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Following the way of similar questions for the Monk and the Barbarian, I'd like to ask the same for the Demon Hunter.

I know that there's an analogous question, but its focus was Nightmare difficulty and none of the answers addressed Inferno.

For a Demon Hunter, high DPS should come natural through a correct itemization. At the moment (I'm still in Nightmare), I'm focusing on damage-increasing skills, since a high-dps grants me an easy dispatch of my enemies, without having to worry of being touched. Is this the main focus even at higher difficulties? Or should I switch to health restoring abilities (as Elemental Arrow with Nether Tentacles, or Marked for Death with Death Toll, or Shadow Power), to balance the higher lethality of the monsters? I'm mainly interested in solo play.

Example builds, with explanation of the choices, would be greatly appreciated.

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6 Answers

up vote 27 down vote accepted

So, any Demon Hunter Build is going to divide its skills into two basic categories. Tools You Use To Stay Alive, and Tools You Use To Kill Things. In general, these two categories are largely separable, with the former category being the one that changes radically in Inferno. I'll cover both here for completeness sake, but keep in mind that the latter section allows substantially more flexibility.

Staying Alive

There are two schools of thought for staying alive. The first is built on maximizing Smoke Screen uptime at all costs, through the use of the Lingering Fog rune, Preparation with either Focused Mind or Backup Plan (to taste). Multishot with Suppression Fire, as are the Nightstalker, Perfectionist, and Sharpshooter passive skills. These builds have become somewhat less popular after the most recent round of hot fixes, as the maximum possible uptime has been reduced considerably, but Smoke Screen is still an essential element of most builds, regardless. Since the most recent hot fix, you may also consider replacing it with Shadow Power with the Gloom rune. You'll experience a higher uptime of less damage reduction (-65%, rather than -100%). If you go the Shadow Power route, you'll probably want to focus on offensive skills that provide more health regen (see below for options there).

The other school of thought is to maximize your kiting ability. While Smoke Screen is still essential to most of these builds, they may forego some of the other +Discipline stacking options in favor of abilities like Caltrops and Vault, particularly in combination with the Tumble rune, which makes it near-spammable.

Either way, the key is to select skills that maximize your ability to not be hit. Whether you do this by increasing your invulnerability uptime, or by augmenting your mobility is up to you.

Killing Things

On this front, you have much more flexibility. Elemental Arrow is incredibly popular as a main attack. At a cost of only 10 Hatred, you can almost spam this exclusively in most encounters - Hatred builders aren't often needed, (especially if you use the Bat Companion, see below) which means that you can rely on this skill primarily for damage. The two most popular runes are going to be Frost Arrow, which offers high single target damage, decent AE, and a snare effect, and Nether Tentacles, which offers the best damage on single-target encounters, as well as a decent life-leech effect. Screaming Skull is favored by more kite-centric builds, as the fear effect offers a tremendous amount of crowd control - it's not as reliable as some other options, but it's potency and spammability more than makes up for it.

Rapid Fire is also quite popular, particularly with the High Velocity or Bombardment runes.

Hatred builders, by contrast, are much more to taste.

Evasive Fire is a very popular Hatred builder, but the risk of spending Discipline by vaulting unexpectedly is often enough to make it less useful than the alternatives - especially when action bar slots are scarce after stacking Defensive skills. Additionally, the damage isn't terribly high, and it offers a minimal AoE coverage or additional utility.

Entangling Shot is probably the most popular alternative, as the slow is handy, though the damage is pretty lackluster. Bola Shot and Hungering Arrow have proponents as well. This slot on your bars in particular, is largely going to be to taste.

And Then What?

At this point, you have a Hatred-Spending attack, a Hatred-Generating Attack, and probably 2-3 skills allocated to defense. (Smoke Screen or Shadow Power, and some combination of Prep, Vault and Caltrops). You can fit 1-2 more skills on your bar. What do you take? There are a few major contenders:

Companion, probably with the Bat rune - this is an easy attention-free source of additional damage. More importantly however, by generating 3-hatred per second, it allows you to use Elemental Arrow 5 more times (or get 5 more ticks of Rapid Fire), give or take, before running out of Hatred. That's a Really Big Deal, and a lot of extra damage, before even factoring in the 45% Weapon Damage that the bat does on it's own.

Marked for Death, particularly with the Death Toll rune is popular for Shadow Power and Nether Tentacles based builds for maximizing health regen. It's less useful if you're doing a lot of kiting, or concerned with AE damage. It's also very potent in combination with Nether Tentacles -- especially in 'true' single target (i.e. only one thing on the screen to hit) situations.

Multishot with Suppression Fire, as mentioned above, is a popular option for maximizing Discipline Regen. Alternately, with the Fire At Will rune, it becomes a popular AE option for builds that are more focused on single target damage with other skill choices (i.e. (Rapid Fire)

Spike Trap, particularly with the Scatter rune is popular for kite-centric builds - dropping one at a tight choke point can be devastating.

Passives

The only really important one here is Archery, which, in combination with a 2H Bow or Crossbow, is a massive increase in damage. If you're stuck using a Hand Crossbow, this is less important, but you should really be trying to get your hands on a two handed ranged weapon as soon as possible in order to use this passive. It provides an absolutely staggering amount of additional DPS.

