Berserker 1.0.4

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Guide

First, there's two major distinct builds: normal and Antimagic Berserker. It's basically entirely your call which route you take; as usual, AM versions of characters tend to have better survivability/healing at the cost of losing escape options, and losing access to Arcane equipment (but getting bonuses from multiple AM artifacts). I did Antimagic Thalore Berserker - this had the slightly unhappy side effect of being pretty tight on generic points, but worked excellently otherwise.

If you want the basic skill point distribution sketch, that's at the bottom. Racials are in the middle, the skill tree analysis is at the top (with Prodigies right after that).

EDIT:: I did not cover AM talents. That may come in another post.

Class Talent Trees

These are your mandatory talent trees: the ones which come unlocked, and Bloodthirst, which is vital to every build discussed in this guide.

Two-handed Weapons

  • Death Dance: The damage doesn't significantly increase with points invested. An excellent 1/5 for crowd clears, but not worth putting points in unless you have little else to do with them.
  • Berserker: As the links above note, using Berserker early is risky - the drop in defense and armor is a blow to an entirely melee class. However, after L15 or so, flip it on and try it out - the stun resistance and damage boost will be very helpful if you keep up your healing/invest some in Armor training. Skill scales well with levels - this should hit 5 before Dreadfell, most likely.
  • Warshout: One of your few crowd controls, and it's pretty effective! 3/5 this early for a good cone area, and 5/5 it later as the crowds ramp up.
  • Death Blow: Put a point into it; it turns into a massive Stamina drain at L4, which Berserkers don't deal with well, but having an assured critical hit for the Bloodthirst tree is great.

Two-handed Maiming

  • Stunning Blow: This skill is your bread and butter, your problem solver. Cheap, quick cooldown, powerful stun, and runs off Phys Power - which is the Berserker's primary stat! I recommend 4/5 in this quickly, so the stun lasts longer than it takes for the skill to go off cooldown. Against rares, uniques and bosses, this skill is hard to beat.
  • Sunder Armour: Not as impressive as you'll want it to be. Berserkers do one large hit, not multiple small ones; if you're needing to get past Armour, your best bet is to find an elemental weapon or one with damage conversion. 1/5 if you have to have it; I didn't invest any further in this tree on my clear.
  • Sunder Arms: You're not a dodging class. Accuracy reduction doesn't help. 1/5 if you have to have it, otherwise pass.
  • Blood Frenzy: Stamina drain is pretty damaging, and honestly? You don't have need of more Phys. Power. You have Berserker lategame, and earlygame this isn't really convenient to use. 0/5, don't even bother.

Combat Techniques

  • Rush: You are in possession of Rush with a base level of 1.3. This... basically means that lategame, you can get enough cooldown modifiers to get Rush to 0 cooldown. This, plus base Berserker damage? You'll be killing grunt mages very fast, which drastically improves your survivability. 1/5 early, get this to 5/5 over time (preferably by Halfling Ruins or Dreadfell).
  • Precise Strikes: The -10% attack speed hurts, but the +crit% and accuracy are insanely helpful. (A note: AM Berserkers want to hold off on this skill, most likely. They will probably raise Str/Wil first and then Dex, so it'll be a while before the bonuses are worth the -10% attack speed). Another eventual 5/5 - it synergises insanely well with the Bloodthirst tree.
  • Perfect Strikes: Didn't get the Withered Orbs from the Withering Thing, or the Spectral Blade? You'll want a point or two in this by Dreadfel to help deal with Dreads and Dreadmasters. It's... not very necessary past that point, though. 1/5, more if you like the accuracy buff. (Remember both Berserker and Precise Strikes boost Accuracy! You may not need this that often as a result.)
  • Blinding Speed: A great lategame way to bust down harder opponents, and pretty effective early as well. 5/5 when you can.

Combat Veteran

  • Quick Recovery: Vital to a Berserker's resource pool management. 1/5 early for the initial boost, 5/5 eventually.
  • Fast Metabolism: Useful, as a Berserker likes stacking healing and heal-mod items to keep health constantly accelerating, but... not a major priority. As much as you want/5.
  • Spell Shield: Good for walling magical status, if you don't have the infusions or equips to help out there. I did 0/5, but this is also entirely to taste.
  • Unending Frenzy: It... could be worse? But you kill things slower lategame which means the stamina payback isn't as helpful when you've expended relatively more. I also did 0/5 here. Maybe a build focused on Shattering Blows would see more use out of it.

