Oct 302014

Knicker the Barbarians!
See the difference? Look more closely! Look really closely!
Just kidding: they are all the same.

A field guide is an illustrated book that one uses to help identify types of wildlife. In this case, we will learn how to differentiate between the different types of wild barbarian. Thank you for your purchase! (Yes, the “Wild Barbarian Field Guide” is free, but don’t worry, it is worth every penny!). Time to start identifying!

Look, there’s one now! A barbarian in the wild! Quickly, look for the traits that we can quickly use to tell one barbarian from the next:

  • Does your subject barbarian hit really hard?
  • Does it have a lot of healing amplification?
  • Are there many hit points? Many, many hit points?
  • Does it have a smidgeon of self-healing?

If all of these traits are present in your barbarian, then it must be … ummm wait … there must be some mistake …

Hmmmm. Apparently all of the barbarians share all of these aspects.

And that, sadly, is my main impression of the new changes to Barbarian being previewed on the forums by the Turbine development team. They are all the same.

To be clear, I am not saying that they are identical; that would be silly. Someone put a lot of thought into making the details of each of the three trees different. This barbarian self-heals every time it hits. This barbarian self-heals all at once with a cooldown timer. This barbarian self-heals with a counter that increases over time. Yes, those kinds of differences exist.

But those kinds of differences are not really different.


Am I exaggerating? Not really, no. Let’s look at what the three barbarian types are getting:

Ravager gets more hit points, healing amp, self-healing, and some special attacks that do melee damage and a selection of debuffs.

Occult Slayer gets more hit points, healing amp, self-healing, some special attacks, and some special defenses against casters.

Frenzied Berzerker gets more hit points, healing amp, self-healing, and some special attacks that do melee damage in an AoE.

To be fair, one has to take into effect the fact that this lack of differentiation is not exclusive to DDO, but in fact exists in the pen and pencil Dungeons and Dragons too. A barbarian is a barbarian is a barbarian. I touched on this point yesterday. If you consider the source material, the main differences between one flavor of barbarian and the next are roleplaying. For instance, Ravagers are supposed to be evil, sort of like wild paladins belonging to a death goddess.

This would be a big impediment to playing a Ravager in most tabletop campaigns; a big, big difference between the Ravager and other barbarians. But DDO is not tabletop, and role-playing differences do not matter in the slightest. We can’t even play Evil, the alignment is non-existent. Leaving us with three very similar flavors of the same barbarian. Even after the new changes are implemented.

How disappointing. To consider this in context, take the recent, generally well-received changes to the Bard. With the three Bard enhancement trees, a person can choose between a melee bard, a spell-casting bard, or a singing bard. Each tree represents an entirely different playing style. Very different, one from the other.

Take another example: Cleric trees allow a cleric to heal, or melee, or be an offensive caster. Excellent! Choices! Differences that are truly different!

Now barbarians again: Ravager, Frenzied Berzerker and Occult Slayer all melee, have a lot of hit points, and are being modified to also have a lot of healing amplification and some self-healing.

All three. The same play style.

And there was such potential! Imagine if the three trees had real differences:

One type of barbarian could be super-strong, getting all kinds of bonuses based on THF and doing more damage per hit than anything (at the cost of defenses of course). *

Another kind could be super-athletic, can run and jump and swim better than anything, getting free OTWF and Two-Weapon Defense and Evasion and Dodge (at the cost of armor of course, and not hitting as hard as the first kind)

The third kind could be a hit point tank. Less strong than either of the other types, slower too, but just full of CON and able to absorb damage like no one’s business, even though it hits less hard than any other barb (and maybe less hard than any other pure melee type)

* One could argue that the Frenzied Berzerker is already similar to the first style I am listing, although the FB is going to be a trash remover only because none of the FB abilities will work against a single boss.

I’m sorry that this has turned into such a rant. I expected to be going through each of the new trees in detail today, but in the process, I realized just how disappointed I am. Barbarians are getting a facelift but that is all. It will be possible to build a better barbarian than one can build today, but not by a lot. And certainly not in more than one style.

I love playing barbarians. I used to have two but am down to one. I don’t see that changing.

I still owe you all a detailed discussion. Hopefully tomorrow I will be past my disappointment and able to focus on the specific changes.

Tomorrow. There is always hope for tomorrow.

πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€ πŸ™‚

  3 Responses to “A Field Guide to the Wild Barbarian”

Comments (3)
  1. Maybe focus on some of the better ideas brought forward in the discussion about how to improve on the initial proposal?

    But I certainly agree that reading through the trees it felt all a bit meh to me. Nothing too exciting and not much to give each tree its specific niche at all. I got the impression that Occult slayear is a bit more rounded than the other two, but maybe that was just because I read that one first and got bored from more of the same.

  2. I dont know Geoff. Occult slayer seems different enough to me. Their weapon bond buffs work in a unique way and they work fine with bows. I am interested in making a tanky barbcher armor up style. Probably 12 barb 6 ranger 2 cleric. Or just pure Barbarian. Pure would be feat starved though. Yeah now that I think of it. Letting all the occult slayer specials like ear smash work ranged would be even more unique.

  3. Yeah, I definitely see your point here. I was actually hoping to see more healing abilities as opposed to healing amplification myself.

What do you think?

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