Diablo 3 Strategy: Beware the Fearsome Fifties

One of the odd things about Diablo 3 strategy that you really notice when you’re playing Hardcore is that the game is hardest in Hell. Not in Normal, or Nightmare, and certainly not in Inferno (though that can change if you climb up far enough in Monster Power.) I ranted about this in the last podcast (coming soon) and a related forum post and Blue reply gives me a chance to share my thoughts in a more coherent typed format. Those are below, first, check out the Bluth:

So, i’ve lost a few toons. I’ve been getting progressively higher but after losing my last toon (52), the same way I lost my 54, I decided to look to the forum for assistance.

Last two toons I lost were in act one, hell against an elite pack of mobs (waller, arcane). The worst part was getting walled in and then watching my health run out like someone pulled the plug on my health meter as the arcane beams annihilated me.

So the question I have is this: Is there a website(or general suggestion that can be given here) out there that lays out ideal ranges for players (level, health, dps) to achieve before moving forward in the game?
There is some great advice in this thread. Personally, I’m a big fan of life regeneration. It’s more useful for some classes than others, but Life on Hit requires you to be hitting something to reap the benefits, and that’s not always an option.

The obvious suggestions are to use the AH to stay ahead of the curve on Vitality, to take things slowly and carefully, to always have at least one DiabloWikiescape skill that’s not on DiabloWikicooldown when you engage a boss pack, etc. (I cannot second the Blue’s advice about regen. It certainly doesn’t hurt, but 99% of death in HC comes from sudden burst damage and regen does nothing to help you with that.) All those tips are good advice always at all times (especially for Hardcore), but I’ve noticed a special danger in the game once you’re into the 50s and in early Hell difficulty.

Normal and Nightmare are very easy, once you know what you’re doing. With even moderate AH or twinked gear you can sail through the first 50 levels on MP10 or at least MP5, with your vitality enough to keep you safe and your DPS well above the curve simply by using socketed weapons with Rubies. Even just the Flawless Square Ruby adds 25 min/max damage, and that’s a huge boost when you’re using weapons with like 50-150 DPS. (And once you’ve got some money in Hardcore you can use 60 min/max damage Star Rubies which are just absurd on Norm/NM.)

A lot of things change once you get to Hell, though. The fact that Elite Affixes spawn in triples now is a big change; that greatly increases the chances of a boss having a CC + 1 type of damage and when you occasionally roll one with 2 damages and a CC that’s really dangerous. The exp gain slows down greatly as well, which can make you impatient and take risks. The real danger in the 50s comes from gear, though.

Kn2BxHell monsters are much less damaging and dangerous than Inferno ones and it’s quite easy to get well above the DPS curve in Hell, moving right into the “one shot all trash range” with some cheap 800 DPS reduced level requirement item. The problem isn’t killing, it’s dying. Unless you totally splurge on -req armor (which feels like a crazy expense for just 6 or 8 levels of use), your DiabloWikiEHP is going to suck sub level 60. Fresh into Hell you’ve generally got almost no resistance, little to no Life Steal/LoH, very little DiabloWikicrit or crit chance or DiabloWikiIAS, you don’t have your highest level skills for survival or to click big procs, you’re not using a shield since you never needed one in NM, etc.

All of this is true in softcore as well, but since you can get great DPS with that -req weapon (even though your FS Ruby goes from “game changer” to “is it in yet?” the minute you equip an Inferno quality weapon), Hell continues as a rush to level ups and fun killing speed in softcore. I remember doing my Monk and WD (my last 2 classes to 60) last year and blasting through Hell very quickly on a high MP level, and having fun getting them both to Paragon 6 or 8 even before I reached Inferno. Did they die repeatedly during the Hell level process? Probably. I don’t really remember, but that’s the whole point!

diablo+3+hc+deadYou can kill just that well in Hardcore Hell, but with pre-60 gear basically every class is a glass cannon in that level range, and Hardcore glass cannons create nothing but sad stories. Some weeks ago when I was leveling my 2nd HC Monk I had 2 very scary close calls in Act One Hell at around level 52, and basically chickened out at that point and got some power leveling from friends to get me to 60. That char is now P55 and I’ve never had anything in Inferno, including doing solo Ubers on MP5, that felt as close to death (and helpless in its icy grip) as I was in Hell. Admittedly, much of that is thanks to DiabloWikiNDE (db)coming in at 58.

The knowledge of that, the fact that the game doesn’t truly start until level 60, adds weight to the pain of a death in the 50s, since you know how close you were to the finish line (which is where the race really begins in Diablo 3). I hate to recommend cheesing your way from 50 to 60 by running behind a friend and soaking up the shared exp (I might as well recommend playing a WW Barb), but it’s such a bummer to die in the 50s (I’ve lost 2 DHs there) that it might be worth compromising your principles and holding your nose at the stink of cheese for 6 or 8 levels.


You're not logged in but can still post comments. Register or login to remember your details.
  1. Obligatory ww bash. Nope, he hasn’t been replaced by body snatching aliens yet.

