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Demon Hunter Leveling and Fresh 70 Guide (Patch 2.4.2 / Season 7)

Last updated on Aug 04, 2016 at 09:00 by Deadset 10 comments

Table of Contents

The purpose of the beginner Demon Hunter guide is to provide you with a build and item recommendations that will reliably carry you from leveling, through the pre-Torment difficulties and get you into low Torment farming, without requiring specific legendary or set bonuses. The guide also includes a section for Season 7 Demon Hunters, explaining how best to take advantage of the free set from Haedrig's Gifts.

1. About the Author

This build is presented to you by Deadset, one of the very few professional Diablo 3 players. Deadset regularly publishes video guides on Youtube, where you can see how this and other builds play out in practice.

2. Why choose the Demon Hunter?

Choose the Demon Hunter in Diablo 3 if you enjoy destroying your enemy from afar, alternating piercing arrows with massive explosive barrages. Wonders both mechanical and supernatural stand by your side, as powers of shadow itself envelop and protect you. Mastering your hatred for demons through discipline alone, you are the ultimate sharpshooter of the game.

3. Leveling and Fresh 70 Build

3.1. Beginner Build

Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Evasive Fire Icon Evasive Fire Hardened Hardened Right Mouse Button Chakram Icon Chakram Twin Chakrams Twin Chakrams 1 Sentry Icon Sentry Spitfire Turret Spitfire Turret 2 Vault Icon Vault Tumble Tumble 3 Companion Icon Companion Wolf Companion Wolf Companion 4 Preparation Icon Preparation Punishment Punishment
Passive Skills

Note that while the skills and runes recommended in the build are specifically chosen to be available at an early level and remain a solid pick throughout the leveling and early character progression, you will have to temporarily work with other skills as the build gradually unlocks. To familiarize yourself with the class, experimentation is strongly encouraged. If you are unsure of how to slot more than one skill from the same skill tree, enable Elective Mode under Gameplay Options.

3.2. Rotation

The build revolves around the use of Chakram Chakram Twin Chakrams Twin Chakrams as a resource-efficient spender; an oft-underrated skill with excellent spread and quick projectile. Supplement its damage with your Sentry Sentry Spitfire Turret Spitfire Turret charges, whose automated damage will often turn the tide of battle even if you have to fall back. When engaging elites, activate your Wolf Companion Wolf Companion for a temporary damage boost. Maintaining distance will be done through judicious use of Vault Vault, as you will only have your natural Discipline regeneration to rely upon. Preparation Preparation will be used strictly for Hatred restoration with the Punishment Punishment rune. If you find yourself starved for resources still, you will have a strong Hatred generator at your disposal: Evasive Fire Evasive Fire Hardened Hardened.

3.3. Skills, Runes and Passives

The basis of every build lies in its chosen damage dealing skills. As they invariably require resource or cooldown management mechanics of some sort, and such are scarce for low level and less geared characters, you will focus on fewer damage dealing abilities early on. The typical early game build will feature a dominant damage dealer, a mobility skill, buffs and/or shields, and resource generators (either active or passive). The recommended split is:

