If you’re a regular listener of The Diablo Podcast you’ve heard The Eliminator talk about his experiences playing naked — which is one of the many reasons we record the podcasts with audio only, and not using our webcams. No… actually the “naked” refers to his characters in the beta, as until a patch or two ago, it was only by not equipping characters with weapons and armor could the extended tutorial that was the Diablo 3 beta be made challenging and interesting. Check TDP #54, , , and TDP #60 for some of his naked stories, amidst the other general beta and D3 discussion.
The naked necessity has grown less pronounced in recent weeks, as the last several Diablo 3 Beta patches have considerably increased the difficulty. In fact, The Eliminator wrote a shorter version of this article several weeks ago, then had to scrap it and redo the whole thing after Beta Patch 13 entirely reworked the skills and runestones system, as well as greatly increasing monster quantities and nastiness. Naked play was still viable there, and even with the difficulty increases in the brand new Beta Patch 15 (which mostly stem from undoing the “sumo suit” style player hit points boosts we got in Beta Patch 10), naked play is still a go, albeit a quite challenging one.
Enough of my intro though; here’s his long and quite detailed report on playing naked in the beta.
The Naked Truth
A phrase based off of a fable in which Truth and Falsehood go swimming. Falsehood gets out of the water first and puts on Truth’s cloths. Truth, not wanting to put on Falsehood’s clothes, stayed naked. A fable that fits quite well when talking about the Diablo 3 beta, and how not wearing anything might just give us a hint of what later difficulties might feel like. For now the truth is, the Diablo 3 beta is not hard, even when you play a “clean run.” ( A clean run is the first run through the game without any help via gear or other players.) Early on the game can be challenging, if and only if, you encounter a particular group of rare/ champion pack. But those times are fleeting.
In search for a real challenge, a lot of players have handicapped themselves. One such handicap is called a “naked run.” Although a naked run in real life can be an exhilarating (for some), it may land you in trouble. A naked run in the Diablo 3 beta has the same excitement with less legal ramification to worry about. So what does a naked run play like? Well, It plays like a completely different game.
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A luxury you don’t own
First lets talk about damage output. With gear you just melt enemies you encounter. This is exacerbated if you hand gear down from one character to another, and made even worse by the Artisans. (Your artisan’s level is set to the account, and thus a new character starts out well ahead of the curve.) Midway through a normal beta run, using found equipment, it generally takes 1-2 hits to take out trash mobs. This is not the case in a naked run. There you no longer feel like you are stomping on ants. Without gear it takes at least five hits to kill those same general baddies. Some times you feel like you’re hitting a bear with a baseball bat. Big monsters that would go down in three to four hits take nearly twenty. It can be a harrowing experience.
Needed two ways
As you progress through a naked run you will find yourself using health potions, since you take damage constantly, and health globes don’t drop after every kill. (Patch 14 added health globes to sub boss fights. Now they drop a health globe when they reach 50% life.) Most fights with rare/champion and sub bosses are games of hit and run. When you have gear health disappears as fast as ice cubes melt in a empty cup. You may only lose a small portion of your health from the biggest hits. Now pour a warm drink in that same cup, and that’s what its like with no gear. (A Monk at ninth lvl has 322 health no gear, with gear you can have more then 600 with out trying very hard.)
You can loss about a fourth of your life from a big hit, which makes health pots and their timer something to take into consideration before jumping into a deadly pack of monsters. This anxiety is heightened when playing a Hardcore character. After most fights you examine your health total and debate whether or not to use a health pot to top off your health. More often I choose to pop one just to be safe.
Rivers do run dry
Another thing to take into account is your resources. As we talked about on the a podcast, resource management isn’t much of an issue when you’re playing the beta normally. Their are times where you can run out of resource, but that’s because you spammed a skill. It’s different naked, since your damage output is so much lower that you must use your stronger skills to deal useful damage.
As a result, each class plays differently as the dev team said they would. The Barbarian is designed to move from combat to combat as quickly as possible to avoid his Fury draining off. The Wizard, on the other hand, does not have that urgency since their Arcane Power regenerates very quickly.
Not just for show
That leads us to skills. In a normal run it really doesn’t matter what skills you take. The early defensive skills are largely ignored, since they aren’t needed. They are when you’re naked, though. You need those defensive skills all the time, to mitigate damage or escape from a tight spot. Skills like Ground Stomp and Blinding Flash become life savers. Naked Barbs and Monks often find themselves surrounded, and a quick Stomp or Flash is the only thing that can give them an escape option.
Playing naked, combat evolves past “pew pew pew.” It becomes immersive and keeps you on your toes. This leads to some very tense moments when faced with specific types of monsters, as I’ll detail shortly.
