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Diablo 4 Penetrating Shot Rogue build and best skills

Learn how to make the best Penetrating Shot Rogue build in Diablo 4

Diablo 4 screenshot showing a close up of a Rogue.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Blizzard Entertainment

Want the best Diablo 4 Penetrating Shot Rogue build? Diablo 4 has many ranged builds, but the Penetrating Shot Rogue is especially powerful thanks to its ability to churn out Critical Strikes at a high rate. With the launch of Season 1, this build has become even stronger thanks to the addition of Malignant Hearts, a new item type that grant strong powers, many of which synergise with Penetrating Shot.

In this guide, we break down how to make the best Diablo 4 Penetrating Shot Rogue build, covering the Skills, Specialization, Aspects, Stats, Gems, and Malignant Hearts that you'll need. This build is fully updated to reflect Patch 1.1.0, but we'll continue to update it as more patches arrive in the future.

If you're after some different Rogue builds, check out our Diablo 4 Twisting Blades Rogue build!

What is the best class in Diablo 4? Watch this video to find out.Watch on YouTube

Best Penetrating Shot Rogue build in Diablo 4

Our Diablo 4 Penetrating Shot Rogue build uses Poison and Shadow Imbuement with Penetrating Shot, which allows you to spread Vulnerable and Poison effects through packs of enemies with ease. Shadow Imbuement is particularly good for packs, as it'll cause enemies to detonate on death, dealing damage to anything nearby, while Poison Imbuement gets massive damage boosts on Critical Strikes that make it excellent against Bosses and Elites.

Diablo 4 Penetrating Shot Rogue build skills

Below, you'll find a full list of the skills that you should acquire for our Diablo 4 Penetrating Shot Rogue build, in order:

Level Skill Cluster
2 Forceful Arrow level 1 1 (Basic)
3 Enhanced Forceful Arrow 1 (Basic)
4 Fundamental Forceful Arrow 1 (Basic)
5 Penetrating Shot level 1 2 (Core)
6 Enhanced Penetrating Shot 2 (Core)
7 Advanced Penetrating Shot 2 (Core)
8 Shadow Step level 1 3 (Agility)
9 Enhanced Shadow Step 3 (Agility)
10 Methodical Shadow Step 3 (Agility)
11 Concussive level 1 3 (Agility)
12 Concussive level 2 3 (Agility)
13 Poison Trap level 1 4 (Subterfuge)
14 Enhanced Poison Trap 4 (Subterfuge)
15 Countering Poison Trap 4 (Subterfuge)
16 Concussive level 3 3 (Agility)
17 Penetrating Shot level 2 2 (Core)
18 Shadow Imbuement level 1 5 (Imbuements)
19 Enhanced Shadow Imbuement 5 (Imbuements)
20 Blended Shadow Imbuement 5 (Imbuements)
21 Poison Imbuement level 1 5 (Imbuements)
22 Enhanced Poison Imbuement 5 (Imbuements)
23 Blended Poison Imbuement 5 (Imbuements)
24 Penetrating Shot level 3 2 (Core)
25 Penetrating Shot level 4 2 (Core)
26 Penetrating Shot level 5 2 (Core)
27 Trap Mastery level 1 6 (Ultimate)
28 Trap Mastery level 2 6 (Ultimate)
29 Trap Mastery level 3 6 (Ultimate)
30 Adrenaline Rush level 1 6 (Ultimate)
31 Haste level 1 6 (Ultimate)
32 Haste level 2 6 (Ultimate)
33 Haste level 3 6 (Ultimate)
34 Shadow Crash level 1 5 (Imbuements)
35 Precision 7 (Key Passive)
36 Consuming Shadows level 1 5 (Imbuements)
37 Consuming Shadows level 2 5 (Imbuements)
38 Consuming Shadows level 3 5 (Imbuements)
39 Precision Imbuement level 1 5 (Imbuements)
40 Precision Imbuement level 2 5 (Imbuements)
41 Precision Imbuement level 3 5 (Imbuements)
42 Shadow Imbuement level 2 5 (Imbuements)
43 Shadow Imbuement level 3 5 (Imbuements)
44 Shadow Imbuement level 4 5 (Imbuements)
45 Poison Trap level 2 4 (Subterfuge)
46 Poison Trap level 3 4 (Subterfuge)
47 Poison Trap level 4 4 (Subterfuge)
48 Exploit level 1 4 (Subterfuge)
49 Exploit level 2 4 (Subterfuge)
Renown point 1 Exploit level 3 4 (Subterfuge)
Renown point 2 Malice level 1 4 (Subterfuge)
Renown point 3 Malice level 2 4 (Subterfuge)
Renown point 4 Malice level 3 4 (Subterfuge)
Renown point 5 Weapon Mastery level 1 3 (Agility)
Renown point 6 Weapon Mastery level 2 3 (Agility)
Renown point 7 Weapon Mastery level 3 3 (Agility)
Renown point 8 Sturdy level 1 2 (Core)
Renown point 9 Sturdy level 2 2 (Core)
Renown point 10 Sturdy level 3 2 (Core)

