Best Baldur’s Gate 3 Barbarian build guide – race, subclass, BG3 skills

Best Baldur’s Gate 3 Barbarian build guide – race, subclass, BG3 skills
Trent Cannon Updated on by

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Would you like to rage? Our Baldur’s Gate 3 Barbarian guide can help you do exactly that. Tap into the primal fury within you to help mow through your enemies and keep your allies safe as you seek a cure for the Mind Flayer parasite burrowing its way into your brain.

Barbarians are one of the most straightforward classes in BG3, but they still have several class features that might seem counter-intuitive to players unfamiliar with the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition ruleset the game uses. Here are some Baldur’s Gate 3 tips that cover these areas. Read on for a breakdown of the Barbarian key features and the best choices to make as you level up. We got to test out even more classes over the course of our Baldur’s Gate 3 review.

Baldur's Gate 3 barbarian build: An image of a Barbarian in the game.

Best Baldur’s Gate 3 Barbarian build

Though they get some useful abilities outside of combat, Baldur’s Gate 3 Barbarians are heavily focused on dealing damage in combat. They are powerful frontline fighters who wield heavy weapons that can hit multiple enemies in one sweeping blow. They are the only class to roll a d12 for their hit points at each level, making them the sturdiest class in the game with their melee weapons.

✓ Antony’s Annotation

Rage can change the tides of combat

You gain more Rage charges as you level up so don’t hesitate to use it in testing encounters.

Things to keep in mind when building your Barbarian in Baldur’s Gate 3:

  • Make Strength and Constitution your highest stats. Your next highest should either be Dexterity or Wisdom, depending on the subclass you want to take.
  • Your Unarmoured Defense gives you a boost to your Armour Class equal to your Constitution modifier provided that you’re not wearing any armour. This makes Barbarians one of the few classes to benefit from fighting without any armour.
  • Your best skills to pick for your proficiencies are Athletics and Nature. Intimidation is also a good choice if you want to have a social skill to rely upon.

Here are the proficiencies available to the Barbarian class in Baldur’s Gate 3:

  • Armour Proficiency – Light and Medium Armour, Shield
  • Weapon Proficiency – Martial and Simple
  • Barbarian Skill Proficiencies – Animal Handling, Athletics, Intimidation, Nature, Perception, Survival
  • Saving Throws – Strength and Constitution

Barbarian Rage explained

The main combat ability for Barbarians in Baldur’s Gate 3 is their Rage. It allows them to hit harder, take less damage, and unlock most of their other useful abilities. Starting a Rage is a Bonus Action that lasts for 10 rounds and unlocks the following abilities:

  • Damage Resistance – Barbarians take half damage from non-magical attacks while raging, meaning that their already impressive hit point total goes even further.
  • Bonus Damage – While Rage is active, Barbarians +2 damage on each attack. 
  • Reckless Attack – Starting at Level 2, this ability allows Barbarians to make each strike with advantage (rolling twice and taking the better result), making them more likely to hit. Enemies also get advantage against you while this is active, making this the perfect high-risk strategy.

Keep in mind that you will drop out of a Rage if you don’t attack an enemy or take damage in a round. Also, you can’t enter a Rage while wearing Heavy Armour, limiting your game armor options.

Best Barbarian Race in Baldur’s Gate 3

While most of the races in Baldur’s Gate 3 lend themselves to any class, the clear standout for Barbarians is Half-Orc. Their Relentless Endurance feature allows them to stay on their feet when an attack would otherwise knock them out, which is perfect for a Barbarian’s unarmoured approach to combat.

Additionally, the Half-Orc’s Savage Attack feature gives them a 3x critical multiplier. When paired with a weapon like a Great Axe, this means that Barbarians can deal monstrous damage on a critical hit. Here are all the Baldur’s Gate 3 races if you’d like to learn more about them. The Shield Dwarf is also a good pick.

Best background for a Barbarian

Here are the best backgrounds we recommend for a Barbarian in BG3:

  • Soldier – Proficiency in Athletics and Intimidation. Here’s the background’s official in-game description: “You are trained in battlefield tactics and combat, having served in a militia, mercenary company, or officer corps. Show smart tactics and bravery on the battlefield to enhance your prowess.”
  • Outlander – Proficiency in Athletics and Survival. Here’s the background’s official in-game description: “You grew up in the wilds, learning to survive far from the comforts of civilization. Surviving unusual hazards of the wild will enhance your prowess and understanding.”

