Hungering Arrow is currently the best-performing Hatred Generator for demon hunters. With its high theoretical damage output, strong Hatred generation, and straightforward mechanics, it's an easy go-to skill to have on your bar.
As with other classes, when there's a single skill (or set of skills) that is much stronger or more worthwhile to use, it curbs potential build diversity. To help open up some other options, we're taking a look at Hatred Generators and Spenders, as well as some of the demon hunter's more iconic abilities like Rain of Vengeance and Sentry, and will be upping the damage on all of them.
Four skills are intended to compete with Hungering Arrow as a Hatred Generator: Entangling Shot, Bola Shot, Evasive Fire, and Grenades. While each of these skills offer some unique utility options (Entangling Shot slows enemies, Bola Shot has an AoE component, Evasive Fire provides an escape route, and Grenades can bounce off walls), their damage just isn’t competitive enough when compared to the theoretical damage of Hungering Arrow and its rune variants.
In the case of Grenades, the skill has some minor mechanical and control issues that keep its unique ability to bounce off walls from really shining through. It can be difficult to get the grenade projectiles to where you want them, and using the skill doesn’t always feel very smooth. We explored some alternate targeting methods over the course of 1.0.4's development cycle to help improve this, but we weren't happy with anything we came up with. Most often, we found that by introducing targeting that allowed Grenades to bounce off a wall in a satisfying way, it would often make it so you couldn’t hit a monster you directly clicked on. Unfortunately, we haven’t found a great solution yet, so the Grenades skill isn't going to get as much love this patch. However, we do want to revisit the skill in the future.
As for the other three Hatred Generators, rather than nerfing Hungering Arrow to be less powerful, we’re instead bringing up the damage values for all three skills to make them more attractive. To use Bola Shot as an example:
Damage to the primary target is being increased from 130% to 160%
Damage for Thunder Ball and Acid Strike is also being increased from 130% to 160%
Damage for Imminent Doom to the primary target is being increased from 182% to 216%
With these changes, Hungering Arrow will still do more theoretical damage against a single target, but Bola Shot damage will become a viable DPS alternative and it will also do AoE damage. Entangling Shot and Evasive Fire are receiving boosts to their damage as well, so they should be much more compelling choices when it comes to Hatred generation. Much like Bola Shot, they won't compete directly with Hungering Arrow in terms of raw theoretical damage to a single target, but the DPS loss won’t be as great in order to gain the utility they offer.
Our general philosophy for resource-spending skills (and this applies across all classes) is if you take the time to spend your resource, we want you to feel like you got a good return for it. Elemental Arrow is currently the most popular Hatred Spender in the demon hunter's arsenal and a good example for what works -- given how quickly you can fire off each arrow, you can deal a lot of damage to nearby enemies. Unfortunately, many of the other Hatred Spenders fail to meet this benchmark in terms of DPS output, so we're buffing them up to match.
To give you an idea of what kind of increases you’ll see in 1.0.4, let's use Chakram and Cluster Arrow as examples.
We're increasing its damage from 150% to 170%
We're increasing the damage for Twin Chakrams from 100% to 114%
We're increasing the damage for Serpentine from 203% to 230%
We're increasing the damage for Razor Disk from 165% to 187%
We're increasing the damage for Boomerang from 188% to 230%
We're increasing the damage for Shuriken Cloud from 30% to 34%
We're increasing the initial bomb damage from 200% to 225%
We're increasing damage for Maelstrom from 145% to 165%
We're increasing damage for Loaded for Bear from 290% to 304%
Just like Hydra for the wizard, Rain of Vengeance is intended to be a trademark spell for the demon hunter. We want it to be one of those buttons on your bar that you look forward to pushing -- not only because it's visually very fitting for the class, but also because it packs one hell of a punch.
While the skill is where it needs to be visually, mechanically it lacks the "oomph" that most iconic class abilities possess. Its damage is just far too low to compete with other skills available.
To bring Rain of Vengeance up to the level it needs to be, we made some pretty notable changes. Not only did we buff the damage, but Rain of Vengeance is one of the skills being converted to a strict X% weapon damage over Y seconds format, as alluded to in the Systems Preview. As a result, the new base skill is quite potent:
Current: 75% weapon damage for 5 seconds 1.0.4: 715% weapon damage over 5 seconds
(Anathema now also uses the "X% weapon damage over Y seconds format." Meanwhile, Dark Cloud, Beastly Bombs, Stampede, and Flying Strike are receiving straight boosts to their damage. )
Sentry is also a very distinctive spell that doesn't get used very often. It's interesting mechanically, and it has some nice potential for team play, so we'd like to make it more attractive. The solution was pretty simple for this one: we took its damage, and then we doubled it.
Wyatt Cheng is a Senior Technical Game Designer for Diablo III. While living in Texas, a scorpion once crawled out of his shoe. :(