  • Slot 1 — Damage dealing ability: Chakram Chakram shares the top spot for resource efficiency with Elemental Arrow Elemental Arrow but unlocks several levels earlier (level 12 vs. level 20). While Chakram Chakram takes a little more time getting used to, its curved trajectory is easier to take advantage of with the good spread of Twin Chakrams Twin Chakrams, and as a Fire rune this skill will synergize with powerful legendaries that you collect over time for endgame builds, such as Spines of Seething Hatred Spines of Seething Hatred and Cindercoat Cindercoat.
  • Slot 2 — Generator: Your damage-dealing resource, Hatred, can be problematic early on; unlike some other classes, the inclusion of a generator is almost necessary for a Demon Hunter. While you can take any primary skill you fancy, you will gain the biggest defensive advantage out of Evasive Fire Evasive Fire with the Hardened Hardened rune, offering a whopping 25% increase of your Armor as early as level 21. If you notice yourself struggling with resources by using the base 4 Hatred per generator shot, you can take Focus Focus at level 42 — and use the other 7 Hatred generators, Hungering Arrow Hungering Arrow Serrated Arrow Serrated Arrow (level 17), Grenade Grenade Tinkerer Tinkerer (level 22) or Bolas Bolas Thunder Ball Thunder Ball (level 24) earlier on.
  • Slot 3 — Supplementary damage: Nearly as effective as Witch Doctor pets, you have a mechanical menagerie to set up in battle in the form of Sentry Sentry, available at level 25. You can take it a step further with the Spitfire Turret Spitfire Turret rune almost immediately (level 28), and its homing rockets will provide the biggest supplementary DPS increase out of all the runes, not to mention elemental synergy with your main damage dealer, Twin Chakrams Twin Chakrams.
  • Slot 4 — Mobility: Keeping distance is of utmost importance for the Demon Hunter, the glass cannon of Diablo 3. Vault Vault unlocks at level 9, and will be the mobility tool of choice not only for beginner, but endgame characters as well. Starting from level 33, the Discipline-efficient Tumble Tumble rune will allow you to cover good ground before you run into resource issues.
  • Slots 5 & 6 — Utility: Early on in your progression, you might end up pushing your rare items to their limits. Do not neglect the value of a Companion Companion at your side, available at level 17. For the early leveling, you can use Companion Companion for resource utility — the Bat Companion Bat Companion rune (level 29) will provide a passive and active Hatred regeneration effect, allowing you to spam Chakram Chakram for longer. From level 59 however, Wolf Companion Wolf Companion will provide you with a short-term multiplicative damage boost that will noticeably speed up elite or high density fights. Aside from Companion Companion, Preparation Preparation (level 13) will be another tool at your side for resource management. Punishment Punishment (level 25) flips the traditionally Discipline oriented skill into a Hatred management tool, and lowers its base cooldown by 25 seconds.
  • Passives: Leveling and early progression farming go hand in hand with mobility, and Demon Hunters benefit from a powerful speed passive as early as level 10 — Tactical Advantage Tactical Advantage. Adding Blood Vengeance Blood Vengeance (level 13) for Hatred and Discipline management through health globes will solidify your role as an agile, battle-aware slayer. At level 16, Steady Aim Steady Aim supplies you with a powerful, 20% multiplicative damage increase as long as you fulfill a modest range requirement — a gameplay range adjustment you will have to learn anyway as a sharpshooter. Finally, at level 40 you can slot Custom Engineering Custom Engineering in your setup to have one more Sentry Sentry in your roster, adding more autonomous damage to the build.

3.4. Gear and Stats Priorities

As the leveling process in Diablo 3 is relatively quick, specific legendary recommendations are impossible. During leveling finding upgrades is frequent, so your gear will be swapped in and out within the span of a few minutes. Following the in-game comparison system and the stat priorities outlined in the tables below will result in a solid character throughout the leveling journey.

Note that skill damage and elemental damage recommendations only apply if the majority of your damage is done through that skill or element. For alt characters however, sockets take priority above all other attributes, since you can slot high level gems and benefit massively from their stat increase. For the purposes of an alt character, leveling a Gem of Ease Gem of Ease to level 25 and socketing it in a level 70 weapon will be the single biggest boost you can provide to the leveling process.

4. Season 7 Starter Build

4.1. Unhallowed Essence Starter Build

Active Skills
Left Mouse Button Evasive Fire Icon Evasive Fire Focus Focus Right Mouse Button Multishot Icon Multishot Wind Chill Wind Chill 1 Vengeance Icon Vengeance Seethe Seethe 2 Vault Icon Vault Tumble Tumble 3 Companion Icon Companion Bat Companion Bat Companion 4 Preparation Icon Preparation Invigoration Invigoration
Passive Skills

4.2. Haedrig's Gift

Completion of certain seasonal chapters (II, III and IV in Season 7) yields Haedrig's Gifts, a cache-like reward that drops two pieces of a fixed class-specific set. With the completion of these chapters, you will have a full 6-piece set bonus available to you, skyrocketing your character power well into the mid-to-high Torments. This makes the early portion of the Seasonal Journey your first priority upon reaching max level. The Season 7 Haedrig's Gift for Demon Hunters is the Unhallowed Essence set.

4.3. Rotation

You will alternate generating Hatred through Evasive Fire Evasive Fire Focus Focus and spending it in powerful Multishot Multishot volleys. You can activate Preparation Preparation when low on Discipline, but the skill is taken mostly for the Unhallowed Essence 6-piece benefits from Invigoration Invigoration. With its significant downtimes in early character progression, Vengeance Vengeance should be used only for significant fights (high density, elites and Rift Guardians). The rest of your Hatred management will come from Companion Companion Bat Companion Bat Companion, which you can swap to Wolf Companion Wolf Companion once you are confident with resources. As always, Vault Vault will take you in, out and from fight to fight.

