Diablo: The Wanderer’s Eulogy (Pt. 3)

Maddening tormented whispers flood into your mind.

A jagged landscape wrought of bone and wreathed in molten flame stands before you. Vile, despicable, bloodthirsty demons crowd you. You’ve reached the final levels of the main campaign, and hell will never be inviting or comforting for it’s where the greatest challenges await you. Defeating Lazarus to crack open the door to this hellish domain is just the beginning. Diablo, the Lord of Terror, waits patiently for you to free him from his subterranean prison. It’s arguably the most challenging content in Diablo, and it’s where your story ends as you hope to contain the overwhelming malice of the Prime Evil. Not that you can.

It’s a more satisfying and apt conclusion if you’re a Warrior.

Quite a lengthy section of content, too. It’s deceptive in that way. You believe that there are only four more levels until the end of the campaign, but within those levels are side quests to complete and puzzles to solve before you are able to fight Diablo. Even when you can you’re likely to be swarmed by the enemies released when he is.

This would be as good a time as any to revisit the crypt as well. Given that it forms the final content available in the Hellfire expansion pack. These levels are sadly less impressive, but they’re certainly challenging (in a way) due to the overwhelming number of magical floating orbs on the screen at any one time. I definitely found these areas more frustrating than the hive, too. The challenge (for lack of a better word) disappeared as long as I could keep drinking potions. The enemies annoyingly ran great distances away and soon the screen was littered with an impassable sea of magical damage. The final boss of the content was also somewhat anti-climactic. I decided not to weaken him and he still died relatively quickly.

Only in the blasphemous bowels of hell will we find the Lord of Terror.

Wirt was my saving grace throughout this entire endeavour. I had not only managed to acquire a rather useful helmet with a +% Resist All modifier on it, but an absurdly powerful axe with substantial +% Chance To Hit and +% Damage modifiers, and a ring that had significant +% Resist Fire and +Strength modifiers. I’m unsure but I don’t believe that the first Warrior that I completed the main campaign with was anywhere near as powerful as this one. I could’ve done with replacing one of the rings and the necklace, too. But nothing worth buying was available and instead I spent my gold on Strength, Vitality, and Dexterity Elixirs.

Diablo was certainly tougher than I remember, though.

I was unlucky and got consistently knocked back so was rarely able to actually land a hit on him. It took more than a few potions to survive the ensuing onslaught as I crawled towards him only to be knocked back again, but he eventually took enough hits to be little more than a mangled heap of demonic remains on the floor.

This has been quite an unconventional series of posts, but I felt that this would be more interesting than a single In Retrospect post detailing the content and the character that I’ve played. There’s a possibility I may even add a fourth post to this series. That depends on what I do next and whether I decide to revisit Diablo in the coming months, but I’ve been thinking about doing a similar (but extended) series for a new Diablo II character. I’ve never really written much about either on Moggie’s Proclamations before as they were before its time. But the Diablo series is one I’ve greatly enjoyed for many years and I hope that some of that shows through with this series.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

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Diablo: The Wanderer’s Eulogy (Pt. 2)

There’s an unnerving skittering in the darkness.

Despite being reasonably experienced with Diablo I know very little of the Hellfire expansion pack. I know that it has an additional eight dungeon levels, that there’s a final campaign boss, and that it’s relatively self-contained but that’s about it. I do believe that there are a few shrines, the various Oils, the various Runes, and new equipment that can be found in the main campaign but most content is restricted to the hives and the crypt. Which allegedly mirror the difficulty of the caves and hell, respectively. There’s also a strangely low (arbitrary) level requirement to gain access to the hives via the Rune Bomb to start the content.

Strangely low because the content is for a higher level.

Or that’s how it feels to me. It could be that because Warriors run up to everything, often get surrounded, and essentially need to take damage to deal damage that they felt so flimsy in the hive. But I’m not so sure. The damage seemed absurd even after returning from the caves having cleared each floor and gaining access to hell.

