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Diablo III: Demon Hunter Hands-On

October 28 2010

Diablo III: Demon Hunter Hands-On
by Lodur

The big reveal during the opening announcements this year at BlizzCon 2010 was the 5th and final class for Diablo 3; the Demon Hunter. Roger did a great write-up with the information available for the new class, but I actually got a chance to play it. I’d like to take a moment and share my thoughts.

First of all, any comparison to the Amazon class from Diablo II is accurate. The class really does feel as if it is an evolution of that class. I will say however, that it doesn’t feel nearly as fragile or strict as the Amazon did. Above all else though, the class exudes one major trait; speed. Everything feels fast paced on this character class. It is intense, focused and quick. It’s a very strong contrast to the other classes.

Barbarians hit hard but have a very lumbering feel.  Wizards feel powerful at long range, but are glass cannons when it comes to hand-to-hand. The Witch Doctor feels methodical and calculating.  And while the Monk does feel fast, it is a different quickness than the Demon Hunter.

The Demon Hunter also feels extremely predatory and aggressive. It may sound like an odd thing to say, but the posture, the movements of the character model, the weapon choices and abilities as well as the individual traits that you can pick for the class mark it truly as a predator, not a survivalist.

Playing the character, I was itching for a fight. I wanted demons and the legions of the undead to come out and play. That is a very powerful feeling in a game where fear and overwhelming waves of mobs face you down. As I was playing with the class though, I had a sort of realization. It felt very much like playing the Vanquisher in Torchlight. It has that same feeling of speed and of being a predator, though admittedly the Demon Hunter feels more “adult” and dark. They both combine traditional Warcraft Rogue elements as well.

At the most basic level, the Demon Hunter is your standard ranged-class character. She is able to wield bows and crossbows and as an added bonus she can dual-wield pistol-crossbows (Hellloooooo Torchlight). In the arsenal of the Demon Hunter is also a lot of gadgets and traps. To this extent, it is very reminiscent of the Assassin from Diablo II. As if that were not enough, she also has some Shadow Magic skills. Basically everything about the class screams “built to kill demons”.

The character stands as a big contrast to the Monk and the Witch Doctor, both of which are very colorful, vibrant classes. The Demon Hunter is dark and brooding. Jay Wilson (lead designer of Diablo 3) has stated that she is also the only character that “gets it” in the game. Basically all the other classes are fighting for their own reasons; knowledge, physical perfection, glory, or power.  But the Demon Hunter understands the peril of the situation. The weight of the world is upon this character’s shoulders as the Demon Hunters try to stem the tide of demons flowing into the world, and you can feel it and see it in every movement, every attack and every posture of the character.

The class is a lot of fun to play, and after playing all 5 classes, I’m fairly confident that this will be the class I choose when the game is released. The action oriented, fast-paced and hectic game-play just feels good to me. It’s not for everyone though. Throughout the convention, I kept hearing murmurs of whether people loved the class, hated it or were just indifferent. Honestly that’s exactly what you want to hear. You don’t want everyone to flock to the class leaving a vacuum among the others, however you don’t want people to be disinterested either. It seemed like an even mix when compared to the other classes.

All in all, it is a damn fine class with intriguing mechanics, fast game play and an interesting look.

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