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The Ranged Weapons are weapons that enable the player character to do damage from afar. This helps the player avoid monsters while still doing damage. They are used mostly by characters that focus on Dexterity as their primary attribute and have a high Attack Speed.
Bows are usually instruments that use the principle of Potential Energy to fire highly damaging Arrows at monsters. Crossbows are an upgraded version of the Bow that allows the user to fire heavy and much more damaging dart-like projectiles called Bolts.
Throwing Weapons are a broad term that contains the various types of weapons that can be thrown towards the monsters to do damage. They include the various types of Javelins including among some of them the precise Pila, the accurate Harpoons and the powerful Balrog Spears. They also consist of Throwing Knives and Axes along with the many different Throwing Potions.
The usage of Ranged Weapons depends on a good Attack Rating and Attack Speed because of the usually low damage done by such weapons. They are the weapon of choice for a character class that has the Dexterity attribute as their highest stat as it fills one of the requirements, the Attack Rating. In Diablo I, the Ranged Weapons only contained Bows. They were expanded considerably in Diablo II, adding Throwable Spears, Knives, Axes and Potions.
In the original Diablo I, the Rogue fit the bill perfectly. She had the maximum Dexterity that helped in using Ranged Weapons to their maximum effect. The Warrior and Sorcerer focused more on Melee Weapons and Spells respectively. The Warrior has the Bowman build that uses Ranged Weapons.
When Diablo II expanded Ranged Weapons to include many more items, many players started using Ranged Weapons and started researching their benefits. The most common Ranged Weapon user is the Amazon, with an entire Skill Tree dedicated to Bows and Crossbows and half of another depending on the use of Javelins. The Barbarian had Throwing Mastery as a Skill that enabled him to use Throwing Knives and Axes to great effect. The other three classes seldom used Ranged Weapons as their primary means of attack.
The release of Diablo II: Lord of Destruction saw nothing more for Ranged Weapons as it did for Melee Weapons. Both the Assassin and Druid primarily use Melee Weapons, and showed nothing new in terms of skills. The most notable Ranged Weapon users in Act V are Malah's son, a skilled Barbarian Archer and the Ancient, Madawc who uses Throwing Axes to attack his opponents.
Ranged weapons return in Diablo III, with the Demon Hunter and Scoundrel being the main (and, in fact, only) users. Wands are a weapon of choice for Wizards as well. Ranged weapons do not smart-drop to other classes.
There is a total of seven types of ranged weapons in Diablo series:
- Bows (D1, D2, D3)
- Crossbows (D2, D3)
- Hand Crossbows (D3)
- Wands (D3)
- Amazon Bows (D2)
- Throwing Weapons (D2)
- Throwing Potions (D2)
To some extent, spells may be considered ranged weapons of sorts for magic-oriented classes.