4.4. Skills, Runes and Passives

The majority of the build will be assembled to Unhallowed Essence's translation of Discipline into damage, as well as its obvious Multishot Multishot focus. The recommended split is:

  • Slot 1 — Damage: Multishot Multishot is the obvious choice for a damage dealing hatred spender in an Unhallowed Essence build; you have two viable runes to choose from, Arsenal Arsenal and Wind Chill Wind Chill. While Arsenal Arsenal deals higher damage overall, it is more GR-progression oriented, requiring swaps in your passives into Thrill of the Hunt Thrill of the Hunt and Arsenal Arsenal — both of which significantly deviate from your main goal, utility and speedfarm. Wind Chill Wind Chill applies a chilling effect prior to dealing damage, proccing Cull the Weak Cull the Weak (and later on, Bane of the Trapped Bane of the Trapped) automatically. Allowing you better speedrun passives and offering a party-wide Crit Chance increase makes Wind Chill Wind Chill the recommendation. Note that you acquire Multishot Multishot damage bonuses from the Unhallowed Essence as late as the 6-piece, so you can run any spender to your liking prior to that point.
  • Slot 2 — Generator: While you can technically run any 7 Hatred generator in this slot, Evasive Fire Evasive Fire fires in a wide ark, helpfully reminiscent of Multishot Multishot and with a high chance of hitting a target without the need of much aim.
  • Slot 3 — Mobility: Unchanged from the leveling build, Vault Vault Tumble Tumble gives you the best ground covered to Discipline spent ratio, making it the preferable skill for the purpose.
  • Slots 4 & 5 — Utility: You will keep Companion Companion like a swiss knife at your side, but you will adjust its utility according to your preferences; it is likely you will struggle with Hatred in an early Multishot Multishot spec, so you can safely fall to the Bat Companion Bat Companion crutch until you acquire key legendaries to stabilize resources with. Preparation Preparation will also remain in the build, but needs to be changed into Invigoration Invigoration as soon as you acquire the 6-piece Unhallowed Essence bonus, as it extends your Discipline pool.
  • Slot 6 — Supplementary damage: Similarly to Multishot Multishot, Vengeance Vengeance draws damage benefits from the Unhallowed Essence set, and brings a multiplicative damage buff of its own. Its major role in the build comes from the Seethe Seethe rune however, and obtaining its amazing Hatred regeneration permanently through cooldown reduction stacking and cubing Dawn Dawn will be one of your gearing priorities.
  • Passives: For early game Unhallowed Essence progression, it is advisable to keep most of the leveling setup (Steady Aim Steady Aim, Blood Vengeance Blood Vengeance and Tactical Advantage Tactical Advantage), but abandon Custom Engineering Custom Engineering along with its sentries for the multiplicative damage increase of Cull the Weak Cull the Weak.

4.5. Variations

While this guide focuses on the elemental synergy between Twin Chakrams Twin Chakrams and Spitfire Turret Spitfire Turret to provide the bulk of the damage, there are several build variations you can deviate into, as dictated by the gear you find. Several skills stand out as strong recommendations:

  • While Chakram Chakram is the recommended spender for the build, Elemental Arrow Elemental Arrow remains a viable and efficient spender to start your character out with. Ball Lightning Ball Lightning is regarded as one of the most versatile runes in the Demon Hunter arsenal, and you can quadruple its damage if you find a well rolled Augustine's Panacea Augustine's Panacea quiver with low travel speed of the projectile.
  • If you find your resource management decent with only Reaper's Wraps Reaper's Wraps, Blood Vengeance Blood Vengeance and a generator, you can swap out Preparation Preparation Punishment Punishment for Spike Trap Spike Trap Scatter Scatter. The skill takes advantage of your Custom Engineering Custom Engineering passive, so you can have double the amount of traps in the battlefield. It also benefits from the Helltrapper Helltrapper, a decent starter weapon you can farm from Act V bounty caches.
  • If you do a few Greater Rifts early on, which is highly advisable to get started with Legendary Gems, you can try to fit Bane of the Trapped Bane of the Trapped in a jewelry socket. Skill-wise, swap out Spitfire Turret Spitfire Turret for Polar Station Polar Station and Tactical Advantage Tactical Advantage for Cull the Weak Cull the Weak. While it does not fit elementally with your gear, unlocking the powerful multipliers of Bane of the Trapped Bane of the Trapped and Cull the Weak Cull the Weak will be a great boost to your overall damage.
  • Last but not least, if you play Hardcore or have general Toughness concerns, replace Tactical Advantage Tactical Advantage or Blood Vengeance Blood Vengeance for Awareness Awareness. A cheat death on a decent 60-second cooldown, this passive will give you a 2-second long Smoke Screen Smoke Screen to reposition as well.

