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    It’s all come down to this. After four weeks of profiling the other classes and their hardcore implications only one remains, the DiabloWikiDemon Hunter . Having been the last class announced the Demon hunter received quite the amount of hate; some for the class itself and some for the class it wasn’t. I like many expected a ranged class of some sort, and an archer type made sense. However, out of all the classes this is the one I’m least looking forward to. The dual resource system, issues we’ve seen in the beta, and of course rockets. Not that I have anything against archers, I enjoyed the amazon immensely in D2 and as a result will give the Demon Hunter a shot( pun intended) in Diablo 3.

    Will the Demon hunter be multi-shotting it’s way to glory? Keeping enemies at bay while breezing into Nightmare, or will it be a tricky class that requires finesse to survive?

    As with each weeks incarnation we are looking at the skills that scream hardcore helper. The skills that keep you alive and kicking( another pun..I’m on a roll)

    Active skills

    IconEvasiveFire.pngEvasive Fire
    Hatred Generator
    (level 3)
     

    Generate: 10 Hatred
    Cost: 4 Discipline if you backflip

    Shoot for 115% of weapon damage. If an enemy is at close range, you will also backflip away 15 yards.

    A good damage dealing spell that helps you get out of the way in tough situations. With an obsidian rune you can leave a poison bomb behind as you flip away decimating your enemies in their pursuit.

    IconEntanglingShot.pngEntangling Shot
    Hatred Generator
    (level 8)
     

    Generate: 5 Hatred

    Release a sticky adhesive that deals 100% weapon damage and entangles up to 2 enemies, slowing their movement by 70% for 2seconds.

    A small crowd control ability, if you are low on health and have a few monsters you may need to slow down this could come in handy. When runed with an alabaster rune you can gain 22% life back, or entangle up to 9 targets with an indigo rune. I’d prefer to entangle a few more in order to get out of a rough spot but sometimes you need life.

    IconFanKnives.pngFan of Knives
    Hatred Spender
    (level 14)
     

    Cost: 20 Hatred
    Cooldown: 10 seconds

    Throw knives out in a spiral around you, doing 210% weapon damage to all enemies within 10 yards of you. Your knives will also slow the movement of enemies by 65% for 4 seconds.

    Another damage and slow spell.  To be honest this concept appeals to me, and seems logical for the class. Being able to run in drop some nice damage and get out with your enemies slowed and rife to be picked off.

    IconCaltrops.pngCaltrops
    Discipline
    (level 2)
     

    Cost: 8 Discipline

    Lay a trap of caltrops on the ground that activates when an enemy approaches. Once sprung, the caltrops slow the movement of enemies within 12 yards by 65%. This trap lasts 12 seconds.

    Since I was talking about slowing skills here is a nice trap to spring. Rune it with a Crimson rune to increase damage done to targets in the area of effect by 110%, or  an obsidian rune can immobilize targets completely.

     

    IconVault.pngVault
    Discipline
    (Level 6)
     

    Cost: 10 Discipline

    Tumble acrobatically 35 yards.

    The standard get out of dodge skill with a twist..Cartwheels. Not to be too nitpick in a game that allows me to shoot lasers from my hands, but go outside ( or inside) and do a cartwheel. Get very far? Gymnastics aside, In hardcore we can’t get stuck in corners and need to get out of places that could corner our soft core counterparts. We have to get out of those situations by any means necessary , even if it is the aerobic maneuvers of a gymnast.

     

    IconShadowPower.pngShadow Power
    Discipline
    (level 12)
     

    Cost: 20 Discipline

    Draw in the power of the shadows, increasing attack speed by 50% for 10 seconds.

    Faster shots and attacks are a plus, but rune this with an Alabaster rune and you can net 45% life steal. With few skills generating a life steal this seems like a nice pick up to get more life coming in than going out.

     

    IconCompanion.pngCompanion
    Discipline
    (Level 15)
     

    Cost: 10 Discipline

    Summon a raven companion. Your raven companion will periodically peck at enemies for 21 – 28 damage.

    Aside from the gold collecting ferret you get with an Alabaster rune, most rune combinations give you a pet that will add to your damage or hatred regeneration. In hardcore any help is needed and may be the difference between life and death.

     

    IconSmokeScreen.pngSmoke Screen
    Discipline
    (Level 18)
     

    Cost: 15 Discipline

    Vanish behind a wall of smoke, becoming momentarily invisible for 2 seconds.

    A nice “oh shit” button, make your self invisible and get out of trouble. I can’t imagine too many builds having this and vault, both seem to have the same purpose, and it’s up to you to choose your flavor.

