(EDIT) Okay I have chosen to reference the build-guides work done by adoomgod (one of the admins of runicgamesfansite.com). I'm starting with just this 'zerker guide until I get full permission from him to reproduce his work on all the classes.
These guides were written based on the game's beta skill-sets, but since those skills have survived into the commercial release largely intact I believe these guides are still helpful.
As with all build-guides these are just meant to broadstroke what is possible/viable for the class in question; the build that will work best for you is still going to be a result of your own experimentation. And thankfully in Torchlight there is a re-spec NPC who will free-up/give back skill points for you to re-invest (for a fee of course
So, here is adoomgod's guide...
Torchlight II Build Diversity: The Berserker
Many games tout "character build diversity" - that is the ability of players to make many different configurations for their heroes' abilities, allowing for different playing styles. Torchlight 2 has four dimensions of build diversity in my opinion. You have stat distribution, skill distribution, item choice, and spell scrolls.
For the first of my four part build analysis, I will start with the Berserker. Please keep in mind that these are all theory-crafted builds, based on the beta and the skills revealed at PAX. They may or may not be viable in the final game, which will release later this month.
This build will snowball in power, and be slow to start, keep that in mind. Also let me just state I think this can become overpowered. I plan on using this build on my first character, so I'll dub it my Doomserker.
Blood Hunger: This is the real core of this build. With 1 skill point it returns 5% of your MAX health every time you land a critical strike, so max this to 15. The Tankzerker is built around life steal. (15 Skill Points)
Rampage: Every time you kill an enemy with a melee weapon, you have a chance to get a 5 second boost in movement speed, cast speed and attack speed. 25% in each at rank ONE. This will help you land more critical strikes in less time and dodge powerful enemy spells. (15 Skill Points)
Shred Armor: Fill this up ASAP. Not only does each of your hits reduce enemy armor, but you gain armor per hit as well! Increasing your damage while protecting yourself? Yes please! (15 Skill Points)
Frenzy Mastery: Increases duration of frenzy. The effect your charge bar gives you at max charge is a 100% critical strike chance and increases attack and movement speed. However, I would NOT max this. Youíll see in the stats that you will be stacking critical strike and dexterity, and you have so many skills that increase your charge rate, that you can probably maintain max charge without this. Iíd invest some points into this, but it might not even be necessary to have this anymore late game. (Optional Skill Points?)
Rage Retaliation: If you want to up your tank's DPS a bit, this gives you a passive chance to have a wolf spirit hit foes every time you take a hit. I probably wonít use it but itís there if you feel you are surviving well. (Optional Skill Points)
Red Wolf: Every time you land a critical strike, two neighboring enemies may be hit by a wolf spirit. Not a tank skill, but if youíre handling incoming damage well this should help your DPS, as Berserkers land critical strikes constantly.
Shadow Burst: Max this skill. It has a chance to shatter enemy shields, itís a great escape skill, it lets you lunge through enemies, and it heals you a % of your max health per enemy you hit - max 3 enemies at rank 1. At tier 3 (15/15) it has a 100% chance to break shields, heals you 12% of your max hp, and that can stack for 5 targets. Thatís 60% of your hpÖ (15 Skill Points)
Raze: Powerful hitting attack that does the same as Howl,and they should stack. This requires tier bonuses. At tier 1 it slows enemies like howl, at tier 2 it lowers enemy accuracy, and tier 3 it stuns - all good for tank. (15 Skill Points)
Battle Standard: Max this ASAP. You summon a standard that lasts a whopping 25 seconds that increases the rate you gain charge (full charge = crits = lifesteal with Blood Hunger) and increases your dodge rate 12% at level 1! Dodge + Life steal + Block Chance = Immortalilty? Check this out: At tier 1 (5/15 points) it also increases your mana regen. Did I mention it affects your allies as well? I believe that includes your summons as well. (15 Skill Points)
Battle Rage: This is another deceptive tank skill. At tier 1 (5/15 points) it gives ďdamage reduced by foe proximityĒ which means that the more enemies within its radius, the more damage is reduced. It also increases your damage per enemy in its radius too. I'd put at least 5 in this. (5+ Skill Points)
Ice Shield: This skill is the Tankzerker's bread and butter. Not only does it give you a chance to reflect projectiles, which is awesome, but at rank 1 it gives you a 44% chance to generate 10% of your charge whenever you take a hit! Full charge = Many Critical Hits = Blood Hungerís life steal is always working. Iíd max this unless it becomes too mana heavy.
