Patch 1.0.4 Preview: Demon Hunter

The DiabloWikiDemon Hunter preview is now available for your reading enjoyment!

Please note: they took Sentry’s damage, and then doubled it.

Hungering Arrow is currently the best-performing Hatred Generator for demon hunters. With its high theoretical damage output, strong Hatred generation, and straightforward mechanics, it’s an easy go-to skill to have on your bar.

As with other classes, when there’s a single skill (or set of skills) that is much stronger or more worthwhile to use, it curbs potential build diversity. To help open up some other options, we’re taking a look at Hatred Generators and Spenders, as well as some of the demon hunter’s more iconic abilities like Rain of Vengeance and Sentry, and will be upping the damage on all of them.

Hatred Generators

Four skills are intended to compete with DiabloWikiHungering Arrow as a DiabloWikiHatred Generator: DiabloWikiEntangling Shot, DiabloWikiBola Shot, DiabloWikiEvasive Fire, and DiabloWikiGrenades. While each of these skills offer some unique utility options (Entangling Shot slows enemies, Bola Shot has an AoE component, Evasive Fire provides an escape route, and Grenades can bounce off walls), their damage just isn’t competitive enough when compared to the theoretical damage of Hungering Arrow and its rune variants.

In the case of Grenades, the skill has some minor mechanical and control issues that keep its unique ability to bounce off walls from really shining through. It can be difficult to get the grenade projectiles to where you want them, and using the skill doesn’t always feel very smooth. We explored some alternate targeting methods over the course of 1.0.4’s development cycle to help improve this, but we weren’t happy with anything we came up with. Most often, we found that by introducing targeting that allowed Grenades to bounce off a wall in a satisfying way, it would often make it so you couldn’t hit a monster you directly clicked on. Unfortunately, we haven’t found a great solution yet, so the Grenades skill isn’t going to get as much love this patch. However, we do want to revisit the skill in the future.

As for the other three Hatred Generators, rather than nerfing Hungering Arrow to be less powerful, we’re instead bringing up the damage values for all three skills to make them more attractive. To use Bola Shot as an example:

  • Damage to the primary target is being increased from 130% to 160%
  • Damage for Thunder Ball and Acid Strike is also being increased from 130% to 160%
  • Damage for Imminent Doom to the primary target is being increased from 182% to 216%

With these changes, Hungering Arrow will still do more theoretical damage against a single target, but Bola Shot damage will become a viable DPS alternative and it will also do AoE damage. Entangling Shot and Evasive Fire are receiving boosts to their damage as well, so they should be much more compelling choices when it comes to Hatred generation. Much like Bola Shot, they won’t compete directly with Hungering Arrow in terms of raw theoretical damage to a single target, but the DPS loss won’t be as great in order to gain the utility they offer.

Hatred Spenders

Our general philosophy for resource-spending skills (and this applies across all classes) is if you take the time to spend your resource, we want you to feel like you got a good return for it. Elemental Arrow is currently the most popular Hatred Spender in the demon hunter’s arsenal and a good example for what works — given how quickly you can fire off each arrow, you can deal a lot of damage to nearby enemies. Unfortunately, many of the other Hatred Spenders fail to meet this benchmark in terms of DPS output, so we’re buffing them up to match.

To give you an idea of what kind of increases you’ll see in 1.0.4, let’s use Chakram and Cluster Arrow as examples.


  • We’re increasing its damage from 150% to 170%
  • We’re increasing the damage for Twin Chakrams from 100% to 114%
  • We’re increasing the damage for Serpentine from 203% to 230%
  • We’re increasing the damage for Razor Disk from 165% to 187%
  • We’re increasing the damage for Boomerang from 188% to 230%
  • We’re increasing the damage for Shuriken Cloud from 30% to 34%

DiabloWikiCluster Arrow:

  • We’re increasing the initial bomb damage from 200% to 225%
  • We’re increasing damage for Maelstrom from 145% to 165%
  • We’re increasing damage for Loaded for Bear from 290% to 304%

Iconic Abilities

Just like Hydra for the wizard, Rain of Vengeance is intended to be a trademark spell for the demon hunter. We want it to be one of those buttons on your bar that you look forward to pushing — not only because it’s visually very fitting for the class, but also because it packs one hell of a punch.

