Andariel issues forth a cloud of poisonous gas…but what other issues does she have? Effective gas attacks are never seen again throughout the rest of the game, along with many ideas that are introduced in Act I. Click through below to see just how many concepts introduced in Act I are aborted or abandoned.
Act I, Andariel
Andariel makes a good, scary Act End boss. With scorpion tails protruding from her back, troll hair, and a grouchy attitude, she is the type of stripper you refrain from telling your little brother about. But it seems like some of the good ideas generated in her Act I region are forgotten about for the rest of the game. This week’s Slab covers an array of ideas that were only employed in Act I for some reason. The first involves Andariel’s most frightening feature of all: the ability to drop her stuff into cracks in the floor.
No matter where you look, you just cannot find other places in the ground to lose stuff. Thank god. Sure, there are the black depths of outer space in the Arcane Sanctuary of Act II and the River of Flame in Act IV, but those are sections where you have to kill something hovering over the obvious killjoy zone. Andariel can cram half her stuff into a lamp post just as she expires. There are times when you think the rug gobbles up her drops. Stuff falling into cracks may be an idea that is not all it’s cracked up to be where realism topples over fun gameplay. In Diablo 3, are those cliff goons from the first moments of the Gameplay Video going to haul their stuff with them as they get knocked over the ledge, or will they conveniently set it all down after making ESP premonitions about their exact time of falling to their deaths? I figure either way is bad. How about they don’t have treasure in the first place, but rather heightened experience rewards? Let your nerd rage flow in the comment section below.
Speaking of treasure, Andariel likes to drop gems, and she may be just about the only monster in the game (besides The Countess, also in Act I) who has a fondness for dropping specific things in a reliable fashion. Of course, we are not counting keys which are a silly gimmick added in later. I know Diablo likes to drop spider web sashes, and he will eventually drop an arachnid mesh for you, but this can take an unpleasantly long while. Did Blizzard intend other monsters to have reliable, predictable farming potential, but just forgot about it later? I do not know if Andariel’s gem drops are intentional or are a consequence of there being little else for her to drop in normal mode due to the small treasure class level at hand. In any case, the gems may be obsolete by today’s standards, but back in the early days, a normal gem was a friendly gesture. It makes you wonder if more of the monsters were meant to skew the item drop odds in a certain direction. More predictable drops are awesome because as it stands, farming in Diablo 2 yields a giant random mishmash of everything which leads to you impulsively picking up bits of every resource and needing to make lousy mule transfer games to deal with it all. If I am farming runes, or amulets, or daggers, I want there to be bosses who like to collect them for me, dammit. Of course, this would change the beloved Diablo 2 drop system substantially. Leave your raging opposing views in the comments below.
And speaking of monsters, it seems Act I is loaded with easy-to-kill female monsters. Sure, Act 3 has some blue and purple ladies hiding away in temples, but those things are rare. Is it just me, or is the game insinuating that girls are inferior, and Act I is a good place to break in new players by sending many unchallenging ladies to their deaths? Blood Raven is the first quest boss we encounter, and she is a piece of cake. Then we have The Countess, also an Act I breeze. These two noobs and Andariel herself are the only female bosses in the whole game, and they are pretty much easy fodder jammed into Act I. I may be looking too much into this, but it seems there is an ‘Act I is for sissy weak girls’ thing going on climaxing with Andariel. Actually, don’t talk about climaxing with Andariel in the comments section.
Andariel is also the only Act Boss to have a lair full of minions in there with her. Is she a lonely demon gal? Oh well, this anomaly is not too serious. Neither is the fact that Andariel is the only Act End boss with hair…However, she is also perhaps one of the only two monsters in the game with effective poison damage. Achmel the Cursed does not show up until the end of Act V. It is as though Blizzard forgot all about poison damage after Act I, and tried to jam it all into Achmel in desperation. Not only are there remedy potions to remove poison completely, but you can get poison length reduced by 75%. Poison does not even kill you at all, technically, as it only takes you down to 1 life point. Andariel was the only encounter where you had to worry about poison before Blizzard practically made it obsolete.
Another forgotten about aspect of the game is those secret sliding walls that reveal hidden rooms. There are, what, two of these in existence? It seems like a waste of memory space. I hope Blizzard hears me scratching my head at them. Act I is loaded with ideas that got forgotten about, like stamina, those secret doors, and the town portal set up after you kill Andariel…and only Andariel. And why is it that Andariel has -50% fire resistance wile no other boss has any such weaknesses? Though probably unintentional, Andariel is also the only boss whose special quest drop can be exploited and repeated every time you kill her provided you do not head for Act II. Too bad Blizzard didn’t keep this ‘mechanic’ consistent for the rest of the game, eh kids?
Finally, Andariel has an under appreciated fiery death animation that no other demon has (except for the Countess yet again, also in Act I). While the art is nothing that will change your life, it is nice to watch and makes you wonder why she gets this special treatment while later bosses simply deflate or puke up souls. When Andariel dies, a giant pillar of fire from the ceiling roasts her and spreads around making it burn a little if you rush in and grab her stuff too soon. Since you are weakened by her poison, this leads to meatier characters griefing by storming in there to take everything first. At last, I have found something from Act I that persists throughout the entire game…