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Diablo 4 - Barbarian Expertise And Arsenal Weapon Swapping Guide

Learn about the Diablo 4 Barbarian's unique mechanics: Expertise and Arsenal Weapon Swapping.


The Barbarian can annihilate packs of enemies in Diablo 4, thanks to a varied assortment of armaments. Still, each gear piece provides its own boons, and you'll want to learn about how the whole system works, too. Here's our Diablo 4 Barbarian Expertise and Arsenal Weapon Swapping guide to help you with the class' unique quirks.

Diablo 4 Barbarian Expertise mechanic and Arsenal Weapon Swapping

We've divided our Diablo 4 Barbarian guide into several sections to explain each mechanic in detail. First, let's talk about how the class' Arsenal Weapon system works.

Diablo 4 Barbarian Arsenal Weapons

The Diablo 4 Barbarian has the Arsenal system, which allows the class to equip four weapons simultaneously:

  • A couple of one-handed weapons for dual-wielding - i.e., one-handed axes (slicing), swords (slicing), and maces (bludgeoning).
  • One two-handed bludgeoning weapon - i.e., two-handed maces and hammers.
  • One two-handed slicing weapon - i.e., two-handed axes, swords, and polearms.

Many of the class' active/castable skills tend to have a required weapon in mind. For instance, Flay needs a slicing weapon (i.e., either one-handed/dual-wielding or two-handed slicing). Whirlwind, meanwhile, can use any Arsenal weapon (i.e., dual-wielding, two-handed bludgeoning, or two-handed slicing). However, something like Frenzy is only for dual-wielding, which means two-handed weapons won't be used.

Barbarian weapons can be categorized into multiple types.
Barbarian weapons can be categorized into multiple types.

How to swap Barbarian weapons in Diablo 4

To swap weapons as a Barbarian in Diablo 4, you need only to use the skills themselves. The game will automatically switch to the necessary weapon when activating a skill. As such, if you cast Double Swing, it will strike enemies with your dual-wielded weapons. Then, if you follow-up with Hammer of the Ancients, it will automatically use your two-handed bludgeoning weapon.

But, there's one more caveat to consider: you can still swap Barbarian weapons manually depending on the skill. To do this, you'll need to open the Skill Assignment panel. You can either press the "S" key on your keyboard, or go to the abilities menu and press the left thumbstick ("L3") on your gamepad.

Next, mouse over a particular skill that has various armament options (i.e., Whirlwind, Lunging Strike, Flay, and others). By default, the "Auto Select" option picks the strongest available weapon that you have equipped. However, if you press the middle mouse button or the "X" button on a gamepad, you can swap to other types. This allows you to use your dual-wielded weapons for Whirlwind instead of a two-hander.

It's fine if you let the game choose the active weapons for you, but you can always make changes manually.
It's fine if you let the game choose the active weapons for you, but you can always make changes manually.

The Expertise system

So, why exactly would you want to swap weapons as a Barbarian in Diablo 4? Well, there are a couple of reasons. First, some skill upgrades and passives provide bonuses depending on the weapon type. A good example is how Flay has a 10% chance to make an enemy vulnerable (dual-wielding/one-handed), but this becomes 20% if you're using a two-handed weapon.

The second reason is because of the Diablo 4 Barbarian Expertise system, which you can access by opening the character panel and heading to the relevant tab. Essentially, each type of weapon has its own buffs that are increased the more you amass kills with them, and this depends on which skills you used. Here's an example:

  • Frenzy uses your dual-wielded weapons. Let's say you have a one-handed sword and a one-handed mace, and you kill a lowly Skeleton with just Frenzy. That means both your one-handed sword and one-handed mace gain Expertise points.
  • Now, let's say you smacked the Skeleton a couple of times also with Frenzy, but then you spun around with Whirlwind. You'll gain Expertise for your one-handed sword and one-handed mace (Frenzy), as well as the active two-handed weapon (Whirlwind).
You unlock Expertise buffs by getting kills with your weapons.
You unlock Expertise buffs by getting kills with your weapons.

The Diablo 4 Barbarian Expertise system goes more in-depth since, apart from cumulative bonuses for each weapon's level, you'll also gain a fixed bonus once you hit rank 10 with it.

As such, this mechanic allows for increased focus and specifications when it comes to builds. You probably won't worry about it too much while you're leveling, especially since you're changing your gear pieces often. But it will become very important for the endgame when you've got the ideal armaments for your preferred build. In any case, here are the Expertise bonuses for each weapon:

One-handed weapons

  • Axes
    • Increased critical hit chance against wounded enemies (i.e., below 35% HP).
    • Rank 10 - Lucky Hit; critical hits have up to a 55% chance to grant +6% attack speed for two seconds.
  • Maces
    • Increased damage versus stunned enemies.
    • Rank 10 - Lucky Hit; up to a 10% chance to gain berserking for 1.5 seconds when you hit a stunned enemy.
  • Swords
    • Lucky Hit; chance to gain extra fury when you hit a crowd-controlled enemy.
    • Rank 10 - +15% attack speed for three seconds when you kill a crowd-controlled enemy.

Two-handed weapons

  • Axes
    • Increases damage dealt against vulnerable enemies (i.e., take +20% increased damage).
    • Rank 10 - +10% increased crit chance against vulnerable enemies.
  • Polearms
    • Bonus Lucky Hit chance.
    • Rank 10 - +10% increased damage while healthy (i.e., 80% or more HP).
  • Swords
    • A percentage of the damage you deal is applied as bleeding.
    • Rank 10 - +30% increased bleeding damage for five seconds after you kill an enemy.
  • Maces
    • Lucky Hit; chance to gain +2 fury whenever you hit an enemy.
    • Rank 10 - +15% increased critical damage against stunned and vulnerable enemies while berserking is active.
You may also obtain Techniques. Sadly, the area where the quest takes place seems to be inaccessible during the beta.
You may also obtain Techniques. Sadly, the area where the quest takes place seems to be inaccessible during the beta.

Weapon techniques

The Diablo 4 Barbarian has the Expertise and Arsenal Weapon Swap mechanics. Apart from these, there are also Techniques, which are unlocked via a quest once you reach level 15. Unfortunately, this quest takes place in the northwestern portion of the map near the Dry Steppes. Since this area isn't part of the beta, we kept getting teleported whenever we attempted to travel there.

Diablo 4 is currently in its beta stage. As such, some of the information here may change as we get closer to the game's official launch on June 6. We'll update this guide accordingly. For now, you may visit our class hub.

Jason Rodriguez on Google+

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