BlizzCon 2010: Diablo III Demon Hunter Hands-On


She’s sleek, she’s sexy, and she will shoot you in the face with fifty arrows at once.

It’s all well and good to hear about how Diablo III‘s fifth and final class was designed, but it’s another thing entirely to get your hands on her to see for yourself. The Demon Hunter, as outlined in yesterday’s gameplay panel, is an antihero character focused on revenge who aims to strike fear into the hearts of demons. In practice, this means she shoots fire arrows that explode. I’m okay with this, actually.

We took control of a level 9 hunter as she ventured into the torture chambers once operated by King Leoric (a name that fans of the first Diablo should be very familiar with). It was a very gory and gruesome place – if you were worried that Diablo III would be all unicorns and rainbows, the first time you drop a spiked plate down into a pit of cultists in a spray of blood may change your mind.

As yesterday’s reveal trailer indicated, the Demon Hunter is primarily a ranged class. The Hunter we were given had two primary attacks that complemented each other nicely – her basic shot severely slows anyone it hits, and it ricochets to anyone unfortunate enough to be near her target. This dovetails well with her Bola Shot, which wraps around the target and explodes for area-effect damage. If you run into a group of enemies, it’s simple to slow them all, and then shoot a few bolos into the clump to blow them all up rather nicely.

When I hit Level 10, I was able to check out one of the Demon Hunter’s other abilities, and I opted to check out her Spike Trap skill. The Spike Trap lays a smoking little ball on the floor that bursts into a swirling storm of spikes for several seconds when an enemy walks over it. This added a very interesting “preparation” feel to combat: Since you can’t see monsters around corners, I would lay traps at the corners, peek out to see what awaited me, and shoot some potshots off before retreating – and luring them right over my traps. It also meant that my Demon Hunter was encouraged to fight in narrow corridors and choke points, where I could get the maximum benefit from the area damage from both her traps and her bola explosions.

Of course, this all comes at a price. While the Demon Hunter’s Vault ability lets her cross fire traps and giant guillotines with ease to put range between her and her foes, it can’t be used if you’re surrounded. I found myself needing to frantically mash my potion hotkey more than once when my chosen ambush spot turned out to be far more vulnerable than I’d originally intended.

Preparation is important, but poor preparation might just be worse than no preparation at all.

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