A personal commentary on the Demon Hunter

So to start, Demon hunter is probably one of the most fun to play, but horrendously under powered characters in the game, and the balancing act that applies to other characters doesn’t really apply to demon hunters. the reason i’ve been able to single out for this is simple: it’s quivers faults. unlike other off hands, Quivers can be used with any weapon combination, such that a two handed weapon can’t be allowed to roll higher damage to compensate for the lack of off hand, but still doesn’t exclude the demon hunter from dual wielding for the extra crit damage gem… a change may need to be made to this system, but for the time being, i believe this basic mechanic is why demon hunters manage to consistently be at the bottom of the pile while simultaneously boasting some of the largest set bonuses in the game. that said, lets move on to the set breakdown, as this game very thoroughly revolves around sets to do practically anything.

Natalya’s: This set is the unfortunate red headed step child that has to inform every other set design for the entire class. due to it’s inclusion of not one, but two off pieces in the form of a ring and weapon, it can be hybridized in to practically every build such that the other sets have to avoid putting anything useful on their two or four set bonuses so as not to anger the wrath of natalya. the encumbrance presented by it’s versatility aside, Nat’s suffers from an unfortunate lack of directional focus, as rain of vengeance doesn’t have enough support to be relevant, and outside of providing a marginally more powerful alternative to a couple of LoD builds, there’s not really something that Nats is “good” at.

Unhallowed essence: Mechanically, this set is technically sound. personally? i hate it. the main reason is the min maxing relying on squeezing every single point of discipline into this build as possible, also i feel there’s a bit of conflict of interest with the newer GoD set in terms of buffing primary skills, but if we’re being honest with ourselves, this set wasn’t really meant for primaries…

Shadow: ah yes, the set that asked the question: what if our multiplier was a really really really big number? while it served it’s niche as a boss hunter for a hot second, shadows has entered that weird realm of balancing where it can’t be made more powerful for what it does without becoming the only viable option at what it does, and thus we are left with the grand decision “do we use the set that kills bosses in 20 seconds, or the set that kills everything in the room in 25 seconds?”

GoD: you probably thought i’d mention this one last, since it’s the most new, but i have a lot to say about marauders… my beef with this set is more in terms of theme rather than execution, since i’ve always enjoyed the idea of a strafe build, and even spent several seasons gearing up either a LoD or post buff nats build for strafe farming, as going BRRR through a rift and everything dying is fun to me, although i acknowledged then, and even more so now that strafe was never meant to push… until GoD, but even then it’s less strafe thats doing the pushing and more primaries, but you do you set… probably the most fun of the 5 new sets to play.

Marauders… it is time…: This set was and has been by far my favorite set for demon hunters since the beginning of reaper of souls, however that doesn’t stop it from having some pretty glaring and at some points in time hilarious weaknesses. in case you didn’t know (or don’t remember) the original version of marauders was: you place your turrets, they do the work, you move on to the next pack. blizzard decided that this wasn’t interactive enough, so they made it to where the turrets only do work when you do work, and the set really hasn’t been changed since then aside from multiplier tuning to adjust for power creep. this leads us to the modern day issue in that, the set’s simply just out of date.
the 2 set: you get all of the companions, NEAT! but what do they do? the answer is nothing, as there is no support for companions and only one belt to give a fairly negligible amount of damage reduction by modern standards (i’m looking at you wizards with your 3 stack-able 80%'s) so the 2 set is mostly there to look pretty and give you a reason to use companion of your bar for the slew of on demand cooldowns that themselves have decent utility.
the 4 set: your turrets cast your nonsense when you do, and deal a little bit more damage. this set bonus is problematic. originally it was designed to be the main feature of the build, but then they moved it to the 4 set and suddenly natalya’s rage kicked in and forced it to become worthless. follow up, the turrets don’t benefit from legendary affixes, so not only do they hit with wet noodles (even with nat’s 6 bonus) the quirky effects added by deadmans and holy point shot don’t even apply, which is unfortunate, but not as unfortunate as what the 6 set does.
the 6 set: Your nonsense that would get cast by your turrets (and also primary skills for some reason) deal (insert large number) more damage for each active turret (which naturally caps at 60,000%, as 5 turrets is the current maximum possible) the problem with this set bonus is that it makes your turrets pointless. sure they cast your nonsense, but they don’t get the 60,000% bonus, so they’re just an extra wet noodle to clump up your screen and make the battlefield less and less readable. also there’s no functional reason why this set should buff primaries, but it does (and technically more than unhallowed essence, too) furthermore, most of the skills that it does launch out of your turrets themselves don’t have any significant support items like elemental arrow and chakram, and while it also fires out impale, multishot, and cluster arrow (the latter being the only thing this set is equipped for anymore), because the sentries don’t deal damage, and there are other sets which give equal or greater buffs to those specific abilities, there simply isn’t a point to using them.
Please rework the marauders set, it deserves better than what it’s getting.