  2. It’s like Normal Duriel all over again.

  3. I completely agree. I have lost a few toons at that range. Sucks.

  4. Yep. Normal and Nightmare do nothing to prepare you for Hell, especially the start of Act 2 Hell. The game is stupid easy, catering to Blizzard’s statistical crowd of almost no one going past Normal difficulty in D2, and then slaps you in the face due to crap item drops and crap item progression. You can play with anything you find until about Hell Act 2. And then you discover that all your gear lacks resistance, crit, and IAS, mainly resistance, because the game simply doesn’t drop any gear with those affixes until sometime later in the game.

    All of this should have been caught and fixed in alpha testing. But yet here we are, a year plus into the retail beta test, and nothing has been done about it.

    • Oh… and the soon to be released console version probably has the same issue. Buyers beware.

    • “Should have been fixed ?”

      I think it was intended. The first time players of every class simply want to have a blast by upping dps…

      When they arrive in Hell suddenly other factors play a role.

      I am sure it works as intended.

      • Since these are all personal stories and recollections and thus not necessarily true for the majority of players maybe the complaints are not valid. But if they are, and Hell is indeed more dangerous for a character than Inferno, how in the name of F*** can you say it’s working as intended?

        Please keep my first sentence in mind but if these complaints are true it is yet another great fail by the game designers. Because difficulty should always move in one direction as you progress through the >difficulties< (hence the name lol) of the game. And that direction is 'up'. Sure, when you are in Inferno and gather gear and experience the game will get easier again. But prior to that point this should not happen.

  5. @ “Hell monsters are much less damaging and dangerous than Inferno ones and it’s quite easy to get well above the DPS curve in Hell, moving right into the “one shot all trash range” with some cheap 800 DPS reduced level requirement item. The problem isn’t killing, it’s dying. Unless you totally splurge on -req armor (which feels like a crazy expense for just 6 or 8 levels of use), your EHP is going to suck sub level 60.”

    This, and very good article! My brand-new HC Witch Doctress (56) is facing exactly the same challenge now in Act 2 Hell. I’m going to fight my way up to the beginning of Act 4 on my own, though, and just ask my friends to cheese me past all Hell act bosses, and the whole 4th act which is waaaay OP for a 50’s HC character.

    • That being said, I can only recommend to buy as much All Res/Physical Res/Socket(s) gear as possible (instead of the obscenely expensive -Req gear in HC).

    • My last DH died at 52 to Hell Belial, so beware that particular damage spike. He one-shotted me from 24k hps, though it was partially my fault for going ahead to do him on MP1 since the rest of act 2 had been so overly easy, and I didn’t respec skills or put an amy in my hat.

      But that’s kind of the point; you get lulled into blasting through with your big DPS, and then run into one enemy in 500 with some danger on the damage output and you’re not prepared.

      • Jup. I’m at 38K HP now though, ~300 all res and the full arsenal of crowd control skills the WD has, so that shoouldn’t be a problem with the DPS help from my paragon friends. ^^

  6. Hi,

    I created my first HC char a few days ago, a barb. I have been playing SC since the beginning. This experience served me well, but I wish I could have seen your post a few hours before, as a reminder before starting Hell.
    I killed Hell Belial in co-op just one hour ago. All the act was cleared quickly as we had good dps, but I saw my life at 50% more often that I would have liked on some average pulls .
    I also thought I would die once when I got alone, looking for the exit of Desolate sands. I run back quickly to the group at 30% life, with potion and leap on CD followed by 4 or 5 packs of the kind of things you find there, one of them being elite.

    As I noticed the change already at the beginning of the act2, I luckily had invested in higher armor / vita and especially @res. Good to notice : the first @res stuff you get brings a lot of damage reduction (20% at 70, 30% at 120…)

    I’m now 56 and will probably grind act the ramparts until 60.

  7. I dont get it, this game is so easy after all the nerfs, I only have 1 HC char, a 60 monk that cleared inferno, how do people die on mp0?

  8. What does “EHP” mean?

  9. It’s certainly my experience too that Hell is the most danagerous difficulty in terms of losing characters, but that’s only because as soon as my character hits 60 I load them up with good budget gear from the AH. It would be a much different story without the AH (or twinking) I’m sure.

    I think there are two elements to this. Firstly all the item level 62 and 63 items create a huge gap between levels 59 and 60. However there is also the aspect that people don’t bother so much upgrading for every level between 50 and 60 so there’s not much of a market for these items and people don’t generally bother selling either. There’s a saturation of good quality items for level 60s but not nearly the same range for lower levels.

  10. Played a selffounf barb. He is in inferno no. Konly got slowed down cause i dint had a good dps weapon. Was playing mp10 then quickly had to go down to 0 in nigtmare due to low dps. Selffound was really fun and i will play like that again. Just move realllllyyyy slow in hell if you are undergeared and know how to kite or have an exit nearby. Ps if you want a boost add veromor#1285

  11. I lost 3 characters in Hell. 54, 57 and yes 59.5 …

    No DC. Just me getting to excited to go to 60 and all that gear.

    Some hints: I mostly played self found and stocked older good gear. This is an excellent way to play, but it no longer works in late Hell. You needs lots of resistence and life regen. And you can’t find that in early 50’s.

