Welcome to my Diablo 2 class guide for beginners. With seven classes to choose from, it can be hard to decide which character to start first. And once you’ve started taking down Fallen in the dark moors of Act One, it can be hard to tell at a glance which skills will aid you best.
Before we get onto the classes, here are a few quick tips that will help you use them effectively. In Diablo 2 you only get a left-click attack and a right-click attack. However, you can (and should) create shortcuts for your right-click that let you switch abilities quickly. Pressing 'S' brings up your available skills at the bottom of the screen. Mouse over a skill and press F1 through to F8 to assign that as a shortcut.
For example as a Sorceress you might want a fireball on F1, an ice bolt on F2, and perhaps a defensive spell like ice armour on F3. Once you’ve pressed the shortcut you still have to right-click to activate the ability. It takes a bit of practice, but it will soon become second-nature.
Now, onto the classes. Here are all seven of them, how to play each, and some tips to give you a head start on creating the right Diablo 2 build for you when the remaster releases later this year.
Diablo 2 class guide: Meet all seven
The Druid is a jack of all trades. He can buff friends with his auras, dish out elemental damage and, best of all, transform into huge creatures to deal with enemies personally.
You have a lot of flexibility in the early game, but I can never pass up on the opportunity to turn into a werewolf. Buff the duration of the transformation with Lycanthropy. At level six consider whether you’d prefer to be a werebear instead. The wolf is fast and agile; the bear is slow, but stuns and is tougher.
The Druid’s elemental spells look great, but it’s tricky to recommend this tree over the Sorceress’ ability to specialise in each element. The Druid’s whirlwind defensive skills are good at negating elemental damage though, which you will encounter more and more as you fight further into the game.
The Sorceress can be one of the most fun classes to play at high levels with her massive nuke spells and ability to deal strong elemental damage—depending on the skill tree in which you choose to specialise.
She faces a tough road to level six, however. She’s extremely vulnerable, and until you get a companion to share the load, you'll likely find yourself running away and throwing pot shots back at enemies. In the early game, if you’re playing it safe, prioritise the Ice tree with frost bolt and her armour spell. The slowing effect gives you a bit of crowd control and you can use the bolt to snipe Fallen Shamans. Once you hit level six you get to start spamming Frost Nova—an excellent area-of-effect control spell that you can spam effectively if you have the mana.
Speaking of mana, anything you can do to increase the Sorceress’ mana regeneration speed is worth taking. In the early game the Warmth in the Fire tree does exactly that. Generally speaking Ice is dull, but safe, fire is flashy and reliable, and lightning is for glass cannons who don’t mind randomised damage. The latter is my personal favourite.
This is a supremely fun class that can specialise in summoning armies and stacking poison damage. You start with the ability to summon a skeleton, which does a lot to keep early enemies off your back. The Necromancer can take more hits than the Sorceress, but initially you don’t really want to put him in harm’s way.
While I like to keep levelling the skelly summon spell so I can have lots of good bony lads running around doing my bidding, it’s worth putting a point or two into bone teeth so you can snipe the Fallen Shaman that resurrect their minions.
Keep an eye on Akara’s stock in town. Necromancer wands can give you free enhancements to existing skills, and some lifesteal if you’re lucky. If you pick up a few weapons that only other classes can use, it’s worth selling them to Akara in exchange for a wand you like.
You just can’t go wrong with the Barbarian in the beginning of the game. There’s a reason he’s front and centre on the character select screen. He’s tough, he hits hard, and he’s surprisingly fast. His Leap ability is also enormous fun, both as a way to charge into a horde or escape a mob so you can chug a health potion.
One of the (many) great reasons to play Barbarian is their ability to master a wide variety of weapons. Most other classes insist you stick to a select few specialised weapons to make the best use of their skills, while the Barbarian can excel with pretty much any close-combat weapon you can find. Use Double Throw if you really want to snipe key characters, but the Barbarian can just wade or leap his way towards them and dispatch them instantly.
She’s not the most fun character to play in the early game, but the Amazon eventually gains a nice range of elemental attacks and has the ability to use javelins in close combat or at range. The Amazon trees pretty much lock you into using javelins or a bow, and given that you start with a javelin, that’s what you’ll be using for the first few dungeons.
Assign throw to your right-click attack and use that to spear Fallen Shaman. You have finite javelins to chuck, but don’t worry about running out. Head to the vendor at the top-left of town to buy more (he sells them for less than other vendors). You get about 50 per purchase and they auto-replenish when you run out, so you won’t get caught out shuffling your inventory around in the middle of a fight.
The Paladin wants to race for Holy Fire—an elemental aura that does pulsing area-of-effect damage. It’s good for early levels, but doesn’t scale into higher difficulties as well as some of the Paladin’s more advanced abilities. Before you get access to the Paladin’s auras, increase his damage with Might, which should make you very effective against early mobs.
What the Paladin really wants is a good hitting stick in the form of a decent sceptre. Cruise the starting areas looking for chests and killing mobs to get as many drops as you can, then sell them and buy a sceptre of choice.
A technical class with great speed and dexterity, the Assassin was added in the Lord of Destruction expansion. Her traps can deal with large mobs when augmented by other skills, but in the early game she’ll be running up and hitting things very quickly.
The most frustrating aspect of the class in the early game is the fact you’re relying on claw weapon drops to take advantage of Claw Mastery. You can’t go wrong with Burst of Speed though, located in the same tree. The attack speed increase does wonders for the Assassin’s damage-per-second output.
In the beginning Fire Blast in the Trap tree is her main ranged skill, and it’s small area of effect and slow throw speed means it’s a clumsy way to deal with Fallen Shaman and other key heroes in a mob. You’re just going to have to run up and stab them instead.