Diablo 3 Best Demon Hunter Builds For Inferno, Nightmare and Hell

By   /   Sep 7, 2013

The first character I played after getting my hands on the retail version of Diablo III was the Demon Hunter. It was a dark character with a background that spoke to my most inner being, and it was natural to try a class that could wear cloaks.

The gun-slinging style of the Demon Hunter and its crushing skills also added my desire, and so I played.

For more help on Diablo 3 Builds, read our Monk Builds, Witch Doctor Builds and Barbarian Builds Guide.

Diablo 3 Best Demon Hunter Builds

I can boldly claim that I struggled a lot; the Demon Hunter is by the most difficult character to play in Diablo, and you’ll need to be very good at kiting and running away from enemies while playing the class. I’ve always been the aggressive, no-mercy type, so the Demon Hunter didn’t click with me initially.

But after playing through Hell, I got used to the class, and started loving it for its insane potential. The Demon Hunter isn’t an all-out attacker – he/she’s simply about tactics. The term ‘tactics’ seems very strange for Diablo, because although it does need some strategy at times, it is mainly an action RPG game.

The case is slightly different with the Demon Hunter. Sure, most of the times you’ll be clicking like the regular maniac you are, but things like positioning, kiting, evasion, and similar techniques all come into play with this class.

The Demon Hunter is one class that has gone through a series of ridiculous changes from the recent updates. Some of its most essential abilities have been nerfed to uselessness, while others have been buffed to insanity. Yet still the Demon Hunter is capable of delivering some crazy damage.

So, what makes it so great? Well, it has some insane nuking ability, especially in Nightmare and Hell mode. You can make enemies disappear within seconds if you play correctly, and if you don’t you’ll likely disappear in seconds as well. Also, if you’re even lacking slightly in-terms of weapon damage and items, you’ll feel the difference much more than other classes.

Diablo 3 Demon Hunter Inferno Build

Infernal Paradigm
This is, by far, the most successful build that you would come across in Inferno.

Why? Because it offers you three basic needs: damage, survivability, and evasion. In Inferno, most of the highly offensive skills (such as those from the Archery set of abilities) become completely useless and ineffective, and will only serve the purpose of looking cool. You need something more serious than just fancy effects to help you survive.

Active Skills
The first skill available to the Demon Hunter by default is the Hungering Arrow, and most DH players would agree that it remains the best Hatred generator throughout all three difficulties.

Sure, you might find Entangling Shot and Bola Shot tempting in Nightmare or Hell, but they become too slow and too useless in Inferno. I would stick to Hungering Arrow from start to finish.

This is your main damage-dealing skill, and with Spray of Teeth, you can do some pretty good AoE damage. ‘But you need critical strike rate for that,’ you say? Heck, you’re a Demon Hunter; your most important stat is Dexterity, and your most important attribute is a super-high critical hit rate. So if you’ve been following the norms, you should have lots of fun with Spray of Teeth.

The next thing is the infamous Elemental Arrow. It’s hard to say what exactly makes this ability so good; it just simply is like that. Now, a lot of people actually like using the Ball Lightning rue, but I myself prefer Nether Tentacles.

Why? Well, they return a good amount of damage as life, and you need as much life-steal as possible with the DH.

Now remember that I said you need plenty of evasion as well? That’s where Vault comes in. This is an absolutely must-have skill, and hopefully you’ve learnt how to control it and use it properly by now.

Tumble is by far the best rune for the skill, and you’ll unlock it early on, so you should already know how to manage your Discipline cost while using Vault multiple times. This is your main escape skill, so make sure a finger always hovers over that button.

The second important evasive skill is Smoke Screen. Sadly the effectiveness of Smoke Screen has been badly nerfed by Blizzard, so it’s not like what it once was – but that doesn’t mean it’s completely useless.

You can squeeze in an extra half a second with the Lingering Fog rune; it might not sound like much, but even half a second can make a difference of life and death.

Shadow Power is my personal favorite DH skill, and I had it assigned to my number 2 button the moment I unlocked it way back in Normal mode. It’s your ultimate life-steal skill, and stacks very well with Nether Tentacles of Elemental Arrow.

What I also love about this skill is the Gloom rune, which gives you a generous 35% damage reduction. I found myself activating this skill after taking a few hits, then using a mix of Hungering Arrow and Elemental Arrow to deal some damage, followed by Vault and/or Smoke Screen.

Last but not least is Preparation. Now this is an absolute freebie of a skill. It will instantly restore all your Discipline, and with the Battle Scar rune will also heal you for 60% life. How much more awesome can it get? Yes, you do have a 45 second cool-down, but that’s still good enough to allow you to use this skill during every other battle.

Passive Skills
Now, let’s have a look at the passive skills. The passive skills chosen for this build are meant to compliment the active skills. Archery is a must-have passive that will do you good no matter what kind of ranged weapon you are carrying. That small but vital boost is well worth a passive slot.

