The Leveling Experience Is Awesome, Inferno Is Not

After a little boredom in softcore, I decided to give Hardcore a try.

The leveling experience, I must say, is awesome. I must have completely skipped over the fun in softcore, since I remember just trying to hit 60 as fast as possible, thus skipping almost every optional area and sticking to one progression build the whole way instead of exploring and trying out fun alternatives.

In Hardcore, since your character only has one life, it is worthwhile sometimes to grind an area until you reach a higher level for the next area. Of course, it isn’t necessary, but given my sometimes laggy Internet, I want to remain slightly overleveled or overgeared for the content I’m doing.

After being used to not finding many upgrades in Inferno, it suddenly surprised me that I was finding upgrades left and right. One area I was grinding was the Crypt of the Ancients in the Festering Woods. I find it great for leveling because of the large number of mobs and the guaranteed elite pack for gear.

Within a 20 minute span, I found 2 legendaries (both too low level for me to use, but still awesome), 5 upgrades, and gained 2 levels. That felt good. That felt like Diablo 2.

I must have had a lucky streak yesterday. Over the course of the day, I found 2 more legendaries, bringing the total up to 4 legendaries in one day. And this is at low level, so I had like 30% MF max, no Nephalem Valor.

Despite this being perhaps a complete stroke of luck, the game suddenly became extremely fun. Due to my being overgeared and overleveled, I decided to make a gimmick build on my wizard, which I was playing melee at the time. The result was this:

It may look standard, but yes, that is the Arcane Orbit rune as well as the use of Storm Armor. My play strategy is basically to cast Storm Armor, cast Arcane Orbit, then run into the middle of hordes of enemies and let those two skills take care of the rest. It felt like Diablo 2 all over again. I rarely had to use my defensive skills.

I’m not sure if Arcane Orbit is bugged, but it seems to be doing insane damage. All the better for me I suppose. 😀

Granted, I’ve been using this build throughout the level 20s and now in the lower 30s, and I bet it’s not viable in Inferno. I’ll try this on my level 60 Wizard at some point, though I don’t know if I can afford to sacrifice Prismatic Armor. Nonetheless, it is extremely fun to use.

The other cool thing about leveling is finding insane upgrades. Check out the following:

I think players feel really happy when they find stuff like that on their own. I have never touched the Hardcore Auction House, and leveling has been a blast. But I bet if I bought AH gear, I wouldn’t be finding any upgrades myself.

One of the cool things about playing Diablo 2 is that I never felt rushed to get into Hell difficulty or to get to a high level, say level 60 or 70.

Diablo 3, on the other hand, psychologically rushes you to get to Inferno and level 60. It could have to do with the improved loot, or the pace of leveling, or the gradual difficulty curve of the first three difficulties. And because of this, I completely missed out on much of the fun, using builds that wouldn’t stand a chance in Inferno, and yet can obliterate everything Normal and Nightmare.

My Hardcore Monk is similarly using a fun build with both Dashing Strike and Sweeping Wind, and my Hardcore Barbarian is using Furious Charge with the Merciless Assault rune, so against hordes of enemies, I can spam Furious Charge and aoe things down. I would not try these in Inferno.

In fact, the penalty for death in softcore Inferno is so high (massive repair costs, resurrection timer, elite health regenerating, walking to where you died) that I am experimenting with builds more in Hardcore Nightmare rather than in Softcore Inferno.

I know perfectly well that one wrong move in Hardcore is permanent death. Take away too many defensive skills, and you increase the chance of dying. I know that. But for some I would rather face a small risk of permanent death than to know for certain I would be facing a massive repair cost, a resurrection timer, the walking time, and the health regenerating in Inferno for trying out something new.

So my tips are:

  • Remove some of the penalties for death. The resurrection timer especially needs to be removed. It’s no fun for anyone sitting there and not even being able to look at your profile or character sheet. I know it served the purpose of discouraging corpse-hopping, but since so many people (including myself) have beaten Inferno already, we are past the progression stage of the game now. Who cares if someone corpse hops? They will lose a ton of gold for doing so.
  • Increase the drop rate of legendaries. Finding 4 legendaries in one day was probably the most exciting thing to happen in the game since I bought the game. It’s no wonder that people become frustrated when they can spend hundreds of hours and find only one legendary.
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