When Blizzard announced the new Monster Power system in Patch 1.0.5 I was interested in the effects on end game play and level 60 characters, but I was also very curious about how the system would work during leveling up. Therefore, as soon as the PTR was stable and accessible, I got on and tried out my main level 60 with some MFing on Monster Power 1, but also created a new character and tried leveling up with the Monster Power on 10. It was awesome, and this article will attempt to explain why.
I’m not sure why I was so interested in trying that out; like most of you guys I’m playing mostly Softcore in Diablo III, which means I made one of each character and saw no reason to ever reroll any of them. Literally; I have one of each character with a Wizard, Barb, and DH at 60, and a Monk and WD at around 50 who I’ve abandoned until some later date. I do have one living Hardcore character, a Demon Hunter who is level 45, but I haven’t played her since before v1.04, and besides, level 45 might as well be level 15, since as we all know, the game doesn’t really start until level 60 anyway… or does it?
It does if all you care about is end game loot grinding, which would seem to put you in with the majority of Diablo III players, at least judging by the comments and forum threads we see on this site and on Battle.net. But it doesn’t have to (just) be that way. You can play the game for fun, pursue variant builds and variety, work at Hardcore, seek achievement completion, and more. And you might even enjoy rerolling, to try out different skills against easier monsters, to experience the leveling up process with a different build, or to twink a new character to the gills and watch them frogstomp all who stands before them.
And now that you can reroll on Monster Power 10, adding hugely to the hit points of all of your enemies, all of those rerolling adventures are all the more fun. Mine was, at least. Click through for screenshots of note, funny stories, and more.
Rerolling and Twinking in Diablo II vs. Diablo III
In contrast to my Diablo III experience, I played exclusively Hardcore in Diablo II, at least for a few years during the height of the game’s early popularity. I raised numerous HC characters to level 90+ in D2X v1.09 and v1.10, so I wasn’t dying often, and I obviously didn’t enjoy it when I did, but I didn’t entirely hate it either, since death (or just boredom/stagnation with a particular class/build, in those variety-rich days before the 10-char limit of D3) meant I got to reroll. And that was fun since with good gear, good strategy, and full public games, I could level up really fast.
In v1.09, before the creation of the Players X command, you either needed a lot of friends, or you needed to join public games. Or both, as I knew a good bunch of Hardcore players who usually had a private game or two running, and in the 2001-2005 time range, HC public games hadn’t yet been ruined by PKs using hacks.
Everyone played in public games in D2 since that game offers numerous incentives to party up and multiplayer. You could name games and specify what you wanted to do, most classes had awesome shared skills that granted huge bonuses to hit points or damage or other offensive powers, but the best bonus from playing in a game with other players were the changes to monsters — your enemies had more hit points, but they also dropped a lot more items and were worth a lot more experience. This was probably the most basic and obvious feature of MP gaming in Diablo II, and in some ways it’s amazing that we’re still waiting for the Diablo III devs to rediscover it in their endless, Quixotic search for ways to encourage more MP gaming in D3.
So, there I was (many, many times) with a new level 1 HC character, ready to race back to the top. Unlike D3, D2 wasn’t almost absurdly easy through all of Normal difficulty, but it wasn’t exactly challenging either. Playing in a larger game could increase the difficulty a bit, but mostly it just meant you had to beat on the monsters for a bit longer before they died. I had a system, of course. On one of my mule accounts I had a TwinkMule, who was simply there to hold every sort of handy item for use from level 1-18 or so. A variety of weapons, charms, leech rings, good sets and uniques with low level requirements, and more. Since there was no shared stash in D2 I had to get a friend to hold the game, but most HC players were happy to help each other out, so it wasn’t hard to find someone to hold the game while I dropped off a bunch of loot, joined with my new character, grabbed the stuff, and was ready to roll.
