Formerly known as Great Weapon Fighter, Barbarian will retain its aggressive frontline combat style in Neverwinter: Undermountain with some exciting new powers thrown into the mix. If you haven’t already, take a look at the introduction to classes developer blog which discusses the class changes overall as well as high level adjustments to healing and tanking. This post will discuss the upcoming changes to barbarian in detail.
Barbarian’s core design will remain familiar—a highly mobile, aggressive attacker who wields two-handed weapons. Despite the change in name, barbarian will remain able to don heavier armor.
With the release of Undermountain, changes to healing and threat management will reinforce the importance of tanks. The previously defunct sentinel feat tree will be re-imagined as a full tank paragon path for barbarian. As the guardian fighter has also been repackaged as the core fighter class, the two classes—barbarian and fighter—no longer share paragon paths.
For the damage-focused blademaster barbarian, the class mechanic “unstoppable” will be renamed “battlerage” and the resource “determination” will be renamed “rage.” Other than cosmetic changes, the mechanic will remain largely the same: build up rage, then activate battlerage to increase your offensive prowess.
For the tank—the sentinel barbarian—the class mechanic will continue to be “unstoppable.” When compared with battlerage, unstoppable won’t provide as many offensive bonuses, but will allow the sentinel to automatically block all attacks as if they were holding down block, even as they continue attacking.
The block tactical power will replace the sentinel barbarian’s sprint while the blademaster will continue to have access to sprint. Blocking with a barbarian’s weapon functions similarly to using a shield. However, blocking in general has been completely reimagined and will now play a much more active role in combat. Block no longer applies a damage resistance bonus, but instead provides a hit point shield whenever your weapon is raised.
The hit points of your block are determined by your remaining stamina and your maximum hit points. When you raise your weapon to block an attack, the attack depletes your stamina as if it were hit points, damaging your hit points only if the damage exceeded your block. While your weapon is raised, you won’t regain any stamina, but lower it and it will begin to refill.
It’s hard to overstate how much of a dramatic change this is, and how different it will be to use block with a sentinel for those who have played a Paladin or Guardian Fighter on live. Not only will block provide a more noticeable effect, enemy damage has been rebalanced around the change and you can now more freely lower your guard to use your powers, without worrying about instantly taking lethal damage.
With Undermountain, generating threat will be more about dealing damage and less about “taunting” foes and forcing them to attack you, regardless of who currently had their attention. For those who had played as a tank class before, the old style of taunts is gone. Abilities that once forced the enemy to attack you will now place you at the top of the enemy’s target list.
Tanks like the sentinel will also have passive powers which increase the threat generated by their actions, and a variety of actions to choose form that generate additional threat, while sacrificing a bit of damage. Where before tanks would need to persistently taunt enemies, you’ll now be able to focus on attacking your foes to get their attention.
Of course, barbarians will continue to be excellent damage dealers, with the blademaster paragon path focusing exclusively on offense. Blademasters will play very similarly to great weapon fighter on live, with some cosmetic changes to powers, and a handful of new powers to play with.
Axestorm, a new highly damaging area attack that shreds enemies in a path before you; Adamantine Strike, a new daily that weakens a group of enemies’ defenses; and Bounding Slam, a new at-will which allows the already highly mobile blademaster to close the gap on demand, are some of the new powers available in the upcoming expansion.
Hopefully you’re as excited as I am for you to try out the big changes coming to barbarian! Neverwinter: Undermountain is out now on preview, so check out the changes on preview yourself if you have the time. See you on the Sword Coast!
Doug “Asterdahl” Miller