Diablo 4 class impressions: Sorcerers are OP and Barbarians need more time in the gym

Artwork of the three classes available in the Diablo 4 closed beta—Barbarian, Sorcerer, and Rogue—fighting off hordes of enemies.
(Image credit: Blizzard)

Diablo 4's classes cover all the adventuring bases: hitting things, setting things on fire and transforming into a big ol' bear. But not all heroes are equal. After traipsing through the prologue and first act over the course of two beta weekends, we've got our faves and least faves, so it's time to break down what works and what doesn't. Expect changes before Diablo 4 launches on June 6, of course, but hopefully this should make it easier to pick your first character when the full game finally arrives. 


(Image credit: Blizzard)

Robin Valentine, Senior Editor: This was the first class I played in the closed beta, and it did not make for a good first impression. Barbarians look great—like the grimdark lovechild of Conan the Barbarian and a fridge—but they hit like a wet noodle, and it made for a really slow and frustrating journey to level 20 for me. Even beyond their low damage, the game at this stage just feels fundamentally hostile to melee—so many of the bosses demand you be constantly moving and staying out of their way and that's just not possible when you're trying to swing a two-handed hammer at them. It turns those fights into a game of health potion management, and that's just not fun. Apparently Barbarians are intended to get more powerful later on, when they get access to legendary weapons, but I don't think that's an excuse for the early game to be a slog. At least Blizzard seems very aware that some buffs are needed

Sean Martin, Guides Writer: I definitely get the Barbarian feeling underpowered at first, but I think I had the opposite experience once I unlocked the Rend and Upheaval abilities. Between the both of them I had an answer to everything; I could apply big bleed to powerful enemies with Rend and make space while their health ticked down, and hordes of enemies I could funnel together and decimate with Upheaval's big damage cone of hurled debris. The shouts also give some added survivability in prolonged melee. The only thing I didn't enjoy about Barbarian is the number of weapons—I get that's the entire point of the class, but it felt like a lot of admin assigning abilities to weapons when I was happy bleeding with a big sword and bludgeoning with a big hammer. Why would I use these toothpicks when I can cleave enemies with an oversized claymore?

Robin Valentine, Senior Editor: I did find it odd that you always have four weapons equipped, even though with many builds it's perfectly possible to only end up using one or two. The Rogue has a similar issue, always having melee and ranged weapons. But I guess that's still a step up from most Diablo 3 characters never using a weapon in their animations at all, and I do like that 'arsenal' concept—hopefully it pays off more at higher levels.  


(Image credit: Blizzard)

Chris Livingston, Features Producer: I took the one piece of information I had about the druid before the open beta started—that you can turn into a bear—and decided to make it my whole thing. I put all but two of my points into werebear magic, and what I learned is to definitely not do that. The first bear skill, Maul, is basically just a slap except your hands are bear hands. Because you're a bear. Limiting yourself to bear-slapping ghouls is an extremely dull way to play for the first couple hours.

I unlocked more bear magic, like Pulverize, which is effective but boring. My defensive bear ability was a roar—or should I say snore? The one bear boon I really wanted, Trample, was way down the unlock tree, which I found annoying. Ramming myself into crowds should be the beary first unlock, not the fourth. 

Bored with beardom, I put a single point into Lightning Storm and immediately wished I'd focused on more druidry like that. It's dope.


(Image credit: Blizzard)

Robin Valentine, Senior Editor: Those skeletons are not skipping arm day. At least in these early levels, you really can just stand around and let your undead mates do all the work for you. Honestly I found levelling the Necromancer pretty dull for that reason—it didn't really seem to matter what my build was as long as I was regularly hitting the 'buff the skelly boys' button, and I never found any reason to switch from the default minion type. I do love their vibe, though—their weird, gross spell animations feel really at home in the game's grimdark world. 

Those skeletons are not skipping arm day.

Robin Valentine, Senior Editor

Sarah James, Guides Writer: I wasn't going to bother trying out Necromancer initially, having already tried a ranged class the previous weekend, but the character model won me over. Then the skeletons did the rest. Necromancer felt easier than playing Sorcerer—if that's even possible—though I did manage to die at least three times when I found myself in a situation where I couldn't generate corpses and therefore summon more skellies.

Joshua Wolens, News Writer: I love the Necromancer's aesthetic, and playing one let me live out my dream of becoming literally Harrow the Ninth, so any criticisms I have are mere trifles compared to that. But like Sarah, I played a Sorcerer in the closed beta and had a merry time detonating pretty much any enemy I came across, and yet Necromancer somehow felt like even more of a cakewalk.

One boss in particular—the Broodguard—gave me real trouble as a Sorc. Between managing its adds, navigating its web-traps, and trying to stay out of reach of its poisonous spit, my spell-slinger died a couple of times before I finally overcame it. But as a Necromancer? Me and my posse of seven skeletons wrecked that spider. The summons just seem a little too powerful: able to output some serious damage while keeping your enemies off you at length. It should probably be one or the other.


(Image credit: Blizzard)

Robin Valentine, Senior Editor: Rogue is easily the class I had the most fun with in the beta, and it was the only one that felt like it struck a good balance to me—not too powerful, not too weak. With my crossbow-wielding action hero, it really felt like I had to manage the crowds with my traps, dodges, and caltrops to stay ahead, and I had the tools to get things done without it just being a cakewalk. Much like the Demon Hunter in Diablo 3, it feels less like you're an archer and more like you've got a machine gun, but that's good, silly fun in a game like this. They've got great fits, too—once I found a plague doctor-style helmet and hood, I knew I'd found the right class for me. 

