Follower Skills and Gearing Guide (Updated for Patch 2.7 and Season 23)
Followers are an important part of the Diablo III meta, but their proper optimization is often undervalued. Following the guidelines below, you can take your follower performance to a new level, and you will definitely notice the improvement in your solo Greater Rift Pushing attempts and Nephalem Rift speed farming.
Introduction and Basics
With a massive rework in Patch 2.7 (Season 23), followers are now fully fledged characters with some interesting limitations and constraints, as well as some incredibly valuable boons that are transferable to the player character. They now possess the same 13 item slots as the player character does, plus an additional 14th slot for the follower-specific items (i.e. Enchanting Favor, Smoking Thurible, Skeleton Key). Their skills were also majorly revised in Patch 2.7 to better reflect the current state of the solo metagame, with an overall significant strengthening in the followers' contribution during solo play. There are several follower basic principles you need to keep in mind, irrespective of your choice of companion.
- Followers are found in town, and hiring one replaces the previously selected companion, if applicable. The only way to break that rule is the proc-based 3-piece bonus of Asheara's Vestments set, which lets all followers come to your side as you attack. The follower inventory is accessible via the F button (default bind) or right clicking their portrait on PC, or via the party sub-menu in the character menu on consoles.
- Character skills can be chosen and re-specced at any time, but cannot be unlearned, barring the creation of a new character.
- When slain, the follower revives after a 20 second timer. If the player character dies, the follower goes down with him, and his cooldowns are reset.
- Multiple offensive stats are applicable to followers: Critical Hit Chance, Critical Hit Damage (at a 150% cap), Elemental Damage, Damage vs. Elites, Increased Attack Speed, as well as defensive ones — Life %, Life per Hit, Life per Kill and Block Chance. Cooldown Reduction is a special case, as it applies only to the Templar's Heal.
- Adventure stat-wise, followers share 20% of their Magic Find, Gold Find and Experience Gain stats from their equipment to the player character.
- Followers will benefit from your player character's defensive buffs, and will benefit from crowd control reduction stats on gear (including legendary effects that mitigate them). Conversely, followers do not benefit from resource- or movement speed-related bonuses, will not benefit from offensive set bonuses like Bastions of Will or Endless Walk, and will not benefit from legendary gems except for Esoteric Alteration and Mutilation Guard.
One thing that has not changed when it comes to the general philosophy of using and gearing a follower is that trying to make them into a damage dealer is a futile exercise; your efforts are much better spent at improving the follower for the utility and defense he or she can provide to your character instead. The following guide takes this into account and will only strive to improve the follower characters in those areas, depending on the content you are trying to clear.
The basic rundown of the changes in Patch 2.7 leaves you with the following rules of thumb when picking and gearing your follower:
- Stack 25,000 of the mainstat of the respective follower (Strength for Templar, Dexterity for Scoundrel, Intelligence for Enchantress) to maximize their abilities. This task is assisted by the innate 2.5x multiplier to mainstats for all followers. The followers get the same main stat benefits as playable characters, i.e. Strength and Dexterity feed into Armor, Intelligence feeds into All Resistance, and Vitality feeds into Life.
- Invulnerability follower items ( Enchanting Favor, Smoking Thurible, and Skeleton Key) are all but mandatory. Alternatives can only be considered for speed farming and/or extremely buff-oriented characters (i.e. Inna Monks, HotNS Frenzy Barbarians).
- In general, you will be using the Scoundrel for Greater Rift solo progression, and the Enchantress for GR speed farming and standard rift farming for keys. The Enchantress can be considered for GR progression as well in builds that will benefit from her CDR and IAS buffs, if they are relevant to your build for reaching specific breakpoints. If your build contains a strong form of monster displacement (i.e. Cyclone Strike), the Scoundrel is without equal due to the area-based Night's Veil buff. The Templar is currently considered sub-optimal due to his overly defensive powers, but can be considered for some of the squishiest builds, or when playing Hardcore.
