After a brief hiatus, I’m happy to be back in Sanctuary fighting for my survival in Hardcore. Since the beta dropped I’ve gone hands on with the one thing we most dread having to do..level a character. In fact in the time since the beta launched I’ve actually leveled three characters.One by choice, One by death, and one by accident and each time I learned something new.
I chose to jump into the Crusader due to my love of the Paladin from d2 and my curiosity for a tanky class in hardcore. The process from 1-59 seemed rather quick. I found the act one bounties to be the quickest to farm and the easiest way to level quickly. Something I would find myself emulating later on. Rifts were/are exciting but I couldn’t beat the quickness and effectiveness of bounties. I found myself settling on hard difficulty as normal was easy and master too difficult, hard was the happy medium. As I continued onward to sixty I didn’t notice the lack of life steal, as I wasn’t missing it on a new character. I did notice however that I wasn’t steamrolling through content even with some of the hand me down gear I had stashed away. I found myself while leveling quickly marveling at how the pace of the game seems to have changed. As I was pushing on to 60 I hit a nasty pack in tight corners and met my demise sadly too soon, and bubble shy of 60. So close, yet so far from 70.
Determined to make it work again I set back on the trek to 70. Again I went the route of straight bounties not making time to dawdle in rifts or anything else. Having lost my hellfire ring and hand me down weapons I was at a loss to quickly gear from my stash, however the drops in game were quite enough to make up for it. I then ptsd to quickly clear my stash of all the clutter I had been hanging on to since it was quite apparent I wasn’t ever going to use any of the relics from D3V that I had used in previous leveling journeys. The game was just provide ding better gear then I had saved. Which in turn makes starting back up a bit better. I also was able to pick up some legendaries along the way that made leveling not only quicker but more fun as I was continual wondering what I might get next. I managed to play a few games with Neinball and Flux and the leveling did pick up a bit but it still felt like I could be more effective leveling solo as I could quick jump to each bounty and not have to wait for others to join in.
As my crusader was close to sixty I made a foolish choice to reimport my characters to get my WD back after losing him too quickly on day 1. That import wiped out my crusader and sent me back on my journey yet again. This time I had a good handle on the class and how to play and had my nice leveling hellfire ring to use as well. The crusader’s god beam had also been nerfed so I was free to deviate from that spell and try new things. Once more I set out on bounties, sticking mainly to act one but branching out here and there for some diversity. The levels seemed to stack up quicker this time around, perhaps due to familiarity with the process, and in what seemed like a short amount of time I made it to the top of the mountain to 70 where the real fun begins.
After all the leveling I can say it is a much less tedious process that in D3V. Each time I was trying new builds and skills, getting new gear and not simply burning through content to reach the end. Sure I wanted to hit 70, but I actually enjoyed the trip there as opposed to in D3v where the only thing you wanted was a rush from a friend. The non-linear structure also helped avoid the dead zone and the feeling of dread when stepping into hell with a level 51. Leveling now seems doable and far less tedious than it used to and it’s hard to say that’s not a good thing for hardcore.
Along the way to 70 some things became apparent that seem to shake up our mode. Health globes are still there but seem to be either feast or famine. I’ve found myself saving health globes in certain points in case I need to run back. As health bars have amped up so much( mine’s 600k) having 1000 life on hit just isn’t enough to keep you going in tight corners. The lack of life steal shakes up the way you play and in someways it’s refreshing though it’s hard not to miss the easy button. I also noticed that with the expanded health pools your health isn’t dropping nearly as fast as what it did in D3V so you can maneuver a bit to get out of those bad spots. That’s not to say death is 100& avoidable but you strategize a bit and fight it out as opposed to just succumbing to death. I’ve found myself kiting more packs than I ever did pre-xpac and felt far more victorious wiping them out after a hard fought battle. I’ve had to use all skills on my bar several times just to stay afloat but it was much better than simple spamming one. With packs having a greater punch escape skills and death cheats really feel like a necessity as opposed to over gearing content to avoid using them.
As always I welcome your questions about hardcore in ROS either post them below or find me on twitter at @HCxanth and I’ll get back to you!