    IconSentry.pngSentry
    Discipline
    (Level 21)
     

    Cost: 10 Discipline

    Drop a turret on the ground. The turret begins firing at nearby enemies for 40% of weapon damage. Lasts 20 seconds.

    Toss in a golden rune and you and your allies have your own aid station, healing you and your allies for 8% life per second. Suddenly, the Demon Hunter becomes the party healer, and I’m sure you and your party members will be happy for your choice.

    IconPreperation.pngPreparation
    Discipline
    (Level 25)
     

    Cooldown: 120 seconds

    Instantly restore all Discipline.

    Where this skill shines is with runes, a crimson rune flips the skill and grants hatred instead of discipline, helping curb the hatred starved Demon Hunter and keep you shooting,killing and of course surviving.

     

    Passive skills

    IconBrooding.pngBrooding
    (Level 10)
    As long as you have not taken damage in the last 5 seconds you gain 2% of your maximum health per second.

     

    IconCustomEngineering.pngCustom Engineering
    (Level 24)
    The duration of your Caltrops, Marked for Death, Spike Trap and Sentry abilities are increased by 100%.

     

    IconPerfectionist.pngPerfectionist
    (Level 22)
    Reduces the Discipline cost of all skills by 20%.

    Discipline is used to fuel many of the your tactical and defensive skills.

    Not too many skills scream hardcore to me but these seem to have their purpose. Brooding seems to be the most logical since you will be trying to avoid damage and get health, why not combine the two? Increasing your slows and sentry can help keep enemies at bay, while Perfectionist can help you keep those skills going for cheaper.

    Reader Builds and Ideas

    First is LazerMike’s

    Here is my new demon hunter build:

    http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/demon-hunter#dUQZik!fgY!YZbacZ

    My idea here was to make the worst build possible; a build so terrible that no one would ever choose it for any reason. The guidelines I adhered to when making this build are as follows:

    – All Discipline skills. No Hatred generators or spenders.
    – No skills which do any damage or improve my character in a meaningful way.
    – No skills or runestones that generate Discipline or lower Discipline costs.
    – Lots of Hatred generating runestones, because they will be useless in a build with no Hatred skills.
    – The worst passive skills possible, particularly ones which improve the skills I’m not using.

    Thjis was actually kind of hard to make. Once I had filled up 5 skill slots it was difficult to pick the last one because there aren’t really that many terrible skills in the game. Picking the 3rd passive skill was also difficult for the same reason. Try it for yourself and you’ll see what I mean.

    It was also tricky (in some cases) to find a runestone which didn’t improve the skill in a useful way, so I tried to pick whichever effect sounded the least impressive. I will say that being able to turn Preperation into a Hatred generator that costs Discipline was perfect!

    Virid’s build

    !ceV!bYZbYa
    I’ll go through this step-by-step. Note that the runes are often more important than the base skill itself: 

    ACTIVE:
    Hungering Arrow – Useful single target damage while still being generally okay to use when you don’t have the hatred for multishot against a group of enemies. I don’t see anything that comes even close to this ability’s effectiveness

    Entangling Shot – Snares 9 enemies, always usable, and generate hatred. Yes please. This is probably some of the functionally best crowd control in the game.

    Multishot – Deals a lot of damage fast without huge time commitment. This is my go to ability to clear out packs.

    Cluster Arrow – Up for debate, but the life leach seems pretty awesome. Has the bonus of dealing elemental damage to deal with resistant monsters.

    Vault – A must have. The rune is chosen because super uniques can’t be stunned and I don’t need extra damage for an HC build.

    Sentry – Useful group ability, fire and forget.

    PASSIVE:
    Cull of the Weak – I’ll be using entangling shot on every pack, so this ability is a given for its awesome synergy.

    Perfectionist – I don’t want to be in a situation where I need to vault but I’m waiting on discipline. This is my best shot at that.

    Custom Engineering – Same reason as the above. I’ll always have sentry up for situations where I may not be able to spare the discipline every 20 seconds.

    Thecla’s build

    I don’t see many must have skills for HC, and a lot of it is personal preference. Since I like pure archers and dislike traps/grenades, I came up with something like this:

    !XWZ!ZZYaYZ

    ACTIVE:

    Hungering Arrow – Seems good, and added fire damage rune because I like the idea of firing and retreating to add some dot.

    Entangling Shot – Maybe one of the must haves. I’d add rune for extra time rather than extra numbers since you can pick the most dangerous enemies to slow.

