Friday, June 15, 2012

Diablo 3 - Inferno Act 2 cleared

In the wake of my most recent blog about Diablo 3 and our efforts of progressing into Inferno mode I’ve been having some questions regarding my personal solo play and impression of the brick wall that is currently making up the late portion of the game.

As I’ve described in the previous part we got to around act 2 Inferno, in which a lot of people are frankly ramming their heads, not inexplicably, against an immovable object. If you’ve been at the game for at least some time you’ll know of this and the storm of complaints it has resulted in for several people. A lot of stuff has changed since then; for instance, most of us have reached act 3. Also the real money auction house has seen its early steps and it’s been interesting to see, not to mention feel, what impact this has made on my game.

I’m saying MY game in this regard, as I rarely wish to comment on other people’s reactions. I do that for a living, after all. In my spare time, I just wish to express my own concerns in this regard, which I assume is also the reason you’re still reading up on this.

For those uninitiated, I’m still sticking fiercely and relentlessly to my barbarian, whom I began playing shortly after the game was released and I dumped my Witch Doctor. There is something brilliant about the barbarian class, especially the way they’ve really made sure to provide you with the feeling of pure power behind every blow. The sound alones are awesome and I never tired of it up till the start of inferno.

Spank me! Harder!
 Another thing you haven’t likely noticed if you’ve followed the community of D3 is the massive wave of concerns regarding the current gap between ranged and melee-classes. If you’ve played a monk or a barbarian in Inferno act 2+ you also likely have an idea what I’m talking about. Especially if you’ve played them as I think they should be played (as in; hurling yourself into the fray in a steel-wind of destructive chaos. Not sprinting around farting tornadoes out of your ass…).
Even Blizzard themselves have acknowledged that, yes; there is a problem in this regard. Ranged classes simply have it too easy kiting their way through the acts, scooping in the epics and laughing all the way to the bank as they cash in on the AH from starved barbarians yearning for whatever upgrades that might buy them a few more precious seconds of life, as they’re surrounded by vortex-frozen-arcane-dessecrate elite packs of stingers. 

Unfortunately, the current attempts at solving this issue have been an odd mix of vague and illogical, mostly relying on punishing ranged further and sadly drawing in melees (We up the repair costs, THAT’LL TEACH THOSE ZERGING-RANGED BASTARDS!!!... Because we all know melees never zerg). On the other hand, incoming inferno nerfs are generally on their way for everyone and the +damage buff for multiple players is down for the count.

While I’m a huge personal fan of the last, most of these solutions seem like symptom treatment rather than acknowledging a general bad design of Inferno-mode. Inferno mode isn’t about skill. At least not in the majority of it. It’s one huge, massive, massive gear check that sadly allows wizards and demon hunters to skulk around the back door.

I’m old now, but strong. And very gear dependant. That’s what matters.
At the time of writing, patch 1.0.3 seems to be the harbinger of a brilliant future and the promised land of Diablo 3. Some have even gone to such great lengths as to say it’s the end of the beta. While some elements of the patch surely seem long overdue, such as the buffing of Legendaries, I think it’s simply too early to tell in regards to melee-ranged balances.
As for the current time, we can only relate to what we’ve got, and for the same reason I wanted to talk a bit about Act 2 on inferno, from a barbarian perspective.  I’d once again like to point out these are merely my own numbers and what worked for me from a personal perspective. Much of my inspiration comes from Kripparian’s channel, who you should really consider checking out. Just don’t be discouraged by his gear; this guy can get away with pretty much everything he wants in that gear.

As a quick setup these were my aims for trudging through act 1 and it worked quite okay:
400+ resist all
6000+ armor
6000+ dps (you can get away with less, but killing will take time)
around 30k hp
500+ Life on hit weapon

Stat priority on gear is something along resist all>vitality>str but having all three on an item is, needless to say, preferable. There is a lot of debate regarding the viability of improved attack speed, which really beefs up your dps and works great in tandem with Life on Hit, but due to the incoming nerfs to this ability, I’d say to wait and see the end result before going crazy. Still, some barbarian builds make great use of this for some truly impressive numbers:

My build is as follows (yes, tanky barbarians are fun):!bVe!aaZcYc

Some will argue against Superstition. It’s saved my ass several times.
I like leap over furious charge, mostly due to utility. Plus, you’ll truly feel the Iron Impact damage reduction and it’s on a relatively short cooldown, allowing you to semi-spam it.
Threatening shout can be traded for whatever you prefer, really.