While the skill is where it needs to be visually, mechanically it lacks the “oomph” that most iconic class abilities possess. Its damage is just far too low to compete with other skills available.

To bring Rain of Vengeance up to the level it needs to be, we made some pretty notable changes. Not only did we buff the damage, but Rain of Vengeance is one of the skills being converted to a strict X% weapon damage over Y seconds format, as alluded to in the Systems Preview. As a result, the new base skill is quite potent:

Current: 75% weapon damage for 5 seconds
1.0.4: 715% weapon damage over 5 seconds

(Anathema now also uses the “X% weapon damage over Y seconds format.” Meanwhile, DiabloWikiDark Cloud, DiabloWikiBeastly Bombs, DiabloWikiStampede, and DiabloWikiFlying Strike are receiving straight boosts to their damage. )

DiabloWikiSentry is also a very distinctive spell that doesn’t get used very often. It’s interesting mechanically, and it has some nice potential for team play, so we’d like to make it more attractive. The solution was pretty simple for this one: we took its damage, and then we doubled it.

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43 thoughts on “Patch 1.0.4 Preview: Demon Hunter

  1. OK, let me get this straight:
    Evasive Fire is to get a nice buff.
    Rain of Vengeance (which is already insanely useful with Stampede) is getting a very healthy buff.
    Cluster Bombs is also getting such a bump.
    And Sentry may now become at least situationally useful.

    I could not love this anymore. I was already pretty happy with the DH (glad they don’t seem to be making her less fragile- that is actually the main draw for me… the danger of the class in HC van be a real challenge). This should be fun.

    • I was afraid I would have to abandon my never-dying DH tank build. These buffs will make it better than ever. Grenades, Shuriken cloud and sentry all buffed. I like it.

      Those of you crying you need an escape/defense ability, stop gearing glass cannon(what good is 100k+ dps if you are dying to the slightest hit), stop using vault (gimmick skill that more often than not gets others killed), and get some LoH/resists/stamina. My DH never dies and is able to face tank 2-3 packs of elites in act3 standing on top of plague, molten, arcane, desecrate and can even survive being frozen with just over 900 LoH, all because of Shuriken cloud. The free damage from these buffs will make it even more fun to play. GimmickClass will not feel as gimmicky anymore. 🙂

      Captcha was “easy as cake”, how appropriate.

  2. This is becoming a little too “we buffed teh damages” heavy. There are some class runes I would rather see redesigned as opposed to reshuffled in the race for the most optimal DPS choice.

    Even some resource cost changes for sake of variety would be nice.

    • Yeahh… I’m also a bit disappointed about the lack of imagination Blizzard is delivering to us. But it’s not entirely unexpected, as a) profound changes of mechanics of a skill/skills is better left for an expansion and b) the decision on the used design for resistances already overfocused the game so much on damage/damage-mitigation that it’s rather hard to get off the road already paved.

    • Yep, they write fairly long articles to say “these skills dont get used much so we added a few % to the damage”.

    • For single target, yes. IMHO the other benefits of Evasive Fire/Covering Fire far outweigh Hungering Arrow though… at least for my preferred playstyle. To be honest, I wouldn’t have complained at all if EF didn’t get buffed. But I certainly am not complaining that it did either.

      • I second that, with one exception: Covering Fire rather tends to drain your discipline in fights against fast elites and big mobs. And without discipline left, the mainpart of it’s effectiveness is gone. A Split-runed Hungering Arrow gives you more damageoutput and security here. (Although the security-gain may only be achieved through not depending on the backflip from the beginning, thus not changing your tactical approach midfight…)

  3. I am surprised that they didn’t talk about gloom or smokescreen. I would like what they are doing to the DH defensive abilities because switching hungering arrow with bola shot isn’t that interesting to me. I guess we’ll have to wait until the patch notes.