Shadowbind: Makes all enemies take a % of the damage you deal to your primary target within a radius. To understand how this can be effective, look at the Item Core section below. If this works with Damage over Time, then the Tankzerker can have his cake and eat it too when it comes to DPS vs survival.
Howl: Debuffs enemy attack, slows enemy casting speed and enemies take more damage. This means they will hit you less and die faster, which also results in you taking fewer hits.
Storm Claw: Converts some of your weaponís damage to electric damage and has a chance to arc. This is just a powerful skill I recommend to all melee Berserkers. You donít have to max it.
Glacial Shatter: This is optional but it ALWAYS blinds enemies, which could help mitigate damage. I think even at level 1 it could be useful.
Wolf Shade: A must have skill. Not only are summons GREAT because they mitigate damage, but your Wolf Shades heals you with every attack! (15 Skill Points if the healing effect is based on damage done)
Savage Rush: I like it because it makes you move fast. (Optional 1 Skill Point)
Wasnít that fun? There is just so much to this build. While the skills I suggest you max are pretty set in stone, the stats are more flexible. Now then, what you want to do here is stack Vitality and Dexterity. Put just as much strength as you need to equip your items, but no more. Remember that even strength items can be equipped later on when you reach the level requirement.
Vitality increases your block rate, your armor, and your max HP. Remember that your life steal skills are based on your max HP so it just makes them more effective. Dexterity gives you dodge - another tanky passive - as well as a higher Critical Strike chance. You want to land as many Critical Strikes as possible for Blood Hungerís life steal effect. MUCH later into the game you can start using strength when you find yourself landing Criticals constantly. Strength is negligible to this build and the reason is in the item core:
Claw and Shield. This is also not up for debate. Shields are obvious, but why do I insist on claws? They are the fastest melee weapons in the game. Of course, if you do find a sword thatís faster than your claw, use that. But here is where we cheat the system. Fast melee weapons are inherently good because you will attack more often and thus land Critical Strikes more often, and thus steal life more often. However there may be such a thing as too fast, as the faster your weapon is the lower it's base damage. If you aren't hitting hard enough you may need a slower weapon.
However, did you know that damage over time effects stack? Therefore what you want to do is find a super-fast weapon and put a damage effect on it. Let me explain: If you have a gem that when socketed into a weapon gives ďConveys 100 physical damage over 5 seconds,Ē that stacks for as many times as you can hit with it in five seconds. Each stack lasts five seconds individually, so if you have a weapon that attacks once per second, you can stack it five times, and it becomes an additional 500 damage per second as long as your attacks continue. If you have a weapon that can attack three times per second - like a claw - you now have 1500 damage per second, and you are constantly maintaining it to never run out.
This is how you easily beat an enemyís resistances. By stacking DoTís your Tankzerker just became a DPS Tankzerker hybrid. I donít even know if critical strikes effect DoT skills, but if so, it's a BONUS!
Finally the affixes you want in order of importance (best is first): Max Health/Critical Hit Chance > Attack Speed > Armor > Dodge ChanceÖ I didn't do the math here, so this may be better optimized. Just take the most you can get of everything. You want Critical Strikes more than anything to keep your life steal up. DO NOT pass up Max Health bonuses. Max Health means you can take more hits AND your life steal grants more HP. I mean, if an item has +22 hp, that's not much at level 20, but if it has 100, take a seriously look at it. While playing the beta I found two level 17 uniques. A berzerker ring that added about 350 hp, and a necklace that added about 230. I found 2 of the rings and all of a sudden I was Immortal. Stacking HP quickly makes a difference.
Raise attack speed to land more critical strikes and stack DoT effects faster. Look for armor and resistance bonuses to support your tankiness. Dodge is great if you can get it without losing anything else, but I donít like relying on luck to survive. Any items you can find to increase your charge rate will be more useful early on than later in the game.
Elemental Protection: This is extremely non-debatable. Elemental enemies were killers in Torchlight 1 and are even worse in Torchlight 2 due to resistances being tied to specific pieces of armor.
Get a Heal All spell for both you and your pet.This will be more useful early on. Always keep it on your pet.
If there are armor and skill expertise passive spell scrolls, find them for yourself. Just get any passives that boost survival.
If Torchlight 1's Dervish made it into TL2, then use that. The attack speed is a definite boon. Haste also helps.