It’s also relatively uninspired content in comparison to the main campaign. I found far fewer shrines, no actual quests or events, and even far less loot in those levels than I think I’d found anywhere else. I don’t even know if there were unique variants of the new enemies appearing in the levels, either. That’s not to say that it’s entirely bad content. It just felt like an exercise in repeating the same actions for a while. Even the hostility of enemies felt underwhelming due to the lack of anything else going on, and could certainly be improved with more of the puzzling quests or unique events present in the main campaign. That said, I wanted to experience the Hellfire expansion pack and I’m glad that I did.

The monstrosity beneath the throbbing hive.

The acquisition of Arkaine’s Valor earlier in the catacombs certainly made some of the Hellfire expansion pack content more bearable. The Fastest Hit Recovery modifier is definitely useful to a Warrior without a shield, but the additional -3 Damage From Enemies and +10 Vitality modifiers were perfectly suited to this particular build. Reducing the damage that I’d receive and bolstering my health even further. I also found the Optic Amulet which isn’t a spectacularly useful item, but does offer +20% Resist Lightning and -1 Damage From Enemies so it suited the build as it was at the time. I’d been gambling with Wirt for a while, too.

I was hoping to buy an extraordinarily powerful axe.

That’s one of the few things that endlessly frustrates me about Diablo. I’d like to be able to easily re-roll his inventory, or, at the very least, be allowed to gamble more than one item at a time. As Wirt is arguably the best (and most expensive) source of exceptionally powerful equipment, but it’s a hassle forcing him to re-roll his inventory to see it.

I was considering building a Monk when looking at the re-release of Diablo and the Hellfire expansion pack. However, I felt more comfortable with a Warrior as it is a class I’m more experienced with and I’m not sure what a Monk actually does. It seems that they fight with staves, but that they can also fight with their bare fists and that both offer some unique benefit to them. It’s certainly a class that seems to be good at a few too many things. In that they’re not actually exceptionally good at any one thing. I’m likely to come back to Diablo over the coming months as I’m intending to play through Nightmare and Hell with this Warrior, and so it’s just as likely I might try building a Monk.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Diablo: The Wanderer’s Eulogy (Pt. 1)

Not all who wander will return alive.

Following my recent post regarding the re-release of Diablo and the Hellfire expansion pack I decided that I’d continue ever-deeper into the forsaken depths. I’d originally intended to build that particular character to be able to see the content before writing about it, but it was so overwhelmingly enjoyable returning to Diablo that I worked through the entire main campaign. This would be the second character to finish the main campaign (both Warriors), the first character to experience the Hellfire expansion pack content, and one of five characters who’ve made significant progress towards the Lord of Terror.

For those reasons, I’d say that I’m reasonably experienced with Diablo.

Which is why I wanted to focus on two-handed weapons and the colossal damage that they deal, and not lean on one-handed weapons with a shield. I’d lose the defensive capabilities and the affixes associated with shields. But I decided to invest heavily into Vitality to balance the lack of defensive capability with an overflowing health pool.

It was also because The Butcher drops The Butcher’s Cleaver on death and it has a ridiculous damage range for when it becomes available. It’s oddly more powerful than some of the highest quality axes available in higher level areas, although it does have low durability and has an unimpressive lower damage range. It’s still a great weapon until the caves, though. It’s even better if you manage to find a shrine that improves its durability. Which I did. I threw a few of those Accuracy Oils on it, too. Needless to say it was quite powerful after I finished tinkering with various aspects of it. The other key element of this build was The Undead Crown which (by my calculations) allows you to steal 10% of your damage as health on hit.

To plunder a king’s riches and The Undead Crown.

As Warriors have the poorest starting (and maximum) Magic attribute there were few spells which could be useful. Even learning the Town Portal spell wasn’t useful as a single cast would require me to drink a Full Mana Potion, which is technically cheaper than a Scroll of Town Portal, but it doesn’t account for randomly losing Mana in the dungeon, and it’s a reasonably insignificant saving. Healing has the same problem. While Search has an obscenely high cost for what it actually does and how long it lasts. Of course, experiences may vary as you need to find more books to further level those spells. So they do eventually get cheaper.

But I do believe each book has gradually higher Magic requirements.