Forceful Arrow

Forceful Arrow is your Basic skill, and you're going to use it more than you might use Basics in other builds. That's because Forceful Arrow has a lot of utility - it gives you Combo Points, it knocks enemies back and, with the Concussive passive, boosts your Critical Strike Chance, and it inflicts the Vulnerable status effect.

Penetrating Shot

Penetrating Shot is your main skill, as it can use either Imbuement skill to get massive damage boosts. It fires an arrow that pierces through enemies, helping spread your Imbuements further and dealing huge damage that increases drastically with Combo Points. The Enhanced upgrade pushes that damage even higher with each pierced enemy.

Advanced Penetrating Shot is the most important upgrade, though, Slowing all enemies it hits by 50% for 3 seconds and knocking down Elites for 1.5 seconds when cast with full Energy.

Shadow Step

Shadow Step is similar to a teleport ability, allowing you to target an enemy and immediately zip to their location. It's necessary for this build because it grants Unstoppable, which is a buff that ends any status effects on your character (such as Stunned or Immobilized).

Poison Trap

Poison Trap is the sole trap in this build, leaving a small net on the field that, when triggered by an enemy, will unleash a pool of poisonous acid that deals damage over time.

Poison Trap is important because we use two Imbuements in this build, and the Countering Poison Trap upgrade has a 30% chance to reset your Imbuement skill cooldowns when activated.

Shadow Imbuement

Shadow Imbuement is our first main Imbuement, applying Shadow damage to your Penetrating Shot attacks. It will also infect enemies, which will then explode on death to damage those around them.

Shadow Imbuement is particularly strong because of its Blended upgrade, which makes explosions from infected enemies spread the Vulnerable status effect quickly through mobs.

Poison Imbuement

Poison Imbuement is better for single-target damage, especially if you use the passives in the table above, many of which boost Critical Strike Chance.

Base Poison Imbuement applies 100% of your Penetrating Shot damage as additional Poison damage over 5 seconds, but the Blended upgrade will increase that by 75% when you land a Critical Strike.

If you're not sure how to use these skills effectively, follow the attack pattern below:

  1. Use Forceful Arrow to build Combo Points and Critical Strike Chance.
  2. Use Poison Imbuement on single targers (Elites and Bosses) or Shadow Imbuement on packs of enemies.
  3. Fire Penetrating Shot with the active Imbuement.
  4. Use Poison Trap near the pack of enemies, hopefully resetting your Imbuement cooldowns.
  5. Repeat.
Diablo 4 image with various Rogues, showing the possibilities available with the new character creation system.
Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment

Diablo 4 Penetrating Shot Rogue build: Best Specialization

The Rogue class has a unique Specialization class mechanic, which allows you to pick from three passive upgrade. For this build, we've opted for Combo Points, which grants additional effects to your Core skill (Penetrating Shot). To generate Combo Points, you must use your Basic (Forceful Arrow), and you can only hold three Combo Points at a time. They are spent when you use your Penetrating Shot.

Below, we'll list the buffs applied to Penetrating Shot with each level of Combo Points:

  • 1 Combo Point: +30% damage and +10% Lucky Hit Chance
  • 2 Combo Points: +60% damage and +20% Lucky Hit Chance
  • 3 Combo Points: +90% damage and +30% Lucky Hit Chance

Diablo 4 Penetrating Shot Rogue build: Best Aspects

As you complete Side Dungeons and find Legendary items in Diablo 4, you'll get Legendary Aspects. These are the items that give Legendaries their unique effects, and targeting those that synergise with your build will massively boost your power level.

