Things to keep in mind, my first character was a Barb, and second was a Wizard, the Demon Hunter was my third level 60 character, and ended up being the one I picked to be my main as things moved forward with paragon levels. I also leveled my Demon Hunter around the 1.03 patch, so some things may not apply now, but its just how I remember it. (warning, this maybe a really, really long post).
At low levels, there really isn't much flexibility in what skills you can pick since certain runes and skills aren't available. I do remember while leveling up that I kept using Hungering arrow as my main attack, and Rapid fire early on as my hatred spender. As I got higher, I eventually moved onto Elemental Arrow/Ball lightning as the hatred spender, and the other skills, I just used whatever I felt like. Everything up to Act 2 of hell is relatively easy enough that you can't really mess up by having a wrong skill equipped. Plus you aren't penalized like you are at level 60 for changing a skill mid-game, so you can really play around and try out all the different abilities.
Looking back though, the only tip I have for people just getting into the Demon Hunter now is to keep Tactical advantage, and use vault more. It'll definitely help you move around the map faster, and will let you escape and be elusive so you don't die as often. When you unlock smoke screen, keep that on the skill bar because while progressing through the story, you will need the temporary immunity it provides. Especially against Belial and Ghom.
Transitioning from Hell to Inferno.(Gear Selection)
As you approach level 60, and start reaching Act 3 of Hell (or you have a decent amount of gold to spend in the Auction House) where higher level items have a small chance to drop, you'll want to start gearing up for a natural critical hit chance on whatever items have it available. You'll also want to start building up your armor rating and resistances to survive the harder hitting enemies in Inferno.
Here's a list of the gear slots and my suggested stats to look out for (for rare items only). Idealy, aim to have at least 30% crit chance, and 300 resists to start, more is always better, but also try not to sacrifice too much in the other key stats. As my DPS went up, I see-sawed back and forth with gear upgrades, alternating between maximizing DPS, and then upgrading to similar items with more defensive stats.
- Helm - up to 6% crit chance, anything 4% and higher is a good start. Always try to have a socket, and this is a slot where you can live without some other stats for now. But if you find a Helm with a good amount of Dexterity, Crit chance and a socket, keep it, all other stats are considered a bonus (unless you have a large amount of gold to spend). The socket is important because it'll allow you some flexibility in your character. If you need a life boost, you can put in an amethyst for the life % stat, if you want more Experience, put in a ruby.. and if you want a bit more magic find, then put in a topaz.
- Gloves - up to 10%, anything 7.5% and higher is a good start, but try to stay 9% and higher. Gloves is one of the slots where a lot of critical hit chance can be had. This slot is also another spot where you can sacrifice defensive stats in favor of offensive stats. Dexterity can roll relatively high in this slot. Idealy, you'll want increased attack speed of at least 7% on the glove on top of the Critical Hit Chance stat. A good stat to have is Critical Hit Damage, but its more of a secondary requirement in my opinion, and should be considered a bonus for players on a budget.
- Quiver - From what I remember, most rare quivers can only roll up to 8% critical hit chance, but some legendary ones can go up to 10%. So when starting out, anything in the 6-7% range is half decent. A quiver at this point should have the 15% attack speed bonus as well, but depending on price and the amount of dexterity on the quiver, 14% is still acceptable. You should also want to try to either get hatred regeneration or max discipline on the quiver as well depending on your play style.
- Bracers - This piece can have up to 6% critical hit chance, but this is also the harder piece to gear up for. It's very hard to find a good set, and its one piece where I try to maintain a good vitality Stat and a good all-resist stat. You can start with just 3.5-4% on a bracer in favor of better survivability when you are just getting into Inferno. I probably used the same bracer for about 6 weeks before having enough gold to purchase a worthy upgrade.
- Shoulders - There's no critical chance available in this slot (on rares), so this is where you'll want to pick up your survivability stats. It is relatively easy to pick up 70+ resists in this slot for a decent price, the only thing that drives up the price is the amount of Dexterity, and Vitality it has. So, if you already have a decent amount of dexterity from other slots, and need vitality, prioritize that stat, and vice versa.
- Cloak/Chest Armor - Idealy, you'll want one with a decent armor rating, with some all-resist stat. You don't really need to go crazy in this slot as the prices will go high. Instead, try to at least have a cloak that has max discipline or hatred regen, and at least 2 sockets. You will want to try to get vitality and a decent amount of dexterity in this slot since its one of the pieces that can give you a lot of vitality. I was using the same cloak for over two months because I could not find an affordable replacement. It had decently high armor rating at 608 armor. It also had 34 resist all, 220 vit, a relatively small amount of dexterity, but it had two sockets so I could at least get more dexterity from it. Most importantly for me, it had +9 discipline.
- Boots - as always, the 12% movement speed bonus stat is mandatory. It helps you escape before things blow up, it helps you keep enemies at a distance.
