Gamespy has posted a nice article that traces the evolution of the Diablo barbarian. They include coverage of the Diablo I warrior, the Hellfire secret Barbarian, the Diablo 2 Barbarian, and of course Diablo III’s version of the brutal, brawny, brooding, Bashioked, brainless, battle-scarred, bro-come-at-ready, brawling, basher.
Here’s the article, and here’s a quote. Thanks to Murdoch for the tip.
No foolin’, the Barbarian exists in the Diablo: Hellfire expansion — you just have to know where to look. The developers (fun fact: Hellfire was made by Synergistic Software, not Blizzard!) apparently toyed around with creating a new Barbarian class, getting as far as building a set of stats and abilities. For whatever reason he didn’t make the cut — his essence was banished from the final version of Hellfire and entrapped in an obscure text file. With a few magical tweaks you can unlock him and restore him as a playable character.
This secret Barbarian is essentially a modified Warrior — he even borrows the same character sprites — but when he uses his enhanced strength to pick up a huge two-handed weapon with one hand, and uses it to cleave (an attack that would later appear in Diablo 3) multiple enemies in a wide arc during a 12-second fit of stat-boosting Rage, there’s no mistaking him for his calm, weakling twin.
But man, is he dumb. For starters, he can’t seem to figure out how to use shields and bows effectively, so sell ’em if you’ve got ’em. He also lacks any magic ability whatsoever. Sure, you could equip some type of gear that grants some magic or mana bonus, but that’d be a waste — the Barbarian’s strength lies in, well, strength. But this also means he can never learn the town portal spell, so expect a lot of TP scrolls to take up valuable inventory space.
The Barbarian is regularly at or near the top of favorite D3 class votes, and I don’t think he’s getting there on the strength of his personality or witty dialogue. He smashes, and a lot of you guys like to smash. Is that all there is to it?