This is not a Hearthstone post, be warned!
Diablo was likely the first “violent video game” I ever played to a great degree alone. Sure there were your Street Fighters, Mortal Kombats and Contras on gamepad consoles that I didn’t own. But Diablo was something that I played at my leisure from my home, in a cold dark basement. And as a child, the striking red and black demonic themes, the dismembered bodies with bone and blood, and the haunting sounds of the game all had a great sensory effect on me.
Flash forward to today, and Diablo 3 is out with Patch 2.4 in full throttle. No, the game isn’t scary like it once was. Nor is it something that completely galvanizes my attention. But Patch 2.4 is something that has successfully brought me back to the game, and many others.
Diablo 3 in a nutshell
Diablo 3 came out a good 4.5 years ago, so it is practically in it’s “middle age” by now, until the next game. Back then, the game was strikingly simple. There was only a story mode. You cap out at level 60. I remember certain bosses in the game, like Belial, being impossible to beat at the highest difficulties. Through trial-and-error, bosses were beat, gear was pretty good, and the game shifted to “what’s next?” This stale era persisted for a couple years, and there was a change in management. An expansion came out, clans were added, and adventure mode came out, providing virtually infinite gameplay. But the seemingly similar problem occurred, in which the game gets stale when everyone hits the peak. Thus, we are in the phase of D3 now, where content patches come out a few times a year. New content seems to emerge in the form of Seasons, various lootable items, new levels, ramped difficulty levels and challenges, etc. This has been going on for the last couple years, and 2.4 is the latest of these new content patches.
Throwing knives – the Demon Hunter shift
As someone who is often afraid of change, I have been playing exclusively with the Demon Hunter class, the class I played most often in D3. Patch 2.4 brings about a huge shift in the Demon Hunter gameplay. Prior to the patch, Demon Hunters were essentially bound to weapons involving Bows, Crossbows, and Quivers. The Shadow’s Mantle, a previously unused armor set, changed that. First, using a melee weapon increased all damage by 600%, and special Demon Hunter daggers were released. This allowed Demon Hunters to hold a melee weapon with a quiver. Second, the set brought Impale into prominence, probably the first time in D3’s existence. Impale is a skill that lets the Demon Hunter throw a knife at an enemy for moderate damage and a low-moderate cost. It was trumped by virtually every Hatred spender, until the new Shadow’s Set, which gives a 40000% damage boost for Impaling the first enemy. Coupled with the dagger Karlei’s Point, Impale Demon Hunters are now a competitive entity.
More about the impale build
- Specialists – Demon Hunters using the impale build are pigeonholed more than ever as the “damage class.” Demon Hunters have always been classified as the damage class, but now the Impale build makes them Rift Guardian and Boss specialists. Ambush and Single Out are two passive skills that amp out the Impale damage even further, making the Demon Hunter standout over the other classes. At high levels, Rift Guardians have a lot of HP. The Impale amplification provides a huge time saving in killing a Rift Guardian, which is vital to completing a 15 minute Greater Rift.
- More Damage – Gems like Bane of the Trapped and Bane of the Stricken provide flat damage bonuses, and should be included for this DH. Marked for Death is another flat damage source, and the Contagion rune will help out greatly, especially in group play. Having high Dexterity, Critical hit chance, and Critical hit damage are always key for a DH. Area Damage is pretty important to help out against group mobs, which are a weakness of this build.
- Resource Generation – With Impale becoming a premium skill, the generation of Hatred has become very important. Karlei’s Point, which returns about half the Hatred of an Impale, helps. Vengeance has become staple skill for DHs in this patch, and it helps out a lot for the Impale DH. The Seethe rune, which generates 10 Hatred a second, can help replenish the resource quickly. Vengeance downtime is reduced greatly by the Dawn crossbow, which should be absorbed by Kanai’s cube. It also helps to have a generator rune which generates 7 Hatred, like the Thunder Ball rune for Bolas.
- Defense – My gameplay with the Imaple DH has been very physical compared to past builds. Unhallowed Essence had an emphasis of having no enemies near you. Marauder’s focused on Sentries doing the dirty work. With the Shadow Impale DH, I am constantly in the middle of a gigantic mob, in a huge scrum with the melee classes. The main source of damage reduction comes from the Visage of Gunes, which reduces damage by 50% when Vengeance is active. With the reduced downtime of Vengeance thanks to Dawn, Visage of Gunes becomes a near auto-include in Kanai’s Cube as well. The Chain of Shadows belt removes the cost of Vault after using Imaple, and is essential. The Elusive Ring reduces damage another 50% after using Vault. Plus, the Shadow Set allows all runes of Shadow Power to activate, providing more defense. With this huge damage reduction, it works well to fight in the middle of a scrum, in order to better pinpoint the boss or elite in a pack.
- Element – As far as I can see, the Lightning and Cold Impale runes are the best, as they allow Impale to hit multiple enemies. Lightning allows a guarantee hit of 3 enemies, while Cold has big time upside of hitting everything in a line. So it’s good to have at least 2 elemental bonuses in your armor or quiver.
I am still building up materials to play the other DH builds, to see how they fare. But I feel as if I have played the most radical build so far with the Imaple DH. The gameplay shift is truly refreshing, and needed. I’ll see how long D3 Patch 2.4 keeps me entertained, before some new thing comes out for another game (Hearthstone, I’m looking at you).