On your pet get summons and anything that stuns. Why summons? Yes they will die fast without items backing them, but they mitigate damage. You want distractions. Zombies might steal life, so if they do try to get some zombies. I also suggested putting them on your pet because your pet auto-casts where as you may be pre-occupied.
This build may be a bit challenging but I see a trick to it at higher levels using Frost Breath. Here's a Caster Zerker! Note: a user named "poopbus" alerted me that I listed more skills than is possible to max out. This was intentional. I list extra/more skills to offer you alternatives. None of my builds have to be followed point for point, and this one is no exception.
All Ice skills! Done! Ok, I kid, but this is still true. Focus on putting points into Ice Skills.
Executioner: This may actually be a skill to max out. It increases your chance to execute and gives you increased charge rate by a huge amount after you execute for 3 seconds. If you dual wand (see item core) then this is for you. (15 Skill Points)
Shatter Storm: This is another bread and butter skill. It gives you a 100% chance upon killing a frozen enemy to release a 4 meter ring of ice that has a 100% chance to immobilize, a per rank increase to freeze (up to 75%!!!) and lowers enemy ice resistance (up to 75%!). Also, as you increase its rank the duration of the immobilize and ice weakness increases. (15 Skill Points)
Frenzy Mastery: This build will do well with frenzy always active. (possible 15/15 Skill Points)
Red Wolf: Deals damage to surrounding enemies when you land a critical hit. If this works with AOE spells it might serve you well.
Frost Breath: This is deceptively going to end up being one of your main spells. Max it. It deals a low percent of your weapon dps as ice damage, has a decent freeze chance and huge immobilize chance, and increases damage enemies take by 20% for 4 seconds at rank 1. Tiers 1 and 2 increase the cone size of the breath and the range, but tier 3 is the thing that changes the game. At tier 3 the range is even larger but it also APPLIES LIFE AND MANA STEAL from your items! Thatís PER enemy you hit I believe. This could become an infinite source of mana at high lvls. (15 Skill Points)
Northern Rage: At rank 1 it deals a small amount of your weapon dps as ice damage but also has base ice damage built in. It can freeze enemies or immobilize them, and at rank 1 has a 15% chance to break shields! If the shield breaking chance goes up, definitely max this. Every tier bonus grants you more ice fissure projectiles and makes them travel farther. (15 Skill Points)
Glacier Shatter: Ice damage built in, blinds enemies, interrupt chance, and knockback. As you rank it up it gains more geysers (source of damage) and bigger AOE. (15 Skill Points)
Perma Frost: This will be your main cooldown spell. It has a ten second cooldown but deals inherent ice damage over 10 seconds. It has a HUGE radius and as you upgrade its tiers it gets a chance to freeze and immobilize. (15 Skill Points)
Shadow Bind: I think I would max this as you do nothing but spam AOEís as an Icezerker. As this ranks up you eventually end up doing much more damage than you would without it. (15 Skill Points)
Battle Standard: Put perhaps 5 points into it, if not more. At tier 1 it grants mana regen, which you will sorely need, and itís just a great survivability spell with the bonus of granting charge rate. (5+ Skill Points)
Wolf Shade: Explained in above build. Summons offer damage mitigation and this one steals life for you. Iíd probably invest into this.
Shadow Burst: Not as good on this build but still with a chance to break shields and stealing hp, this is a fun escape skill.
Ice shield: Put one skill point in, or more at your own discretion. Yes you arenít a tank but you probably will get hit right? At rank 1 it gives a nice chance to reflect some projectile damage, AND a 44% chance to give you 10% charge whenever struck. 10% almost half the time is nothing to scoff at. (1+ Skill Points)
Howl: Debuffs enemies attack speed, cast speed, and move speed, and increases the damage they take. This is just handy no matter who you are. (15 Skill Points)
Battle Rage: It increases your damage based on number of enemies in its radius. This applies to spells. Also at tier 5 it reduces damage you take based on the same. I'd max this too (15 Skill Points)
Focus, especially if you are dual wanding. It increases your elemental damage, it increases your mana which subsequently increases your mana regen, and if you use two wands it increases your chance to execute. If you are using 2 wands it makes the Executioner skill handy. You will want to just go focus until you are getting diminishing returns. Dexterity is also great for crits, and so is strength. Iíd do Focus > Dex > Str. Vitality is good if you need it but you shouldnít. Donít get frustrated if you are having trouble at lower levels and waste a few points in Vitality.
