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Diablo 3 Character Classes - Demon Hunter

Updated on October 9, 2014
This is an old view of my Demon Hunter.  He is much more badass nowadays!
This is an old view of my Demon Hunter. He is much more badass nowadays! | Source

Demon Hunters rely on discipline to fight and cause damage, and hatred to deal punishing blows to their enemies. Traps can slow and harm, explosives can stun, disorient, and kill, devices such as sentries can be left to deal damage while drawing the enemy's attention, and Shadow Magic can be used to confuse and sneak up on their prey. They don't hunt for sport, they hunt to kill, and they do it well! Experts in marksmanship, they are also incredibly acrobatic in order to get out of tight spots, and expert tacticians, using a range of devices and methods to dispatch their foes at range.

A lone boy watched in horror as his family was taken from him, butchered by demons who came in the night and killed simply for the pleasure of it. He wanted to fight back, to kill them all, but he knew he could not. His father, the strongest man he had ever known, had been torn apart by the beasts. What could he do, alone and scared?

Before they could find him, hiding beneath the corpses of his family, a howl sounded in the night that drew the attention of the minions of the burning hells. Soon after, there were explosions, sounds of snapping metal and the howls of the dying. Whoever it was had to have been killed, the boy thought. And the demons would be coming for him next.

He closed his eyes and awaited the inevitable, but it never came. When he finally dared to look, he saw a man in a long cloak with a hood drawn over his head, eyes seeming to glow from within the cowl. He held twin hand-crossbows and stared down at the boy, but never said a word. The man waited until the boy took the first step to uncover himself and look down at the mutilated bodies of his family. He began to cry, and then he began to wail.

"Good!" said the man, his voice low and husky. "Remember that feeling, and use it! Your training has begun!"

I imagine that must be how Demon Hunters recruit those who join their number. They save those that they can, and those saved become disciplined to use their hatred to defeat the demons of Sanctuary's burning hells.

When I first read of the Demon Hunter, and researched the many skills at their disposal - many months ahead of the launch of the original game in 2012 - I loved the idea of the Demon Hunter. I had never been a fan of ranged characters in the previous Diablo games, but the options available greatly intrigued me! Traps, explosives, machine-gun crossbows, guardian sentries... It sounded like the possibilities and fun would be endless! And truth be told, even more than 2 years in, the Demon Hunter is STILL my favorite class to play.

The Early Going

When starting off in your adventures in Sanctuary as a Demon Hunter, you will be equipped with a basic bow and that's about it! Your first skill is called Hungering Arrow, and is actually a pretty good skill to have, even at max level! I use it, on occasion, and still enjoy the various options it has at it's disposal.

For your first level, Hungering Arrow will be your primary attack, and is going to seek out enemies and do damage to them. It does have a chance to pierce the enemy (35%, so every third one, on average) and strike another target, or boomerang back and hit the target a second time. Hungering Arrow generates Hatred (one of your resources) which you can use for other more deadly attacks.

At Level 2, you get your first secondary attack, Impale. This skill allows you to throw a knife at a target for high damage - 750% weapon damage! It does, however, cost 20 hatred, so you will still need to shoot a lot of Hungering Arrows to keep impaling enemies with daggers.

Over the next few levels, you will add another primary and secondary attack, as well as your first defensive skill, Caltrops (my daughters call it cow-traps). In the early going, Caltrops will be important to slow enemies so that you have longer to kill them. The other primary skill, Entangling Shot also slows your enemies by chaining a couple of them together. But the secondary you get at level 5 could be the one you stick with indefinitely (it is certainly MY favorite): Rapid Fire. This skill allows you to fire arrows machinegun-like, to devastate your foes.

Next, you will start to get runes to add to your primary and secondary skill, as well as a few other skills to add to your repertoire from the Defensive and Hunting categories. At Level 10, your first passive skill slot opens up, and you have two passives skills to choose from.

Wait, there, Slyde! What's a Passive Skill? you may be asking. And that is a good question to ask!

Passive skills are skills that will benefit you without having to actively engage them. They encompass things like gaining discipline faster, or having better dodge chance based on your weapons. Whether you activate a skill or not (with the caveat that some passives act on active skills), your passive will always be working in your favor.

Some Strategies to Level 10

With a few different skills in your arsenal, you're going to need to start thinking about how to use them. A good starting point is to use the slowing skills you have to your advantage. The longer you can keep melee enemies (the ones that hit you with hands, swords, teeth, etc.) away from you, the more time you have to do damage and kill them before they get close enough to hit you. Dropping caltrops and firing rapid fire is a good method, and use that vault to get away once they get through the caltrop.

