Today I’m going to take a look at the Diablo III Demon Hunter. The Demon Hunter is a ranged character – a pure ranged character at that. The Demon Hunter will always (unless you’re a bit crazy or a tasty melee build emerges further into the game) have a ranged weapon equipped. The class has a ‘stylish’ feel. Think Gothic Gunslingers with a 1 handed crossbow in each hand and a cape. But how do they play?
The Demon Hunter has two types of resource. First you have Hatred. Hatred works like Spirit or Fury. However it regenerates over time (instead of not regenerating or decreasing over time like spirit and fury respectively). In addition you have hatred generating skills and hatred spending skills. Hatred is quick to recharge quick to blow. You also have Discipline. Discipline is a slow recharging resource used for some of the Demon Hunter’s more interesting skills.
Together hatred and discipline represent the conflicted nature of the demon hunter (the lore goes into more detail on this). I like this connection between mechanics and lore but it’s more important (for me) that the mechanic is right. Luckily discipline and hatred compliment each other well.
By level 3 you will have the option of selecting a hatred spender, hatred generator and discipline skill. You’ve only two active slots at this stage though. Hungering Arrow is a self aiming attack. This is important because the Demon Hunter isn’t without a reliance on an accurate aim – you can miss if an enemy is on the move. Impale is a hard hitting (275% weapon damage) attack and it’s costly. It’s worth it in my book (in the early stages) because Demon Hunter attacks are often light and fast rather than heavy. It’s good to have a hard hitting skill in emergencies or against bosses.
Caltrops and Vault are the early discipline skills. They give a good feel for what discipline will be used for – control & a means of moving yourself out of danger or limiting how close enemies get to you. Later you will receive discipline skills that offer other kinds of utility like increased attack speed. By level 6 with 3 slots open you’ll have a tough choice between hatred generator and spender if you want to choose a discipline skill. Personally I opted to explore spenders such as Impale, Rapid Fire (delicious) or Chakram (a very entertaining, if erratic AoE) and generators like the lovely but delayed Bola Shot or the very useful Evasive Fire (with a discipline burning leap back).
At level 6, in the beta, you don’t need discipline. It’s better to opt for 2 hatred generators and 1 spender or vice versa. In fact, the demon hunter is a strange class in beta. A lot of people think they’re ‘weak’ and I think I’ve pinpointed why. I’ve nearly completed my series comparing the early experiences with each class (see Diablo III Beta Classes: Monk; Diablo III Beta Classes: Barbarian; and Diablo III Beta Classes: Witch Doctor for more) and so I’ve been pondering the strengths and weaknesses of each class a lot.
The demon hunter does not hit as hard as a barbarian. They can’t heal like a monk. They can’t match the ranged damage of a wizard. They even seem weaker than the other major ‘utility’ class the witch doctor. In fact the demon hunter can feel like the runt of the litter in a beta where you’re restricted to normal with a max level of 13. The beta limitations are key. No one is being pushed to find the limits of their class choice.
Take a look further down the demon hunter’s active skill list. Things get very interesting. There are lot of indirect damaging abilities like birds, turrets and traps. There’s lots, lots more utility. There’s even an abundance of AoE. And check out those rune slots: Tasty.
The demon hunter looks like it may be a class that draws a skilled player because it looks like there will be a lot to keep track of as a level 30+ demon hunter (if you’re making the most of your skills). Speed, maneuverability and utility are going to be of incredible importance in groups, on higher difficulties and in PVP.
See post Diablo III Beta Patch 8 for changes to the Demon Hunter including various skill level changes.