This build is entirely item dependent. You need as much +damage% and +ice damage% as you can find. This is your "numero uno" rule. Secondly you want mana/mana regen and cast speed. The fun part is that if you can get life steal and mana steal it will make your tier 3 Frost Breath crazy. At tier 3 it should use your weapons' life and mana steal on each enemy hit.
I suggest dual wands or staves as they are more likely to have casting bonuses. Ice wands obviously and ice staves. Though you are more spell oriented so if you have an Ice staff with +3% cast speed and you find a fire staff with +10%, swap them.
Get mage weapon proficiency for a passive boost in staves/wands. Elemental Overload is not up for debate, as it super charges your elemental damage for a brief amount of time. Then get anything else that helps your damage. Maybe some summons for damage mitigation, zombies and skeletons and anything else that can take a few hits, but with so much frost you probably won't need it.
The Dual Wieldzerker
Another name for this is: The most obvious Berserker build. You will note I suggest you max out more skills than you have skill points for. Looks like you will have to make some hard choices. Here is a tip, the 15 point passives are not up for debate, the rest are. If I were you, Iíd listen to all the 15 point passives I mention, save Rage Retaliation. This build is kind of fun in that because it is so passive heavy, your choices in actives are what define you.
Executioner: Increased chance to execute and charge bonus for executing. Can you say ďinfinite chargeĒ? (15 Skill Points)
Blood Hunger: Max it if you want to survive on elite. If you arenít playing elite then it can be lower, MUCH lower. (15 Skill Points)
Rampage: This is the same as the Tankzerker build, but even more important for you. Attack speed cast speed and move speed are always appreciated. (15 Skill Points)
Rage Retaliation: Max it for fun. I like this passive on a dual wield Berserker because your dps should be high and it passively deals damage to enemies around you. That means you donít have to click a button. Itís not necessary but I think it could be a nice asset. (Optional 15 Skill Points)
Cold Steel Mastery: Itís up to you if the 2% physical damage per rank is worth it to you. Thatís 30% at max. Itíll probably be worth it to me, Iíll just have to give up an active skill. (15 Skill Points if you give up one Active Skill)
Shred Armor: It destroys enemy armor and gives you armor temporarily. This is a means to survive as well as get your 1-handed weapons' damage up. (15 Skill Points)
Red Wolf: Deals damage to nearby enemies when you crit, which you will be doing a lot. I'll probably max this too. (15 Skill Points)
Frenzy Mastery: As much as you need to have frenzy lasting you a whole fight. Iíd probably go somewhere from 5-7 into this.
Storm Claw: This will greatly help your dps and itíll look awesome to see your attacks constantly spreading lightning to nearby foes. (15 Skill Points)
Howl: Same as the Tankzerker build. Itís a great debuff that you need even more now that you are squishy. (15 Skill Points)
Chain Snare: Interesting. Pulls enemies into you, stuns them, and at higher rank can shatter shields. If you think you can survive it, such as when you're at max charge, this could be useful for quick enemies that try to keep distance from you.
Shadowbind: Same as the Icezerker build but different. Since you will be focusing one enemy at a time normally, this is a good way to make an impromptu AOE while focusing a single target. Could be useful on bosses and at max I think itíll give you a lot of damage.
Battle Rage: This is very important on dual wielding Berserkers. Unlike Tankzerkers you want to focus more on killing enemies fast, since your survival is just not as good, and this does offer damage mitigating at tier 1. (15 Skill Points)
Battle Standard: Invest some points into this if you want to live long on elite, otherwise itís passable. (1+ Skill Points)
Raze: Same as Tankzerker build. This looks to be a powerful spell. (15 Skill Points)
Ice shield:With one point it has a 44% chance to give you 10% charge and as you are a melee fighter, I donít see why anyone wouldn't put 1 point into this. (1 Skill Point)
Ravage: This could be a a skill to max. It stacks armor reduction and itís an AOE. (15 Skill Points)
Rupture: This one is up to you, looks strong. It has a 50% stun chance at rank 1 and deals an AOE of physical damage.
Shadow Burst: Up to you if you want to use it for life steal and shield break chance. I personally will always put a few points into this on ANY of my Berserkers. I like the low level mana cost - life returned ratio.
Storm Hatchet: Consider this as a way to gain charge from a distance. As you tier it up it shoots three instead of one, which means three times the charge gained in a hit. This could be a great way to get your frenzy on before a fight starts.