The second-most important passive is Tactical Advantage – you are using two skills (Smoke Screen, Vault) that trigger the speed boost from the passive, and you will certainly need it if you’re trying to escape.

Last but not least is Perfectionist. Notice that 4 of your 6 active skills cost Discipline. If you spam all of them at the same time, you’ll be out of Discipline before you can even say hi. It’s not just the 10% cost reduction that is important though – you’re also getting a 10% increase to your Life, Armor, and resistance. Why would you ever think of ignoring that?

Weapons and Armor
During my Normal difficulty playthrough I was really enjoying the fact that I had two Handbows equipped on my Demon Hunter. Let me tell you that I was stupid. The duel handbow setup gives the DH a cool gunslinger aspect, but it’s actually just eating up a lot that you could be utilizing in a much better way with Quivers.

Yes, Quivers will always indirectly be more superior to an off-hand handbow. The only time I would actually use handbows is when I know I’ve gotten my hands on the some insane gear that gives me huge crit chance, lots of dexterity, and a terribly large amount of DPS.

I’ve even seen many people play with a crossbow. Sure, the idea of utilizing the 50% damage increase from Archery is a good idea, but it’s not good if you’re attacking at the speed of a German Howitzer, without actually having that kind of power.

I’ve always preferred high DPS bows instead, with Quivers equipped on the off-hand. This setup will give you a nice balance of utility and good attack-speed.

Remember though that you are not looking for attack-speed primarily. Instead, you want to look for items that increase your Discipline, increase your DPS, and/or increase your Critical Damage and crit chance.

Attack Speed will always be decent with a standard bow, so you should always look for it when you already have tons of damage and ridiculous crit.

For armor, I would take something that gives me critical damage on my helms, shoulders, bracers, rings, and belts, while looking for a mix of vitality, maximized Discipline, and dexterity on my chest armor and pants. With boots, I would hunt for Movement Speed – you need as much of it as you can get.

In case you haven’t managed to make your way to Inferno yet, here are some builds that will definitely help you in your Nightmare and Hell play-through:

Diablo 3 Demon Hunter Nightmare Builds

Build #1, Build #2                                                                                                              
By the time you finish Normal difficulty, you should be around level 31-35. Shame on you if you’re not.

Anyways, these two builds are very similar, save a couple of skill differences. This is basically how I played the Demon Hunter, and let me tell you again that I struggled a lot. It wasn’t because of the skills or runes that I selected that was making me die again and again, it was simply my approach. I had made the mistake of using duel handbows, and average armor.

For these builds you want to ensure you have a Bow and Quiver, with the latter giving you plenty of bonus stats such as crit and crit damage, dexterity, Discipline, etc.

You should know that skills from the Archery tree are OP in Nightmare and the halfway through Hell. They do an insane amount of burst damage, and that’s why I found myself often initiating with Rain of Vengeance and/o Multishot, as in the case of Build 2.

Yes, they suck your Hatred faster than a kid sucking on a Popsicle (another analogy comes to my mind but I’d rather not use it), but it’s pretty fun to see so many enemies take so much damage at once.

If you’re not using such skills, then consider Build 1, which uses Cluster Arrows instead. This is a very Hatred hungry skill, but it can do lots of damage to enemies, I enjoyed using it with Fan of Knives (Retaliate Rune) for some big-ass AoE damage.

Fine burst, but make sure you can get out of that crowd with a well-timed, accurate Vault

Diablo 3 Demon Hunter Hell Builds

Build #1, Build #2
Welcome to Hell, you should have a level of around 45-50 by the time you enter this difficulty. Now in Hell mode things start to get a little serious, and you’ll notice you can’t one-shot everything. This is just the beginning my friend; consider it as a learning process for all the things you’ll face in Inferno.

Now in Hell my build started looking more like that Inferno one. You still don’t have access to some superior runes, but you’ll understand that many abilities start becoming shitty after the first half of hell.

The main ones that take the hit are from Archery. Multishot is still a pretty good ‘poke’ AoE for some part of Hell thanks to its Full Broadside rune, but that’s about as far as it will get.

I enjoyed using Rapid Fire during this time, which is why I put it in Build 1. It’s a nice channeling ability that can do lots of damage, and since you won’t have too much stuff that uses Hatred, you can spam it from a distance before getting into the serious mode. In order to assist your Hatred consuming skills, we’ll summon a Bat Companion to grant you 3 Hatred per second.

I honestly dislike the summons from any class other than the Witch Doctor, which is why I’d prefer Build 2. Apart from Rain of Vengeance and its insane Dark Cloud rune, the rest of the build looks very similar to the final Inferno build.

Elemental Arrow is your main Hatred spender, with RoV present just to give you enough AoE against large uncontrollable crowds. Don’t forget to Vault!

If you wish to share your builds with us, feel free to do so in the comment section below.