The key to twinked gear in D2 was much as it is in D3; damage from a weapon, +stats from gear, etc. The biggest difference in Diablo II was that you needed +mana gear, and especially mana leech. If you replay D2 now without twinks, you’ll be amazed at how scarce mana is until you get some decent gear. You’ve got to use strategy to manage your resource, using just basic Attack or Throw quite a bit of the time, saving your skill(s) for burst or AoE damage, managing your mana potions, etc. On the other hand, once you’ve got some decent mana leech, a mana pool, and good damage, you can rock out (depending on your class, of course).
You don’t have those hurdles to clear in Diablo III since the skills are meant to be spammed from level 1, but twinking has much the same objective; to gear your low level character up so they can start kicking ass much more quickly. And on Monster Power 10 that’s a very fun experience.
You don’t get bonus item drops, and you wouldn’t much care if you did with Diablo III’s “every item is obsolete 10 levels later” item system design, but you get mad experience, and it’s just a lot of fun to know what you’re doing (unlike back in May and June when you were first leveling up) while pounding on monsters with 3 or 4x the usual hit points.
Demon Hunting the Fatties
For my experiment with Monster Power on v1.0.5 on the D3 PTR, I went with a Demon Hunter. I did not base my choice on based on a detailed evaluation or the relative strengths and weaknesses of the classes, on what I had to twink, on the skills that are newly changed in the patch, or anything else. I just enjoy playing the DH the most, especially in the early going (getting Vault at level 9 while still wearing slow-run boots is almost an orgasmic experience) and I was doing this to test, and to have fun.
I recommend that you employ similar “logic” in making your own class selection.
Sadly, my experiment was not quite perfect; I tried the level 1 Demon Hunter right from the start, the first day the PTR was accessible, and when I didn’t see any way to set the Monster Power at the start, I played the first couple of quests, up to level 5, without enabling it. At that point, after rescuing Cain, I exited the game and hunted around a bit and then started cursing when I found the Monster Power check box hidden in the same Options menu where they hid the Elective Mode.
Once I found that I tried out Monster Power 1 on Inferno, in the article I mentioned earlier. Not until the next day did I have time to play again, and at that point I went back to my level 5 DH, set the Monster Power to 10, and headed down to meet Haedrig’s Wife. It was different.
The zombies in the cellar weren’t too tough as they don’t exactly move around, but I started laughing when it took me 6-8 shots each to kill them. I was using a short bow that dealt something like 9.5DPS, and in a normal solo game those zombies would have been dropping in 2 or 3 shots at most. The real surprise was Mira Eamon though, as she chased me all the way down the hallway, through the cellar, and halfway back to the front doors, spitting her green acid attack that I was hardly even aware she had (having never seen it more than once per battle) about 10 times and nearly killing me with it twice.
“Okay,” I thought. “That was different.” Haedrig didn’t call me a pussy or anything, but I could sense some confusion from him. Or perhaps he felt better? Finally, some hero didn’t just detonate his zombie wife in .2 seconds while he banged away, ineffectually, wi’ ‘es bloo’y ‘um-marh!
The Early Slowing Going
I next headed out to the Weeping Hollow, almost worried. Not so much about death, but if I’d had to kite from fricking Mira Eamon, WTF would a boss pack of Grotesques do to me?
I found out soon. They’d chase me damn near back to Diablo 2!
The slow motion zombies were no danger, not with a ranged attacker and their slow foot speed. It took a lot of arrows, though, and I was soon very glad that Diablo III’s ranged attacks don’t require arrows or bolts. I advanced slowly and cautiously, making extensive use of Entangling Arrow with Hungering Arrow for my main attack. It improved with the first rune effect once I hit level 6, and I added on Caltrops for more defensive help, which I needed. Really needed!
Seriously, every pack of vomiting zombies, Scavengers, or Grotesques — any spawn point with hordes of zombies coming up out of the ground at once — even those stupid crawling torsos that *leap* out of the bushes… I was kiting from all of them. Retreating, firing, Caltroping, Entangling Arrowing, etc. I’m talking first time in Inferno type retreating, except the monsters were slow and not very dangerous… just very slow to kill.