Another good combo is Entangling shot for primary, Impale (Impact rune - for the stun effect) as secondary, and Caltrops as defensive. Both Caltrops and Entangling Shot will slow enemies, and the chance to stun with the Impact rune can further stop and enemy, allowing even more time to finish them off.

If you like to get really close to the action, maybe Smoke Screen would be a good choice (Get Out of Jail Free card, so to speak). This lets you slip away from the action when the baddies get to close for comfort. It depends on your style, and I encourage you to experiment freely with the different skills at your disposal.

As for equipment, you want anything amd everything with Dexterity on it - this is your primary attribute, and every point of Dexterity adds to your Damage Per Second or DPS. Items that add to hatred or discipline are also well received, as are any stats related to mitigation of elemental damage (resistance to cold, fire, lightning, poison, magic, holy or physical - I think those are the types). Increased Attack Speed (often referred to as IAS) is highly sought after, but not always necessary.

Now, as a demon hunter you want a bow, crossbow or hand crossbow. Here, the choice is really up to preference. Crossbows are often the slowest, but deal the highest damage. Hand crossbows fire much more rapidly at the cost of pure output, but generally, the DPS will end up around the same for similar equipment. Hand crossbows will allow you to carry two, while the others take up both hands - however: the Demon Hunter only can carry a bow or crossbow, and have a quiver in the offhand. Quivers will often add some interesting bonuses, so keep an eye out.

While any armor is good armor, Demon Hunter cloaks will generally have bonuses specific to your DH, so keep an eye out for these. They aren't always the best, but it's still good to keep watch.

When fully geared in top tier items, your Demon Hunter will look BADASS!!!
When fully geared in top tier items, your Demon Hunter will look BADASS!!! | Source

The Middle Ground

Levels 11 to 30 will introduce you to the rest of your skills, and add a bunch of new passives to your arsenal. As you level up, the monsters get stronger, but you will also find better items that become more and more useful.

This is also the time when you will likely start to see legendary items start to drop. There is a distinctive "ting" sound that you will hear, and an item will appear on the ground with a glowing spike shooting up into the sky. If you are not near the area where the item drops, for whatever reason, a star on your map will indicate the location of the legendary item.

Before you can use it, you need to identify it with a click of your mouse, or a button press on console. Once identified, it will tell you more about the item: stats, special bonuses, and even a little flavor text to describe the origins of the item. Many of these are highly sought after (Bombardier's Rucksack gives you two extra sentries, or Andariel's Visage which occasionally casts a poison nova when you get hit or the Spaulders of Zakara that make your items indestructible).

But legendaries aren't the only game in town. Sets are available that add more bonuses with the higher number of pieces of the set that you wear. One of the most popular for Demon Hunters, currently, is the Marauders Set, sometimes referred to as M6 (because there are 6 pieces, and the full set has AWESOME bonuses). Have a single piece of a set is akin to a legendary, but two from a set is like three legendaries, because having the two parts give the additional bonuses that you don't get from a single piece.

By level 15, you will have all of your primary skills, and several runes available as well. The range of possibilities here is quite extensive, so you can tailor your build to your play style. If you like high damage, but are willing to wait for the pain to hit, bolas are a good choice. They can damage multiple enemies with their explosive force, but take a couple of seconds to detonate and cause damage. If, however, you like to slow enemies, then Entangling Shot might be for you. Evasive Fire allows you to hit three enemies at once, and when enemies get to close, you automatically backflip away.

Secondary skills are likewise mixed with abilities to deal massive damage to one or many opponents, and by level 20 you will have access to all of them. Impale does high damage, but it is slow. Rapid fire does good long term damage and can be turned to hit many foes over time. Chakram spirals out and hits seceral enemies, and Elemental Arrow adds elemental damage and shoots through enemies in a line. Trying them all is highly recommended, as they all have benefits that can play to your own personal style.

There are only 3 defensive skills, and Shadow Power is arguably the most powerful. It gives you a life boost while you deal damage, and when coupled with other abilities can bring you back to full health from empty in short order.

Hunting Skills give you Vault for quick getaways, Preparation that restores some of your discipline, Companion which provides you a hunting partner (Raven at level 17, Spider at 22, or Bat at level 29, each with different benefits), and Marked for Death allows you to pick out one enemy and deal extra damage to them for a time.

