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Penetrating Shot Rogue Leveling Guide

Last Updated: May 18th 2024

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Season 4 - LootS-Tier

Are you looking for a ranged, nuke the entire screen playstyle on the Rogue? Well this is it! The Penetrating Shot Rogue is a relatively easy to understand but powerful build that is excellent for leveling in Diablo 4. There are many different tools and tactics you can use that assist in keeping you safe and unleash hell at a distance.

Penetrating Shot is a Core Skill that fires one massive, piercing arrow. Pretty straight forward, literally, and while this doesn't sound exciting at first, when you spice it up with Imbuements and the Trickshot Offensive Aspect, your nuke comes to life. As with most Rogue skills, maximizing its potential will require good positioning as you deal more damage when you hit more enemies in a line.

Building with Combo Points is required to truly unleash hell upon the monsters. This build naturally comes with a lot of agility for fluid movements in battle. Playing this build is a very satisfying and rewarding, but requires some planning ahead to maximize its potential and this guide is to teach you the best way to reach Endgame with Penetrating Shot Rogue!

This build transitions excellently into our Endgame Penetration Shot Build which is the final stepping stone to our Specialized Shadow Step Rogue Build. Let the fireworks begin!

Penetrating Shot Leveling Setup

This build guide takes you through the Campaign and Early Game up to Level 50. If you're looking for Endgame guides, check out our Rogue Guides section!

  • Easy Concept
  • Outstanding AoE Clear
  • Long Range Sniper
  • Powerful Burst Damage
  • Excellent Leveling Speed
  • Stacking Combo Points
  • Missing Shots Hurts
  • Not a 1 Button Build
  • Requires Positioning
  • Energy Management

Season 4 - Loot Reborn

In Season 4, the Season Theme revolves around helping out the Iron Wolves. Compared to past themes, this one does not offer any borrowed power as the entire game has been redesigned with new itemization and crafting options, increasing player power substantially across the board. Instead, you can gather reputation similar to the Vampire Bounty Board from Season 2 to unlock rewards that supercharge your leveling journey to 100 with extra items, crafting materials and eventually even a Resplendent Spark to craft an uber unique.

We recommend to follow the seasonal questline until you unlock the reputation system, check which rewards suit you most and then follow your regular leveling path. To learn more, check out our full Season 4 guide for more information.

Penetrating Shot

Penetrating Shot is your main ability. Due to it's nature, you should align monsters in a straight line to hit as many targets as possible. It is a pretty energy-hungry skill early on, so every shot counts. When you unlock your Combo Points Specialization, you should always stack 3 Combo Points with Puncturebefore using Penetrating Shot for maximum damage.

Skill Tree & Gameplay


To start off we have to put 2 points into Basic Skills to unlock the Core Section. Puncture is our choice because we need as much Energy as possible and it can apply Vulnerable to help out with bigger targets.

Penetrating Shot

Penetrating Shot is your main ability. Due to it's nature, you should align monsters in a straight line to hit as many targets as possible. It is a pretty energy-hungry skill early on, so every shot counts. When you unlock your Combo Points Specialization, you should always stack 3 Combo Points with Puncturebefore using Penetrating Shot for maximum damage.


At this point you unlock two of the Rogue's signature skills: Dash and Shadow Step. The first has two charges and allows you to quickly engage, escape or reposition yourself. The second is another mobility tool that's best used to engage or quickly teleport to another monster.

← Scroll to Level →


Here you want to pick up Dark Shroud for the toughness and the movement speed so that we can quickly move through content and also reposition well for our Penetrating Shot Skill.


The Shadow Imbuement Skill augments our Penetrating Shot skill for various effects to make us more powerful. It allows for shadow explosions that apply Vulnerable. Shadow Imbuement also gives us back Energy upon explosion with the Consuming Shadows passive, making this a great Imbuement to pick up early on. Be careful not to use Dash or Shadow Step after activating Shadow Imbuement, as these can also consume charges of it.

Finalizing the Skill Tree

We round out our build with some more Utility through Innervation and Stutter Step. We also pick important damage multipliers like Weapon Mastery, Exploit and Malice.

Check out our Renown Guide to unlock all your additional rewards efficiently!

Key Passive


We choose the Precision Key Passive to help with the lack of early game Critical Strikes. Upon building maximum stacks (4), your next Marksman Skill is a guaranteed Critical Strike and deals increased damage based on your total Critical Strike Damage. You gain a stack of Precision whenever you attack with a Marksman Skill. Whenever you deal a Critical Strike with a Marksman Skill, you gain an additional stack of Precision.


