How to survive as a Druid in Diablo 4
Druids in Diablo 4 already have a reputation as being a “jack of all trades, master of none” class, and that extends to their survivability as well. Compared to things like the life steal from a Necromancer’s upgraded Blood Surge or a Rogue’s ability to just directly reduce damage with spooky shadows with Dark Shroud, the fact that the Druid’s survivability mechanics seem to revolve either around Fortify or Earthen Bulwark can make staying alive a little harder to grasp than some other classes.
However, there are some other tips and tricks you can use to keep your nature-loving wanderer alive and kicking long enough to make sure that your enemies get what’s coming to them. Let’s talk about how to survive as a Druid in Diablo 4.
Earth and Werewolf builds offer solid survivability
Diablo 4 may not have actual specializations, but there are still four general paths you can follow through the Druid talent tree: Earth casters, Storm casters, Werewolf, and Werebear. Of these two, Storm and Werebear builds rely heavily on Fortify, a mechanic that crops up in other classes from time to time but which the Druid leans on heavily; it’s essentially a sort of stacking damage reduction that kicks in whenever you have more points of Fortify than you do actual life. Unfortunately, Fortify has fallen pretty far in power from our early preview of it in 2019 — rather than reducing damage taken by 30%, Fortify is down to a paltry 10%. So for Druid survivability, we recommend either building into an Earth-based caster or a Werewolf.
Werewolves get access to some very good survival tools early on:
- Storm Strike is something you might consider taking as your basic skill instead of Claw. While it does not apply the poison that a fully upgraded Claw can, it’s still a melee skill that gives you a whopping 25% damage reduction for a few seconds after using it.
- Enhanced Shred — available as early as your fourth talent point — ensures Shred heals you as long as you actually hit something with it.
- Blood Howl is also available early on, with as little as 7 points in the Druid talent tree, and is one of the few abilities in the game that just outright heals you. With a legendary aspect you can acquire in the very first region of the game, it can also boost your critical hit chance and heal your companions, too!
- Lacerate, on the ultimates talent tier, has a pretty appealing modification in Prime Lacerate — every time you critically strike with any of Lacerate’s 12 hits, you heal for 3% of your max health. That’s a lot of potential gain for one press!
- Poison Creepers go well with this build (or most builds, honestly). The creepers do a solid job of applying poison to lots of enemies, and their on-demand immobilize (which applies even more poison) meshes well with the werewolf’s secondary focus on poisons — and can buy you time to kite things, in a pinch.
Meanwhile, the Earth build — besides using the aforementioned Earthen Bulwark, a direct barrier that’s easy to improve with bonuses to barrier generation on items or gems — operates on the idea that enemies can’t hit you if they can’t reach you.
- Earth Spike is the usual starting skill for Earth builds, and with as few as 2 skill points it can be set up to have a good chance of stunning your target. There’s honestly not a bad choice here between Storm Strike and Earth Spike; it just depends on how close you feel comfortable getting to your enemy.
- Landslide is your core skill, available as early as your third talent point choice, and it doubles down on the idea of crowd controlling enemies so they can’t get to you. Enhanced Landslide allows you to guarantee that every fifth enemy you damage with Landslide is immobilized (which, since it hits in an area, could potentially be every Landslide if your targets are grouped up), and it’s no slacker on damage either with Primal Landslide providing you with guaranteed critical strikes after immobilizing or stunning a target.
- Earthen Bulwark is in the defensives tier for Druids, and serves as both offense and defense — besides being a barrier, you can modify it further to make you Unstoppable (immune to enemy crowd control — and you can use Bulwark while controlled to free yourself!) and even cause your Bulwark to explode when it runs out, which can devastate crowds of smaller enemies.
- Boulder is something you can pick up in the early teens. While it can take some practice to aim, you’ll find that especially in dungeon corridors or when chased by lots of enemies, Boulder can bowl them all back to get you some breathing room.
- Petrify is in your ultimate ability tier of talents, and it taps even more into the theme of control by stunning everything around you in a huge radius. The ultimates tier also gives you access to Circle of Life, a passive which will cause all of your Landslides to heal you for 3% of your health — and if there’s one thing Earth Druids love to do, it’s cast Landslide.
Unlock Spirit Boons as soon as possible
We’ve already suggested you drop whatever you’re doing to do your class quest when it pops up at 15, and now I’m doubling down on that for Druids who want survivability. While unlocking Spirit Boons does require you to make a trek out to the far end of Scosglen and conquer a stronghold, the buffs your Druid gets from the spirits are well worth it. In terms of survivability, there are a few notable standouts:
- The Deer offers Wariness (10% reduced damage taken from Elites) and Advantageous Beast (15% reduction in the time you get crowd controlled).
- The Eagle has Iron Feather (10% maximum life).
- For shapeshifting builds the Snake offers Masochistic (every time you score a critical hit with a shapeshifting skill you heal for 3% of your life).
Don’t forget you can swap these out at will from your character sheet, too; while you may ordinarily run the Deer’s gift that gives you bonus max Spirit or bonus Thorns, or the Eagle’s offensive bonuses to critical strikes, it’s only a few clicks away to shift that to Wariness or Iron Feather if you want a little protection from Elites.
Visit your friendly apothecary early and often
Finally, this isn’t really a class-specific tip, but it’s one that can be easy to forget. You can both craft consumable elixirs in town and get them as drops from quest rewards or enemies — so use them! Besides granting a little bonus experience, they’ll also frequently give you significant defensive or offensive benefits.
Even a number that doesn’t look that high can be enough to offset a boss who seems impossible at first; I had a few bad tries at a dungeon boss whose homing missiles kept chunking my health whenever my barrier was down, until I remembered that I was carrying a Weak Elixir of Shadow Resistance (and since he was an angry ghost, it was pretty easy to assume that was Shadow damage). One elixir chug later and that boss was toast, with their projectiles doing an extremely reasonable amount of damage instead.
While you’re at the apothecary, don’t neglect to upgrade your life potions as well — you can get upgrades at level 10, 20, 30, 45, 60, 70, 80, and 90 — and the boosts to these will help you chug fewer potions overall, ensuring your stock of them is kept high.
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