So I tend to avoid learning any spells besides those that provide some utility. A single cast at any given time could be useful regardless of the associated potion cost. It also means that learning the Guardian spell via a quest could be ultimately anti-climactic, as it costs so much to cast that you can’t even use it when you first acquire it.

Warriors are exceptionally tough, though. Even without a shield they can take quite a bit of damage before being in any real danger. But they do need to run up to every single enemy to hit them, and with a lack of +% Chance to Hit modifiers in the earlier levels you’re likely to take more damage as you can’t successfully land killing blows. That’s also why later levels become slightly more frustrating for Warriors as they need to chase down enemies that run away. While being pelted with several magical orbs. That said, at least if they do get hit by the numerous unavoidable magical orbs they will likely survive the impact. The same can’t always be said for Sorcerers or Rogues.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Beneath the Cathedral

Hordes of monstrosities lurk in the darkness of these forsaken halls.

There are scarce few ARPGs that execute a harsh and unforgiving dungeon crawling experience as perfectly as Diablo does. Having to desperately scrounge for equipment, potions, and gold to have some hope of seeing the next floor. Having to face innumerable monsters that tear through your flesh and splinter your armour. Delving deeper into the blasphemous bowels beneath Tristram and encountering enemies or shrines that can permanently alter your various attributes. Both the atmosphere and mechanics blurring the line between the frantic nature of ARPGs and the punishing reality of dungeon crawlers.

Diablo can certainly hold its own even today.

For this reason the re-release of Diablo (and later the Hellfire expansion pack) was interesting to me. Mostly due to the convenience of being able to play Diablo without a disc, but also because I’ve yet to experience the content in Hellfire and the support for modern operating systems could be useful. Underwhelming but useful.

The re-release does little to change the actual content of either Diablo or Hellfire. Which I’m glad about. That said, the launcher does give you some rather interesting options. You can choose between the original release of Diablo, the re-release of Diablo, or the re-release of Diablo with the Hellfire expansion pack. Save files can be freely transferred between the original release and re-release of Diablo, but Hellfire has a different save file format. Which is slightly disappointing as it would seem that only Hellfire allows you to play through Normal, Nightmare, and Hell. Something that (as far as I’m aware) was only available to online characters in the original release. So, unfortunately, I can’t take my character from the original release and cleave my way through Nightmare. The save files just aren’t compatible.

The Butcher’s Cleaver is great at cleaving things. As you would expect.

Support for higher resolutions (and the advanced rendering options) only apply to the re-release of Diablo or the re-release of Diablo with the Hellfire expansion pack. Higher resolution support technically exists, but it simply stretches the original resolution (of 640 x 480) to fit your desired resolution. You can also opt for aspect ratio correction to retain the original 4:3 aspect ratio. I’m not sure why you would ever turn aspect ratio correction off, though. The advanced rendering options are likely to be doing something, but I’ve barely noticed even the slightest changes when utilising them.

The above screenshot was originally taken at 3840 x 2160 resolution.

However, regardless of the actual display resolution, screenshots will be saved at 640 x 480 resolution and in the (obscure) .pcx file format. It doesn’t detract at all from the experience and the visuals are comparable to the original release, but it doesn’t exactly feel like higher resolution support as we’ve come to know it in recent years.

If you enjoy Diablo (or are an ARPG enthusiast) then the re-release is certainly worth the relatively inexpensive cost of admission. Being able to switch between the original release and the re-release (with or without Hellfire) is a nice touch. It is, however, slightly disappointing that I can’t carry forward my progress from the original release into Hellfire. But that was often the case with expansion packs of yesteryear. I’m quite enthusiastic about the possibility of a re-release of Diablo II in a similar vein, too. It would be nice if that would also allow you to switch between either classic Diablo II or the Lord of Destruction expansion pack. I am rather fond of the countless hours I’ve spent with various classic Diablo II characters. It’d be nice to be able to revive them at some point.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Priests of Rathma

Call forth the spirits of the fallen.

