
Warning: DO NOT imprint your Weapons as they are constantly replaced while leveling. Put Offensive Aspects on your Amulet, Rings, or Gloves instead.
Learn more details in our article covering the Codex of Power.
Helpful Legendary Powers
If you're lucky enough to find a Legendary while leveling, chances are it'll be an upgrade for you and you should equip it immediately. However, they are not all created equal, and some of them can accelerate your journey tremendously. Let's look at the top 5 powers you could find and how to take advantage of them:
- Bold Chieftain's Resource Aspect is the jackpot for this build! This essentially gives you infinite shouts and making leveling trivial. If you find this, drop Leap for Challenging Shout.
- Offensive Aspect of Limitless Rage is another nice power for any Fury you generate.
- Resource Aspect of Echoing Fury provides us with Fury per second while a shout is active. Even a low roll can make a drastic difference to Fury management on a Barbarian!
- Defensive Aspect of the Protector provides us with a Barrier which greatly boosts our survivability.
Leveling Tips and Tricks
Before we end this leveling guide, let's look at some general tips and tricks to remember for all classes and specs!
Complete the Campaign or follow our Leveling Guides. Follow the Campaign if you haven't completed it yet. If you have, use our Alt Leveling Guide and Renown Speedrun Guide to progress your character quickly!
Level Up Your Potion. Many players don't know that you need to farm materials to upgrade your character's potion. Make sure you collect all materials as you explore Sanctuary, especially Gallowvine which is used in many recipes!
Compare your Items... Literally. Press Shift over an item in your inventory to compare it to what you're wearing. This makes it easy to determine what is and isn't an upgrade.
Renown is your Friend. While exploring the different zones, take time to gather Renown along the way. It has long-term benefits for your entire account, including more Skill/Paragon points and Potion charges. Renown is gained by activating Waypoints, finding Altars of Lilith, completing Side Quests/Dungeons and rescuing Strongholds.
Be Careful with Gold. A lot of endgame processes, like extracting and imprinting Legendary Aspects, are extremely expensive for a brand-new character. Don't spend all of your Gold along the way!
Don't Imprint Your Weapon. The most critical piece of gear while leveling up is your weapon, which gets replaced constantly. This makes imprinting a Legendary Aspect on it a waste of resources. Instead, put your best offensive Aspect on your Amulet, which can be used for a long time.
- The Whirlwind Barbarian is a fantastic leveling build in Diablo 4.
- Generate Fury with Rallying Cry, Leap and Lunging Strike to unleash Whirlwind on density, Elites and Bosses.
- Save Unbridled Rage for Elites and Bosses.
- Look out for helpful Legendary Powers in the Codex of Power.
- Read the Next Steps above to continue your journey.
Written by Slothmaster
Reviewed by Snail