    I hope that evasive fire can shoot through the waller’s walls again. That would make my day.

    • I agree, even with these changes we are still broken in terms of “build diversity”. There is almost *no reason* to use anything other than Lingering Fog. What about Companion? What about Passives? Or the Hatred-suck that is currently known as Strafe?

  4. I don’t see the point of switching skills from X damage every second for Y seconds, to X damage over Y seconds… personally I feel the first option is better, as its slightly more obvious how much DPS it does.

    I realize that its really exactly the same thing, but the way they say it in the post, they make it sound as if its better for some reason?

    that aside, the damage boost to rain of vengance is quite nice, double the damage? yes please, I was already using it =)

    glad to see sentry getting a buff, I always wanted to use it, but its damage was pathetic, I fear though that doubling its damage might not be enough.

  5. Frankly this is horribly disappointing. The problem with the DH isn’t that some abilities don’t do as much damage as others, its that

    a) a complete lack of defensive passives results in everyone using

    b) 2 damage dealing abilities and 4 defensives that are entirely mandatory.

    I play HC and I absolutely can not ever drop SS, caltrops, vault, and preparation.

    There’s also the disturbing trend of these previews saying “oh well x is still going to be the best single target”.. then who the fuck cares? No one past mid-nightmare cares about anything other than the best way to kill elites and in fact when you get strong enough you’re not even killing non elites at all. No one will ever, still, use Bolo Shot with its massive 20% damage boost or whatever. Abilities like that need a fundamental change like a built in (DR) stun or something. No one cares about stuff that doesn’t kill high level elites the best.

    • You’d think with all their uber data monitoring, they would see that. I also play HC. We are not all glass cannons, Blizz. Hungering + Elemental Arrow is getting REALLY BORING Mr. Cheng!

    • I also play HC, and don’t completely disagree in theory, but the class isn’t quite as limited as you’re making it out. I wouldn’t say that you’re “locked into” using both SS and Vault, for instance. At least one of them, yes, but not necessarily both.

      I personally don’t care for Vault. I don’t use it at all, ever. There’s something about the way it works that just doesn’t feel right to me. I tend to use EF/CF (along with Tactical Advantage) and SS (which is truly mandatory, especially in HC) as a replacement of sorts. Once you get used to it playstyle-wise, it’s pretty effective. I then use the empty slot for RoV/Stampede, which is incredibly useful in a variety of situations. It can even be considered a semi-defensive skill in many situations, depending on just how you use it.

      Just trying to point out that while things may be limited, they’re not quite that bad. And… it’s one patch, with a ton of pressure behind it (and that we’re only getting tiny glimpses of so far). Should it have been better from day one? Yes. But it wasn’t. So now we patch. There’s time left to iron out the flaws further. The patch overall does look like a step in the right direction.

      • You’ll use vault full time on your next DH when you get trapped in a corner and die, because its the only skill (including SS) that lets you get through mob’s collision. I’d love to drop vault but not having it on your bar when you’re in tunnels or sub-dungeons is suicidal.

        • +1
          Pretty much this. SS and die, worst way to lose a HC DH ever. Rattling Roll does the job nicely.

        • No question, that is definitely the weak point in my build. But this is one of those situations I was referring to when I mentioned that RoV/Stampede can be considered semi-defensive. By casting* Stampede you can clear yourself a path and squeeze out, usually with the aid of SS.

          Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that this method is foolproof. There are a handful of situations where it’s not very likely to work. The key is avoiding those situations at all costs. If you get Vortexed and swarmed (or just cornered and swarmed) in a tiny room by monsters that can kill you within a small number of hits, you’re dead. But then again, you should be. You shouldn’t have been anywhere near that situation to begin with. That is more death by stupidity than anything else (unless it’s your first time through the content). Gauging what you can take on when is a huge part of the game in HC.

