Demon Hunter Leveling Build Guide (Patch 2.6.8 / Season 20)
Welcome to our Demon Hunter leveling guide, where we give you an efficient build for easily leveling to Level 70, with plenty of explanations.
This guide is part of our Demon Hunter Seasonal Progress Guide, which also includes early builds for fresh 70 characters.
|Evasive Fire Hardened Chakram Twin Chakrams 1 Sentry Spitfire Turret 2 Vault Tumble 3 Companion Wolf Companion 4 Preparation Punishment|
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.
The build revolves around the use of Chakram Twin Chakrams as a resource-efficient spender; an oft-underrated skill with excellent spread and quick projectile. Supplement its damage with your Sentry 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 for a temporary damage boost. Maintaining distance will be done through judicious use of Vault, as you will only have your natural Discipline regeneration to rely upon. Preparation will be used strictly for Hatred restoration with the Punishment rune. If you find yourself starved for resources still, you will have a strong Hatred generator at your disposal: Evasive Fire Hardened.
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 shares the top spot for resource efficiency with Elemental Arrow but unlocks several levels earlier (level 12 vs. level 20). While 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, 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 and 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 with the 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 at level 42 — and use the other 7 Hatred generators, Hungering Arrow Serrated Arrow (level 17), Grenade Tinkerer (level 22) or Bolas 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, available at level 25. You can take it a step further with the 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.
- Slot 4 — Mobility: Keeping distance is of utmost importance for the Demon Hunter, the glass cannon of Diablo 3. 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 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 at your side, available at level 17. For the early leveling, you can use Companion for resource utility — the Bat Companion rune (level 29) will provide a passive and active Hatred regeneration effect, allowing you to spam Chakram for longer. From level 59 however, 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, Preparation (level 13) will be another tool at your side for resource management. 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. Adding 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 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 in your setup to have one more Sentry in your roster, adding more autonomous damage to the build.
While this guide focuses on the elemental synergy between Twin Chakrams and 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 is the recommended spender for the build, Elemental Arrow remains a viable and efficient spender to start your character out with. 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 quiver with low travel speed of the projectile.
- If you find your resource management decent with only Reaper's Wraps, Blood Vengeance and a generator, you can swap out Preparation Punishment for Spike Trap Scatter. The skill takes advantage of your Custom Engineering passive, so you can have double the amount of traps in the battlefield. It also benefits from the 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 in a jewelry socket. Skill-wise, swap out Spitfire Turret for Polar Station and Tactical Advantage for Cull the Weak. While it does not fit elementally with your gear, unlocking the powerful multipliers of Bane of the Trapped and 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 or Blood Vengeance for Awareness. A cheat death on a decent 60-second cooldown, this passive will give you a 2-second long Smoke Screen to reposition as well.
Gear and Stats Priorities
As the leveling process in Diablo 3 is relatively quick, specific legendary recommendations are not necessary. 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 to level 25 and socketing it in a level 70 weapon will be the single biggest boost you can provide to the leveling process.
- 13 Mar. 2020: Reviewed for Season 20.
- 22 Nov. 2019: Page added.
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