One life to live #31: Hardcore Demon Hunters

After a few deaths last week with the DiabloWikiBarbarian I set out with my DiabloWikiDemon Hunter to explore the class I’ve played the least. The result were suprising, Zero deaths, Zero close calls and zero fun.

The Demon Hunter has come a long way since October when the class was so messed up it was almost unplayable. Now you can join just about any game in the beta and encounter at least one. Runestones and readjustment of skills and resources have helped this class a lot and it feels complete, but for myself boring.

Playing a ranged character allows for some safety in Hardcore. You aren’t rushing into a pack of monsters but on the fringe picking them off and running away if they get too close. Even from the start I was able to have most monsters dead before they were able to even hit me.

I did have some advantages in this character that I did not have on my Barbarian. I had a fully leveled artisan, and a pile of gold and materails to go about crafting what I needed. The crafted gear was far from epic but gave me a leg up in what I was doing.

Like last time I split my play time between public and solo. I saved cain, killed zombies and killed Haedrig’s wife. Then I went into a public game and did it all again. I’m finding this is a great way to stay alive and level up to the point of survivability in the areas that follow. I expect in release we’ll be doing a lot of quests repeats to keep us alive.

As for survivability it was actually quite easy. With no monster even coming close I didn’t even need a potion on my run to 13. Sitting back I felt no threat to my well being and as a result some of the rush of hardcore was gone. Will this be the full case for release? I doubt it, however right now it does feel like ranged is the way to go. Even when I forced myself to get close to monsters I didn’t feel as squishy as I imagined I would be as a ranged character. They wizard by far feels more fragile.

Dicipline feels like a wasted resource in the early levels, I may run out of it from spamming vault to quick clear a dungeon, but for the most part it was always full and rarely used. Perhaps in the later levels it will take ona greater importance but right now it feels like those skills could easily come off my hatred instead.

One of the reasons I enjoyed the barbarian was due to the fact that I had to rely on each and every skill I had to get to 13 and had to make judgement calls on which I wanted based on the situations I was encountering. For the Demon Hunter I didn’t feel like I needed to. I was completly capable using DiabloWikiHungering arrow and DiabloWikirapid fire all the way to 13 with on occasional vault or caltrops thrown in. This lead to a monotonous play through for me. It felt like a chore to push from 12 to 13 just because the class lacked that depth. I’m not saying you won’t find fun in the Demon Hunter, the class has some great strengths and it suits the ranged role very well. I wasn’t to keen on the Demon Hunter a few months ago and I’m not sold on it yet, but it’s moving in the right direction and perhaps it will shine in the later difficulties.

Next week: The Wizard

One Life 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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  1. I disagree. You get a hasted elite they can get you early levels 😛

    • keep braggin 😉

    • Been playing nothing but HC in the beta, and played all class’s at least once through. The only char I have died on is a Barb once.


      Barbarian = Barbarian (D2)
      Wizard = Sorceress (D2), Mage (D1)

      Demon Hunter = Amazon-ish (D2), Rogue (D1)
      Witchdoctor = Necromancer-ish (D2)
      Monk = Assassin-ish (D2X), Monk (D1X)

      Druid (D2X)
      Paladin (D2), Warrior (D1)
      – BAD MISS by Blizzard there is no “knight in shinning armor” class which was a popular class in D1 and D2. After all we are playing a medieval game with sword and armor are we not?

  2. or teleports, they hit me pretty well. alot of the bigger monsters need kiting, such as unburied. But u r right, when played right and cauciously, demon hunters can survive hardcore easily in beta. 

  3. Gonna be my first class. Level to lvl 10 and learn the game and the char a bit and then HC if I still dare.

  4. I think Monk and Wd are more like joke-classes, something that you just have to include in the game cause 3 classes wouldnt be enough. The original diablo classes are, meelee class, a ranged class and a sorcerer. That is why 70% of all the playerbase will consist of dh, wizard and barb and thats how it should be.

    • Wizard and Barb are clearly the most popular classes. DH isn’t more popular than Monk or WD though.

    • You know that Paladins and necros had a huge impact on DI2 right? Not so much with assassins and druids. I think a summoner and a party driven/shield class are great additions to the game and even the Tank Werebear. And even if they made more classes that repeated a bit so what? the more the merrier… IMHO

    • It looks like somebody forgot to play Hellfire…

      It also looks like somebody forgot to play a necro…

  5. what is “piercing arrow” ? 

    is it “hungering arrow” runed to “puncturing arrow” 

  6. I have to say I’m supprised of your opinion in this article, though I suppose its just a product of randomness in the play throughs.  When I did my hardcore DH, the Den of the Fallen spawned.  Down there I came up against a really nasty pack of Bat Creature things, they all had over 180 hit points and my Caltrops felt like they barely slowed them down at all.  I stayed alive, but it was SO close.  The main reason it was hard, and harder than any other class, was that the DH has no good way to hit tons of stuff at once in the early levels.

    As a Barb, I have Cleave and Hammer.. I can smash tons of stuff at once with these skills.
    As a Wizard I have Arcane Orb and Arcane Barrage,
    As a Monk, I have Reach, which can hit lots of stuff at once, along with the first rune (at lvl 7) for kick which just rapes stuff
    As a WD, you have dogs to stay behind and Bats right away.  And Spiders being so spamable lets you hits tons of stuff at the same time.
    As a DH though, you have single hit skills one after the other.  I first felt like I could take on alot of stuff comfortably at once when I hit level 9 and got Chain Gang so I could hit 4 things at once with that skill.

    • Rapid Fire at 5 is a low level skill that hits everything you aim it at.  Of course the damage is very low with starting gear, but as you’ve really got nothing else to spend Hatred on at that point, and you’re constantly using Hatred gen skills, you can spam it quite freely.

