I instantly knew I was in trouble and mistakes were made. Hardcore is definitely not my thing but the challenge is always an interesting one. Sometimes I’m expecting to break a new record for myself. Other times I’m struggling just to put together what I need to make progress forward in a not too risky way that I’ll instantly regret by seeing the death screen.
This was not one of those races where I played rather risky. I didn’t even make it that far. Things didn't start off right and so I took my time. Some things got nerfed that I was aware of and perhaps there were others that I didn't realize. At the very least it was an interesting race for me. I had to regroup, and even change up my entire plans going forward.
Outside of the servers starting a minute late for this league that side of things went amazingly. No lag, no disconnects. Holy smokes even the queue melted like butter. It felt like they did some server upgrades and it was amazing to play on.
In the past, we have had some buggy and hard launches. While they did do a couple of patches afterword on day one they were a couple of minutes at best to finish. Grinding Gear Games seemed to have wanted to get launch day right and from my point of view, it was one of the better league starts we had. That slight delay seemed to have been the right call on their end.
Act 1 tends to be the defining act for setting a pace and foreshadowing how future acts are going to unfold. Like in any race you start off with nothing and if you can’t cobble together whatever you find to move on well you are just SOL. Part of playing in solo-self found is the challenge of just making what you get work.
Things were going decent at the start. I elected on my Shadow to use Freezing Pulse. I also tend to pair it with Onslaught when I can. I’m a fan of Freezing Pulse with its directional forward attack. As such I tend to stick with it for a while.
I went in for the mid Act 1 fight of Brutus and it went better than I expected. Sometimes this can be a rather long fight. Part of me was wondering how much harder this would be if anything. Maybe it was slightly harder.
All I know is I had zero moments where I felt like I was taking a risk. Brutus goes down and I just run my merry little way to the next zones. Nothing decent dropped from him but I never expect RNG to be on my side of getting any interesting leveling up items.
For the most part, everything in Act 1 was going smooth. I didn’t feel like I was rushing any zones and there was no OMG I almost got killed moments at first. While I didn’t loot anything I found interesting I felt confident enough I had what I needed to make it to the next act.
I enter in to do battle with the Act 1 boss Merveil. She has a couple of different phases here. The fight activates I take a hit. I instantly knew I was in trouble and mistakes were made. Almost killed right off the bat! Holy smokes.
At this point, I’m thinking I have ten portals scrolls to use to go back to town to restore my flasks and health. I’m going to go for it and just see how things go. Chances are I can get out if needed. I was three levels under the zone level but that has not been an issue for me in the past.
Perhaps my reflexes were just not that great anymore who knows. After I use up four portal scrolls I did enough damage to Merveil to get into the next phase and almost instantly ported the heck out. This was not going to go well for me.
I felt I’ll just run a couple of past zones a few times. Maybe I’ll find some upgrades if nothing else I’ll do the fight again on par with its level.
Since I was so early into the game I thought I’ll try out Metamorph summing. I have been looting body parts left and right as they rained down from the sky of the devastating path I cleared to get here.
It was amazing watching the creature I assembled from the brains down to whatever other guts I put into summing this creation. It stunned or froze or something every time it morphed into a different creature. I almost died a few times but I got the hang of it.
I ran a couple of them. I didn’t get anything I wanted item wise. They at least were dropping some rare items which I had been hard-pressed up to this point in seeing any drop. After a few near deaths, I leveled up a couple of times and marched right back to fight Merveil.
I trade some blows with Merveil and despite me gaining a few levels things are just not working out. I’m now down to two portal scrolls left. While things were going better I just didn’t feel like I had it in the bag once the second phase started. So again I got the heck out.
At this point, I was something like level twelve. I made the decision my current build plans where no longer viable and switched over to a backup plan. I was not planning to go Essence Drain at all. As that was not what I was putting passive skills into to do later on.
Essence Drain is a skill that deals Chaos as damage over time and it gives small heals. You then cast a different skill called Contagion which is another dot that also allows the Essence drain to spread. On top of that, you can drop some Blight which causes enemies to take more chaos damage over time. While it takes everything a second to get casted it can be devastating.
Since it’s damage was not that great at that level I level up to fourteen. I marched into Merveil with the mindset if I can’t get you down this just not going end well. It was a much longer flight than I was hoping. In the end, I finally killed her.
I’ve now spent twice the amount of time I wanted in Act 1 putting me quite behind on my pace. I also don’t have much confidence going into Act 2 going any better. It felt like this hardcore race was going be a long grind to get anywhere.
I enter into this act over-leveled and still fumbling around somewhat with the new combat combo I need to be doing to deal out max carnage. The goal was simply to make it to one of the bandits first and see how that goes.
