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Diablo 4 Season 1 Rogue Imbuement: Should you pick Shadow, Poison, or Cold?

Pick your Poison. Or Shadow. Or Cold.

One area in which Diablo 4 certainly isn’t lacking is in the mechanical diversity of its classes. All five have several mechanics that are completely unique to them, with plenty of depth to dive into should the urge strike. Necromancers, for example, get to tweak what kind of skeletons they summon in battle, while Druids get a choice of Spirit Boons which each provide a different passive buff. For Rogue, that unique mechanic is Imbuements: a series of buffs that add a special status effect to certain key skills in your arsenal.

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Imbuements come in three flavors, and choosing the right one for the right scenario can make all the difference in the world. Should you pick Shadow, Poison, or Cold for your Rogue Imbuement in Diablo 4? Read on to find out.

Which Imbuement should you pick for Rogue in Diablo 4 Season 1?

What are Imbuements?

Imbuements are skills that grant a special status effect to the next two Imbueable skills you use. There are three Imbuements to choose from: Shadow, Poison, and Cold, and all three are unlocked at Tier 5 on the Rogue skill tree. It’s worth noting that while this guide is intended to help you choose between them, you can actually mix and match multiple Imbuements in the same build if you’d like. Typically, however, you’ll get the best results by focusing on one Imbuement and maxing it out level-wise.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of what each Imbuement does, let’s cover which skills are affected by them, since that’s a crucial aspect of using Imbuements. The following is a full list of the Imbueable skills available to Rogues in Diablo 4:

Tier 2:

  • Barrage
  • Flurry
  • Penetrating Shot
  • Rapid Fire

Tier 3:

  • Twisting Blades
  • Dash
  • Shadow Step

Tier 6 (Ultimate Skill):

  • Rain of Arrows

Should you pick Shadow Imbuement in Diablo 4 Season 1?

Diablo 4 Rogue Imbuement Should You Pick Shadow Poison Or Cold Shadow

Screenshot by PC Invasion

The first Imbuement we’ll cover here is Shadow Imbuement. As with all Imbuement skills, it applies a buff to the next two Imbueable skills you use after it, in this case, a Shadow buff. This causes your skill to deal Shadow damage instead of normal damage and applies an infection to any enemies you hit, which lasts for six seconds. If an enemy infected this way dies, it explodes, dealing damage to all surrounding enemies.

Right out of the gate, the applications for this Imbuement are clear: it’s great at crowd control. When you’re being swarmed by huge groups of enemies, you can hit a few enemies with your Shadow-Imbued skill, then kill one of them. The resulting explosion will kill another, thus creating a powerful chain reaction that can clear out the whole group. Since the damage dealt by the explosions is fairly low, this works best against weaker enemies that attack en masse, such as Ghouls or Skeletons. Against larger elites and bosses, the effects of Shadow Imbuement will be negligible, so it’s best suited to clearing out dungeon floors rather than taking on boss fights. Shadow Imbuement can also be used in tandem with the Consuming Shadows skill, which generates additional Energy. For power-hungry builds like Twisting Blades, this is an enormous damage buff.

Since Shadow Imbuement works best when you’re dealing with large groups of enemies, you’ll want to pair it with Imbueable skills that can easily hit multiple targets at once. Some good choices for this are Barrage, Penetrating Shot, and Rain of Arrows.

Should you pick Poison Imbuement in Diablo 4 Season 1?

Diablo 4 Rogue Imbuement Should You Pick Shadow Poison Or Cold Poison

Screenshot by PC Invasion

Next up is Poison Imbuement. This one falls on the other end of the spectrum from Shadow, being best suited for dealing with individual large targets than lots of small ones. After use, your next two Imbueable skills will deal Poison damage and then proceed to inflict a large amount of additional poison damage, staggered out over five seconds.

Once leveled up, Poison Imbuement more than doubles the damage dealt by your attacks, provided you can wait out the five seconds required for it to take effect. This makes it ideal for dealing big damage to large targets, such as elites and bosses. Against smaller foes, you’ll likely kill them with your normal attacks before the poison has time to take hold, which wastes the value of the Imbuement somewhat. For this reason, when running Poison Imbuement, you’ll want to concentrate on inflicting multiple doses of poison on single large enemies, then dodging out of the way and watching their health melt down to nothing.

To do this, you’ll want to combine Poison Imbuement with skills that can hit a single target multiple times. Rapid Fire is the prime candidate for this role, but Flurry and Barrage can perform well also, provided you can get close enough to land all of its hits on one target.

Should you pick Cold Imbuement in Diablo 4 Season 1?

Diablo 4 Rogue Imbuement Should You Pick Shadow Poison Or Cold Cold

Screenshot by PC Invasion

Finally, we have Cold Imbuement. Rather than being focused on dealing damage, like Shadow and Poison, Cold Imbuement provides disruption, letting you weaken and immobilize your enemies. It causes your next two Imbueable skills to deal cold damage and also to Chill any enemies they damage. Chilled enemies are slowed, and if they build up enough Chill, they’ll be completely Frozen and unable to move.

You may not get any extra damage out of Cold Imbuement, but you do get a lot of extra time. If you can apply its Cold damage to many enemies at once, you can slow down entire hordes, buying you time to retreat to a better position, and run out the cooldowns of your other skills. Cold Imbuement isn’t just a decent defensive option as it can be used offensively too.

Skills like Enhanced Cold Imbuement give Cold Imbued skills the chance to inflict ‘Vulnerable’ on opponents. The Vulnerable status has been nerfed in Season 1 but remains one of the best damage types. Cold Imbuement falls somewhere in between Shadow and Poison when it comes to situational usefulness: it works just as well against large groups as it does against single targets, but it doesn’t handle the former as well as Shadow or the latter as well as Poison. It’s a balanced option and probably the safest bet among the three. Cold Imbuement, like Shadow Imbuement, works best when you can apply it to many enemies at once.

Final verdict

With all of that said, should you pick Shadow, Poison, or Cold Imbuement for Rogue in Diablo 4? Well, that’s a tricky one. They all excel in different situations, and they can all carry builds if used correctly. Shadow Imbuement is arguably the most used in endgame builds, thanks to its explosive damage and utility. If your Rogue is struggling to deal with large crowds of foes, we’d recommend Shadow. If they’re struggling with a particular boss, then we’d recommend Poison. Combining Imbuements is a smart choice as well if your build allows it. A combination of Shadow with either Poison or Cold gives the Rogue the best of both worlds.

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Nathan Ball
Nathan Ball is a freelance games writer with a deep love for the medium. Having studied Game Design at the University of Abertay, Dundee, he's always on the lookout for games that push the envelope and try out fresh and exciting design techniques. You can usually find him covering the latest indie gems, but he does dabble in the world of AAA from time to time as well. Nathan has written professionally for various outlets, including TheGamer and the Scottish Games Network. When not writing, he enjoys good books, good TV, and analysing both within an inch of their life.
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Anthony Yates
Anthony is a freelance writer for PC Invasion and has worked in the industry for four years. He's furiously competitive and is always looking for the next big multiplayer hit. Anthony thrives in high-stakes games like Escape From Tarkov and Sea of Thieves. He is also passionate about speedrunning and always looks forward to the next GDQ and ESA events. When he's not grinding leaderboards, Anthony enjoys visiting Arcades, retro gaming, and horror movies.