Damage for Beginners


Dealing damage in Diablo 4 is roughly half the game. Some would even say it's more than that, after all the demons won't kill themselves. You need to do it by bringing their Life to 0 and there's no better way to do it than damage! In this damage for beginners article we describe how damage is calculated and the many different ways to deal more damage.

All information in this article is from the Press Preview Access of Diablo 4. The content presented here is subject to change, and will be updated as we learn more.

Damage Base

We need to start our damage calculation somewhere and depending on the source of damage there are two ways to do that.

1) Weapon Damage

Skills and passives scale their damage based on your weapon. In the advanced skill tooltip (a setting you need to check in the menu) you can see a percentage next to the damage number. Multiply that percentage by the damage value on your weapon and you get the damage that you deal with that skill. If you have multiple weapons (Rogue or Barbarian Dual-Wielding or Sorcerer with One-Handed Weapon + Focus), add the damage of both weapons together.

Here skill% depends on the skill used, number of points invested into it, and on your level. DMGweapon is dependent on weapon type and its item power. Note that weapons have damage range instead of a single damage number; for these calculations you can take anything: minimum, maximum, or average damage. The math stays the same.

2) Flat Damage

Some effects such as Thorns or procs from certain Legendary Aspects (e.g. Arrow Storms or Trickster's) deal damage that doesn't depend on your weapon. Instead they just have a flat value that is used as a base for the damage calculation, e.g. your total Thorns amount.


Similar to DMGweapon both Thorns and Legendary Aspect procs scale with item power.

Damage Bonuses

Next we have a lot of various damage bonuses coming from our items, skills, and passives. Starting from completely unconditional "+X% Damage" roll on the Amulet to different specific modifiers such as Damage Over Time (DoT), Damage to Close Enemies, Fire Damage, Core Skill Damage, etc. One thing all of these have in common is that there's no "x" before the percentage. This means that all these damage bonuses are additive.

We don't know exactly if there's just one or more categories of additive damage and we don't know which of these damage bonuses go to which category. Regardless we can update the damage formula as:

The important takeaway here is that all these bonuses without "x" in front of them don't provide as much benefit as you would think at a glance. An item saying +20% Core Skill Damage will give you less than 20% damage increase even if you deal all your damage with a Core skill, and the more you stack these bonuses, the less effective they become.

Separate Multipliers

Many bonuses, however, have a slightly different wording. They say: "x30% increased damage if this and that condition is met". This means that the bonus in question is multiplicative. You get exactly what it says on the tin. x30% means 30% bigger number on your screen when you meet the condition.

On top of that there's a few generic separate multipliers to your damage that are not tied to a single skill/passive/aspect.


Some skills can make enemies Vulnerable (their Life bar turns purple, or if you are affected, your Health Orb gets cracks). In this state enemies take 20% more damage from all sources. This 20% bonus can be further increased by your Vulnerable Damage stat. It's important to note that while these stats don't have an "x" before the percentage, it doesn't mean that Vulnerable damage boost is additive. It just indicates that these stats are added together with each other and the baseline 20% before multiplying all your damage:


Barbarians have access to a special status called Berserking. While it's active they gain 30% Movement Speed and deal 25% increased damage. This damage bonus can be further increased by the Wrath of the Berserker skill or Unconstrained passive. Same as Vulnerable, the damage bonus is multiplicative, the only difference here is that it's a buff on your character rather than a debuff on enemies.

Damage for beginners

Critical Strikes

All damage can be divided into direct damage and Damage over Time (Burning, Bleeding, Poisoning). Direct damage happens instantly, while damage over time is spread over a set duration. We didn't mention this distinction earlier because in terms of numbers and buffs direct damage and DoTs behave exactly the same, up until we get to the topic of Critical Strikes. Only direct damage can Critically Strike, Damage over Time cannot.

Each hit has a random chance to be a Critical Strike. This chance is equal to your Critical Strike Chance (CSC) stat, which can be increased in many different ways: You get 5% baseline, 0.02% for each point of Dexterity or Intelligence depending on class, rolls on Gloves and Rings, and many skills and passives.

When you trigger a Critical Strike your damage is increased by your Critical Strike Damage (CSD) stat, which you can similarly increase: 50% base, rolls on weapons and rings, implicit stat on Swords, etc. Your damage when Critically Striking can be written as:

Damage for beginners

If we want to calculate our average damage, we need to include Critical Strike Chance (CSC) into the equation:

Damage for beginners

From this formula we can see that CSC and CSD become more powerful the more you stack them. At low level when your Crit Chance is in single digits and Crit Damage is barely above 50%, you won't get a lot out of another CSC roll on your new ring. On the other hand, if you have something like The Dire Whirlwind Aspect giving your Whirlwind +80% CSC, then every single point of Critical Strike Damage becomes extremely valuable.

Damage Diablo 4


On top of Critical Strikes, there's another mechanic that lets you randomly deal more damage. There's several key differences between Overpower and Critical Strike. First of all, Chance to Overpower is not a stat, it's just a fixed 3% chance with no way to increase it. Instead some skills have guaranteed Overpower when conditions are met. Second, Overpower is not a multiplier. Overpower just adds some damage on top of your hit, regardless of how strong this hit was. This damage scales with your Life and Fortified Life, as well as your Overpower Damage stat. Normal Overpower hits are showns in teal, Critical Overpower hits are shown in orange.

Weapon Speed

One more stat that doesn't directly contribute to your damage, but does affect your Damage Per Second (DPS) is Weapon Speed. Your Weapon Speed indicates how often you can cast your skills (although some skills have fixed animation length not dependent on Weapon Speed). To calculate your Weapon Speed you need to consider two parameters: your weapon's Attacks per Second (APS) which is averaged when dual-wielding and your Attack Speed bonus. Attack Speed can roll as a stat on your Gloves and also comes from different skills and passives. All these bonuses are added together and act as a multiplier to your weapon's Attacks per Second:

Damage for beginners

Now for direct damage skills you get a very simple DPS formula:

Damage Diablo 4

More or less the same applies to DoT skills that can stack, except the actual damage is delayed by the DoT's duration. For non-stacking DoTs Weapon Speed doesn't affect damage at all.

Attack Power

The game offers you an approximation of your DPS called Attack Power, which you can see in your inventory window. However, you shouldn't rely on this number except as a very rough guideline. It doesn't include a lot of damage bonuses, specifically those that apply only to certain skills or against certain enemies. It also doesn't include any debuffs you can have on monsters such as Vulnerable. On the other hand, it includes your Weapon Speed and Critical Strike stats, which can be very misleading if your damage comes from a DoT or a skill with fixed animation length.


To get the Big Numbertm you need to get yourself a good weapon, a powerful skill, and stack a lot of different damage bonuses, preferably those that have "x" in front of the percentage. Then you need to hit something over and over until you proc both Critical Strike and Overpower with the same attack. At that point you only need to take a screenshot and post it online. Everyone will be impressed.


Written by Rob.
Reviewed by wudijo.


Dec 7th 2022
Article Created from the Press Release Version of Diablo 4.