4.6. Gear and Stats Priorities

Certain items can be targeted through the completion of bounties or boss kills. The following is a list of such items, in order of importance for the class.

  • Ring of Royal Grandeur Ring of Royal Grandeur is a legendary from Act I caches that reduces the number of set items required for set bonuses by one. While it might not be immediately useful, obtaining powerful bonuses (such as the 4- and 6-piece set bonuses of the Unhallowed Essence set) as early as possible for a huge spike in character power is an opportunity you should not pass up. Doing bounties will be inevitable for crafting materials anyway, so optimize your farming time and get this ring as soon as possible.
  • Avarice Band Avarice Band is an Act III cache legendary ring that extends your pickup radius by up to 30 yards as you pick up gold. This unassuming bonus has the potential to turn in the strongest source of defense during normal rifts due to its synergy with Boon of the Hoarder Boon of the Hoarder and Goldwrap Goldwrap. Their powers combined, they can render your character practically invulnerable even in the highest of Torment difficulties.
  • Reaper's Wraps Reaper's Wraps are meant to assist classes and builds with resource management problems — and Hatred is often something fledgling Demon Hunters struggle with. These bracers restore up to 30% of your Hatred reserves when you get healed by a health globe — an easy trigger if you keep an eye on the battlefield, especially if you are used to Blood Vengeance Blood Vengeance. Note that these bracers are craftable, and the plan for their creation drops when you kill the Act V boss Malthael on any difficulty.
  • Pride's Fall Pride's Fall is a helm obtained through Act III cache bounties, whose legendary effect reduces resource costs by 30% after not taking damage for 5 seconds. Demon Hunters fight at a high range most of the time, making Pride's Fall Pride's Fall an attractive bounty item.
  • Illusory Boots Illusory Boots are an Act II cache legendary item that removes enemy collision — a staple of support builds in Greater Rifts, as their precise positioning for party-wide buffs and enemy disables dictates the course of Greater Rift progress. Demon Hunters have decent support character potential, with several party-wide damage buffs and plenty of damage reduction to add to the group, making Illusory Boots Illusory Boots reasonably attractive to the class.
  • Gloves of Worship Gloves of Worship are an Act II cache legendary that extends the duration of Shrines to 10 minutes, a very decent farming effect that is usually stored in Kanai's Cube. The combined power of Empowered Shrines (doubled resource gain, halved cooldowns), Frenzied Shrines (25% Attack Speed) and Fleeting Shrines (25% increase to Movement Speed and 20 yard pickup radius), often refreshing before their 10-minute duration, is a huge buff during normal rifts. Demon Hunters are among the classes that can benefit from Gloves of Worship Gloves of Worship, as the armor Cube slots of their preferred farming specs are flexible enough to fit the item in.
  • Envious Blade Envious Blade is an Act II cache dagger with one of the most powerful speedfarming bonuses in the game — a guaranteed Critical Hit against enemies at full health. A well equipped character using this dagger can oneshot entire screens of enemies in a suitable farming difficulty. Since Demon Hunters can not dual wield melee weapons and their weapon slots are frequently taken by more important legendaries, Envious Blade Envious Blade is not considered a cache priority.

The majority of the gear will be found by random chance as you farm normally, by killing monsters, opening chests, gambling at Kadala and upgrading rare items at the Cube. While the list below is not exhaustive, these are some of the pieces to seek, spend blood shards on, or upgrade yellows for — in order of priority:

Items that are recommended and should be priority to obtain for the Unhallowed Essence set (which Season 7 Demon Hunters obtain in full from Haedrig's Gifts) are: Yang's Recurve Yang's Recurve (bow), Dead Man's Legacy Dead Man's Legacy (quiver), Dawn Dawn (1h crossbow), Focus Focus, Restraint Restraint and Convention of Elements Convention of Elements (rings); Wraps of Clarity Wraps of Clarity and Nemesis Bracers Nemesis Bracers (bracers); The Witching Hour The Witching Hour and Goldwrap Goldwrap (belts). Combined with the set, these items will produce the Multishot Multishot Demon Hunter build which does excellently in both speedfarming and Greater Rift progression.

