*** Warning – Contains spoilers ***
Part 5 of this diary officially starts at the beginning of Diablo 3’s Act 2, although I did quickly level up from 18 to 19 by re-running level 3 of the Halls of Agony in Act 1 before taking the cutscene ride to the desert. Between part 4 and 5 of this diary, I completed Act 2 on my standard (not hardcore) Barbarian, so I know what Rollins has to face and where I am most likely to fear the worst. Yes, I’m talking about Belial. In standard mode, it took me two attempts to beat that boss. In hardcore mode, as you know, there is only one attempt, ever.
It didn’t take long to reach the milestone of level 20; there are plenty of large groups to slaughter in the desert and quite a few random side-quests, dungeons and events to find. It’s fairly obvious that a major method of levelling and earning gear/gold for a hardcore character is to thoroughly explore every area, then go back and do it all again.
Thinking about Belial, and how my standard mode character died, I realised several things: First, stay out of the green circles! Second, I need to start replacing my +XP gear with pieces that have a high vitality stat, preferably also a decent life regeneration stat and, optionally, some strength. Gem slots, yes, of course, are very good too. I also need to ditch dual-wielding and use the best shield I can find (on the auction house). Skills are becoming more important too; I’m setting Rollins up with the ones that keep him alive rather than do damage to enemies, although sometimes there’s a bit of an overlap. Revenge, Nerves of Steel, Ignore Pain, Threatening Shout, etc. Pretty much anything that boosts vitality, replenishes life or reduces enemy effectiveness. Learning when to use each skill, that’s a good idea too!
So far, elites and champions aren’t giving me any trouble. I expect this to drastically change in higher difficulty levels, but there’s still a long way to go in ‘Normal’ before I need to worry about that.
The only subquest/event that I avoided was the one in a timed dungeon. I did it in standard mode and completed it successfully, but I don’t like the idea of sending Rollins in there, getting lost or otherwise delayed and then dying because the timer ran out. Also, the last thing you want in HC mode is to be playing against a timer, rushing things and potentially making a fatal mistake.
Maghda is an early Act 2 boss fight. No problems with her, and not much else needed killing before I reached level 22.
I’ll be taking my time through Act 2, re-running whole zones to get as much of a level & skill advantage as possible before taking on Belial. For now, this is what Rollins is looking like at level 22. In part 6 of this diary he will hopefully be beyond level 25 with gear more appropriate for the end-of-act showdown.
One final observation, probably not very surprising – the cost of gems on the Hardcore auction house appears to be over 10x the prices on the standard mode AH.
See you in part 6…