This page contains information about mercenaries in Diablo 2 Resurrected, including where to recruit them, what abilties they have, and what gear you should give them.
Mercenaries are hireable NPCs that will accompany you on your adventures. Although their AI is dubious, at best, they’re an important gameplay - and one may daresay, build - element, as they contribute in many useful ways. You can hire different mercenaries from different NPCs in different acts:
|Act 1 - Kashya|
|Act 2 - Greiz|
|Act 3 - Asheara|
|Act 5 - Qual-Kehk|
Hiring a mercenary costs gold, of course, and if you hire a mercenary, it’ll overwrite the old one, so be sure to remove any gear off previous mercenaries, lest you lose it. The mercenaries available for hire will roughly scale to the player’s level, never exceeding it, and they will gain XP as they accompany you on your adventure. If a mercenary should die, simply return to any of the Mercenary Captains in each act (or to Tyrael in Act 4) and they’ll resurrect your mercenary good as new… for a price. This price, too, scales as your mercenary levels, capping out at a painful 50,000 gold. A frail mercenary is an expensive liability.
Perhaps most obviously, mercenaries can distract enemies. Any attacks directed at a mercenary aren’t harming the player, although mercenaries can be incredibly fragile (especially in Hell difficulty) unless properly equipped. Still, casters will find a well-equipped mercenary tank invaluable for drawing fire and bunching up foes for easier disposal. Act 2 and Act 5 mercenaries are the best picks for this role.
While they’re drawing enemy fire (or in the case of Act 1 and Act 3 mercenaries, attacking from a distance), they’ll ideally contribute to your overall offensive output. While their offense is generally unreliable (getting them to attack what, exactly, you need them to is an exercise in futility), they can, properly equipped, dish out significant damage. An Act 2 Mercenary equipped with an ethereal elite polearm and boosted by their own Might aura can score higher than 5,000 damage/hit.
This is significant damage against most foes, but it’s especially useful if your character can’t otherwise deal physical damage. A Blizzard Sorceress or a Hammerdin will greatly benefit from a powerful mercenary who can handle the odd cold/magic immune, respectively. That said, mercenaries shouldn’t be relied on too much - the occasional unique foe is well within their capabilities (mostly… most of the time), but against a level full of immunes… you probably want to seek out other options. It’s worth noting that Act 1 and Act 3 mercenaries can deal elemental damage (the former via Cold/Fire Arrow, the latter via various elemental spells), but the damage they deal with said attacks is fairly underwhelming by comparison to the physical damage Act 2/5 mercenaries deal.
Finally, mercenaries can aid the players with their abilities. Act 1 mercenaries will use Inner Sight to reduce enemy Defense and Act 2 mercenaries can provide various auras, including Blessed Aim, Defiance, Holy Freeze, Might, Prayer and Thorns. These auras make the Act 2 mercenary a worthy companion, as they can significantly boost the player’s own damage output. Even lacking natively abilities, mercenaries can be equipped with gear that also bestows boons, like Insight and [Infinity].
Hiring the right mercenaries and equipping them with appropriate gear can therefore have a major impact on the player’s performance.
Best Mercenary Gear
A mercenary is only of any value if they’re alive, and there are two properties that keep mercenaries alive more than any other: leech, and resistances. A mercenary’s resistances will increase as they level up, but they’ll always benefit from gear boosts. Even when they’re Lv90+, their native resistances will struggle to break 60~ in Hell difficulty. Leech is another obvious source of survivability - the more damage they deal, the more health they’ll have. Obviously this will not be a major factor with Act 3 mercenaries, who spend most of their time casting spells, and it should be noted that some enemies are immune or resistant to leech, which you’ll have to be especially careful around. Other factors, like Attack Speed, damage, and Damage Reduction play secondary roles.
Mercenaries can equip several items, varying depending on what type of mercenary you have: they can all equip armor, a helmet, and a weapon of some description. You’ll need to make do with these limited inventory slots. Gear equipped on mercenaries do not lose durability, making them a good destination for ethereal gear you otherwise wouldn’t use on your characters. In some cases, ethereal gear is specifically sought out, especially in the case of runeword weapons created for mercenaries to use.
