Greetings, nephalem! Leviathan here! In this weekly column, we'll be taking a deep dive into the Challenge Rift for the Americas. We'll compare this Challenge Rift to previous ones for the class (as well as previous Challenge Rifts in general) while providing you with tips on how to beat the original time, and tactics to help you climb the Leaderboard. Let's get started!
This week's Challenge Rift sports a Demon Hunter rocking the classic Unhallowed Essence setup with standard Multishot accessories. All of the old standbys are present; the full Unhallowed Essence set, the Yang's Recurve bow, and the Deadman's Legacy quiver. However, the gear choices do start to deviate from the norm in the other ancillary slots and jewelry selections. There is no Focus & Restraint, a generic amulet, and Ancient Parthan Defenders, despite no reliable way to benefit from their Legendary power. The belt is also pretty puzzling, as Grenades is certainly great with Unhallowed Essence, but is not featured here, and therefore makes the Hellcat Waistguard a simple stat stick rather than anything transformative or build-defining.
The skills are all traditional for the Multishot setup as well, with every selection feeling right except for the Archery passive. One might swap that for a more synergistic damage passive like Thrill of the Hunt or — in the case of this build, in particular — maybe even something more defensive, since the setup has a rather "glass cannon" feel to it. One thing to note is that without the Focus and Restraint combination, the generator loses much of its utility, as many of the choices in this build make Hatred regeneration a non-issue, and Discipline is recoverable through judicious Vault usage and smart Preparation presses.
Let's analyze the Legendary gem choices and the Kanai's Cube powers. The gems are all underleveled, save for the Bane of the Powerful. As a result, you don't gain any benefit from Bane of the Trapped with no source of Slow effects in the build, and the Bane of the Stricken, while useful in high-level Greater Rifts, gets no opportunity to shine in this Greater Rift 45. Thus, your only concern, gem-wise, should be cleaning up minions against any Rare Elites to make sure you're maintaining the buff from your Bane of the Powerful. In Kanai's Cube, we see the classic Dawn, which vastly reduces the cooldown timer on Vengeance, Cindercoat, which allows for massive spamming of Multishot with little to no impact on our Hatred, and Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac, which brings back any skill that's on cooldown much quicker and can be utilized with this build to provide 100% uptime on Vengeance and nearly the same for your Companion - Wolf activations.
Playing The Challenge Rift
The original time for the owner of this Challenge Rift is 5:20, which is actually the quickest time to beat we've seen since the inception of Challenge Rifts. However, that shouldn't be too intimidating as the Greater Rift itself is favorable to fast completions. As long as you are Vaulting regularly, taking advantage of Tactical Advantage for the movement speed bonus, and keeping good uptime on Vengeance and Companion, you should smoke this GR and likely land a time in the 3-4 minute range. Optimizing from there requires precise movement and key utilization of the Power and Conduit pylons located on the second floor.
As previously mentioned, this version of the build is particularly glass cannon, so make sure to keep moving so that you don't get hit by any stray projectiles, especially on the first floor. Your damage output with all buffs active should be more than enough to kill non-elites in two or three Multishots, critical hits pending, so most threats should be dead before they get to you. This is classic Multishot tactics. The Shield pylon on floor one also affords you some leeway to stand still for a bit and get more Multishots out.
If you're unfamiliar with Unhallowed Essence, do keep in mind that the 6-piece set bonus that makes your Discipline feed into your damage output relies upon your CURRENT Discipline. This means that if you just spent the last 10 seconds Vaulting and nearly depleted your Discipline, you'll do next to no damage, despite still having the same maximum Discipline. This is different, for instance, from other mechanics you might be familiar with. like the Legendary power on Reilena's Shadowhook for Necromancers, which is only concerned with your Maximum Essence. As such, use Preparation to keep your active Discipline high for the best damage output possible.
Here is a clip of Garfm showcasing one of his early attempts at the Challenge Rift for a look at what a faster clear entails:
So, how does this week's Challenge Rift stack up to ones gone by? In my personal opinion, this selection continues to move in the right direction: builds that are fun to play, while still being a little off the beaten path. Yes, you may argue that the build is essentially a copy of the standard Unhallowed Essence Multishot, but the Kanai's Cube choices and lack of staples like Focus and Restraint certainly make for a bit of a different approach to get the most out of the setup.
In the debut week of Challenge Rifts, the Americas had a Shadows Impale Demon Hunter that was quite close to the standard, cookie-cutter version. However, the major difference then was that one of the key components of the build — its mobility — was ripped from the Challenge Rift offering when the original player failed to utilize a Chain of Shadows belt. It made those of us with months of Shadows Impale experience scratch our heads a bit as we figured out ways to conserve Discipline throughout the Greater Rift. With that in mind, I'd rate this Demon Hunter Challenge Rift a peg above that one.
Comparing this Challenge Rift to the other entries for the Americas more broadly, I'd say it's obviously much better than that Monk atrocity (which we still haven't quite recovered from) and about on par with the Crusader Seeker of the Light Challenge Rift from last week — the latter of which I'd argue was the best Challenge Rift offering until this week's appeared. I think Challenge Rift entries are at their best when they have a friendly ease of operation that your average player will be able to contend with, while still supporting a bit of complexity in terms of min-maxing every bit of utility to achieve the fastest times. This Challenge Rift seems to meet that criteria nearly spot on, so I give it an A, and we'll see where we go from here!
Have you tried this week's Challenge Rift? Were you able to earn your Challenge Rift cache right away, or did it take you a few attempts? Have any other tips that I missed? Feel free to sound off in the comments and let us know what you think!
Leviathan (@LeviathanD3) is a content creator for Diablo Fans and a Hardcore Crusader for life. You can likely catch him streaming high Leaderboard/Conquest rank attempts unless he's out taking photographs or discovering new music.