Theorycrafting builds for Diablo 3 is generally focused on the 5 classes while follower builds have largely gone ignored. This begs the question – are follower builds of any real importance?
Given Diablo 3 is a multiplayer game that appeals to players who enjoy grouping up with others (which disables access to a follower), followers will unlikely make for a formidable team mate while playing from nightmare mode onwards.
In fact, followers were initially designed to carry a player no further than normal mode but this was changed in late 2011 in order to cater to players who wanted a viable method to proceed into inferno while soloing.
When we first announced the follower feature we revealed that these unique characters would accompany your hero on an adventure to save Sanctuary, but that they would only be able to survive in Normal difficulty. The amount of positive support the follower feature received, as well as the number of players who wanted to be able to keep these companions throughout the game — even into the toughest difficulties — left us wondering if it would be possible.
Blizzard then went on to flesh out followers and have worked hard to ensure there is a distinction from the mercenaries found in D2 and the followers available in D3. Some of these changes include:
- Followers only die when a player dies.
- When the health of a follower is depleted, they simply take a breather for a short period of time before fighting again instead of dying.
- The need to constantly work to keep them alive was removed. The intent is to make followers fun, not a liability.
While these changes are of little consequence for those who intend to play with others, followers will provide a benefit to a special breed of players who love high risk and big rewards; the hardcore crowd and that’s where follower builds will come into play.
Playing a hardcore character is a meticulously slow and steady process and it makes good sense to pick and choose your group mates wisely as impulsive players can (and will) get you killed. This makes followers the ideal companion for those times when your trusted group of skilled hardcore players are not available to group up with.
All of these skills are potential life savers for hardcore players who get into trouble and there is at least some variation a Templar can use for a viable build.
While the Scoundrel can slow enemies, his heal is self only which is of little benefit to players when followers do not die to begin with. Scoundrel builds will be useful for areas where a DPS boost is needed but the risk of dying is much lower.
The Enchantress does bring some CC to the table but given these would become a must in hardcore mode in addition to the lengthy cooldowns, it makes Enchantress builds less robust or viable compared to the other 2 followers.
While followers were initially designed to accommodate those who play casually and are unlikely to persist beyond normal mode, the changes to the build system late last year meant hardcore players have a real reason to sit and theorycraft follower builds. Outside of that though, don’t expect them to bring too much to the table strategy and build wise.