    Strafe – I like how strafe-type skills work. No especially obvious rune to add here though. Attack speed is always good.

    Impale – Having a single-target high-da attack is alway good IMO, especially for tough/dangerous targets. Add a critical strike rune for possibility of really large da.

    Vault – Yes, does seem like a real must have. Rune for maximum distance.

    Companion – Distraction is always good in HC. Rune for spider to get some extra slow. But if this doesn’t turn out to provide much extra safety (extra da not being the main thing) maybe Smoke Screen would be better as an escape.

    PASSIVE:

    Fundamentals – My kind of passive; always in effect and requires no management.

    Archery – See “Fundamentals”

    Thrill of the Hunt – No strong preference here. Immoblizing targets is always good (only with normal attack though?) but I really didn’t see a third passive that struck me as all that great.

    and lastly Kager’s

    Early levels up to 25 or so will probably mean you have no runes, weak enemies and a focus on single target damage and overall hunting for life leach and regen items. Instant escape and health orbs will be necessary so I will probably run with

    !abV

    until I can get sustainable movement upgrades and lifesteal and a few orbs to socket my skills with. Later levels will require more aoe slows/snares and damage, while switching out single target skills and 4x defensive skills for boss encounters.

    single target or boss encounters build may look like this (assuming bosses can see invis, cant be snared or stunned)

    !VWU!baacab

    level grinding will be more involved in aoe damage with single target burst and large group control. (range damage and fast mini mobs swarming you was always a bowazons weak point)

    !WbV!bcabYY

    run around strafing to build hate and regen life with leech (assuming it is a hate builder by release as they have listed) tossing down caltrops to block enemies and snare, mutlishot as hate builds up, (regens your discipline) and 2 oh **** cards with invis and prep. may switch out marked for death for more damage skills or vault to teleport away if invis allows you to still get surrounded by minimobs.

    or

    !WbV!YaabYY

    run around snaring to build hate and regen life with leech, mutlishot as hate builds up, (regens your discipline) and 2 oh **** cards with invis and prep. chakram for the lag spikes to kill nearby enemies when you are frozen as a last resort. may switch out marked for death for more damage skills, pet or vault to teleport away if invis allows you to still get surrounded by minimobs.

    note these are solo level farming builds in which you downgrade content to level safer.

    If you wanted to push content in a group and go for more damage and less survival (can invis behind ally lines) I would go some kind of bomber spec like

    !VWg!cccccY

    sooo many variables to find out on how well DH plays out for hardcore.

    The skill cancellation technique highly favors DH’s in regards to spamming a hate builder with a hate spender. 7s Bola -> Grenades with tinkerer cancelling multishot for example may be VERY powerful for aoe damage and infinite sustainability once hate and disc regen is built up.

    Another that comes to mind is evasive fire chaining into multishot with the backup plan gem on. huge damage with disc regen.

    Are the pets tank viable or able to snare enough?

    Health leach or regen must be enough to max you in 2 shots (you can not run around 80% life at any time in HC).

    Have to be able to get out of insta death situations which invis seems to do really well (so far the arcane hydras are the only real beta threat i’ve seen) and be able to handle lag spikes and disconnects (which is going to be the DH biggest weakness compared to classes like the witchdoctor, only thing I see to help us now is pets, sentry and chakram with self buff)

    Weapons and itemization will be a few months away before we can start getting serious. But right now bows are slow high damage 1.4, hand cross bows slowest 1.8 alternating. and cross bows fastest at 1.0

    Will overall dps be the factor for damage skills like multishot, or damage range?

    Before weapon speed was a HUGE factor in strafe due to getting locked in, but if you can run while shooting then higher damage may be key. you may even see shielded 1 hand xbow DH’s if the shields prove worthy enough.

    Note that none of these builds factor in late game (immune mobs, weapon enchants that can slow, crit, cripple, crushing blow effects etc) but it is fun that blizzard lets us play around with them even if they are just place holders for the time being.

    With so many options, I’ll admit I was hasty to judge the Demon Hunter. The more I played with the calculator the more I was intrigued with what I would be able to do. Having had good time on both my Assassin and with an Amazon, clearly the Demon Hunter can give me an experience that is worthwhile. Just goes to show you can’t judge a book by it’s cover ( or intro cinematic)

     

    Next week: I talk with our very own Azzure about what may come to be with our all gold auction house. Will it be stable? Will gold be enough for hardcore players?
    One Live to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. It is written by Xanth and published weekly. Post your comments below, Follow me on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly.

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