Thursday, May 17, 2012

D3 Marathon - Day 2


This post contains potential spoilers if you haven't yet finished Act 2. I will have a special spoilers section at the bottom of the post. Be warned!

For my second day of playing Diablo 3 (and my first full day), I was a little disappointed to find out that my total play time was only 13 hours 40 minutes. This means that on my first full day I only managed 8 hours. I was hoping for at least 10. It's really weird because I thought I played more than just 8 hours. I guess real life managed to intrude on my play time more than I intended. But that's all right. I feel rested and ready to start the battle anew.

Performance metrics
At the end of these 13 hours 40 minutes, my Demon Hunter is in Act 3, right after the first quest. He's level 26. While yesterday I finished the game with 30K gold, I now have 108K gold.

It's not a huge amount by any stretch of the imagination but most of it is from drops. I didn't do much on the Gold Auction House. I did spend a few thousand on a couple of additional vendor rings and amulets which had some nice stats on them. These are a decent investment because I can pass them on to my other characters. I also grudgingly spent my first 10K enlarging my shared stash because it was a pain in the ass to switch between characters a dozen times to transfer items.

While at the end of the first day my DPS was 70, after the second day it reached 228.64 with Steady Aim, or 190.53 without.

As you can see, I even changed my banner. I regret not taking a screenshot when I was in Act 2 because I liked the background more.

Once you get to Act 2 you will start seeing a lot more rares. I found so many rares that at one point I was just vendoring the crappy ones because they had bad stats on them and putting them on the GAH would have wasted a precious slot. I did save a bunch of them which I'm now wearing (including some sweet Demon Hunter 1H crossbows) and sent many of them to my other characters. Check out this sweet puppy below.

And here's another nice rare pair of gloves. It kinda mixes Strength with Dexterity but it's still pretty good for my Demon Hunter.

Yes, rares are a lot more abundant from Act 2 onward and I've had several occasions where 2-3 of them dropped in close succession from random monsters.

Apart from rares, you can also look forward to socketed items and gems. I already have a nice collection of chipped gems. Protip: don't waste gold combining gems with your Jewelcrafter. Just buy them from the GAH. Much cheaper that way. In fact, check the gem prices for the various qualities and you might find that you can turn a profit by simply selling chipped gems and then buying the desired quality from the AH.

Characters and followers
I won't spoil it for you at this point but there's an old NPC friend that you will meet again in Act 2. Apart from that, I now have access to all the followers, the third being the Enchantress, also encountered in Act 2. I am still enjoying the Scoundrel. He's barrels of laughs. His dialogue is priceless. Check out this little tidbit below.

It might not seem much but the deadpan way in which my Demon Hunter delivered that "No" had me falling off my chair laughing. Suffice to say that the Scoundrel is a womanizer and he hits on every female companion you happen to have in your party (yes, including Leah). I just love the banter between him and my character. For that reason, I don't really want to try the other followers. Oh and he also has a Multishot bow skill that seems to work well.

I would like to mention the game's sound, which is simply incredible. I'm not a sound man. I normally turn the music off in games so I can concentrate on the action. But this is the first game in which I'm listening to the music intentionally. And the score is amazing! No wonder - Blizzard employed a full orchestra in its creation. I love how it changes from zone to zone, or along with the action. Simply beautiful.

Monsters and gameplay
Maybe I'm growing old but I don't remember Diablo 2 being so hard on Normal. I died on the final boss in Act 1 and also a bunch of times in Act 2 from random groups of mobs. To those who were afraid that the game would be too easy, rest assured that it isn't. Gear does make a lot of difference but luckily the next upgrade is right around the corner. Yet, skill is very important here and if you concentrate solely on offensive skills you will end up hurting.

The monsters after the Skeleton King and especially in Act 2 are tougher and they use new skills and tactics. There are some very nasty ones which jump right on top of you or burrow under the earth to pop up beneath you or are very quick moving. I've encountered boss groups with some nasty attributes such as Waller or Jailer which can hurt you badly if you are not careful. Luckily, the Demon Hunter has a few tricks up his sleeve.

Build and skills
This is my level 26 Demon Hunter build as of right now. I'm pretty comfortable with this setup. Here's a breakdown of the skills.