Barbarian Ability Score

Here are the best ability scores for a Barbarian in Baldur’s Gate 3:

  • Strength (Str) – 16
  • Dexterity (Dex) – 14
  • Constitution (Con) – 16
  • Intelligence (Int) – 8
  • Wisdom (Wis) – 12
  • Charisma (Cha) – 8

Best equipment for a Barbarian

Focus on buying up powerful weapons. You’ll find two-handed weapons like great axes, great clubs, and great swords to be your friends. Replace any starting weapons with magical ones as soon as you can. Here are the best equipment for Barbarians in BG3:

  • Amulet of Misty Step – Grants Misty Step Level 2 Conjuration Spell.
  • Everburn Blade – 2D6 Slashing + 1D4 Fire.
  • Bonespike Garb – 10 AC + Dexterity Modifier, 15 15 temporary hit points whenever you Rage, and reduce all incoming damage by 2.
  • Helldusk Boots – cannot be forcibly moved, use reaction on failed saving throws, gain Hellcrawler teleport ability.
  • Killer’s Sweetheart – When you kill a creature, your next Attack Roll will be a Critical Hit.
  • Balduran’s Giantslayer – Double the damage from your Strength Modifier, grants you Advantage on Attack Rolls against Large, Huge, or Gargantuan creatures, and Giant Form ability.
Baldur's Gate 3 barbarian build: An image of a Barbarian ready to attack in the game.

Best Barbarian Subclass in Baldur’s Gate 3

Like most classes in Baldur’s Gate 3, there are three subclasses to choose from once your barbarian reaches Level 3. These subclasses are:

  • Wildheart – This subclass allows you to tap into your primal instincts. You gain the Speak with Animals spell and can choose from one of 5 Bestial Heart features that modify your Rage ability.
  • Berserker – If you just want to deal more damage, Berserker is the subclass to choose. Your Rage becomes Frenzy, which unlocks a second attack per round as a Bonus Action and the ability to throw items or creatures for extra damage.
  • Wild Magic – This subclass grants you a touch of chaos. Entering a Rage triggers a random magical effect and nearby allies get a bonus to their Saving Throws versus spells.

Of these three subclasses, the Berserker subclass is the most straightforward to play. Wild Magic Barbarians are unpredictable but the bonus to Saving Throws can be a game-changer when fighting spellcasters. The most complicated is the Wildheart subclass, but it gives some powerful – if situational – bonus abilities.

We’d pick the Wildheart Barbarian as they’ve got some versatile features.

Baldur's Gate 3 barbarian build: An image of a Barbarian level up screen in the game.

Barbarian features explained

Here are the features you can access as a Wildheart Barbarian in BG3:

  • Bestial Heart (Level 3) – Allows you to pick from 5 different hearts, based on animals. Each grant unique bonuses and rage-specific add-ons.
  • Speak with Animals (Level 3) – Gain the ability to comprehend and verbally communicate with beasts.
  • Animal Aspect (Level 6) – Choose another aspect of an animal for passive benefit.
  • Land’s Stride: Difficult Terrain (Level 8) – Difficult Terrain no longer slows you down.
  • Animal Aspect (Level 10) – Choose yet another aspect of an animal for passive benefit.

And here’s a list of all the Bestial Hearts in Baldur’s Gate 3:

  • Bear Heart: Unrelenting Ferocity is a 1d8 self heal. This helps with durability.
  • Eagle Heart: Diving Strike lets you leap down unto a foe, knocking them Prone. You won‘t take falling damage.
  • Elk Heart: Primal Stampede makes you charge forward, attacking all hostile creatures in your way. Deals 1d4+2 Bludgeoning damage and knocks targets Prone.
  • Tiger Heart: Tiger’s Bloodlust lets you lash out to attack up to 3 enemies at once and make them Bleed.
  • Wolf Heart: Inciting Howl gives each ally within earshot an additional 3m movement during their next turn.