    The article was spot on: until Hell only dps counts (and exp gear if course), while in Hell it becomes a defensive race.

    The most dangerous place in my view is early Act 3. Great boost to experience … As long as you don’t meet multiple Elites. This combined with the fact you are so close to 60, makes the game very risky even with 500k res and 40k life.

    One waller and one beamer on too small stairs and you’ll be dead in about 3 seconds … With 50’er gear.

    Once you are 60 your first task is to get to 600 res, 30 kdps and life generation and you’ll be fine in Act1-2 Inferno. Armor and and Res should go to 70% damage reduction with classes like Monks or Barbarian.

    It is a relief to find a constructive and good post without attracting the usual hate trolls. Curious these hate guys don’t show up in game play articles. Logical.

  12. It’s one of the reasons I switched back from HC only (and selffound only) to SC/HC again (still selffound though) – I met packs and bosses, where I couldn’t have foreseen the spike in damage dealt or dps needed and where there was no way for me to get out. Now I’m trying to explore the difficulty spikes in SC to prevent other unavoidable HC deaths.

    I was breezing through Hell Act II even with mediocre – if not outright bad – gear and 25k life, but Belial one-shot me with his lightning strike because I had no FRW and couldn’t get away fast enough… 😛

    Curious, how difficult Inferno will turn out to be…

    • Belial can still happily one shot you on Inferno, but with better gear you can get above the dps curve pretty well and kill him before he had time to prove too dangerous. I recently did him with a new hc monk at about P25 with around 65k dps and was shocked how quickly he died. Before he even got to the all out green screen attack wave, which I was a bit worried about, going in.

      • Yeah, I think the DPS is really what’s crippling if you play without the AH…no way to acquire insane lowered requirement items…my dps is 4k in Act III hell :p Guess I have to do some grinding first before entering Inferno…I’m curious if tournaments like the SPF does in D2 could work at all in D3 (most of the time meaning: single pass, self-found HC). Have to wait till I get to Inferno to get an answer to that, I guess 🙂

  13. I’m trying to get into hardcore. I’m broke, starting from pretty much scratch, and have no level 60’s to carry me or anything.

    I recently did an experiment involving skills where, except for passives, I picked skills as they were unlocked by leveling, forcing myself to use those skills until a new skill came out.

    I also constantly buy gear from the AH to try to be as strong as I can afford to be. When I’m buying pieces for no more than 50k each, though, I don’t really have exceptional gear. Sometimes I get lucky and find something good that’s priced low, but nothing really awesome.

    My Witch Doctor died at level 49 to Nightmare Diablo. The shadow witch doctor did zombie bears (which I didn’t even have yet) and almost oneshot me, and I couldn’t run away from diablo long enough to potion. My gear felt weak and I was worried going in that I wouldn’t make it, but the amount of damage those zombie bears did to me was ridiculous.

    My Monk died at 50. Although she had completed Nightmare and killed Diablo once at 49, she was running it again to get to level 50 to enter Hell difficulty. Although she dinged, I was going to kill Diablo again just because. A group of mallet lords with a fast mod on them smacked her around real quick. There was no chance or time to run away.

    My Demon Hunter died at 53. This was to champion spiderlings in Hell difficulty, Caverns of Araneae. I think it was one of those frozen + desecrator combo where you’re stuck standing in damage and can’t even potion, much less move, and you die before you can do anything. At that particular level she didn’t have a CC breaker either (cause of my skill experiment.)

    My Wizard died at 55, to a Lacuni Stalker pack in Desolate Sands Hell. Three player game with 2 afk’s, mostly died because I got surrounded and couldn’t get out and had no help. Survival gear was a little on the weak side and I was doing a lot of kiting since the other two players weren’t helping. When I got swarmed and surrounded, that was it.

    My Barbarian was the only character to make it to 60, paragon level 1 even, but then died to an Arcane Sentry. I can’t remember but I’m pretty sure some form of CC or waller was involved as well. I think it was in Inferno but I’m not sure. But again, being poor, I really felt like my gear was not up to par.

    I’m starting over, one of each class again, but this time I’m going with the most popular skills, using a site that shows statistics on how many people use each rune/skill. I feel more confident about surviving, but my gear is even weaker than before, although when I get to the upper 30’s and higher I’ve got some leftover gear I hadn’t auctioned yet from my previous attempt.

    My goal is to beat inferno on hardcore with one of every character class.

  14. Ugh…just lost a my HC Barb about 30 seconds after dinging 60. Stupid Arcane/Plague/Frozen in Act 4. WotB was sadly on cooldown.

  15. Good article! I had to level a new monk as I killed my very nice one 🙁

    I *did* buy new equipment every 2 levels between 50 and 60, I thought it was better to spend 2 million and stay alife then to do it all over again.I solo’d about 50% of 50-60, rest was powerlevel which is far less dangerous and cumbersome.

    Powerlevelling has it’s own risks though, exploding green goblins *cough*, fireballs in crater *couch*, fire grates *cogch cough*

  16. i have death with barb on level 59 50 % from lvl 60. rushing through the act 3 until rushed into 2 elite frozen packs. she will survived if i got wotb skilled

Comments are closed.