The Devices skills are Fan of Knives (shoot a spread of knives around you at anyone who is close), Spike Trap and Sentry (*Note that Vengeance is a Device skill, but is available at level 61).

The final category is Archery which provides you with some very powerful abilities, but they have high costs in resources or long cooldowns. Strafe will let you continue to move as you shoot, but reduces your speed. It also shoots at random enemies, so you cannot focus your attack on any specific individual. Multishot shoots a massive volley of arrows in an arc wherever you are facing. Damage is decent if you have a good group in front of you. Against a single enemy, you are going to miss most shots, and enemies far away get hit even less.

Cluster Arrow shoots a powerful shot at a location, which then drops additional grenades for further damage at the location you hit. Rain of Vengeance shoots a massive volley into the sky that then rains down on the area for sustained damage over time. Later runes give you extended abilities such as calling Shadow Beasts to drop grenades, or stampede at a location.

Once you've tried out a number of skills and experimented with the runes available, it is time to continue your journey and progress to the max level and the best loot available in the game!

Time to Build

AS you progress, you add more runes, more passives, and more powerful weaponry and gear. Eventually, you are going to want to focus your attention on creating a specific build, or just doing the best you can with what you find.

There are a ton of guides that will instruct you on the items and skills that you need to have in order to succeed, but there are a million ways to do it. Some will certainly be more efficient than others, and some will provide amazingly powerful benefits that seem unwise to deny (such as the aforementioned Embodiment of the Marauder, the go-to set for current Demon Hunters).

The fact of the matter is that no-one can tell you that you are playing wrong - well, I guess if you are running around trying to reason with the demons and get them into anger management courses, you are actually playing it wrong! But if you gear yourself, manage your resources, and kill the bad guys while having fun - YOU'RE DOING IT RIGHT!!!

Personally, I like to take the stuff I get that's cool and build my skills around it. However, sometimes people want to know what some of the better builds are that others have come up with, so I will provide a few samples here for your perusal.

If, however, you are in the mood to just throw caution to the wind and let chance (a.k.a. RNG, a favorite acronym you will find on the Diablo 3 Forums - it stands for Random Number Generator, and is what determines almost everything in Diablo) decide for you, I recommend going to the skill calculator and clicking the face at the bottom of the page, just above the site map where it says Games, Account, Support, etc. Here is a build that I generated just now by clicking the face. Not a set of skills I'd have chosen myself, but it could be an interesting experiment!

If you don't know what face I am talking about, check the image below to see where you can find it.

Press this face and it will give you a random set of skills in the calculator, along with runes and passives.
Press this face and it will give you a random set of skills in the calculator, along with runes and passives. | Source

So You Want Builds?

Well, there is no easy way to actually paste in ALL the information that there is on builds. What I can do is point to a few locations that can provide more information than I have the ability to compile, and truth be told, I'd just be stealing their thunder. Others have put tons of time into working out the best options for your Demon Hunter's Killing!

Embodiment of the Marauder is the go-to set for all Demon Hunters, currently. 4 parts gets you the advantage of all companions fighting alongside of you, and a 6 part will allow your sentries to fire your hatred spenders (Multishot, Impale, Cluster Arrow, Chakram, and Elemental Arrow are the only ones that work, from what I understand). Bombardier's Rucksack gives you an extra 2 sentries, and the Helltrapper can shoot sentries, caltrops or spike traps when you get hit.

More than anything, gear is going to affect your build. Paragon points spent wisely can assist, for sure. But having the right combo of skills and runes with the proper passives can make you godlike!

Check out these pages for more info on builds and the rationale behind them:

[GUIDE] DH Builds, Info, and FAQ

DiabloFans Demon Hunter Builds

Diablo3 Blog Demon Hunter Builds

There may be crossover on some of these, but you will find a LOT of good information on gearing and skill selection to build your ultimate Demon Hunter.

Below is my Demon Hunter build (cannot link to the build, so this image is the best option I have, currently).

Got a favourite build or set of gear? Let me know in the comments below. 'Til then, Happy (Demon) Hunting!

A Few Good Diablo 3 Resources

What You'll Find
Diablo Somepage
News and guides, the most used items and skills used by players, rankings, and more!
Diablo IncGamers
IN play since 1997, they have news and guides, commentary, reviews, weekly podcasts and more!
Diablo 3 Reddit
If you reddit and you like Diablo 3, this is the place to be!
Other than the official Blizzard website, here are a few other places you can look for some info.


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