March 25th 2014! New class, New level cap, new loot, new spells, and new zones/modes are all reasons to be excited for (and to purchase) the expansion. I however am not sold simply on new, newness fades, gameplay doesn’t, and the rigor i’ve found in th e beta has had me on my toes and engrossed more than D3V ever could. Brace yourselves Hardcore brethren, ROS is putting the hard back in hardcore.
Let’s face it, D3V had us loading up life steal and DPS and plowing through monsters left and right while not missing a beat. That has gone away in ROS in both mechanic and play style. Right now everything poses a challenge.
Elites now carry some powerful affixes and some more powerful health pools to keep those affixes causing trouble. You won’t find yourself getting one shot by any packs, but you can quickly find a massive amount of poison under your feet, while been walled into arcane beams. Now as you fight you see your health dip and you need to take action or watch pitfall more. I’ve never felt like it was dropping profusely but I have seen it trickle down to my demise while trying to fight my way out. Each death I’ve had in the beta i’ve had the opportunity to fight down to the last drop, and perhaps with better planning i would have survived. Where elites get real nasty are when you find more than one pack at the same time. In D3V this was never really a problems as you could blow through them rather quickly and move on to the next pack. With elite fights lasting much longer, the combination of 8 affixes can easily mean a retreat is in order to survive. I can only think of a few times i was able to take on more that one pack at the higher levels, and that was due to running away. Fighting elites in tight corners can prove to be especially dangerous now as it can be quite easy to find yourself walled in and whittled down with no escape route available.
Not that we farm bosses, after all this isn’t D2 but they appear for bounties and maybe you’re nostalgic for Azmodan’s soliloquies. Bosses pack one hell of a punch now and can be downright scary, especially since you are stuck in there with them. You know it’s a two men enter one man leaves situation, and you better be the victor. I’ve started avoiding these bounties just to be safe, I can run away from a bad pack, I lack that luxury in a boss fight. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the longer and challenging fights really offer no better reward than that of a elite and thusly the risk/reward nature of these encounters seems off. Had I knowledge that Belial had even a marginally better chance at a legendary I might be more prone to give it a shot.
When was the last time you carried about your life per second? Or even looked at a weapon with life after kill? Let’s face facts nothing will fill the void of life steal, nothing will have that easy button appeal, but if we are to survive we have to figure something out, and a healthy balance of life per second combine with life after kill and life on hit might just keep you afloat. None of them balloon up to a point where your health bar is topped off all the time but it’s about balancing what you can.
In tandem with that you become very cognizant of your health potion and when to use it. I’ve had several fights where I’ve had to use it a few times and been counting down the second where I could again. Health potions are now a valuable asset to keeping us alive and now come in legendary flavors with nice tricks to complement the healing such as: increased defense, resistance, and bursting through wallers blockades. Defeating packs now feels more like an accomplishment as opposed to a guarantee and I like it that way.
Oof this is a sore subject in closed beta. I’ve taken two crusaders to level 70 and on the way found a combined 5 legendaries. As legendaries are the creme of the crop this obviously hurts. This has had me scrambling to find the right combination of rares to make things work. My first crusader died because of my own urge to push harder content, and lack of good drops to help make that happen. I was pushing only 85k dps on hard, and should have dropped down to normal but did not do so. Being entirely self found makes it a lot harder to make these jumps to different difficulties and the current lack of legendary drops only exacerbates that situation.
However I am a bit torn on the drop rate. My current crusader is still wearing all rares and is pushing 300k dps, I know I could jump up and go for more glory (at greater risk), and i’m enjoying the slow build up for harder content but it all feels very familiar to the inferno plateau we saw in the beginning of D3V. If the drop rate for legendaries were tone scaled up just a little bit it might make this jump and the feeling of risk reward better and in turn gameplay as a whole.
As for game changing legendaries I’ve found only one and it was in the F&F beta. I don’t care for the term “game-changing”I like to think of it more as play altering. The flail I found granted wrath generating to sweep attack, so I was able to use a nice dog skill to generate wrath and open up some other options. It didn’t completely change the game, I didn’t insta kill packs but I was interested in changing my style to accommodate it. The 4k dps on the weapon didn’t hurt either.
I’d love to see that flail again but with the drops turned so low I know i’ll be farming for a long time. Which is the main problem I have with the loot system. I’m hindered by what I find, If i want to try a thorns set, I need to find every single piece of it. Which isn’t a problem with a decent drop rate, but feels like a pipe dream in it’s current state.
I’m still not sure what difficulty I should be farming and what one I want to be farming.Torment can be brutal if you’re under geared, while normal can be a breeze. You can hit packs on hard that make you want to jump to master or above,and quickly follow with a pack that almost ends your life. Unlike soft core we have to worry about death so it’s all about finding the middle ground that allows for effective loot farming in tandem with an acceptable level of risk of death. For me right now that level is between hard and expert with my sights set on master. However with the loot as is I have no real desire to push into anything that’s not really rewarding just yet.
Overall the patch (loot aside) is really good. The game is coming together well and March can’t come soon enough, a few more passes at drop rates couldn’t hurt though. Happy Hardcore Holidays and I’ll see you in the new year!
One Life to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. It is written by Xanth and published weekly. Post your comments below, Follow him on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly. For all the archived news about Diablo 3 hardcore check our Archives!