          Maybe one way that we’re truly seeing this differently is that I enjoy the fragility of the DH. I like the thrill of it. I like thinking on my feet and finding my way out of sure death situations in a matter of seconds (and usually much less). I get that most people want to make their HC chars as hard to kill as possible… I do too, to some degree. But I like knowing that if I screw up, even slightly, she’s dead. All of the effort gone. That’s the primary appeal of the HC DH to me. It’s completely about playstyle in my case. The game is not all about trying to clear Inferno for me (and as things stand at the moment, the DH would not be anywhere near my first choice of class for that task- but that’s completely OK, because she is FUN TO PLAY).

          Again, I’m not really disagreeing with you. I’m just pointing out that there are viable options. A build with Vault is certainly going to be safer. But then again, just because a particular build is not the optimal choice in every aspect doesn’t mean it is therefore useless. In other words, it may not be the build that finally gets a solo clear in Inferno for the DH, but it is both fun and reasonably effective. D2 was absolutely loaded with end-game-viable-but-not-quite-uber builds like this. They present their own unique sets of challenges, making for an enormous amount of re-playability. People really should get over the idea that there is one absolute mathematical answer to what is best, and further more that that is the only option. That may be the most efficient vehicle to the end means, I’ll give you that. But look at the world around you as an example: efficiency almost always equates directly with tediousness. The best option is very often the most boring option. It’s also kind of pointless to complain about build diversity if you’re only willing to consider the absolute best option available (in which case there will always be only one choice). As long as that is the general approach (and I realize that Main Stats feed into this), the game will just constantly get pigeon-holed into one uber-build for each class. That blows. I’m just advocating trying some different approaches.

          It would also be nice if more people began to recognize that most skills have some usefulness beyond just their numbers.

          One last point, as this is getting way OT- There is an added little bit of pride in accomplishing things that require restraint or involve extra effort. I would rather get as far in the game as I can playing a char that I enjoy, as opposed to getting farther with what I’m “supposed” to play.

          (And just to make it clear, I’m not knocking you in any way. I’m just saying that your way is not the only available option. There is hidden value in the sub-optimal for many of us.)

          *that term just doesn’t sound right in this situation

    • actually, though I get your point, I don’t think everyone will agree 100%. I, for one, enjoy this game for more than just being the most efficient at everything to get maximum profit. Weird as it may sound, I like “cool” stuff, not just stuff that’s most efficient at killing elites. An ideal situation would be if the stuff I find cool was as efficient as the stuff hardcore looters use for maximize profit. So if they make Bola or Sentry much better, they may well find a spot on my skill bar. Same with Strafe. I actually love using Strafe but wish it’d be a tad more effcient.

      just my 2c

    • It might be possible to run HC DH but I really think it is a problem that everyone considers the DH to be by far the hardest/worst class for hardcore. Unfortunately this patch does not seem to be changing this fact, considering the buffs to the other classes it may even make the difference more significant.

  6. (re: Sentarius) It depends on your playstyle preferences. Covering Fire deals damage to 3 targets, hits instantaneously, can hit through some corners and objects and can save you when stuff pops up right in your face. Only in certain situations like the Belial platform it could seriously drain your discipline.

  7. What I’m getting a kick out of is didn’t the standard skill switch from elemental arrow to cluster arrow after the NT nerf? Yet, that was one of the ones buffed… and as others pointed out they totally missed the core problems with the class again.

    In before WD is buffs to random other skills on a pure damage basis and more damage/life to pets.

    • An awful lot of folks are still using some form of Elemental Arrow. They either stayed with NT, or went with Frost Arrow or Ball Lightning as their second mouse skill. There are a ton of people using Cluster Arrow, but most that I’ve come across have it on the skill bar instead and use it more sparingly as a kind of mini-nuke due to the rather hefty Hatred cost.

  8. A shorter version of all 4 class previews: “We looked at attack skills that don’t get used often and increased the damage.” The end.

  9. Is it just me who hates how smug the Blizzard reps are being in these previews? All this crap like saying “you’re welcome” and acting as though they’ve spent months of sleepless nights at the office figuring out how to make such “notable changes” to skills as increasing damage.

    Firstly, I don’t get why this patch is supposed to be so different to any other patch that has tweaked the skill numbers. Second, most of these blatant problems shouldn’t’ve gotten past beta.