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I agree with your gripe about Marauder’s, Companions and the Sentries are not contributors other than empowering the player. I wrote an explanation for why Marauder’s should be reworked followed by solutions:

Regarding the other sets:

Unhallowed Essence
Mechanically it’s in great shape, it just needs more damage, I’d argue for making Hatred count towards the total damage given by the 6pc, as well as making Max Discipline Rolls into Max Resource rolls so those secondary affixes give 24pts of total resource (12 to hatred and discipline).

Hatred: 175 + 36 (with Blood Vengeance) = 211
Discipline: 30 + 20 + 36 = 86
Total: 297 (this is 3.45x damage ~ 7-8GRs)

Maybe make the UE2 bonus should give 1 or 2 extra points of hatred so the average resource stays high?

I’d like to see Cluster Arrow added to UE6 should Marauder get a rework.

Shadow’s Mantle – mechanically in good shape too, it needs more power and perhaps other build paths, ie. Chakram, Fan of Knives, Spike Trap, etc.

S2 to 12,000%
S6 add 2000% damage modifier for Chakram.

The whole shadow set gives 2541x to Chakram.

Buff Sword of Ill Will and Spines of Seething Hatred by another 20GRs, otherwise 23x damage.

Natalya’s Vengeance
You’re right. Rain of Vengeance is a nothing skill, just like Strafe is to GoD6. The dangerous thing about buffing RoV is that it’s compatible with other top N6 builds: Rapid Fire, N6GoD4 HA, N6M4, etc. If the goal is to play RoV as a pure DPS ability, it should be tightly synergized with another skill. For instance, they introduce a legendary like:

Rain of Vengeance’s matching elemental damage is increased by 150% for 3 seconds each time you hit an enemy with Elemental Arrow.

This blocks out everything but N6M4, but, if Kridershot and Augustine also get buffed, you’ll only play N6 RoV+EA, while wearing those items and a Crashing Rain belt.

Gears of Dreadlands
Hungering Arrow is still somewhat powerful, but it’s boring to play now that you have to wait for the trash to slowly die. I’d like to see them remove Dawn.

Ninth Cirri Satchel - reduces the cooldown of Vengeance by 1 second each time you pierce.

Emimei Duffel - 650% damage.

Balefire Caster - 500% damage to Grenade.

I’d rather roll like that, let Vengeance uptime be a little risky if you choose to go dual skill.

Right now a lost cause. So much potential: I’d like to see Thorns brought to Demon Hunter builds. I wrote a concept here:

They could also detach Companions from M2 and do more within LoN. [Raven’s Wing, Zoey’s Secret, Cloak of the Garwulf].

Whatever the path, I strongly believe the route for LoN builds should include Caltrops because it already has 3 supporting items [Omryn’s Chain, Cloak of the Dark Night, Helltrapper]. When you layer these over other legendary items, like those which buff Companion and Spike Trap, you get collisions that will force the player into building around LoN/LoD.


Agreed it flat-out needs more damage. Your suggestion for making hatred count for the 6pc would unbalance MS against HA however, as the former is a hatred spender and the latter a generator.

This would be quite restrictive as you’d have two mandatory skills bound to a single build. Also if they ever buff EA I’d prefer to play it with UE.

LoN can be played with the classic Fan of Knives, which again just needs damage buffs/supporting legendaries to shine. Thematically the Shadow set fits FoK, but I don’t see a way to rework the 6pc to accommodate FoK without being either clunky or overpowered.

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Hi Ronin, I agree. The % dip would not be as extreme and could offset it with improved UE2. At 70% RCR, MS needs ~7.5 hatred per shot at 3APS for 4 seconds is 90 hatred, minus the base regen with Seethe, we’re at 34 missing hatred, the 25 missing hatred after firing a generator. If the player starts to implement hatred regen on Quiver and Chest, it’s 13 missing hatred – still too much. Add in weapon hatred/sec roll and the Templar and we’re at 3 missing hatred. It still puts HA ahead of MS. Something more should be added to UE2, like 5 Hatred Regen / Sec. Sloppy players can run to health globes from blood vengeance, there’s also the Night Stalker passive.

