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Since normal attacks seem to be right out in this game, I'm not sure if it matters what weapons I'm using. I understand that the damage of my weapon affects the damage of my skills (for some bizarre reason) but beyond that nothing seems to matter.

For example, I seem to be able to equip bows, but I have no way to shoot them that I can determine! So, if I have a bow that does 10 DPS and a dagger that does 10 DPS (assuming my other hand is empty anyway for argument's sake) aren't these identical in everything but appearance?

Also, most of my skills seem to be elemental, so if I have an elemental damage weapon, how does that damage get applied? As what type? Again, should I just go for whatever is highest?

Sorry if this is a dumb question—I almost feel like the help text must have explained this and I simply missed it because this seems incredibly counterintuitive to me. (Searched and couldn't find any question that addressed this directly, but apologies if I missed one.)

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I was wondering the exact same question so I dont think it is stupid at all. Playing as a wizard and using sword or bow as weapon seemed incredibly counter-intuitive. – Leo Apr 23 '12 at 11:10
up vote 21 down vote accepted

Weapons have become accessories in Diablo 3. Since the game is designed to prefer magic skill attacks over melee, the weapons work like your pants or hat—they add to your stats and attributes, though you may never swing your weapon as a melee attack. You can set melee to a hotkey if you want, though. In your example, yes, the bow and dagger are equivalent. Elemental damage modifiers are added to normal damage. It's all about raising DPS unless you desire an attribute modifier.

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However, there are class-specific weapons that add a bonus specifically useful for your class. For example, rare hand crossbows tend to add Hatred generation per second, which makes the weapon particularly interesting for a Demon Hunter. Beyond that, for non-class specific weapons DPS is king - read the stat changes when you equip a weapon. – Sadly Not Apr 23 '12 at 0:25
See, this just doesn't sit right with me. I want to fire my bow, damnit! – Shinrai Apr 23 '12 at 1:13
...also, thank you. I had read all those questions but I was clearly missing the important base level understanding here. They all make a lot more sense now. Regarding the last link though, I was really wondering if, say, Ray of Frost with a fire element weapon does Cold or Fire damage. Or both? (I'm sure it's been asked by now.) – Shinrai Apr 23 '12 at 1:14
@Shinrai Reading the answer from the last link I understand that the damage is summed up but the type will remain the same. So a ray of frost will always deal frost damage. – Tom Apr 27 '12 at 12:49
To use your weapon to actually attack with (like a bow), you simply remove the skill from a hotkey. On XBOX 360, you use Y to clear a skill. A cleared skill will show an icon of a lock, but an unlocked lock. That hotkey will then be usable to attack using your actual weapon. – Tim Winter Feb 14 '14 at 4:14

May seem obvious, but there are also skills that require a specific item type to become usable (e.g. Demon Hunter's bow abilities will not work with a sword or other non-bow weapon equipped). I presume this is true for other classes as well, so in that case choosing which weapon to wield matters quite a bit, at least for Demon Hunters.

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Actually, this seems to be the case ONLY for Demon Hunters, oddly enough. – Shinrai May 22 '12 at 16:52

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