  7. Den of the Fallen on an untwinked demon hunter is on the top three closest times I’ve come in the beta to dying. I had a fast pack of elites that did that freezing thing to me every time one of them was taken out. It was brutal. Caltrops did not slow them down enough.

  8. When playing a DH I have trouble maintaining range on summoners and minions, and I definitely felt squishy when monsters got up close. Also, the SK was very difficult. Maybe you made a mistake by overleveling the content, and robbed yourself of the challenge?

  9. Zero fun? Yea, and what about you have Zero talent for writing articles?

  10. I’v made over 30 charactars in beta and I have Zero deaths on any of them.

  11. I also found that the demon hunter was extremely powerful, but as a long-time first person shooter addict, I really enjoyed the precision and responsiveness that the class offered. I wasn’t wading into large groups of baddies, but I was having fun dancing around them and picking them off. I felt like there was a lot of finesse involved in playing this class well, and some great defensive tools to rely on.
    I did come close to dying once, to an extra fast champion pack. I don’t know how it’s all going to pan out, but I have no doubt that Blizzard will find copious ways to kill us.

  12. Hey Xanth when ever you want to try to do a HCNR let me know. I will leave my Skype on so you can just send me a message there. Any time today would be fine (today being friday the 30th) tomorrow evening would be fine as well.

    • Elim, Sorry I missed the other night had a few meetings that went late and then I got drunk which I don’t think goes well with HCNR

    • I would love to join for something like this. I’ve done a good bit of HC not no HCNR. If you have room to invite me, shoot me a message.

      • Ok, we will have to set something up.   Everyone that wants to join send me a PM with your Diablo ID tag, some times that you will be available and the best (one that you would check more then once a day) way to get in touch with you.   I will coordinate then contact you with times and dates.

  13. Hmm between Hardcore Wizard and Demon Hunter, I still think that  DH is the inferior one. Their survival skills aren’t that good compared to the defensive armor and spell of the Wizard.

    And I am guessing that most HC DH’s won’t even dare to spend their precious Discipline pool for offensive/damaging traps. They would wanna keep it at 100% at all times for that time when you really need a panic button escape, (unless they have the proper rune). Unlike the Wizard with only one resource to watch out for, having to balance two while not trying to die can be challenging or frustrating.

  14. The claim of zero fun is blatant exaggeration to simply get more clicks so people would read this article. It’s obviously untrue because if you weren’t having fun you would never had made it to lvl 13 in the first place.

    Like the author of this article, the same people who are bitching now about not dying or taking enough damage (through the first hour of normal lol) are probably going to be the same people bitching later about dying too much in hell/inferno when they won’t be able to spam pots to stay alive.

    • Well, the whole point is that he was over prepared due to prior investments in the blacksmith from previous HC characters. Generally I do not believe we will have this same luxury once the game releases until we cap at 60 and get fairly good farm from inferno. The Beta experience is a far cry from the real experience.

    • While it may be a hook in some ways to get people to read further it is what I felt at the time. Any tiem you give a negative impression of a class people like or wish to play there will be disagreements.Part of the reason I kept going with the Demon hunter was to write about it. It would not be fair to report on a character that I did not experiance fully( even if it is the first 13 levels). Though most of my time I wasn’t as enganged as I had been with other classes. As for the complaints of dying( or lack there of) I welcome death in Hardcore and have no intention of crying for a nerf in any regard. I think death needs to be a present threat and if it’s not then it won’t matter how mnay lives you have. As I stated in the article I think the demon hunter has potential later on, sadly that isn’t(in my impression) shown in the beta just yet. Could it be? Of course! However since I have the Beta to go off of I’m going to jump into the class that has grabbed me in those levels and see what happens from there.

  15. I am really enjoying your articles, any chance you can play and cast a hardcore play through once game comes out?  Hopefully with many hilarious deaths along the way…

  16. I haven’t been even close to die on any characters.. Only problems I’ve had was with demon hunter. The attacks felt a lot weaker than barb for example resulting the mobs being able to get closer to me etc.

  17. “”After a few deaths last week with the Barbarian…” You lost my interest somewhere here, noob 😀

  18. So I listened to the podcast and wanted to try out the DH on hardcore to see if this guy was telling the truth or not. I have to agree with Xanth. The DH is just way too easy in hardcore mode. You have so many immobilizes, snares and stuns it’s a joke. Now I don’t agree with Xanth about it not being fun. I enjoyed the DH but if nothing changes from now until launch I would not even attempt to roll a DH in normal or maybe even nightmare. We’ll see! So far I am level 10 in hardcore mode with my DH.

  19. [quote] One of the reasons I enjoyed the barbarian was due to the fact that I had to rely on each and every skill I had to get to 13 and had to make judgement calls on which I wanted based on the situations I was encountering. [/quote]

    Sooo, judgement calls with an overleveled Barb in the tutorial/easy part of the game. Easy gameplay with improved weapons (without having to rely on drops).

    [b] I’m finding this is a great way to stay alive and level up to the point of survivability in the areas that follow. I expect in release we’ll be doing a lot of quests repeats to keep us alive.  [/b]

    And then you’re repeating quests to “keep yourself alive”? You’re kidding right? Not even my dumbest friend was this bad at the game he had to do it.

    That’s what I like about DFans or D3Sanc, they don’t post shit like this when they have nothing to write about. They just make a forums/blues/twitter report and let it be. It will be funny seeing people realizing how bad the staff in this website is gameplay-wise. Congratz.

    [b] One Life to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. [/b]

    I’ll love seeing how you’re possibly going to beat Nightmare/Hell/Inferno with a hc char without getting uber fed by other people.

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