That’s actually an idea for 1 build, and really just an example of how to make RoV get the spot light without marrying it with existing strong builds.

FoK needs to exactly match Impale’s power so it’s a 5GR gain. It does become clunk, you as you need Zodiac Ring to sub out Dawn.

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While making hatred regen a more valuable stat is great, this just seems like too drastic of a rework for a set which is already, as you said, mechanically in great shape.

FoK should come out ahead of impale due to the amount of skill/fishing required. Not sure why you’d need zodiac as you’d just wield LGF and cube Dawn. The issue is how to rework the Shadow 6pc to fit in FoK, as impale is almost exclusively single-target while FoK is AoE. The inelegant way is to just add a separate multiplier for FoK:

  • Impale deals an additional 75,000% damage to the first enemy hit, and FoK deals XXX% more damage.

But perhaps there is a way to unify the two skills by inversely scaling their damage based on radius, which would be in line with the melee theme of the set:

  • Impale and FoK deal an additional XXX% damage. This damage is reduced by XX% for every 5 yards between you and the enemy hit, up to XX yards.
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If they rolled out an item which gives Multishot all runes, it would have the advantage over Hungering Arrow, and this extra level of resource management would be justified, otherwise they could just buff the 6pc and move on.

Zodiac is for running both skills at the same time. It does work.

I was thinking 3 modes of play:

  • S6 Impale as is.
  • S2 FoK
  • S6 Impale/FoK

Save the alternatives: N6 FoK and LoN FoK

To be honest FoK is kind boring by itself, I would like to see it merged into S6 Impale with some bracer:

FoK gains the Pinpoint Accuracy and Bladed Armor runes and deals 700% damage.

Either that or have LGF work like this:

Each time you hit an enemy with Impale, gain 4000% increased damage for your next Fan of Knives. Stacks up to 10 times.

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Agreed, a multishot belt would be nice for this. This can be cubed as the build has enough tankiness to lose Visage of Gunes and would reinforce the fantasy of the squishy archer class. Alternatively you could drop Captain Crimson and work CoE back into the build.

I see. It does work but you are gimping your DPS/toughness a lot by losing CoE or elusive. Hybrid skill builds never fare well as you are better off investing all your gear/cube slots into one skill.

Well I agree that the ‘stand-still’ version of FoK is really boring. The problem I think is the sharpshooter passive. This should be reworked to only reset for FoK/RoV:

  • Gain 3% critical hit chance every second for your next FoK or RoV (granting exactly 100% CHC at 30 stacks of LGF). This bonus is reset after you successfully crit with FoK or RoV.

This way you can use bolas to gather pulls while waiting for LGF stacks. Still not as exciting as strafe-based LoN/N6 FoK but hardly boring.

This would force impale to be taken alongside FoK which would be bad for LoN/N6 FoK. Moreover the ‘waiting for LGF stacks’ playstyle of FoK is too iconic to be reworked.

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Set improvements are all well and good, but the truth is the class’ issues have gone historically deeper.

  • Reliance on Vengeance, and by extension Dawn, needs to be addressed as pertains to additional damage, damage reduction, CC resistance, and Hatred recovery.
  • Our Generators do too little damage on a base level and don’t regenerate enough Hatred.
  • Our Spenders need reworks in terms of Hatred costs/Damage Output.
  • Our pool of meaningful Legendary items is very small.
  • Our weapons should not be 30% weaker because of the Quiver slot.
  • Quivers are a nightmare to find perfect drops on and/or reroll.
  • Crossbows need significant buffs to even be a consideration outside of Marauder’s/Manticore due to slower resource generation and lesser proc potential.

And this is before getting into the nitty gritty of why certain skills/runes/passives don’t work or will never be selected by the player. Basically, these collective issues are why we need absurd modifiers and/or how some sets can feel too similar or “not fun” to play (aka “less do X in Y seconds, else suck”). LoN/LoD may as well not even exist for us given the game’s speed emphasis, as well. So, while drawing some abilities into existing sets may work with new items, I still stick to the belief that GoD was a mistake and lost potential for skills presently neglected like EA.

this is the main issue with the base balance of demon hunters in my opinion, it was like a precursor to the crusader being able to wield a 2 hander with a shield, but blizzard fixed it for them, but not for demon hunters. it’s a bizzare mechanic that the quiver even takes up a weapon slot to begin with, at the very least it should be removed and it’s stats baked in, or moved to it’s own slot and 2 handers being brought up to actual 2 hander status.

so true - it’s not like you’re carrying in in your hand like the WD mojo, Wiz source or Necro phylactery.