And at level 6, you get an Aspect of the Beast from the following:

  • Bear – Carrying capacity is doubled. Advantage on Strength Checks.
  • Chimpanzee – Resistance to Falling damage. Throwing camp supplies Blinds targets, which makes encounters even more chaotic.
  • Crocodile – Your movement speed increases by 3m while standing on water-based surfaces. On slippery surfaces, you get an Advantage on Saving Throws against being knocked Prone.
  • Eagle – You can see in the dark up to 12m. Advantage on Perception Checks
  • Elk – You can use Aspect of the Elk to grant yourself and nearby allies a +1.5m bonus to movement speed.
  • Honey Badger – If you’re Poisoned, Frightened, or Charmed at the start of your turn, there’s a 50% chance to begin Raging without expending a Rage Charge.
  • Stallion – Dashing grants you temporary hit points equal to twice your level.
  • Tiger – Add an additional Strength Modifier to Attack Rolls against Bleeding or Poisoned targets. Gain proficiency in Survival
  • Wolf – You gain Proficiency in Stealth. Use Aspect of the Wolf to add a Dexterity modifier as a bonus to Stealth Checks for you and your allies.
  • Wolverine – When you attack a Bleeding or Poisoned target, you also Maim them for 1 turn.
Baldur's Gate 3 barbarian build: An image of a Barbarian ready to rage in the game.

Best Baldur’s Gate 3 Barbarian build explained – Wildheart Barbarian

Here’s a detailed step-by-step guide to mastering the Wildheart Barbarian in BG3.

Level 1 – 4

At level 1, you’ll get access to Unarmored Defense and the Rage move. You’ll need to keep attacking to maintain Rage so keep a ranged weapon with you too.

Hitting level 2 grants Dangerous Sense (Advantage on Dexterity Saving Throws against traps, spells, and surfaces) and Reckless Attack. The latter is a skill that can be a double-edged sword as it grants advantage on melee attack rolls to both you and whoever attacks you. This can be great to finish an enemy off but don’t use it in the beginning of combat.

At level 3, you get access to an extra Rage charge, the Speak with Animals skill, and the subclass feature to pick a Bestial Heart. We recommend the Elk heart as the Primal Stampede is a good offensive option that also offers mobility. Knocking enemies Prone is a great way to crowd control, especially with other companions assisting with damage.

And at level 4, you’ll get access to a feat. Pick Great Weapon Master. When a melee attack scores a critical hit or kills a creature, you can make another melee attack as a bonus action. In addition, when attacking with Heavy Weapons, attack rolls take a -5 penalty but their damage increases by 10. This can be toggled off if you want to get some accuracy back.

Baldur's Gate 3 barbarian build: An image of a Barbarian level up screen in the game with the Reckless Attack highlighted.

Level 5 – 8

At level 5, you get an Extra Attack per move and Fast Movement which grants +5 movement speed if you aren’t wearing Heavy Armour. This drastically improves your combat potential. Stepping up to level 6 lets you pick an Animal Aspect. The Elk is another good pick here as it lets you boost the movement speed of your party.

And at level 7, you get Feral Instinct which raises your initiative by 3 and makes you immune to the Surprised condition. It’s a good pair with the Elk heart as you can now go earlier in fights and reach enemies quickly too. Level 8 nets you another feat so consider Ability Improvement to boost your Strength by +2. You also get Land’s Stride: Difficult Terrrain which lets you navigate terrain better.

Baldur's Gate 3 barbarian build: An image of a Barbarian level up screen in the game with the Aspect of the Elk highlighted.

Level 9 – 12

Level 9 brings another power spike with Brutal Critical, adding an extra damage die to critical hits. Hitting level 10 lets you get another Animal Aspect. While the Chimpanzee one is fun, the Tiger gives you an additional Strength Modifier to Attack Rolls against Bleeding or Poisoned targets. Pair this with the Lacerate attack that bleeds foes and you become even more of a threat.

At level 11, you get Relentless Rage which is the same as the Half-Orc passive Relentless Endurance so consider multiclassing. And level 12 brings another feat that can add a +2 to Strength once more. But multiclassing into a Fighter will give you Action Surge, letting you get another entire action in combat if activated.

That’s everything you need to know about Barbarians in Baldur’s Gate 3. Our Baldur’s Gate 3 class and subclass guide can give you more general details of the different options in the game. If you’re new to the series or it has just been a while since you played it, our Baldur’s Gate lore guide can get you up to speed on all things Faerun. Other Baldur’s Gate 3 classes could also be to your liking if you aren’t a fan of direct damage dealing.

Are barbarians good in BG3?

Yes, Barbarians deal solid damage in BG3.

What is the best Barbarian subclass BG3?

The Wildheart Barbarian is the best subclass in BG3.