Diablo 3 Demon Hunter Guide

In this Diablo 3 Demon Hunter guide, we will be giving you a Demon Hunter overview but also covering the best abilities, builds and tips you can use as a Demon Hunter in Diablo 3.

The Demon Hunter is surely going to be one of the most popular classes in Diablo 3 and its unique skill-set may make it particularly formidable in PvP in the hands of a skilled player. Below, we will start with a Demon Hunter class overview and progress into talking about specific abilities and builds.

You can read this D3 Demon Hunter guide for a quick overview of the class and its mechanics. If you are looking for more specific Demon Hunter information, check out these guides we have put together:

Diablo 3 Demon Hunter Class Overview

The Demon Hunter is a new class in Diablo 3 that seems to have replaced both the Amazon and the Assassin. It seems to draw on both classes as it has access to bows but also seems to rely heavily on explosives, bombs, knives and other Assassin-esque techniques.

One major thing is that players can be both male or female Demon Hunter, whereas in Diablo 2 you were unable to pick the gender of your character. This will be at least some consolation over the lack of the Amazon class for those who like playing ranged characters but prefer a male character over a female character.

In the next part of this Diablo 3 Demon Hunter guide, we will be covering Demon Hunter gameplay and exactly how this class works.

Diablo 3 Demon Hunter Gameplay

As mentioned, the Demon Hunter is a ranged class (not the Demon Hunter from Warcraft by any stretch of the imagination) which relies primarily on bows, bombs, and traps to deal damage to its enemies. You have two options when it comes to weapons – using a two-handed bow or crossbow or dual wielding.

Using a two-hander works just like you would think it would, but dual-wielding is something altogether different:

Diablo 3 Demon Hunter Guide – Dual Wielding

The Demon Hunter is capable of wielding two 1-handed ranged weapons, a class referred to as “Hand Crossbows” or “Light Crossbows”. These Demon Hunter specific weapons and no other class can dual wield these.

When dual-wielding, you alternate attacks with each weapon. Weapon damage is not additive but calculated by each weapon individually. This means that if you are dual wielding and using one weapon which does a lot more damage than the other weapon, when you shoot with the stronger weapon you do much more damage than when you shoot the weaker weapon.

There are three advantages you get from dual wielding – your attack speed is 15% faster by default (globally faster on both weapons), you get better stat bonuses (which affect both weapons) as Hand Crossbows seem to have a bigger item budget than quivers, and you get to attack more frequently.

The primary advantage is the latter one – you get to attack more frequently. You have a lot of proc-based gear and abilities in Diablo 3 and attacking faster makes them more useful. For example, you can use Impale more frequently with a fast dual-wield build, and when runed, this has a 65% chance to knock back and stun your target. A faster attack speed means more frequent stuns.

D3 Demon Hunter Guide – Downsides of Dual Wielding

The major downside of dual wielding is that it only works if you have two very good 1-hand weapons. If there is a big disparity between your weapons, you actually do more damage just using the good 1-handed weapon and a quiver than equipping a bad bow in your off-hand.

In this situation, using a comparable 2-handed bow or crossbow with a quiver (quivers have stats in Diablo 3) seems to do much more damage. In fact, as you look at items with higher level requirements and bigger budgets, it seems like using a 2-handed bow or crossbow is far superior to dual wielding (most quivers have 10% increased attack speed stat, which after all cuts the advantage of dual wielding from 15% to just 5%) for most players.

For most, dual wielding will likely not be useful in Diablo 3 until it is buffed or until PvP or very challenging content, where proccing stuns, knockbacks, and kiting may be more important than actually doing direct damage.

Diablo 3 Demon Hunter Guide – Resources & Abilities

The Demon Hunter has a fairly complicated resource system compared to the other classes. There are two total types of resources that are consumed in order to use its abilities: Hatred and Discipline.

You start with 150 hatred by default and regenerate 4 hatred per second. You start with 30 Discipline and only regenerate 1 Discipline per second. Despite the large different in regeneration rates, both resources regenerate fairly slowly; 37.5 seconds for a full pool of Hatred (150/4 = 37.5 seconds) and 30 seconds for a full pool of Discipline.

However, that is not the whole story. The Demon Hunter has three ability types for its two resource pools:

  • Hatred Generators, which tend to be weaker or single-target attacks but rather than spending any resource, they regenerate it. Hatred Generators give you 3 Hatred per use by default, but the Grenade ability in particular can be moved to give you up to 8 and Evasive Fire regenerates 4.
  • Hatred Spenders, which tend to either be more powerful,hit a wide area of effect, or have a debuff. For example, Fan of Knives for example does 320% weapon damage without a rune, Multishot covers a huge area, and Impale has a stun.
  • Discipline Spenders, which tend to lend themselves towards buffs or escapes rather than direct damage. For example, Caltrops is a trap you can lay which is a powerful snare, Shadow Power lets you leech life, and Smoke Screen lets you escape from the enemy.

This means that general Demon Hunter gameplay means using your Hatred Generators most of the time when you are safe to keep your resources high. One of your default Hatred Spenders, Hungering Arrow, does good single-target damage – nearly as much as Hatred spenders, making it a good choice.

When your Hatred is topped off and you run into a large pack of weak enemies, you can spend your Hatred to use your AoE spells to take down packs. When you are in a bad situation, you can use your Discipline abilities to escape. When you are safe, you can use your Discipline abilities to buff yourself to take down whatever target you are facing.

For a full list of Demon Hunter abilities, check out our Diablo 3 Demon Hunter Abilities List. We will update this portion of our D3 Demon Hunter guide regularly and it will be complete by release.

Diablo 3 Demon Hunter Guide – Builds

Right now, Demon Hunter has a lot of great abilities but you can only choose 6. Since you have to dedicate at least 1 ability to generating Hatred (though I am guessing most ranged builds will use two), you wind up with 4-5 abilities to split between Discipline Spenders and Hatred Spenders.

This means you will have to make some tough choices and there will be a variety of viable builds for ranged Demon Hunters which you can modify based on your preference as well as the encounter you are running through or the PvP group you will be playing against.

For specific DH builds, check our guide to Diablo 3 Demon Hunter builds.

Melee Diablo 3 Demon Hunter Builds

Since all in-game abilities are based off of weapon damage and the Demon Hunter’s bows do less damage than a strong melee weapon, some Assassin fans from Diablo 2 have thrown around the idea of a melee build for the Demon Hunter to take advantage of powerful multipliers.

It is still up in the air whether or not this will work. It definitely does not at lower levels, but is possible at higher levels. However, there is only one real viable way to make this work. The Grenade ability when runed and stacked with the Grenadier passive trait can generate 8 Hatred per attack. This can let you generate enough Hatred to use some melee-oriented Hatred Spenders like Fan of Knives, Spike Trap, and Chakram.

Diablo 3 Demon Hunter Guide Conclusion

For those looking for a replacement for the Amazon in Diablo 3, the Demon Hunter is your pick. While it does have some abilities which seem similar to the Assassin, this class does not appear to be a melee class and if any builds are viable they will all be centered around Grenades as a Hatred generator. If you are looking for a hard-hitting melee class aside from the Barbarian, you should definitely check out the Monk class, which is more similar in gameplay to the Assassin in my opinion.

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