- The tl;dr of follower equipment is to include an immortality item, The Flavor of Time and Nemesis Bracers, and a combination of 2-piece Sage and 2-piece Cain sets plus a Ring of Royal Grandeur for standard rift key farming, or 2-piece Cain and XP items (Ruby socketed Leoric's Crown, Hellfire Ring of Strength) or CC items ( Blind Faith, Cord of the Sherma) during Greater Rifting. Obviously, these are very stripped and quick recommendations, and we highly recommend that you read on to optimize your follower for your current content.
As discussed above, the Templar is currently considered the weakest of the three followers and should only be considered for fragile builds, characters that are just starting out and are low on survivability, or perhaps for additional safety in Hardcore play. The setup below assumes you are taking the Templar for Greater Rift solo progression purposes, as his thoroughly defensive powers are objectively useless in standard rift farming for keys or Greater Rift speed farming. While the rest of his kit is somewhat flexible, his arguably strongest skill is the Heal, which scales with CDR.
If you choose to run a Templar for the reasons outlined above, check out our full guide on him here.
As discussed above, the Scoundrel is a damage buffing powerhouse and a prime choice for your Follower during solo Greater Rift progression attempts. The Scoundrel is especially potent if you can lure enemies into his AoE damage buff, and characters with strong enemy manipulation skills will benefit the most from him. He's also a great choice for dual wielding characters due to their naturally higher Crit Damage stat, as he complements them with a Crit Chance buff. The highlight of Scoundrel abilities is definitely his Night's Veil, and should always be taken when he is at your side.
If you choose to run a Scoundrel for the reasons outlined above, check out our full guide on him here.
The Enchantress is the most versatile of the bunch, offering a balance between utility and damage buffs, and offering some excellent speed farming potential when she is fully optimized. Take the Enchantress to GR progression if you are chasing cooldown reduction or attack speed breakpoints, as she makes both tasks easier, or if you want to have a thoroughly utility-driven character when farming GRs or keystones. The highlight of Enchantress abilities is her Prophetic Harmony, which is a tremendous boon for any CDR-heavy build.
If you choose to run an Enchantress for the reasons outlined above, check out our full guide on him here.
General Follower Gearing
When gearing your follower, you have to make a conscious choice between utility and damage oriented gear. While it can be tempting to focus on their damage potential (however limited), it is highly recommended that you focus on their crowd control and protective capabilities.
Stat-wise, it is crucially important that you reach the 25,000 mainstat point on your follower to maximize the benefits of his or her mainstat-scaling abilities. This should be quite doable even without item augmentations, because followers have an innate 2.5x multiplier to their mainstat, and all their sockets (including jewelry, since Legendary Gems don't work on Followers) will be filled with standard mainstat gems. Augmentations can still be considered to fully optimize your follower (most likely Enchantress) for speed farming, since you have an incentive to drop the invulnerability follower item at some point of optimization and go for the "all abilities" unlock one. Note that when your mainstat differs from your follower's (i.e. you are a Barbarian, but are using an Enchantress), simply reroll the pieces at the Mystic and craft your necessary items with a mainstat-appropriate alt.
The other stats you might want to consider are:
- First and foremost, Attack Speed — there are plenty of proc-based items that add valuable utility to Followers, such as Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker, Cluckeye, Buriza-Do Kyanon, Blind Faith, and Cord of the Sherma, and you will (logically) attain more procs from more attacks.
- Survivability stats can and should be considered for high end follower optimization — Vitality, Resists, Armor, Life %, Life on Hit — the moment you decide to drop the invulnerability follower item, getting your companion to survive will be a struggle. This is where Esoteric Alteration and Mutilation Guard come into play, as they are the only legendary gems that will work on your follower as well.
- Cooldown Reduction is only valuable to the Templar, since his Heal is the solitary follower ability affected by CDR. It is quite powerful though, so if you choose to run with a Templar as your follower, invest in CDR across his gear.
To reiterate, especially for GR solo progression, the recommended follower-specific items for all followers are the immortality ones: Enchanting Favor, Skeleton Key and Smoking Thurible. Immunity to damage is too powerful to be passed up in high Greater Rifts, where lackluster AI and limited toughness options mean certain death for followers within seconds. The immortality items allow you to ignore Toughness rolls on follower gear, easing decisions when rerolling and optimizing other utility stats like attack speed and cooldown reduction.