    Yes, it’s cool that they’re going into it a little bit and showing us previews. No, it’s not some superb level of dedication, commitment or creativity that we should all be amazed and thankful for.

    • Look at it this way: It’s kind of like a dog that you’re trying to house train. Yeah, he may have taken 57 dumps on your carpet in the past week. And yes, it is somewhat unimpressive when he finally figures out that grass is a better depository for his fecal matter. BUT… if you pat him on the head and tell him he’s a good boy, he gets all excited and starts to understand that he’s doing something right and therefore MAY not continue to crap on your carpet.

      Blizzard, I hereby symbolically pat you on the head. Please don’t crap on my carpet anymore.

  10. I think it’s good that they’re making the decision to buff underused/unpopular skills instead of nerfing the front runner(s), however I think they need to adjust the costs of some of these skills too. I enjoy using Cluster Arrow/Cluster Bombs (and even the Loaded for Bear rune too), but I never found the problem with that skill to be low damage but extremely high (50!) hatred cost. Since you’ve usually only got one (or maybe two) offensive skills other than your hatred generator, you’ve got very limited ability to apply higher bursts of damage (and it’s even more limited if you miss with one of your Cluster Arrow shots).

    Hopefully there will be more buffs to skills in the final patch release. Makes me want to roll up a new DH and hunt down some of those new legendary ranged weapons! 😀

    • At the moment that’s true, but wouldn’t you like to see that change? RoV is already much more useful than most people assume. This buff should make it a bit more obvious to anyone who tries it. Between Dark Cloud* in the early levels and Stampede in the later ones, RoV almost always finds a way onto my skill bar.

      *Although the targeting of Dark Cloud specifically seems to be… odd as of late. Maybe it’s just me though.

  11. “we took its damage, and then we doubled it.”

    Oh god no, i know they’re just trolling but, seriously?
    I was pretty pleased when i read the Barbarian preview because hey it was just a preview, but now that i only see the “we increased damage of this, we increased damage of that, we increased it and then doubled it” mantra plastered over every preview i’m wondering whether they actually know what the hell it is they’re doing. Many skills aren’t functionally viable due to mechanics and dynamics of the game (for example groundstomp) or because of their extreme niche (for example ancient spear), what about those skills? If Blizzard thinks they can get away with just buffing DPS then they got another thing coming.

  12. Yeah, fixing hatred and discipline costs is the issue… you can’t use anything other then elemental arrows or chakram more then 2 or 3 times without running out, and you can’t use your discipline skills becajse ss uses half of it and if you run out you die.

    Leave the damage the same and lower the hatred costs on almost everything and id be way happier. Oh, shadowpower needs a longer duration and a rune other then gloom that is worth taking

  13. @Coolhwip (sorry, this site does not work well with browsers)

    The previous two comments were too soft, so let me be frank: I think you’re lying. And as for calling Vault a gimmick and calling on DH’s to gear as tanks… sorry, but if that’s how the class is supposed to be played, it’s broken. DH is supposed to be a quick, high-output class that dodges incoming damage, both literally and prng-ally.

    Don’t get me wrong – I’ve gotten to Diablo Inferno (though I have not beaten him yet), but it was by playing the class thematically, not brokenly. Aside from Ghom, who I could not beat without resorting to a grenades+tank build, since the game is still subpar.

    If you want to play a game with a viable Hunter-type, I highly recommend Titan Quest: Immortal Throne. Too bad the D3 team never played it.

  14. I love Sentry, so I’m glad to see this buff. Not surprising really, it’s damage right now is pretty piddly.

  15. If damage increases are balanced and more skills come usable, nothing wrong about that, dunno what people are crying or expecting? I guess negativity always request some nerfs to be completely satisfied (I’m sure there are those also).

  16. I remember reading about a month after release that blizzard ran a report on which were the least used skill by class for level 60 characters. I believe the report said Energy Twister, Exploding Palm, Sacrifice, Ancient Spear and Strafe.

    I was shocked to see that Strafe received no attention or at least was not mentioned in the class preview.

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