Active Skills
Bola Shot runed with Volatile Explosives - I switched back to Bola Shot and I like it a lot. With twin 1H crossbows it fires very quickly. I've noticed that you can hit a monster with this several times in succession and each hit will explode individually, not just the first one that lands. Fired rapidly into a group of monsters will decimate them in a couple of seconds. The rune increases the explosion's radius. Bola Shot is also decent for kiting.

Elemental Arrow runed with Ball Lightning - This is my main Hatred dump. The rune makes this skill very interesting. It shoots a blue ball of lightning that moves slowly in the firing direction and zaps each monster it passes. It's another great skill for kiting, or lobbing into a group of monsters because you don't need to aim it specifically at a monster. Just fire it in the general direction and let it do its thing.

Caltrops runed with Hooked Spines - Caltrops is invaluable for survival, especially with some of the fast monsters encountered later in the game. The rune is vital because it slows them down even more. I don't think I'd be able to play without this skill.

Vault runed with Rattling Roll - Vault is another skill which I find invaluable for the Demon Hunter. It has saved my skin a billion times already and I don't know what I'd do without it. It has also almost got me killed a few times and that's because occasionally I press the wrong key and find myself Vaulting inside a group of monsters instead of placing a trap in their midst. For that reason I have chosen this particular rune which stuns and knocks back the monsters at my destination. Now, when I have another of these oops moments, I won't be pummeled to death. The rune gives me just enough time to correct my mistake and Vault back out of danger.

Spike Trap - Spike Trap has rapidly become one my my favorite skills. It's simply amazing. The damage it does is very high and very often it annihilates entire groups of monsters. I like to place it inside groups of monsters at the edges of the screen, before I am detected, for example. One of my favorite tactics in Act 2 is to place 2-3 of these traps right under me. There are some nasty monsters that teleport right on top of you and hit you hard which is very painful if you are a ranged class. But now I can stand on top of a couple of traps and when these assholes teleport, they teleport right on top of my traps and are instantly killed. Apart from this, Spike Trap is obviously very useful for kiting.

Multishot runed with Fire at Will - Multishot is a very nice multi-target nuke. Very often it will clear a screen-full of monsters in one shot, or perhaps 2 if they have a lot of health. The only downside is that it uses a lot of Hatred so you have to use it sparingly. However, the rune halves its cost, which makes it twice as good.

Passive Skills
Tactical Advantage - For me this passive makes a lot of sense. I Vault a lot so the increased speed is a great advantage, both for moving quickly and for escaping a dire situation.

Steady Aim - 20% increased damage when there are no monsters within 10 yards? Bring it on! For a ranged character this passive makes a lot of sense. Most of the time this condition will be met so you can count on the 20% extra damage buff to be up more often than not. I just wish there was a sort of buff icon that indicated when the skill was active.


Don't read beyond this point if you don't like spoilers.

I mentioned that I died on the Act 1 boss. As expected, the boss was The Butcher. Look at his ugly mug.

This is a fight which keeps you on your toes. You need to be constantly on the move, first to escape the burning sections of floor, and second, as a ranged character, to stay out of range of his grappling hook. Luckily there are the two healing wells that you can use to heal yourself if needed. In the end, this isn't such a tough fight. I hadn't read any tactics beforehand so I didn't know what to expect.

Now, if you listen to Cain's dialogue (I believe from one of the books you find around that section of the game) you will realize that this is not the same Butcher from Diablo 1. Instead, the Butchers are a class of demon. So there are potentially lots of them running around.

The other thing that was revealed was... drumroll...

Tyrael is a black guy! That was certainly unexpected, but very cool nonetheless. OK, did anyone suspect this before? He reminds me strongly of Laurence Fishburne for some reason.

BTW, I really like his story so far. Fallen angel and all, very cool.

The final thing, the Act 2 boss, Belial (as if you didn't know!) was a bit of a letdown. I tackled him at level 25. The fight itself was challenging but I killed him without dying myself. What I disliked was fighting in that cramped setting. For a ranged character who needs to be mobile, it was very frustrating. I couldn't use Vault to best effect and there wasn't a lot of space to escape to. Belial himself is practically stationary. I don't know, but I am sure they could have designed this encounter better. In the end he dropped 3 rares and a couple of gems.

So that's it for the second day folks. I hope you enjoyed this post. Stay tuned for day 3!

Follow the D3 Marathon

1 comment:

The Garbage Chute said...

I also found Belial a bit of a letdown. While one shotting a boss is satisfying I think killing him with a full health pool is a bit silly. The best encounters are the ones that end with you barely alive. My .02$