BlizzCon 2010: Diablo III “Demon Hunter” Class Hands-On Preview

When Blizzard officially unveiled the Diablo III Demon Hunter class earlier this morning (along with PvP zones), I sent my not-at-BlizzCon colleague Phil Owen a rather colorful, excited text message about it. Go give it a looksee. It’s pretty accurate, if a bit boyish.

Now that I’ve spent a couple of hands-on hours with the Demon Hunter, attended a developer panel about it (recap post coming later), and had some time to reflect and cool down, I’m ready to write coherently about Diablo III’s 5th and final class. Here’s everything I know so far:

The Demon Hunter specializes in ranged attacks, but she’s extremely fast on her feet. She dual-wields crossbows (hell yeah), which have a quick rate of fire and can chop down foes in a few hits from a very safe distance. When surrounded, she can use an ability called “Vault,” which is an acrobatic, shadowy somersault-looking dodge, which covers a
pretty insane amount of ground, putting her well out of the fray.

Her Bola Shot skill, my favorite, shoots an enflamed bola (this medieval weapon thing I associate with the film Willow), which wraps around the target, and then explodes. This does some pretty serious damage, especially if you spam it in large groups.

Bola Shot is best used in conjunction with another skill, called Entangling Shot. The Demon Hunter shoots out a long, shadowy-looking chain, which clasps around up to three enemies at once, severely lowering their mobility for several seconds and causing light damage. This is what people mean when they say the words “crowd control.” It does exactly that, and the Entangling Shot / Bola Shot 1+2 punch is a potent one for the Demon Hunter. Using this combination, she can immobolize large swaths of enemies, and then blow them up. From pretty far away, too. Awesome.

The only other Demon Hunter skill I was able to try out during the demo is fittingly titled “Grenade.” When triggered, the Demon Hunter lobbs a few grenades (shaped like coconuts), which explode for some moderate AoE damage. I didn’t get these until later in the demo, but they work just as well coupled with Entangled Shot. The principle is the same: immobilize your targets with “gadgets” (as Blizzard described it during the panel), and then take them down with ranged attacks.

I was tempted to play the Demon Hunter as a melee class at first, because of her speed, and the impressive strength of some of these attacks. It kind of works, and you can go toe to toe with big enemies, but you’ll start bleeding fast, and it doesn’t really feel right. No, the Demon Hunter class felt best as a pop-in-pop-out attacker, with immobilizing gadgets and explosive ranged attacks. It took a little while to get the hang of this rhythm, but when you do (particularly when you work Vault into your regular attack patterns), the Demon Hunter is pretty vicious.

It appears the Demon Hunter’s energy is simply “Mana” (although I’m skeptical it will remain that way through launch), which I barely noticed at all during the demo. You can spam the Demon Hunter’s skills, almost non-stop, and you’ll chrew through mana, but it replenishes almost instantanously. Only a couple of times did I receive a message “not enough mana.” It seemed a bit odd, and kind of took away some of the challenge to be honest. I did not die a single time during the demo. Not once. I would imagine the Demon Hunter’s Mana burn is not fully developed.

So far, the Demon Hunter seems like an interesting hybrid between ranged and melee, with explosive skills, and a very cool, kind of sinister vibe. There’s defintely some unanswered questions for me. I wasn’t able to try out any of her Rune Skill combinations, and there’s a whole tree of skills to wade through. What I saw today definitely has my interest, though.

Good job, Blizzard. Now when does game coming out, so we can play it?

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1 Comment on BlizzCon 2010: Diablo III “Demon Hunter” Class Hands-On Preview


On October 23, 2010 at 11:03 pm

awesome class