Bloodthirst

  • Bloodbath: A great early 1/5 while your critical chance is still not great. Later on, when you have 50% or better chance, pumping this up to 5/5 is a great idea for the stamina regen and max HP buff alone.
  • Mortal Terror: This is basically one of the few immediate 5/5s I recommend, as soon as you can. +crit% and free dazes on big hits? Yeah. This is an excellent skill for any and all Berserkers.
  • Bloodrage: 1/5. Better than Blood Frenzy, but not by terribly much? After a point, any more Strength on a Berserker's overkill.
  • Unstoppable: 5/5 this. It can take a little bit, but... 5/5 this. This is the single greatest survival tool in the game. Being able to take seven turns without dying, and getting a fullheal if you managed to kill some support around you? Yeah. Abuse this in the Prides and anywhere else there's a group of enemies trying to hand you your ass.

Optional Class Talent Trees

(technically, Bloodthirst is optional, but...)

Superiority

  • Juggernaut: Expensive, but a great way for a Bulwark to handle melee threats, in theory. In practice, how much you need it depends on equipment luck. X/5.
  • Onslaught: 1/5 and move on. Competent for letting you weasel your way out of a really bad position if you're AM, I guess?
  • Battle Call: Either 1/5 if you're running for Shattering Strikes alone, or 5/5 if you wanna abuse this. Getting mages/archers right in your face for a Death Dance is an incredibly valid idea, but I prefer Rush.
  • Shattering Impact: If you're using this, 5/5. It isn't immediately obvious, but this skill does hit that target you landed the blow on with that damage, as well. Now, imagine Death Dance with this. Yeah. 5/5 to drop the stamina drain to something sane and to buff the damage some.

Warcries

  • Shattering Shout: 7 cooldown and a reasonable Stamina cost makes this the closest any melee dude will get to being a mage. If you're in this tree, I'd say 5/5 this eventually. Good crowd clear that amplifies well with Strength and with any/all physical damage boosters you pick up.
  • Second Wind: X/5. Great skill, especially as it's now %-based recovery. Allows you to use Unstoppable in an emergency or run Shattering Impacts for that much longer.
  • Battle Shout: 0 or 1/5. Doesn't scale as well as you might hope, and the bonus runs on raw talent level so you can't boost it with mastery-granting equipment. This being said! When you boost your max HP, you also get a heal to your current HP equal to the increase... and the heal is boosted by your healmod. So it can double as a HP heal and a weaker shielding rune that you can heal back to full power.
  • Battle Cry: 0. You... really don't need more effective accuracy. You're going to hit, barring stealth/invis.

Everything else is basically in the realm of "gimmick choice".

Generics

Combat Training

  • 5/5 Thick Skin as soon as possible
  • X/5 in Armor Training (if you're going AM, 1-3 points is valid; if you're not, 5 is probably best)
  • 2-5 in Accuracy (your accuracy will be bananas lategame even with 1 point, but to get that far, you probably want at least 2, if not 3, points here)
  • 5/5 Weapon Mastery (unless you're planning on Legacy of the Naloren, then just grab 2 or 3)
  • no/5 Dagger Mastery

Conditioning

  • As much as you feel like in Vitality (5/5 probably, for non-AM; AM can't afford it, drop only 1/5 here)
  • 1/5 in Daunting Presence (the bonuses don't scale well enough)
  • 4/5 in Unflinching Resolve (Talent level 5 comes at 4/5, since the category is at 1.3. The fifth point is a matter of taste, but I don't find it necessary as you cover the five statuses at L4)
  • 1/5 in Adrenaline Surge for emergency situations.

Cunning/Survival

Your call, entirely. Charms Mastery is a good pickup for AMs, especially if you can get levels off Thieves. Normal Berserkers won't care much about any of this.


Prodigies

  • Flexible Combat is great for an additional free hit or hits with a lot of your attacks, and potentially could get nasty with Shattering Impacts? Not sure.
  • Legacy of the Naloren (get 5 free levels of Exotic Weapon Mastery, plus a very damn good artifact Trident if you keep Slasul alive after grabbing the prodigy)
  • Superpower (Especially for AM; +30% of your Wil as added damage is excellent, and AMs love the mindpower boost)
  • Draconic Body (Great for countering surprise attacks or lots of mages/archers/damage all at once)
  • Draconic Will (Good if you see the status coming - spotted an enemy Necromancer unique, e.g.)
  • Unbreakable Will (Pre-emptive mental status blocking's pretty solid if you need it.)
  • Garkul's Revenge (If you have both parts, this is incredibly good - 20% added damage to all humanoids basically means all the Prides -and- High Peak.)
  • Hidden Resources (Decent enough, and Unstoppable will qualify you for this.)
  • Spell Feedback (Awesome AM choice - gives a passive way to lock down boss mages!)
  • Never Stop Running Great for dodging anything projectile-y, and you have the Stamina regen for it. (Thanks to Wahl Hara for pointing this out.)