Eviscerate: Itís ok lookingÖ Cleaves and deals damage over timeÖ I dunno guys, definitely not my go to skill but its range gets large later in the game. Could be fun. With high cast speed and DoTís on your weapons this could get strong.
As you can see you have a LOT of options in actives. Thatís what makes Dual Wield Zerkers fun. They have many different flavors to them.
Strength, dexterity and focus are key. Iíd do a 1/2/2 (str/dex/foc) build. Sacrifice some focus for strength or vitality when you need to armor, but remember that at level 100 you will be able to use all armor. At higher levels stop pumping dexterity as you will have almost permanent frenzy-mode (100% crit chance from charge bar) and start pumping strength. At around 30% crit chance Iíd do a 4/1/2 build (str/dex/foc) This is another way Dualzerkers are so different than Tankzerkers, who donít worry about dealing damage except through DoTís and Raze.
The best item affix you can find is +% critical strike damage. This is because in TL2 you will find this in high amounts. You donít find +5% critical damage, you tend to find +25% and up of critical strike damage on a single weapon. This is how you make one handed weapons go crazy.
The second most valuable affix you can get though is +% damage or +% physical damage.
Dual wield melee weapons of your choice. If you pick fast weapons like claws try to enchant them and socket them with Damage over Time. You want to get +crit chance, attack speed, dodge and execute. In that order. +health will probably be great as well.
Find Dual Wield Mastery and Martial Weapon Expertise for damage. Find Elemental Protection since you will lack a shield and vitality. Heal Self as your fourth spell scroll. Dervish is great if your attack speed is lacking. Pet should have heal all and 3 summons, or anything that debuffs monsters. If putting Martial Weapon Expertise and Dual Wield Mastery scrolls on your pet stacks the damage bonus of the ones on yourself, do that instead.
This build should also be OP in the hands of a gentleman of gaming. Another name for this build is: TROLOLOLOLOLO! I AM CRAZY WILD CANNON MAN!
Frenzy Mastery: Cannons are slow and thus it will be harder for you to maintain charge, and frenzy is essential to cannonzerkers. You want it to last as long as possible. (15 Skill Points)
Rampage Chance after kill to get more attack speed, movespeed and cast speed? 15/15 this ASAP.
Red Wolf: 15/15 This makes your crits even more crit tastic. I wonder if it can proc multiple times at once. Either way it helps your dps get even higher.
Storm Hatchet: Max it! This is the secret weapon of Cannonzerkers! For rizzle. At rank 1 it generates 5% of charge. At rank 15 I believe thatís 19%. At tier 2 it throws THREE. Can Thatís 57% charge if all three hit when maxed out. At tier 3 it shatters shields. Oh did I mention it lowers enemy movement speed by 100% for 2.2 seconds?! This is your ďstay away from me and die pleaseĒ skill. It will have you at max charge in no time and keep enemies chained to the ground. (15 Skill Points)
Battle standard: Put at least one skill point into this. More if the charge rate bonus it gives you increases with level. Not so great because as a ranged fighter you may not be standing around it for very long. (1+ Skill Points)
Howl: This skill is optional. I like it, but you donít need to debuff the enemyís attack that much since you shouldn't be taking hits as a ranged glass cannon. I like it for it makes them take more damage and itís radius goes up making it easier to land at higher levels. (Optional 15 Skill Points)
Battle Rage: You shouldnít be getting this close to enemies anyways but if so, this will help you survive and kill them faster. (15 Skill Points)
Ice Shield: For charge and protection from ranged enemies. (15 Skill Points)
Shadow Burst: This is a good heal and escape skill. I will always use this to rank 5. (5+ Skill Points)
Wolf Shade: Optional, Life steal and itíll tank from a melee distance. (Optional up to 15 Skill Points)
Savage Rush: Use it to run away, and it does reduce enemy armor while you pass through enemies. Mainly though I'd see this as a 1 point skill to escape. (1 Skill Point)
All Strength until you start getting diminishing returns. (As you invest in a stat, eventually it gives fewer bonuses per point) Then invest in dexterity, critical strikes on cannons will give you disgustingly high damage. Disgusting in an awesome way.
Here we have some fun: Crit damage% is your best affix since getting charge will be no problem with all your skills. Critical strike chance will be more useful early on since you will have more trouble getting charge at lower levels.
+% physical damage and attack speed come next. Move speed if you can get it for running away.
If Ranged Mastery works on cannons find that. Dervish and Haste are perfect as well. The rest is up to you. This build is hilariously strong me thinks.