More than once I was reminded of The Eliminator talking about his naked runs during the Diablo III beta. I never tried those since I’ve never been a fan of gimping myself (via bad gear, bad skills, no skills, etc) just to make a game challenging. I like to play my char as well as I can play them but have some way for the game itself to still be challenging. I love the difficulty selection options right from the start on Torchlight 2, and I like the Diablo III Monster Power system for the same reason.
I leveled up quickly in the Weeping Hollow, though. At first I wasn’t quite sure how much difference the MP10 was making. After all, you always level up pretty quickly at that point, and I’d dashed through the early areas and Cathedral 1 so I was a level lower than usual anyway. I hit level 6 right after I started it, and then got to 7, and 8, and by the time I hit level 9, and I still hadn’t even gotten to the cemetery areas, and hadn’t had the Den of the Fallen either, the level gain started to seem crazy. I dinged to 10 in the first Crypt, and by the time I was back to town and then on to the Cathedral, I was level 11.
If you’ve not played from the start in a while, or didn’t do it fifty times during the beta, let me remind you that reaching level 10 before the Skeleton King, without replaying areas, is very unusual. You’ve got to do full clears with +experience gear, and get lucky spawns of extra dungeons, and even then you might still just be level 9. If you hurry through you’ll probably be level 7 or 8. And here I was, on MP10, at level 11 and not even close to the Skeleton King’s level yet. And I had ZERO +exp gear, and zero twinks. (Which is part of the reason I had to kite so much, and part of the reason I was having so much fun.)
This is the ironic part.
I’d copied over my account to the PTR, so I had all of my level 60 characters, my full stash, etc. But since I’d already made one character of each class, and they were all level 50+, I didn’t have anything to twink! I was surprised to realize it, but as I searched my stash and my mule character I soon realized that I had almost nothing usable before level 40, with at least 90% of my stored gear sitting on a level 60 requirement.
This is a natural state of affairs in the D3 “no reason to reroll” design, but I hadn’t realized until then just how utterly I’d depleted my stores of low level gear. I had literally nothing to equip before level 6, and at that point it was just a few old +2-4 damage rings. (And I could have just bought those from the town NPC with my new character.) I didn’t even have any Normal crafting materials, since I’d long since churned those to make more room in the stash!
I did have two twinking resources… gems, and gold. Of course gems were useless without socketed items, and there aren’t any of those until Act Two-ish. And gold was useless since there is no gambling in Diablo III, the low level crafting requires materials and there aren’t any good weapons to craft until ever, and the NPCs hardly ever sell any weapons that are better than what you find, and not until level 8 or 10.
As a result I found my new character with plenty of gold he couldn’t spend, stacks of gems he had nothing to socket into, and a stash full of awesome equipment he couldn’t use for 50 levels.
The real irony is that I’d have done better playing Hardcore! I never died, I was never really in danger of dying, and while I have only played one Hardcore character since the beta, I saved up everything good she found to use on other future HC characters. I don’t have the high end gear or big gems in Hardcore, but I couldn’t use any of that stuff anyway!
The twinked rings did help a bit, if only by letting me save time shopping to buy their equivalent, and to my delight I found one old rare bow on my mostly-forgotten mule. It wasn’t a very good item, but it was better than anything I was likely to find at that point, and more to the point… it had a socket, and I had a stack of Star Rubies! Sadly, the bow had a level 18 requirement, so I figured I’d never even get to use it, since I was only going to play Act One and maybe a bit further. You’re unlikely to get past level 15 or 16 through Act One under normal circumstances… but then again, MP10 is far from a normal circumstance.
It Gets Better
Things started to get really fun in the Cathedral. Every Skeleton Summoner was a challenge, and when I got 3 or 4 at a time, it was crazy. Ever run from skeletons on Normal? Play MP10 and you’ll get the chance. Not that they’re exactly dangerous, but when their sumoners are spawning them twice as fast as you can kill them, it gets fun. Retreat, kite, CC, consider dashing past to try to take out the Summoner before you get swarmed… rinse and repeat.