Diablo III has seen two rather significant and quite exciting changes recently. The first of those is patch 2.6.0 which introduces six new areas (along with new bounties), hordes of new enemies, various quality of life tweaks, and Challenge Rifts. I’m most intrigued by the concept of Challenge Rifts. They’re presented as something different to both the Campaign and Adventure Mode, in which you use a specific build (based on another player) to complete a weekly static dungeon. The aim is to complete the dungeon faster than the original player.

It does make me wonder if they’ll include gimmicky builds, too.

Those could be interesting (and challenging) in their own way. Rather than just trying to figure out how to do the best with what you’ve got, you’d have to figure out what the gimmick is and how you actually use it. On the other hand, these gimmicky builds could also be ridiculously frustrating if their particular gimmick isn’t enjoyable or particularly viable.

The second of these changes is the introduction of the Necromancer. The class that everyone was secretly hoping would be carried over from Diablo II (like the Barbarian), but never made it into the original or expansion release. Though many felt that the Witch Doctor was basically a different kind of Necromancer. To access the new class you’ll need to purchase the Rise of the Necromancer pack which includes the class, two character slots, two stash tabs, and various cosmetic rewards. The Necromancer is fully voiced throughout the Campaign with new class specific items, new Legendary and Set items, an extensive set of skills, and the ability to raise legions of the dead. It’s also awesome. Definitely one of the best classes Diablo III has.

As an almost exclusive summoner they have the capability to summon a literal army, while making use of Revive as and when corpses are available to further bolster their ranks, or turning those corpses against their foes in an explosive cacophony of blood. As a warrior they’re able to bolster their defences with Bone Armor and regenerate health through Curses. Or, if you prefer, they can make use of an arsenal of spells such as Bone Spear and Bone Spirit to face foes from afar. They can even sacrifice portions of their health to deal more damage.

Flexibility is built into everything they do.

I’ve always been fond of Poison Dagger Necromancers in Diablo II and I had hoped there would be a similarly viable build here. Not only is it viable, but it’s incredibly enjoyable and requires an amount of concentration to make best use of. Mostly due to the unique mechanics of Bone Armor. But I was pleasantly surprised that the option was available and is actually useful.

I find myself arguing between Corpse Explosion and Revive on my first Necromancer. I could have a constant stream of newly resurrected minions with Revive, or I could have explosive corpses with Corpse Explosion. Explosive. Corpses. That don’t even cost anything to explode due to their finite nature. In fact, I love Corpse Explosion so much that both of my Necromancers use it. I’ll admit that I might have a problem. Maybe. I’m particularly thrilled with this class content pack, too. Entirely worth the price of admission. Which hasn’t always been something I’ve been able to say about Diablo III, but I’m hopeful for the future with the many content patches we’ve seen and the excellent quality present in this class a whole.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

My Curse Upon You!

May you be consumed by the bloodthirsty swarm.

One of the more interesting achievements for the Diablo III 20th Anniversary Event is to complete The Darkening of Tristram with a freshly created Lvl 1 character. Not necessarily too difficult, but definitely something I had to think about (mostly because I have duplicates of most classes and don’t desire triplicates). That said, there was one class (and build) that I’ve been interested in for a while- the summoner Witch Doctor. My first Witch Doctor is more of a poison orientated caster that barely relies on his Gargantuan at all.

I only really use it to provide a small amount of damage.

The resulting new build relies heavily on pets but does do formidable cold damage without them. Focusing mostly on the damage over time aspects of both Haunt and Spirit Barrage, Firebomb (with the Ghost Bomb rune) is the only direct damage skill she has. Alongside her combination of Zombie Dogs, a Gargantuan, and a limited use Fetish Army.

The most surprising aspect of this build is the passive skill Fetish Sycophants. Originally taken just to have something in the slot before Fierce Loyalty became available, I actually opted to keep it even after that was available as it’s really fun to use. It has a chance to create an additional fetish pet (which seems to have a fairly high/no summon limit) when you deal damage. They’re only temporary- but they’re really useful while they’re available. I’ve seen the ability to summon as many as twelve at a time already. Fierce Loyalty would only provide a slightly better bonus, which is that I could summon an additional Zombie Dog (for a total of six). But I feel the overwhelming swarm of dagger wielding psychopaths is a better choice.