Gimmick options

  • Unsetting Sun is great if you can meet the damage requirements! Good luck doing so, though. (There are good Fire-element weapons endgame for non-AM Berserkers, which helps a ton.)
  • Corrupted Shell requires siding with the Grand Corruptor, which probably means having picked up Celestial/Light or, more attractively, Stone Alchemy (since it doesn't require Magic to use the skills, you can swap Mag+ equips on to learn them and then take them back off).
  • Arcane Might (Even more damage than Superpower... -if- you've been running tons of Magic. Not likely, though.)
  • Mental Tyranny (AMs might want this if they meet the requirements - getting a way around phys resistance is excellent. But since mind element damage has the flaw of getting a Mental Save check, this isn't a good idea for those without mindpower.)


Racial choice

(2.5/5 is "Average class/race combo", for reference.)

  • Cornac: 3.5/5. Gives easy access to Warcries/Superiority/AM Fungus without a fuss, and the EXP Modifier's definitely notable nowadays. Good AM choice due to it providing a sink for generic points and leveling up fast.
  • Higher: 3.5/5. The regen skill's really neat for AM Berserkers and the final skill is great for everyone. Still levels up fast, gets a better HP mod than Cornacs.
  • Shalore: 4.5/5. Weak start docks the 0.5 here, for me, but once it gets going... 5/5 the crit boost skill and Timeless for an insane Unstoppable-abusing monstrosity. Can't go AM/get stuff like Mobility from Zigur sacrifices (EDIT: Without hardcore chicanery), but doesn't care much.
  • Thalore: 4.5/5. Excellent choice - the third Thalore racial now gives, in conjunction with Thick Skin, 25% all res. This makes Berserkers - especially AM Berserkers who can really use the first skill - excellent choices. The EXP mod is the -0.5 dock here - while Shalore don't much care, Thalore Berserkers will find themselves walking into the final fight at L47 or so and possibly sweating bullets as a result.
  • Dwarf: 4.5/5. Great HP, you can likely get enough equipment to not get stressed by the randart merchant prices (due to keeping up Power is Money), and having a racial escape helps a ton. It's not really a dominant choice but it's a pretty effective one.
  • Yeek: 2/5. Well, your HP's average now! ... and the third racial lets you counteract Precise Strikes' disadvantage! ... and I guess it's a decent AM option due to being able to mind control+autokill people? It's still got that horrific start and the low durability melee guy syndrome, though.
  • Skeleton: 3.5/5. The EXP mod hurts a lot and losing wild infusions is a major blow, even with Conditioning and Resilient Bones. Spell status will hand you your ass more often that you'd like. This being said, highly durable, great healing+regen setup, Str+Dex is a great racial boost... If you can deal with status, this is an excellent option.
  • Ghoul: 2/5. That speed drop is painful, and it makes Precise Strikes even harsher to run. On the upside, you have enough HP to mock Atamathon's damage... until he doubleacts you. :v: Doable but painful; the changes to Bloodbath make it a worse combo (pre-b38, Bloodbath also gave a heal mod% bonus, which could be abused p. easily and made this a more workable option).


Sample Build

A quick every-5-level skill point suggestion (presuming non-Cornac but also not factoring in racial trees, so Generics could look much different).

Stats: Strength, plus your choice of secondary. For the sake of this, presuming Con until Unflinching Resolve 4 is obtained, then switching to Dex. AM will want to go Str/Wil/Dex for most the game and use equipment to get their Con.

L1: Stunning Blow 2, Rush 1 / Weapons Mastery 1

L5: Stunning Blow 4, Rush 1, Quick Recovery 1, Berserker 2 / Weapon Mastery 2, Accuracy 2, Armor Training 2

L10: Unlock Bloodthirst. Rush 3, Berserker 5, War Shout 1 / (Do the Arena for two extra generics) Weapon Mastery 3, Accuracy 3, Armor Training 3, Vitality 1, Daunting Presence 1, Unflinching Resolve 1

L15: Bloodbath 1, Mortal Terror 2, Rush 4, War Shout 2, Death Blow 1 / Weapon Mastery 4, Unflinching Resolve 4

L20: Unlock whatever you want (infusion/rune point, Superiority, War Shout), Mortal Terror 5, War Shout 5 / Weapon Mastery 5, Thick Skin X, racials/Vitality/Adrenaline Surge/AM from here generics-wise.

At this point you should have Stunning Blow 4/Rush 5/Berserker 5/War Shout 5/Mortal Terror 5 and be on track to start running up Precise Strikes, picking up Unstoppable, getting one or two points in Precise Strikes and working with whatever extra trees you grabbed. From here, the oyster is your world.