- Pants / Belt - for rare items, just try to find a good balance between high vit, decent amount of dexterity (and 2 sockets for pants), with a decent amount of all-resist.
- Jewelery - They should all have crit chance on it. Currently in version 1.04 of the game, the max for rings is 4.5%, and for amulets, 8.5%. In the upcoming patch, they'll be bumped up to 6% on rings and 10% on amulets. For amulets, I personally value critical hit damage in this slot more than a main stat. You could switch one of the rings to one with an increased attack speed stat if you want. Assuming you can't afford one with both critical hit chance and attack speed.
- Weapons - This will really come down to what you want to do, and how fast of an attack speed you want. First, make sure the weapon has a socket. Next thing to look out for on weapons is a natural critical hit damage stat and/or life steal/life on hit stat. As for weapon selection between the three types, here's my take on them;
- One handed bows are nice and quick, but the damage range is quite wide. So they don't hit hard, but they hit often. They do offer extra discipline and you have the option to dual wield them.
- Two handed crossbows are comparatively slow, but hit much much harder on average. They have a much smaller range of damage (difference between minimum damage rating to the max damage rating). So you will deal more damage on average if you have a string of bad luck and only hit for the minimum amount.
- Two-handed bows fall in between, they offer decent damage, not as narrow of a range as a two-handed crossbow, and they have a decent attack speed. You can further augment the weapon's effectiveness with Archery, which offers different bonuses for each of the three types of available weapons.
- Synergy with the Archery passive: For one-handed crossbows, you'll get an extra 10% critical hit chance, with two-handed crossbow, you'll get 50% extra critical hit damage, and two-handed bows get a 15% damage buff. For me, I started with a 2H bow, because I felt it was a nice balance, and a 15% damage buff is nice for lower levels. Once I got my natural critical hit chance high enough, I switched over to a 2H crossbow to maximize my damage output per hit.
These will vary depending on a person's playstyle. But for me, I prefered the more defensive, "keep your distance" style for my demon hunter. So I found this build, which made sense to me and what I wanted to do. http://www.diablo3artisans.com/demon-hunter-inferno-1-0-3/
I think it works well for lower DPS characters, since it'll maximize damage boosts via skills, and offers a lot of ways to be elusive. Of course, in 1.04, I switched the rune on vault to trail of cinders to make use of Blizzard's miscalculations, but its still makes for a very safe way of playing, as long as you are paying attention. I didn't use shadow power/gloom mostly because I chose to kite versus stand in one spot and sustain the attack to make use of the life steal. Shadow power/Gloom is a nice skill, but it requires a different mentality which takes longer to get used to. I have since started using it, and got myself used to the change in play style. But it also helps that I'm doing a lot more damage, so the life steal works quicker and still gives me some time to run if needed.
As the demon hunter gets more and more DPS, like pushing around 75-90k DPS or even higher, you can really start looking at changing things around. Ball lightning is a really good mob clearing attack, although slow, and doesn't have high damage boost like Impale, it has the chance to hit the same enemy multiple times (I think on average 1-2 times), so its quite close. I prefered impale while at low DPS because it was a relatively quick way to deal damage, and run. You would be able to lead a group of enemies away, string them along so they'd line up a bit, and release a large amount of damage from afar. But once I started to be able to two shot most enemies (and in some cases one shot), I just switched to Ball Lightning and it fit in with the newer, more aggressive play style.
I think Vault, and Shadow Power skills are pretty much mandatory for any Demon Hunter. The primary attack and secondary attack will change depending on your play style and your gear. Currently, my efficiency build relies on a more aggressive style, and requires a good set of gear to make it viable.
With Monster Power levels being an option in 1.05, if you want to play in the higher monster levels, you'll definitely need to go back to set builds that offer ways for you escape the enemy since it will take a lot of hits to take them down. With some skill changes in the patch, there will be new builds out there that others have tested to be a viable solution to survive the higher monster power levels.
I'll keep updating this post as new things develop. I've been trying out different things at different monster power levels to figure out what's best for me. But currently, I've been sticking to lower monster power levels just for speed & efficiency.
EDIT: - 1.05 updates
Now with monster power levels, my previous setup was only good for MP3-4 and I began to start to feel the pain of harder hitting mobs. My resists were at 300, and armor was decent at 4000 and life was at around 32k. Since then, I've changed it up a bit. I got more more vit by upgrading my Inna's temperance with ones that rolled with Vitatlity, and I changed the gem in my helm for an amethyst. Next, I added more resists to further increase my effective HP. So I got a new Inna's Favor (belt, to maintain my set bonus) with all resist, and I upgraded my cloak to one with all-resist. So now, I can solo MP5-6 with a few deaths like I did at MP3-4 with the previous stat levels.
So right now, here's my DH stats. (rough numbers) 43k life, 430 resists, 3800 armor, and still 125k unbuffed DPS with Stone Of Jordan. http://us.battle.net/d3/en/profile/phoenixrage-1568/hero/8360193