Sometimes in the past, the bandits can be a bit tricky with just having enough damage output to take them down. They are not something you want to port out on. As I’ve learned in the past that resets the event but keeps up all the adds. Ensuring you die the next time you go to engage them.
The first one goes down like it was nothing. Essence Drain did its job and I’m starting to get more passive skills to upgrade its chaos damage.
I get up to Oak another bandit and he goes down as well without much trouble. Oak for me can sometimes be an issue as I tend to enter that zone way under-leveled. I was a bit taken back by how easy it was and progressed forward.
As far as the third bandit I tend to save her. She gives you some all resistance and some other stuff as well if you take out the other two. For me in a short 24-hour race that is a no brainer I want the resistance. It’s also a good thing I went for it as well.
Usually, in act 2, I like to start working on two-stone rings for resistance and a leather belt for life and resistance. By then I tend to get an Alchemy orb and some other crafting currency as well to try my luck. That never happened.
At some point, I took a break for dinner and to walk around in real life. It took me much longer than I would have liked and I try not to sit for too many hours. Playing in hardcore where around any corner could be death and a lot of butt clutching moments can have a bit of a toll on you.
Later on, I return and the end of Act 2’s boss Vaal Oversoul which goes down without a struggle. It was so carefree like it should be I did not even need to portal out. I barely even touched my life flasks. This was how I was expecting the first boss fight to go.
I walk out of Act II feeling like Act I was just some kind of fluke. I ended up taking a longer break. I also went and checked for game patching at that point. There was one as expected so I let it do its thing while I was away.
Silly me did not even put on my cosmetic skins till act III and did not get to enjoy running around looking like a badass. No wonder I didn’t get here as quickly as I wanted. Don’t forget the cosmetics!
At this point I’m mostly slacking on trying to make better gear choices, I’m also not finding any sockets I want. Along with lacking a lot of skills and putting in support gems to make them even more powerful. This is quite classic for me to do but it did not end up being a big deal.
One issue I did not have is finding and acquiring lighting resistance. At one point I was almost at 120 lighting resistance and the cap is 75. All my other resistance was something like 25 to 35. Everything looted or found on the merchants had lighting resistance. There was not even a single two-stone ring I could find that didn’t have lighting on it.
Naturally, I face tanked the end of Act III’s boss like a boss. No need to dance around and evade attacks but I did anyway. I swear once I got all his starter adds down he was the one running. Do all the lighting damage you want to bud I’m covered like a tank.
I ended up taking a much longer break then I was expecting. I got back into the game at around 2 or 3 am my time something super late. I know there are some trouble spots for me coming up in this act. I also know having almost no fire resistance is going to be a quick death. That is something I wanted to fix before going to bed.
Back in the day, it was quite the thing to grind out a zone called Dried Lake In Act IV. A while back they even nerfed the bleeding effect that use to be quite deadly in there unless you had a remove on a flask wish I didn’t. So I’m still grateful to this day for that nerf.
Dried Lake is a rather easy zone you can run a loop in to get back to the entrance. The entrance is rather close to a vendor in the town as well for fast selling and checking inventory stock. I used that opportunity to fix up my gear, get a lot more skill gems, and just to level up.
I was also quite light on crafting currency as well which I thankfully got a few drops in Dried Lake for gem socket and stat rolling. I had only used a little up until this point. Most of anything I spent was to buy an item off a vendor like a skill gem. I might have rolled or a socket or two and some stats beforehand but that was it.
I was planning after getting some sleep to go beyond Dried Lake after I had set myself up to make a major push if I had time in the morning. So I more or less spent and crafting what I could. I ended up with two 4 link setups. One for my main skill of Essence Drain and a bunch of support gems.
The other four-link ended up being decent for my Shield Charge movement skills. I was not that happy that is how my chest turned out but I was willing to take what I could get. I had a couple of other chests saved up if I happened to get anything to do more crafting with.
At some point, it was 5 AM my time and I went to bed before I did something silly to get myself killed or passed out at the keyboard. My plans to return for a few hours the next day did not work out. I had some other stuff to take care of. Staying up till 5 AM also had its toll!
I did not get into Act V like I usually end up doing. I at least did not have any deaths either. Act I for whatever reason was a painful struggled. All the other acts I was in went decent. I even crafted and looted some decent gear for myself if I had it in me to make one final push.
Thank you @Mattclarke for hosting this race. I had a great time.
At some point, I’ll start fresh over in softcore and I hope to have my Metamorph League guide up sometime in January unless it ends up being a rather short one. It’s the end of the year and with Christmas coming up I’m going to be quite busy. I’m hoping later today or tomorrow to play a few more hours.
Have a great rest of the league!