Act 1 Mercenary (Rogue Scout)
A ranged attacker, the Act 1 mercenary is best paired with physical-damage dealing characters who don’t need a tank, or who will benefit from the Fanaticism aura. In the latter case, you’ll need to provide the mercenary with the [Faith] runeword bow, which is arguably the best use you can make of such a companion… if you can afford it.
The Rogue will contribute in combat with ranged attacks, possibly including Fire Arrows or Cold Arrows, varying depending on the individual mercenary hired. They can also use Inner Sight (reduces enemy Defense), for what that’s worth. Their elemental arrows, regardless of variety, will not significantly contribute to damage.
The Rogue is relatively fragile, and should not be relied upon to tank. That said, she can contribute appreciably from afar provided she’s properly equipped.
Act 2 Mercenary (Desert Mercenary)
Easily the most commonly hired mercenary, the Act 2 mercenary has a lot going for him. First, he’s got access to a variety of auras. Each individual mercenary has one - and only one - aura, and this cannot change, so make sure you hire the mercenary with the aura you want. Auras are split into three groups: combat, defense and offensive, while the actual aura will vary between difficulties:
Might is the most popular aura, as it provides a substantial bonus to physical damage dealt, making it ideal for a variety of builds. Physical damage-dealers will appreciate the direct boost in damage, Necromancers will benefit from another minion standing between them and sources of damage (especially one who makes their other minions stronger), and elemental damage dealers will gain a tank who can deal damage to foes who may otherwise be immune to their attacks.
Holy Freeze is a distant second when it comes to auras, mainly useful for characters like the Hammerdin who stand to benefit more from slowing enemies than gaining an alternate source of damage.
Offensively, Act 2 mercenaries can deal out great damage if properly equipped - they wield spears and polearms, and there are numerous useful runewords for the latter. Even without that, an ethereal elite polearm has high damage potential. The most commonly-used weapons for these mercenaries are Insight for mana regeneration (thanks to its Meditation aura) and [Infinity], which debuffs foes with its built-in Conviction aura. Because two auras is naturally better than just one. Insight is more of a midtier weapon, being useful enough for most characters with its aforementioned Meditation aura and the runeword’s enhanced damage and, best of all, incredibly cheap. [Insight] is much more expensive, but will provide an invaluable boon to any character who primarily deals fire, cold or lightning damage.
In addition to all that, Act 2 mercenaries are fairly sturdy, making good tanks. They all have access to the Jab ability, which increases their damage output somewhat. Equip as much Leech, Attack Speed and Resistances, as well as the best polearm you can muster and you’ll have quite a companion accompanying you.
Act 3 Mercenary (Iron Wolf)
The only mage mercenary in the game, the Iron Wolves resemble the Sorcerer from Diablo 1. They come in three varieties: fire, cold and lightning, using a variety of spells of the chosen element depending on the type of mercenary hired:
|Cold||Frozen Armor, Glacial Spike, Ice Blast|
|Lightning||Charged Bolt, Lightning Bolt|
As is the case with all mercenaries, you have virtually no control over them in combat, so they’ll cast whatever spell pleases them at the moment, not necessarily what you need them to be casting. Cold mercenaries are highly favored, as their spells can freeze enemies… especially considering that the damage output of all these mercenaries is relatively low, regardless of element.
Act 3 mercenaries rarely attack with their weapon, and consequently Leech and Attack Speed items should be deprioritized in favor of items that benefit casters (+Skills) and survivability (Resistance, Damage Reduction, Life). Spirit swords and shields are fine midtier weapons for these mercenaries.
Due to their penchant for ranged attacks, they won’t serve well as tanks.
Act 5 Mercenary (Barbarian)
Pure melee mercenaries, Act 5 mercenaries function similarly to Act 2 mercenaries: give them armor, a helmet and a weapon (one or two handed sword) and they’ll dish out substantial damage to your foes. They can also use the Barbarian skills Bash and Stun. Sadly, this doesn’t really compete with the auras the Act 2 mercenaries offer.
While a decent tank, the Act 5 mercenary has overall inferior utility when compared to the Act 2 mercenary. If you’re disturbingly rich, however, you can create the [Last Wish] runeword, which will give this mercenary - and nearby allies - an sLv17 Might aura… something the Act 2 mercenary can achieve much, much more cheaply.