Change is good
Runes change skills in major ways. You wouldn’t think that just adding leaping to your spider would make that much of a difference, but it certain does. Skill that were Average Joes without runes became Mighty Joe with new effects enabled. Skills like the aforementioned Corpse Spiders (this skill needs a name change, the only thing it now has in common with corpses is that it makes your enemies into them. I say they change it to Jar of Spiders) is among the best spells now due purely to the Leaping Spiders rune effect.
Other skills of note include Bola Shot with Volatile Explosives (which came in at level 8 in patch 12, but has since been raised to level 14 in patch 14), and Shock Pulse with Explosive Bolts, which immediately becomes the Wizard’s best CC skill. These two skills greatly benefited from the runes change.
Beware of Monster
Early in a naked run, the most dangerous event is an elite or champion pack of scavengers. They have been the death of a few of my naked heroes, especially if they have the frozen enhancement. Its a terrible feeling to see them run at you. You know you are not getting away. The best thing you can do is stay alive for as long as you can and deal enough damage to try and take some with you.
Another group that can lead to problems are the packs of the Unburied monsters, since they have tons of health and hit hard. The last time I fought a pack I was playing a Monk and had Crippling Wave, Mantra of Evasion, and Cyclone Strike; a good group of skills for taking out large packs, but not so good at taking out big hit point monsters. I spent four minutes fighting them throughout the dungeon, even using two chandeliers killing a Grotesque as a bomb, all while spamming Mantra of Evasion every three seconds, plus drinking a health pot every time the cooldown ran out. I can assure you that no non-naked character has ever endured a battle like that during the Beta test.
The Artist and his Canvas
With Beta Patch 14 came the option to create Hardcore characters. Normally I don’t play hardcore, but in the beta, why not? What did I really have to loss? A level 8 character? A hour of play? It was a chance I was willing to take.
I picked a Monk and started the run. What happened was interesting. The easy first few minutes didn’t feel any different, but by the time I set food in the Weeping Hollow, I started to feel some fear. I thought to myself, what will I do if a pack of elite scavengers are in here? Will I survive? Do I have the right skill to defeat them?
I found myself scouting areas as I advanced, and making sure my escape routes were clear. All went well until I came across the rarely-spawning The Den of the Fallen dungeon. It’s dangerous — I’d found numerous champion packs in there in other games, and now that I was Hardcore I thought to myself, “this might be a very bad idea.”
I sent in anyway. No guts no glory, right?. I got lucky. I didn’t run into any rare or champion scavengers. But the fact that I was worried says something. Isn’t that the reason why people play Hardcore in the first place? That feeling of what could be around the next corner could kill you.
A True Challenge
The most challenging part of the game for a naked character is the trapped chest room sometimes found on Cathedral level 4. Characters with good gear can abuse this for absurd kill streaks, but without equipment on, it’s a whole different challenge.
In a game with a non-Hardcore Barbarian, I was looking for a challenge and I wasn’t about to shy away just cause I knew it was going to be hard. I clicked on the chest and watched it sink into the floor like a turtle’s head. Up came the four pillars (called Gate Keepers), and at once they began spawning skeletons, archers and shield bearers. I tried to take down a Gate Keeper as fast as I could but the archers turned my Barb into a pin cushion.
I respawned at the last checkpoint, ran back to the battle, and spent the next several minutes trying to get back into the room. I couldn’t do it; playing naked I literally could not kill the skeletons faster than they were spawning. Worse, I had to keep retreating due to the archers. I retreated to town to regroup and rebuild, and tried again with a different set of skills. I did better, but still not enough to turn back the tide of bones that I collided with each time I pushed into the door way.
After that I changed my attack (and skills) and I no longer cared about dying — I knew the only way I was going to beat this trap was to just focus on taking out the Gatekeepers, even if I died in the process. I jumped in with Leap and started to pound away on the pillar with Hammer of the Ancients, after using Ground Stomp to stun the mass of skeletons that were near the pillar. I destroyed it at the cost of my life, but that was mission accomplished, and after I respawned I did the same thing to a second Gatekeeper.
I felt good that I was making headway; unfortunately I went from happiness to sadness for when I jumped on to the third Gatekeeper I attracted the attention of an elite Carrion Bat who I hadn’t even seen as he was in the next room over. Him and his buddies blinked into the room and joined the battle, which greatly slowed my progression. I didn’t give up though, and after all said and done, it took me near ten minutes to clear out the entire room. It was by far the best feeling I have had while playing the beta. I had found something truly challenging and overcome it.
A taste of things to come
Playing the game with no gear (and no companion) in the beta could be a close comparison to the higher difficulties. For those that all think its too easy, I suggest you give it a try. If you really like to sit on the edge of your seat, try a naked hardcore run. For me, when the final game arrives I might start out playing naked and only add gear when I absolutely need it. This will keep the game entertaining through the “accessible” part.
Thanks to The Eliminator for his contribution. Opinions expressed in guest articles are those of their authors, and not necessarily those of Diablo.IncGamers.com. If you have a topic you’d like to write on, as a guest article or a regular column, contact Flux.