Slot Stat Priority
  1. Dexterity
  2. Socket
  3. Critical Hit Chance
  4. Vitality
  1. Dexterity
  2. Vitality
  3. All Resistance
  4. Area Damage
  1. Dexterity
  2. 3 Sockets
  3. Vitality
  4. All Resistance
  1. Dexterity
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Elemental Damage
  4. Vitality
  1. Dexterity
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Vitality
  1. Dexterity
  2. Vitality
  3. All Resistance
  4. Life %
  1. Dexterity
  2. 2 Sockets
  3. Vitality
  4. All Resistance
  1. Dexterity
  2. Movement Speed
  3. Vitality
  4. Skill Damage if applicable
  1. Socket
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Elemental Damage
  5. Dexterity
  1. Socket
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Critical Hit Damage
  4. Dexterity
  1. High Damage Range
  2. Dexterity
  3. Socket
  4. % Damage
  1. Dexterity
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Attack Speed
  4. Skill Damage
  5. Vitality

5. Paragon Points

Slot Paragon Points
  1. Movement Speed up to 25% cap
  2. Dexterity
  3. Maximum Hatred (personal preference)
  4. Vitality
  1. Critical Hit Damage
  2. Critical Hit Chance
  3. Cooldown Reduction
  4. Attack Speed
  1. All Resistance
  2. Armor
  3. Life %
  4. Life Regeneration
  1. Resource Cost Reduction
  2. Area Damage
  3. Life on Hit
  4. Gold Find

6. Gems

Your armor and weapon sockets should be taken up by the highest tier Emerald gems you can afford at the time, while the helm is best filled by a Diamond gem for a boost to Cooldown Reduction. When you stumble upon jewelry with good primary stats and a socket, you should start dabbling into Legendary Gems. The Legendary Gems to consider for Demon Hunters are, in order of importance:

  • Bane of the Trapped Bane of the Trapped — staple multiplicative damage increase. You will be proccing this gem either through its own level 25 ability, a slow (for melee builds), or by skill effects such as Thrill of the Hunt Thrill of the Hunt or Sentry Sentry Polar Station Polar Station.
  • Bane of the Stricken Bane of the Stricken — almost mandatory gem for Greater Rift progression, as it is designed to whittle down the scaling health numbers of monsters with a percentage-based increase on successive attacks.
  • Boon of the Hoarder Boon of the Hoarder — synergizing with other farming mainstays like Avarice Band Avarice Band and Goldwrap Goldwrap, this gem will not only keep you rich, but also sped up and safe during normal rift farming.
  • Bane of the Powerful Bane of the Powerful — the speedfarm counterpart to Bane of the Stricken Bane of the Stricken, Bane of the Powerful Bane of the Powerful offers a solid overall damage and survivability increase as long as your killing speed does not fall behind the timer of the gem.
  • Situational gems — Zei's Stone of Vengeance Zei's Stone of Vengeance is a multiplicative damage increase to long range builds. Taeguk Taeguk is a great addition to a channeler Demon Hunter, which you will be by using anything Strafe Strafe-related.
Slot Gems
Torso and Pants

7. Kanai's Cube

Kanai's Cube choices are highly build- and content-specific, making them hard to summarize. Generally speaking, Demon Hunters should store the powers of the following items in the Cube as soon as they have the materials available: Dawn Dawn, Lord Greenstone's Fan Lord Greenstone's Fan, In-geom In-geom, Aquila Cuirass Aquila Cuirass, Cindercoat Cindercoat, Visage of Gunes Visage of Gunes, The Cloak of the Garwulf The Cloak of the Garwulf, Zoey's Secret Zoey's Secret, Convention of Elements Convention of Elements, Avarice Band Avarice Band and Ring of Royal Grandeur Ring of Royal Grandeur.

8. Follower

For more information regarding followers, we advise you to read our Follower Guide, which contains detailed advice for choosing the skills and the gear of your follower.

9. ChangeLog

  • 04 Aug. 2016: Updated the guide to include leveling, a better fresh 70 setup and Haedrig's Gift use tips.
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