Jorge Jimenez, Hardware Writer: I love the Rogue class. The Heartseeker/Penetrating Shot build I was rolling with reminded me a lot of my old Diablo 2 Amazon Spearazon back in the day. There was always something sadistically satisfying about watching a flurry of homing arrows ricocheting between a group of skeletons and werewolves. I think for the final release, I'm going to dabble more into traps and make a more balanced character. However when you do great damage already firing a bunch of overpowered heat seeking-death-arrows, who needs balance? I'll have to agree with Robin that Rogues have got the best drip in Diablo 4 so far.


(Image credit: Blizzard)

Robin Valentine, Senior Editor: After a particularly frustrating boss fight as my Barbarian in the closed beta, I finally threw in the towel and switched to Sorcerer. The difference between them is night and day. The Sorcerer basically just has to look at an enemy funny and they melt on the spot, and it's a breeze to run rings around bosses, especially with an ice or electricity build. Like the Necromancer, I actually found it quite dull—it makes the game so easy it's hard to stay engaged, and I found the long cooldowns on key spells made it awkward to get into a fun rhythm beyond just spamming my core skill. For me it feels like a step backwards from Diablo 3's Wizard. 

Sarah James, Guides Writer: The Wizard was my go-to class in Diablo 3 so Sorcerer was the default choice for me when I first fired up the game. The first handful of levels were appropriately uncomfortable for a squishy class with only one or two skills unlocked but became laughably easy as soon as I unlocked the Hydra. Why bother attacking at all when your fiery friend melts literally anything that looks at you sideways? I'm interested to see how it feels at max level with a full set of skills unlocked.

Tim Clark, Brand Director: I only got around to spending serious time with the Diablo 4 on the final Sunday, by which point I'd already listened to Kripparian opining about how busted Sorc was at some length. (He has a great build video, btw.) So, wanting to power to 20 as quickly as possible for the wolf pupper, I slavishly picked the most braindead, meta slave skills possible, which meant hydras literally playing the game for me, chain lightning pinballing around the screen, and fireball in the enchantment slot for even more kablooey.

And you know what? I had a great time. I'm not sure there's another game—even my beloved Destiny 2—that can drop me into a zoned-out flow state quite like a good Diablo does. And Diablo 4 feels like it's going to be a great Diablo. Was it hard? Not in the slightest. Will I spend hundreds of hours swapping out very slightly better versions of the same trousers? Believe it. As for Sorc itself, I can't comment on how OP it is without sampling the other classes, but the sheer amount of Barbarian slander on Twitch gives me no reason to doubt that along with Necro, Sorc is going to be a lot of players mains come June unless Blizzard goes hard on nerfs. Hail Hydra, indeed.

I'm not sure there's another game—even my beloved Destiny 2—that can drop me into a zoned-out flow state quite like a good Diablo does.

Tim Clark, Brand Director

Robert Jones, Print Editor: I’m a guy who isn’t afraid to default to easy mode in games as I don’t really have time to trial-and-error my way to victory anymore, so after selecting the Sorcerer in the preorder beta and soon discovering the class seemed seriously overpowered, I bravely (someone’s gotta do it!) stuck with it through the open beta. Plus, the idea of rolling back through the prologue didn’t appeal.

My Sorcerer Camilla specced out full into flame, representing the burning anger and rage within her heart, and it took no time at all until I was literally torching everything that stood in my way, leaving nothing but piles of blackened ash remains in my wake. The game-changing unlock for me was Hydra, which I upgraded with an extra head and extended duration, and the result was incredibly satisfying. Summon the hydra, even off-screen, then sit back and watch as it ripped through my foes.

Even bosses melted before me. And this combined with the dash/dodge power and teleport spell, meant typically fights involved me zipping around combat arenas while my fire-spewing hydra heads did my dirty work for me. This was specifically welcome during boss battles with attacks that required precise movement to avoid damage, as I could focus on not getting hit, safe in the knowledge the boss’s health was being eaten away by my hydra heads.

Overall, I really dug the new darker aesthetic of Diablo 4, its enhanced MMO features, and how it’s happy to lean into its 18 age rating in terms of content, too. It was also comfortingly familiar at the same time, though, which meant even after not playing Diablo 3 for ages, I slipped back into it really easily. I’ll absolutely be buying the full version come June 6.

Joshua Wolens, News Writer: Everyone else is right: the Sorcerer is pure easy mode, and honestly? That's great. Diablo 4 is my first Diablo since 2 (the original, not the remaster), and the Sorcerer instantly reminded me why I poured so much of my life into that game back when I was, like, 10: There is a Vampire Survivors-like thrill to entering a room and making everything in it die, occasionally being rewarded in the form of shiny baubles that spout from the corpses. While I think Necromancer makes things a touch too easy, my lightning Sorcerer felt like a good balance of evaporating normal enemies but still demanding a little bit of thought to tackle bosses.

Of course, some people think the Sorcerer made bosses too easy as well. My advice to them: Be worse at games.

Lauren Aitken, Guides Editor: My Sorcerer wielded fire and lightning which made her way OP in close-quarters and long-range combat. She looked very forest witch, if I do say so myself, and was either shooting jets of fire at you or whipping you with lightning which, honestly, is how I'd like to live my actual life. I have never played a Diablo game before so it was exciting to find a Sorcerer with abilities I actually enjoy, mainly arson.

Fraser Brown
Online Editor

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog. 

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