The bone pillars room on the way to Leoric’s level was equally awesome, and I had to back all the way out to the ghost theater and turn the corner to thin out the skeletons a bit. It took me 2 or 3 tries to work into the room and try to kill off a pillar, before waves of skeletons drove me back again.
At that point I was level 11 or 12, I’d bought two one-handed xbows with about 13.6DPS each, I was like 5 levels above the standard exp curve, I had a passive skill, I had not just Rapid Fire but the first rune effect to add more fire damage to it, and I *still* couldn’t kill summoners or boss monsters without repeatedly retreating and CCing!
It was so fun.
Update: Some commenters insist it’s been in since v.1.03, but I’d never seen it since it was there but inaccessible in the months after launch. So just luck of the random level generator, I guess.
One new piece of v1.0.5 content I saw, in addition to the surprise encounter with Odeg the Keywarden in the Fields of Misery, was The Lyceum. This quest dungeon has been unavailable thus far in Diablo III, due to a bug. The dungeon entrance is sometimes visible in the Southern Highlands, but it’s never accessible.
Until v1.0.5, since the bug is fixed and you can now enter the dungeon and do the quest. It’s got some new stuff, too. New Cathedral-style architecture, new monster encounters with four summoner Cultists (who chain-summon Berserkers!), a special Unique boss, and lots of loot. (Several more screenshots from within The Lyceum can be seen in the gallery at the end of this article.)
It’s nothing all that different from the rest of Act One, but just being able to enter a new area was awesome, after I’ve seen everything else in the game so many times already.
I could describe more of the next levels, but you probably get the idea by now. Even with my character several levels above the experience curve and sporting decent gear from NPC shopping and crafting, the killing rate remained considerably slower than usual. If you only find Diablo III (or any video game) fun when you’re overpowered and slaughtering the enemies, then MP10 on a new character is probably not for you. But if you enjoy a different challenge and some variety in a game you already know, then I strongly recommend it.
My DH hit level 18 around Leoric’s Manor, and at that point things changed a lot. I was able to use my twinked bow, which was nice, and it had a socket, which was awesome. Instantly my damage went from something like 70DPS to around 180DPS and suddenly the monsters weren’t much tougher than usual. At that point, maybe 5 levels above the curve, with a twinked bow and a big gem, MP10 felt about like that area does playing solo in v1.04… though realize that would be with a character of about level 13, with non-twinked gear.
The experience gain continued to roll in crazy fast, and I leveled to 20 even before the Butcher, (who took a long time to kill, but wasn’t that dangerous to survive since I was so overleveled) and dinged to 21 almost immediately once I got into Act Two. At that point I found a hat with a socket, stuck a Ruby into it, and the experience seemed to continue flowing quite well, though I didn’t get time to play the character again before the recent patch update wiped all characters from the PTR.
I’m curious how the experience gain continues, now. I assume that at some point the Monster Power doesn’t keep boosting your experience, since you must get too overleveled. You’re not going to hit level 60 in like, Act Four Nightmare… are you? Or could you? My DH was like 8 levels over the curve by early Act Two, and I playing without any +experience gear during all of Act One. I might have been level 22 or 23 in Act One with a lot of +exp gear and a socketed helm… so could you get to level 30+ just in Act Two, effectively putting you two acts ahead of the experience curve?
It’ll be interesting when the patch goes live and everyone can test it out; I imagine some Hardcore players, with their rerolling skills and twinks and persistence, will yield some interesting infos about just how fully the Monster Power system can be abused to rise above the experience curve.
Even if you’re not Hardcore or accustomed to rerolling in D2 or D3, you should give it a try; the monsters having so many more hit points make the experience interesting and different, even on top of the mega experience boost.