Below, we'll list the best Aspects for the Penetrating Shot Rogue build, alongside the Dungeons you must complete to get them:

  • Aspect of Disobedience (Halls of the Damned - Kehjistan): You gain 0.25-0.5% increased Armor for 4 seconds when you deal any form of damage, stacking up to 25-50%.
  • Aspect of Might (Dark Ravine - Dry Steppes): Basic skills grant 20% Damage Reduction for 2-6 seconds.
  • Grasp of Shadows (Unique Gloves - random drop): Lucky Hit: Damaging a Vulnerable enemy with a Marksman or Cutthroat skill has up to a 2-30% chance to summon a Shadow Clone that mimics your attack.
  • Aspect of the Protector (Lost Archives - Fractured Peaks): Damaging an Elite enemy grants you a Barrier absorbing a small amount of damage for 10 seconds. This effect can only happen once every 30 seconds.
  • Wind Striker Aspect (Shivta Ruins - Kehjistan): Critical Strikes grant +8-16% Movement Speed for 1 second, up to 6 seconds.
  • Accelerating Aspect (Legendary - random drop): Critical Strikes with Core skills increase your Attack Speed by +15-25% for 5 seconds.
  • Toxic Alchemist's Aspect (Legendary - random drop): Lucky Hit: Damaging a Poisoned enemy with a Shadow Imbued skill has up to a 75% chance to create a toxic explosion that applies Poisoning damage over 5 seconds to the target and surrounding enemies.
  • Mother's Embrace (Unique Ring - campaign completion reward): If a Core skill hits 5 or more enemies, 20-40% of the Resource cost is refunded.
  • Trickshot Aspect (Bastion of Faith - Hawezar): Whenever Penetrating Shot damages an enemy, 2 additional arrows split off to either side. These side arrows deal 10-25% of Penetrating Shot's base damage and do not split.
  • Aspect of the Expectant (Underroot - Scosglen): Attacking enemies with a Basic skill increases the damage of your next Core skill cast by 5-10%, up to 30%.
  • Edgemaster's Aspects (Oldstones - Scosglen): Skills deal up to 10-20% increased damage based on your available Primary Resource when cast, receiving the maximum benefit while you have full Primary Resource.

If you get an Aspect you need on an item that you don't want to use, head to the Occultist to extract it and then imprint it on a new item!

Diablo 4 image showing a close-up of the rogue against a camp background.
Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment

Diablo 4 Penetrating Shot Rogue build: Best Stats

Gear also gets randomly rolled stats, known as Affixes. Hunting for the best Stats becomes far more relevant when you reach endgame, and prioritising those that synergise with your build will ensure that you can clear Nightmare Dungeons and Helltides across the Diablo 4 map with ease:

  • Critical Strike Chance
  • Critical Strike Damage
  • Vulnerable Damage
  • Damage Over Time
  • Dexterity (increases skill damage)
  • Strength (increases Energy Regeneration)
  • Intelligence (increases Critical Strike Chance)

Diablo 4 Penetrating Shot Rogue build: Best Gems

Gear will also often have Gem Sockets, into which you can place Gems to gain more Stat bonuses. Depending on the type of item into which they are placed, Gems will grant different bonuses.

For your Weapons, we'd recommend using Amethysts to boost your damage over time. This build uses lots of Poison damage effects, and Amethysts will provide a significant buff to that damage.

For your Armor, use Rubies to boost your Maximum Life. Rogues are one of the more fragile classes in Diablo 4, so more Maximum Life is a must if you're particularly struggling.

For your Jewelery, you could use Skulls to increase your Armor. However, Season 1's new Malignant Hearts can only be placed in Infested Jewelry Sockets, so we'd consider focusing on these during the Season of the Malignant You can learn more about these in the following section.

Diablo 4 Penetrating Shot Rogue build: Best Malignant Hearts

The new Malignant Hearts introduced in Diablo 4 Season 1 offer powers that significantly enhance our Penetrating Shot Rogue build. We've scoured through them all and found those that you absolutely need to use while playing on the Seasonal Realm in the months to come.

Below, we'll list the best Malignant Hearts for the Penetrating Shot Rogue:

  • The Vile Apothecary: Your attacks have a 5-15% chance to apply all Imbuement effects at 40-50% of normal potency.
  • Tempting Fate: You gain 40-60% Critical Strike Damage but your Non-Critical Strikes deal 20-15% less damage.
  • Revenge: 10-20% of incoming damage is instead suppressed. When you use a Defensive, Subterfuge, or a Macabre skill, all suppressed damage is amplified by 250% and explodes, dealing up to 1360-2040 Fire damage to nearby enemies.

That wraps up our Diablo 4 Penetrating Shot Rogue build guide. If you're eager to try out other classes, take a look at our Diablo 4 Barbarian builds, Necromancer builds, Sorcerer builds, and Druid builds.

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