Emanate Mechanics: Legendary and Set Effects from Followers
In Patch 2.7, the Emanate mechanics was introduced in the game. What it basically boils down to is that a selection of legendary and set items worn by the follower will apply their effect to the player character as well.
In a way, one of the oldest forms of this bonus was the combination of Unity on yourself and the follower, along with an immortality item for him or her, which will halve your incoming damage without hurting him or her. This makes for one of the most powerful damage mitigation combos in the game.
The top tier, extremely useful items in the Emanate-eligible category currently include Nemesis Bracers and The Flavor of Time. The former spawns an elite at every Pylon pickup, while the former doubles the duration of Pylon bonuses — their powers combined significantly soften the infamous Greater Rift "fishing" for favorable floors and monster compositions.
Other useful Emanate-eligible items include the Act III bounty cache-specific Avarice Band, and the craftable Sage's Journey and Cain's Destiny sets. Avarice Band greatly extends your pickup radius, and will usually be paired with a socketed Boon of the Hoarder and a worn or cubed Goldwrap for an extremely potent combo during regular rift farming, catapulting your gold acquisition, movement speed, and survivability through the roof. The Cain set boosts experience gain (useful for Paragon farming) and Greater Rift Keystone drops, while the Sage set doubles Death's Breath drops. Both sets can have their requirements reduced via a Ring of Royal Grandeur on your follower. Last but not least, Homing Pads add a layer of safety and convenience when teleporting to town, while Gloves of Worship should be considered during standard rift and bounty farming for the utility gravy of 10-minute duration shrines.
The remainder of the Emanate-eligible items have limited or no usefulness at all, but for the sake of completeness, the list also includes: Broken Crown, Spaulders of Zakara, Goldskin, Custerian Wristguards, Gladiator Gauntlets, Dovu Energy Trap, Rakoff's Glass of Life, and Krede's Flame.
Follower rings, belts and boots should be chosen according to your current content:
- For Greater Rift solo progression, Oculus Ring is a must for its multiplicative damage bonus for characters standing in its circular buff — and it helpfully procs off assists to monster kills as well; the follower does not have to inflict the killing blow. Consider pairing this ring with a Unity to counterbalance damage buffs with a damage mitigation source. For the belt, consider the attack speed increase of The Witching Hour. For the boots, allow your follower CC immunity with Ice Climbers.
- For Greater Rift speed farming, go with Oculus Ring (again, splendid damage bonuses) and a Hellfire Ring of Strength for additional XP — nice little bonus during Paragon farming. Similarly to GR progression, The Witching Hour and Ice Climbers are great choices for the respective slot.
- For standard rift keystone farm or bounties, combine Ring of Royal Grandeur (so the follower can have both Cain and Sage bonuses) and Avarice Band for speed and utility. In this case, the belt and boots slots will be taken by set pieces.
Lastly, it should be noted that a former favorite for the amulet slot, The Ess of Johan, can still be considered for AoE-dependent builds with low or no displacement abilities — as it offers a long-range pulling effect on a decent, 20 second internal cooldown.
The main stats for the followers are as follows: Strength for Templar, Dexterity for Scoundrel, Intelligence for Enchantress. To match that mainstat, whenever a socket occurs in a follower item, you should use a Flawless Royal Ruby (or the highest available) for Templar, a Flawless Royal Emerald (or the highest available) for Scoundrel, or a Flawless Royal Topaz (or the highest available) for Enchantress.
Main stats increase the damage and skill power of your follower capping out at 25,000 main stat. Followers have an innate 2.5 multiplier per stat point, making this cap more easily attainable.
The weapon socket is mostly irrelevant, but can be filled with a Flawless Royal Ruby (or the highest available) for the flat damage increase, or a Flawless Royal Amethyst (or the highest available) for the Life on Hit if you drop the immortality item from your follower.
- 07 Apr. 2021: Added extra information. Split off individual followers and their advice into their own separate pages.
- 24 Mar. 2021: Major overhaul due to the Follower changes in patch 2.7.
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