In our Endgame Build Guide for Penetration Shot, we choose Victimize instead. We do not take this Key Passive until later levels because it requires stronger gear to really shine. Early on, Precision works out of the box and does not require much to be a significant damage boost. You need to replace your entire gear with Sacred items anyway once you reach World Tier 3, so do not worry about stashing Vulnerable Damage affixes yet.

Rogue Specializations

The Rogue's Class Specialization allows you to choose one out of three powerful passive effects to boost your build. Our Specialization of choice for this build is Combo Points.

Combo Points - Use Basic Skills to boost your subsequent Core Skills.

Use your Basic Skills to boost the subsequent Core Skill for more damage and other effects. Combo Points are displayed above your XP bar near the bottom of the screen.

Combo Points

Unlocking Specializations

Once you reach level 15, you have to complete a short questline starting in Menestad, Fractured Peaks. A Priority Quest leads you there to help out Leyrana. After a few stops outside of town you enter the Forsaken Quarry Dungeon and finish the questline there, unlocking Combo Points. After that, the other two Specializations unlock automatically once you reach their minimum level.

How to use Combo Points

Hit enemies with any Basic Skill (Puncture) three times to build 3 Combo Points, then use a Core Skill (Penetrating Shot) to finish. Combo Points are displayed above the XP bar in the UI. Avoid simply spamming Penetrating Shot without any Combo Points due to its high resource cost and lower damage output without 3 Combo Points.

Playing around Combo Points will feel like a natural rhythm to you once you have a bit of practice with it. Due to using Precision in this build, you may need to extend your rotation to 4 Basic Skills. This is done to ensure you have 4 stacks of Precision before firing your Core Skill, even when you do not Crit even once with your Basic Skills.

Learn more details in our full Rogue Specialization Guide.

Gear Progression & Global Stat Priorities


Always use your highest DPS Ranged Weapon available for more damage. Your Melee Weapons are simply stat sticks to fuel its power. The stats to look for on these are:

  • 1-H Weapons: Pref. Sword, Critical Strike Damage, Dexterity, Maximum Life, Socket
  • Ranged Weapons: High DPS, Pref. Crossbow, Critical Strike Damage, Dexterity, Maximum Life, 2 Sockets

Fill weapon sockets with a Royal Sapphire for more Critical Strike Damage to boost Precision.


Armor pieces typically grant us Defense and Utility stats, except the Gloves which offer a tidal wave of Offense. Here are the important stats to look for:

  • Helm: Maximum Life, Cooldown Reduction, Armor, 1 Socket
  • Armor: Maximum Life, Ranks to Dark Shroud, Armor, 3 Sockets
  • Gloves: Rank to Penetrating Shot, Critical Strike Damage, Attack Speed
  • Pants: Maximum Life, Armor, Dodge Chance, 2 Sockets
  • Boots: Movement Speed, Dexterity, Energy per Second, Dodge Chance


Jewelry provides powerful Offensive stats that help us on our leveling journey. Pay close attention to the rolls as higher leveled pieces aren't always better:

  • Amulet: Movement Speed, Critical Strike Chance, Cooldown Reduction
  • Rings: Dexterity, Critical Strike Damage, Attack Speed

Socket Armor with Rubys and Jewelry with Gems of whichever type of resistance you are lacking the most!

Read more about itemization in our Damage Explained, Defense Explained, and Stats Explained articles.

Legendary Aspects

The Codex of Power is a collection of Legendary Aspects you can imprint onto Rare or Legendary items at the Occultist. They unlock after completing specific Dungeons located around Sanctuary. For leveling, there are a few Aspects that are particularly impactful on this build and should be obtained as soon as possible:

Top Codex Legendary Aspects

Offensive Aspect of the ExpectantUnderroot
Rapid Offensive Aspect
Buried Halls
Dry Steppes
Trickshot Offensive AspectBastion of Faith

Learn more details in our article covering the Codex of Power.

