The Demon Hunter is a diverse and agile class. It’s famous for it’s Vault ability that lunges it forward as well as its Rapid Fire and Fan of Knives (think World of Warcraft Rogue). This leveling build will help you save time while leveling by giving you a baseline for what to work with. I recommend you make changes as they become necessary. If you need extra survivability look to your Defensive and Hunting Skills, if you need more damage look to your passives and skill runes.
The build’s goal is to provide a balance between mobility, survivability, AoE damage and single target damage. When leveling you will be encountering new and challenging content and all these abilities will be needed. Here is the basic level 17/22 build: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/demon-hunter#WcXThQ!b!.aa. If you’re not level 22 yet you just won’t have Multishot. As you level to 22 experiment with every new skill rune that you receive.
During these levels experiment with new abilities and skill runes. This leveling build focuses on Bola Shot for general damage, Rapid Fire for single target damage, Smoke Screen for mobility and survivability, Companion or Mark of Death for additional damage, Fan of Knives for it’s primary AoE ability and Multishot for additional AoE. At level 10 and 20 you will unlock passive spots where I prefer to put in either Vengeance and Steady Aim or Tactical Mastery (for added mobility) and Steady Aim.
At level 22 your build might look something like this: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/demon-hunter#WcXThQ!bY!aaaa
From level 22 to 30 we’ll take a lot of skill runes not because they are awesome but because they are the best available at the level
- At level 23 grab Crippling Razors for Fan of Knives
- At level 24 grab Thunder Ball for Bola Shot.
- At level 26 grab Fire at Will for Multishot
By level 26 and through level 30 your build might look something like this: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/demon-hunter#WcXThQ!bY!aaaaaa
Also at level 30 you will unlock your third passive. The three best leveling passives looks to be Vengeance, Steady Aim and Archery. These are all direct and indirect damage buffs. An close 4th place would be Tactical Advantage which offers increased mobility through Smoke Screen.
In the early 30s you will be refining your build to beat the game for the first time on Normal difficulty. Once you enter Nightmare you might find an opportunity to experiment with different builds in familiar content. Otherwise continue refining this leveling build as new skill runes become available:
- At level 32 grab Fire Support for Rapid Fire
- At level 32 grab Retaliate for Fan of Knives
- At level 38 grab Hail of Knives for Fan of Daggers
From level 32 to 40 your spec / build will look something like this: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/demon-hunter#WcXThQ!bYe!ZbaaZa
From level 40 to 50 you will be working to beat the game for the second time but this time on Nightmare difficulty. You might want to consider the following upgrades:
- At level 41 grab Boar Companion for Companion.
- At level 46 you might consider Full Broadside for Multishot.
As you can see this build is pretty solid early on and doesn’t include unlocking a lot of important skill runes as you level. At level 50 your build might look something like this: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/demon-hunter#WcXThQ!bYe!ZbabZa
Finally, during the final stretch and during your first attempt at Hell and Inferno difficulty you are likely to try several different builds depending on what you are trying to do. If you keep the build described above you will want to do the following as you level through the 50s:
- At level 56 grab Bombardment for Rapid Fire.
- At level 59 grab Choking Gas for Smoke Screen.
- At level 59 grab Wolf Companion for Companion.
- At level 59 grab Assassin’s Knives for Fan of Knives.
Your final build might look like this: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/demon-hunter#WcXThQ!bYe!Zcccca
Important: Many of the strategies and tips I share here were originally inspired by the people at the Diablo 3 Gold Secrets Forum. If you're serious about making the big bucks in Diablo 3, or just being the best players, you need to signup ASAP.