I’ve had it with this mother*cking Kulle in this mother*king desert!
I had huge issues when I reached act 2. I know, not the only one around. But getting my ass handed to me big time was truly frustrating and some elites I flat out didn’t stand a chance against and would get killed within mere seconds. Alternatively I’d just run around all the time to avoid pools of desecrate or fire chains.
I didn’t take hard notice about when things started to change, but I’ll say that 6k dps won’t get you very far in act 2, as things really take a lot more punishment. As far as I remember, things changed a lot when I reached around the 8.5k dps, 800 resistance (after shout) and  around 40k hit points. I still died a lot, though and had to stick to small trash groups.  Some elite packs I flat out had to either ignore or zerg down one by one, waiting for berserker rage to go off cooldown.
Another thing which helped immensely in Act 2 is a solid shield. Preferably a Storm Shield. I got mine with a mere 20% block and still it did wonders for me.

Once you get around handling trash in act 2, you’re pretty well set for the majority of it, I’ll say. There aren’t that huge variety, perhaps except the fleeing ones in the large open areas. Such as in the oasis or the bone desert before Kulles final resting place, in which you can easily pull another trash pack if you aren’t careful.
The salamanders hurt me a lot. Some people claim them to be dreadfully easy; I don’t get it. I think they were more than nasty. 

Magda is not particularly hard, although her adds do involve some kiting perhaps. Kulle, on the other hand, is a nightmare for most barbarian from what I’ve heard. It’s recommended to either get help or be very, very patient. Trouble is, you’ll likely spend most of your juice smashing his adds, leaving yourself open to him later on. Ignoring them is a pretty bad idea also. Alternatively you can bug him out, which is likely only a method for the desperate people.

I got stuck on Belial phase 2, all up till today in which the real money auction house launched (and I do friggin wonder how many people out there are saying something similar today…). Once you push him into his third phase and you have decent resistances and hit points, Belial Inferno is surprisingly easy. Just keep dodging his green stuff (which WILL kill you!) spam iron impact leaps for massive armor and you’ll be able to survive direct hits from him.

I’d like to say there is no shame in skipping or rushing parts of act 2, really. Everything is meaner and more stupid here, especially those god damn stingers that I am sure was designed by a very, very lonely and miserable person who hates mankind.
In fact, the worst parts I felt to be the narrow, small corridors, such as the sewers, in which I had so little room to navigate in from those blasted fire chains-arcane-frozen combos.

Act 3 and the role of the real money auction house?
Like so many other people I’ve bought new pieces of equipment for real life money now. There is no shame in admitting that anymore (well, depending on who you ask; I surely won’t judge you). So far it’s been only new gloves and pants while the rest of my gear has been either farmed or bought for gold before everything was inflated into those ridiculous amounts previously.
And yet, I’ll have to admit, I still splat relatively easily in act 2. Trash rarely gives me any trouble what so ever, but still there are some elites in which I simply burn a berserker rage and tear one up before dying or running away, waiting for a new berserker rage, rinse and repeat till dead. I’ve included a snap-shot of my character’s stats, just to give you an impression of the relative values compared to what monsters do.

 Going into act 3 now is massive. The monsters have sooo many hit points, they hit a wee bit harder than in act 2 and from what I’ve hard they later on hit quite a lot harder. I goofed around for a bit and had to realize that I really needed more damage in order to down anything within a reasonable amount of time or beef up my defenses a solid bit, otherwise I’d easily get torn apart.

And yes, this is how Inferno is supposed to work; I’m well aware- extra challenge and all that.
My point is; from my calculations I’ve spent around 20-25 millions of gold on this character. And some of the veteran players out there will quickly point out that this is nothing compared to some other barbarians / monks who’re further into the game than I am. Today I even paid real money for it. Not a huge issue for me as I’m not economically struggling, but the principle of it still shows that the wise move for me now is to spend more money on more gear.

I’ve decided to step back a bit and take a deep breath. Maybe I need to change specc, even though this one has worked so well. Maybe I’m not seeing something here. But at the moment I’ll have to admit I’m not having so much fun with Inferno. I suppose the reasonable thing to do then would be to farm Act 2 for a while, but then again, with patch 1.0.3 not so long into the future, farming too deeply into stuff atm. could seem like a waste, depending on your point of view.

I’m fine with this, to be fair. As I’ve spoken to my friends about, once we’ve completed Inferno, there’s likely not that much left in the game for us to do. It’s odd, however, to see it happen so quick, taken into consideration how long it took me before I could safely say I could farm Act 5 Hell in Lord of Destruction.
I really don’t want to spend any more money on D3 than I already have. Even if it means hanging around waiting for nerfs in order to complete the game. At its current state, the EU real money auction house is not in a terribly bad state; it’s easy to get some fair gear for a manageable amount. The great stuff, of course, is still floating around up there around the 200+ euro mark and since this pretty much represents  the only remaining true upgrades for me, I’m figuring it may be time for a little break or so.

I’ll make sure to come back with some opinions once 1.0.3 hits. I have the feeling that it could potentially turn much of the game around into something entirely different. The real question is whether for good or ill.

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