Helpful Legendary Powers

If you're lucky enough to find a Legendary while leveling, chances are it'll be an upgrade for you and you should equip it immediately. However they are not all created equal, and some of them can accelerate your journey tremendously. Let's look at some other useful powers you could find and how to take advantage of them:

  • Umbrous Defensive Aspect
    • A great aspect to use to generate Dark Shroud stacks through Lucky Hits on Critical Strikes with Marksman Skills. Both Puncture and Penetrating Shot are Marksman Skills. You can only find this aspect when it drops from Monsters.
  • Defensive Aspect of the Protector
    • Early access to good defense that can be found very early in the game in Fractured Peaks. Can later be used to add damage in combination with Conceited Offensive Aspect.
  • Edgemaster’s Offensive Aspect
    • Small bump in damage the more Energy you have which works well with this build. Can be found in the Dungeon Oldstones in Scosglen.
  • Energizing Resource Aspect
    • A great way to generate resources on single target when you're out of demons to explode for Energy. Can be found in the Dungeon Sanguine Chapel in Fractured Peaks.
  • Defensive Aspect of Might
    • Free defense for just using your basic attack in rotation. Can be found in the Dungeon Dark Ravine in Dry Steppes.
  • Slaughter
    • More speed helps surviving and moving around the open world efficiently between encounters. You can only find this aspects when it drops from Monsters.

How To Level

In Diablo 4 you level by completing the Campaign, collecting Grim Favors for the Tree of Whispers, completing Helltide activities, grinding Dungeons, or interacting with the Seasonal mechanics. While there are many ways to level up in Diablo 4, not all of them are made equal.

Campaign Leveling

  • For your first character in Diablo 4, completing the Campaign provides the best gameplay experience and gives you access to key unlocks like your Mount.
    • If you don't have your Mount, you MUST progress the Campaign until you complete the quest Donan's Favor at the start of Act 4.
    • After obtaining your Mount you can skip the remainder of the campaign at any time.
    • The Campaign is the slowest way to level, but it's worth experiencing the Campaign and Diablo 4's storyline at least once.
    • To play Seasonal Content you need to have completed or skipped the Campaign.

Seasonal / Alt Leveling

  • Complete the Seasonal questline, progress your Seasonal Journey to unlock Legendary Aspects and work on your Seasonal powers.
  • If your account is below Rank 5 Renown in each zone, focus on completing your Renown.
    • This only needs to be done once per realm (Softcore / Hardcore).
  • Complete the Dungeons needed for any Legendary Aspects from your Codex of Power.
  • From level 1-50 you should focus on getting experience in Helltides by combining Helltide activities with Grim Favors for the Tree of Whispers or complete Gathering Legion Events.
  • After level 50 you need to balance leveling up, Glyph Experience and participating in Endgame activities like Helltide, Tree of Whispers and Bosses. The fastest experience possible after reaching World Tier 3 is completing Nightmare dungeons with monsters exactly 10 levels above your current level. Check out our Nightmare Dungeon Tier List for the best Nightmare Dungeon layouts!
  • Around level 30-45 you should move to World Tier 3.
  • Around level 50-65 you should move to World Tier 4.
  • Alternatively: Get boosted by a friend to World Tier 4 then leech experience/loot and Glyph exp (post 50), in Nightmare dungeons.
  • Find the most efficient way of leveling your character in detail in our Speed Leveling Guide.

Leveling Tips and Tricks

Let's look at some tips and tricks to remember when leveling up!

  • Level Up Your Potion. You need to farm materials to upgrade your character's potion.
    • Make sure you collect all materials as you explore Sanctuary, especially Bundled Herbs which are used in many Elixir recipes!
  • Compare your Items... Literally. Press Shift over an item in your inventory to compare it to what you're wearing.
    • This makes it easy to determine what is and isn't an upgrade.
  • Don't Imprint Your Best Aspect Onto Your Weapon. The most critical piece of gear while leveling up is your weapon, which gets replaced constantly.
    • It is a better idea to put your best Offensive Aspect on your Amulet, which can be used for a long time.
  • Sacred is just better. Between level 30 and 50 you're able to beat the Capstone Dungeon and enter World Tier 3, you gain access to powerful Sacred items which have higher item power and better stats. Getting a Sacred weapon significantly improves your farming speed.
    • The same happens with World Tier 4 and Ancestral gear.

Video Guide


  • The Penetrating Shot Rogue is a great all-round build, combining mobility, great AoE and decent single target damage into one complete package.
  • Stack Energy recovery where possible such as Consuming Shadows, Innervation and resource aspects.
  • Activate Shadow Imbuement whenever possible but do not use Dash or Shadow Step with it, as they consume a charge.
  • Always build 3 Combo Points before firing Penetrating Shot for the best results.
  • Focus on improving your Ranged Weapon more than any other item.
  • Look out for helpful Legendary Powers in the Codex of Power, especially those that generate Energy and buff your damage or damage reduction.
  • Consider getting the Trickshot Aspect early from the Bastion of Faith in Hawezar.


Written by M1PY
Reviewed by Wudijo

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