Beyond that, it's largely to taste. If you're focused on SS/SP uptime, you'll want some combination of Night Stalker (possibly with Sharpshooter to support it), Perfectionist, and Vengeance. A kiting focused build may want Cull the Weak or Tactical Advantage. You have a lot of flexibility here.

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Is there some reason you've included Marked for Death twice in your "And then What?" section? –  Wipqozn May 27 '12 at 23:49
    
@Wipqozn does 'I wrote this in pieces over the course of several hours' count as a reason? –  LessPop_MoreFizz May 27 '12 at 23:56
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You didn't step your foot in Inferno with DH, did you? –  StupidOne May 29 '12 at 13:09
    
I like everything you said here except one thing, rain of vengeance (flying strike) rune is a must on any inferno DH, the long duration aoe stun is absolutely deadly on large groups of monsters and champions. Oh, and archery is absolutely deadly with a crossbow as well, the +crit damage synergies extremely well with sharpshooter. I have over 250% crit bonus on my DH and I can crit for over 130k damage. –  z - Jun 8 '12 at 13:16
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It's best to use a bow, as the 15% damage on a bow from Archery is much more powerful than the 10% crit chance on a hand crossbow. You should look for a high damage bow and a good quiver and dump the crit if you can. Roll with Sharpshooter and Archery passives and then pick a passive of your choosing for the third. Stack dex, attack speed and crit damage. This allows you to stutter-step and lob 3-4 orb attacks in one go. My 1.4 bow shoots at 3.01 with my speed.

As I kite I dump Hatred using Ball Lightning (Elemental Arrow) to great effect. At this point you have enough Sharpshooter saved up to around 80-90%, so when those first shots hit they crit huge. I have the base crit damage (50%) and I hit them for 50k multiple times, I can only imagine what it would be if I had more.

You can take an elite pack to 50% if they are grouped close and slowed - use Caltrops because they will sit in the ball lighting longer. Then I book it to rinse and repeat.

I use Bola Shot with Thunderball for my left-click for when I can't kill something and it won't stop attacking me. the damage sucks but keeping a mob perma-stunned till its death is amazing. the AoE is a nice addition too.

Bat pet for the Hatred regen, but if you are kiting a lot - like I do in Inferno - you regenerate most of it by the time your Sharpshooter is back up to 70%.

With crits and the Night Stalker passive, you can regain most of the Discipline you spent laying the traps and Vaulting away.

You are pretty much a glass cannon. I sit at 45k damage and 38k hp without Sharpshooter as my passive. If I could stack crit damage more I think I could alpha strike a pack of elites dead.

In inferno, do not let them touch you! Even with 800 resists you will still get 1-2 shotted by just about everything. I had geared up with tons of armor and resists and 700 per sec life regen... didn't make a difference. Still killed in 1-2 blows.

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My current inferno build: Gear-2 1 handed crossbows, and stack as much critical chance and critical damage% as possible. I currently have a 32% critical chance, with 295% critical damage, and room to grow.

Passives-archery, steady aim, and Vengeance

Primary-hungering arrow with devouring arrow rune Secondary-nether tentacles

Bar-caltrops(torturous ground), vault(tumble), smoke screen(reduced discipline cost), and prep(battle scars)

I usually pull 60k crits, very often, and the devouring rune increasing damage by 70% every once in a while is nice. Basically just kite with caltrops, use screen in sticky situations (walls and molten) prep can either be an extra pot, or a discipline reset and tumble to keep your distance if needed. Nether tentacles just seems to be a nice fit, as I can spam it, and heal myself. The healing is nice with those crits as well.

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My current favorite build would be this.

Evasive Fire(Covering Fire) works great as part of this high mobility build with lots of dicipline while also covering health regen through elemental arrow

Mobility is key in inferno and a lot of kiting is only possible because of the extended smoke screen (Lingering fog). It gives you enough time to reposition yourself and is a neat escape tool that is in almost every inferno build.

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of corse impale is nice to make hudge crits and sometimes fastly kill anoying mobs, but eating to much heatred. My build is simple evasing fire + covering fire works like a shotgun more shots more crits :) Elemental arrow + screaming skull (on inferno act 3) realy helping to kill elites by sepearating them. Rain of vengance + ther is rune what gives kick back brilliantly keeping mobs away and damaging them. Of corse smoke screen, bat compianion, caltrops or impale.

p.s. my impale crit hit dmg is 280k after last nerfing. 2 handed crosbow, 297% crit dmg, pasives sharpshooter,archery , steady aim.

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I've built what is basically a Crit dependent build, it probably has some weak points but i feel it's pretty strong. I use a crossbow for 50% more crit damage.

passives - sharpshooter, archery,

primary - hungering arrow(thinking about changing this) with exploding rune

secondary - chakram, twin chakram

bar - 1, lingering fog; 2, prep(back up plan); 3, impale(double crit) 4, marked for death(mixed)

It's kind of a hodge podge build but basically i do 140k crits with impale and if I have late sharpshooter stack(which i always do before big fights), I can do 3-4 of them right off the bat. I use chakram for AoE because I like the wide breath of damage, even if there are better skills. Hungering arrow also does AoE damage on crits which is nice but I'm thinking about changing this as well. Lingering fog is a given. If you play demon hunter and you don't have this, you are doing it wrong. Prep means more lingering fog, which means more win. Impale does 140k crits thats pretty cool. I rarely use Marked for death, so I'm thinking about replacing this with bat. I'm open to suggestions that don't change the feel of this build

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