Before we compare these two classes, let’s take a look at their most powerful builds first. The strongest types of the Sorceress are:
- Blizzard Sorceress: This build relies on Cold Spells and some Fire or Lightning Spells in order to deal with Cold immune enemies. Their primary attack is the Blizzard, which deals massive amounts of AoE (Area of effect) damage. It’s a powerful option for both PvE and player versus player fights.
- FireBall Sorceress: This kind of Sorceress invests the majority of the skill points in the Fire Spells. It has the highest damage output of all Sorceress builds. However, it suffers from the numerous fire immune enemies at Hell mode because only a few points are spent on non-fire skills.
- Frozen Orb Sorceress: Its main skill is the Frozen Orb, which has a huge area of effect. Also, the Frozen Orb Sorc sacrifices some of her damage output in order to invest points in the Energy Shield, making it a more healthy build. This is the reason why it’s the most popular choice for dueling.
- Chain Lightning Sorceress: This build focuses on the Lightning spells and the primary attack is the Chain Lightning. It has a lower mana cost but its damage is inconsistent. The Lightning Sorc spends some points to skills with a different element of attack to deal with Lightning immune monsters.
The strongest and most famous Diablo 2 Barbarian builds are the following:
- Berserker: It utilizes the skill Berserk, which allows the character to deal huge amounts of damage. However, its defense drops to zero and that is the Berserker’s main weakness.
- Frenzy Barbarian: This Barb equips dual weapons in order to maximize the potential of the Frenzy skill. It’s very effective for killing single enemies and it enjoys a rapid movement speed.
- Whirlwind Barbarian: This is probably the most well-known build in Diablo 2. The main attack is the Whirlwind, which is powerful against large groups of enemies. This type of Barbarian is very strong for fighting other players as well.
Now that we have an overall idea regarding the characters’ builds, it’s time to compare them:
Player versus Environment (PvE)
Both characters are excellent for fighting against monsters, especially at the start of a new ladder or if you are new to the game. This is because they can deal high amounts of damage, without requiring expensive or hard-to-find items.
However, the Sorceress is faster at clearing areas full of enemies. They can bypass some rooms and save a lot of time, using the Teleport skill. In addition, she can trap some Bosses like Mephisto, allowing for some very fast runs.
On the other hand, the Barbarians enjoy a much larger health pool. They have much more sustainability and it’s more difficult to die. Thus, they are a safer choice. They can deal high damage as well, especially at the earlier stages of the game.
Player versus Player (PvP)
Overall the Barbarian is stronger at fighting versus other players. This is because he gains more health per point spent in Vitality in comparison to other classes.
The Whirlwind Barb is one of the best performing builds, thanks to his high damage and the large health pool. Despite his massive damage, the Frenzy Barb can be difficult to control due to its rapid movement speed. The Berserker can deal extreme amounts of damage as well, but his weak point is the zero defense.
The Sorceress can be a very deadly character and fun-to-play too. She’s more fragile and easier to kill though. Her strongest build for PvP fights is probably the Frozen Orb Sorc as it maxes out the Energy Shield. This skill adds more sustainability to every kind of Sorceress.
No matter the class or the build you wish to play, the key for a powerful PvP character is the equipment. The endgame of Diablo 2 is revolving around finding the best items that your character needs. Moreover, if many players prefer a specific build, it means that they’re searching for the same items. As a result, it’s even more difficult to find endgame items for the famous builds.
Magic Finding (MF)
These two classes are the most efficient for farming gold or finding magic items. The reason is that they can use a set full of items that increase Magic finding chance or gold finding and still be very effective in killing enemies. Not all of the classes can do that with ease.
The Sorceress has a slighter advantage because her equipment doesn’t affect her damage a lot. Also, she can take down large groups of enemies a little faster than a common Barbarian.
In Hardcore mode, the safest choice is the Barbarian especially if it’s the first time you’re trying it. He has higher defense, many health points and decent damage. Further, he can progress through all difficulties of the game without many problems. That’s all you need for minimizing the risk of death during the Hardcore mode.
The Sorceress isn’t a bad choice for Hardcore mode. She’s much more fragile though and it requires more experience by the player. If you wish to start Hardcore mode with this character, it’s recommended to max out the Energy Shield as it will help you to stay alive.
It’s all about what kind of gameplay you enjoy more and in what section of the game you want to focus. If you just start at the ladder or you prefer to quickly slay large groups of monsters and search for Magic items, the best choice may be the Sorceress. The Barb isn’t weak in these areas of the game though.
If you’re looking for a powerful build for dueling with other players or you want to start at Hardcore mode, the Barbarian is a wiser option.
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