For they are legion.

For they are legion.

I’d considered this build to be more of a novelty than an actually functional progression build at first, but it’s proving to be anything but that. It’s a strong build both offensively and defensively. With pets holding back enemies so I can blanket them with damage over time skills, while the pets hold their own quite nicely and deal decent enough damage even when they’re not scaling with her damage. Then there’s the Enforcer Legendary Gem which makes them even more powerful. So, overall, they’re doing quite nicely.

It’s definitely working out better than I ever could have anticipated.

I’m also considering Zunimassa’s Haunt, which will eventually allow her to have Fetish Army available indefinitely once summoned. One of the few times I’ve felt that a set has actually fit around the skills I’ve chosen to use. Besides the Might of the Earth set which my Barbarian could benefit from. So those are things I can work towards acquiring to take the builds even further.

For as powerful as she seems at the moment I recognise that she’s lacking Intelligence. A substantial amount, too. So the next thing to work on would be to replace her Imperial Topazes with Royal Topazes. A matter of money mostly, which can be easily solved with The Boon of the Hoarder. I’ll also need to keep an eye out for items that boost her cold damage. But it’s a build I can definitely see going quite far. But, for now, the 20th Anniversary Event is complete and I’ll be working towards new goals. Like the acquisition of a range of high level Intelligence equipment for all of the classes I have that could benefit from that. It’d be nice if one of them could farm some of that up.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

The Darkening of Tristram

Let’s go back to where it all began.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Diablo series Blizzard is bringing a unique event to Diablo III. This event hopes to recreate the town of Tristram, the cathedral where it all began, and even reintroduces some of the classic sought after items from the original Diablo. These items (as far as I can tell) are there for flavour, as only a select few can be used for transmogrification appearances or cosmetic effects. There’s also a shard of the iconic red soulstone available as a Legendary Gem for those who fell The Dark Lord.

It’s an event that lasts roughly a few hours if you’re looking to see it all.

It also features a rather interesting screen filter (and adjusted camera angle) to bring back the feeling of the original. Along with all of the original music, ambience, and sound effects which have given me more than a few pangs of nostalgia in my heart. That could also be my cholesterol. But I’m pretty sure it was the nostalgia doing its thing.

There are a handful of achievements available during the event, too. These are fairly simple things for the most part. The most interesting being that you brave the horrors with a fresh new character and complete the event. Which may be slightly more difficult if you don’t feel like completing the event in full in one run, as I don’t think there’s any way to leave and then to return to where you were. Which is slightly odd, as the original Diablo featured more than a few paths back to the surface from specific levels. It’s a pretty interesting event, though. If you’re a fan of several Blizzard titles you’ll be pleased to know that most of their major titles also have smaller time limited events. All with Diablo themed items and rewards.

Naturally it wouldn’t be a Diablo event without some mention of Wirt and that’s perhaps my most treasured acquisition from this event. The Royal Calf, a baby cow that bears a resemblance to the murderous cows you would encounter in the Secret Cow Level. Which is now safely nestled alongside my other pets. Following me into glorious battle and to great riches! You can also collect a special version of The Butcher as a pet. But he’s not going anywhere near my cow! I love that little guy.

I don’t care if the steaks are high- he’s not having him!

I am slightly disappointed that the event is only available during January (at least that’s the plan so far), but it’s a series which has always meant a lot to me and one that I’ve enjoyed for the past seventeen years. It’s also one that has influenced me both as an artist and as a gamer. So I’ve made a considerable effort in participating in (and enjoying) as much of it as I can.

I’m looking forward to the Necromancer, too. It’s going to be interesting seeing a seventh character class added to Diablo III, it’s also going to be interesting to see what kind of abilities they have besides those we’ve been shown already. I wouldn’t mind if this is how Diablo III played out, either. Small character class packs alongside minor content updates. Not to forget the refreshed content for Seasons that rolls around every so often. While I may have had my criticisms of Diablo III in the past (and they’re criticisms I still have), I like the new direction that it has been going since the release of Reaper of Souls. It’s improving ever so slightly with every new patch and new release.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie