'He said that they would one day come, and so they have. They threaten the Unholy Disposition. They must be purged. Only then will the forces of Hell once again prevail…'
Aegis rounded the corner, panting. As he leaned briefly against a cold pillar, he slowly removed his gloves from his shaking hands to discover that the blood remained. He leaned back and uttered a silent prayer. There remained only one task now, and yet it seemed so long ago that The Archangel had sought their aid...
It was then that the familiar sensation assaulted Aegis' senses, a sharp burst of nearby heat that permeated his body, the momentarily blinding flash of light, and the highly obscure sound of the distorted void, followed by the distant sound of soft footsteps. Aegis was now used to the strange Displacements that to this day continued to mystify him. He picked up his blade and hurried forward to rejoin his companion.
Vulpecula was now waiting for Aegis at the entrance of a dark hall. He soon caught up and took notice of her austere countenance. There was no explanation required for this; both understood that what lay ahead was unknown. As they cautiously advanced into the darkness, Aegis heard a faint shuffling noise, at which point Vulpecula froze. They waited attentively for what seemed to be an hour; there was absolutely no room for haphazardness. It was then that a small rodent came into view. Aegis looked down at the rat, as it hurriedly scurried past and squeaked.
Aegis slowly turned back to meet Vulpecula's gaze, as she raised an eyebrow. After a short pause, she grinned, and Aegis could not contain his laughter any longer. Aegis threw his head back and roared with laughter, and it was in this instant that all the air in his very lungs seemed to have emptied. His heart stuttered against the astronomical force that had struck his chest and threw him back, cracking one of his ribs. As Aegis hit the ground, his head throbbed with pain as he gasped for breath and attempted to recollect his faculties.
Aegis slowly got up and positioned his shield in front of his body, tightly gripping his sword, which was promptly ignited by Vulpecula. Standing before him was an undead fiend who was using both of his limbs to drag his enormous sword across the ground at a deceptively slow and terrifying pace. Aegis seized this opportunity and began to vigorously hack away at the Defiled Warrior. The undead warrior gave a raspy sigh and crumpled to the ground, as Aegis clutched his chest in pain. However, his heart quickly sank as four new Defiled Warriors slowly emerged out of the darkness.
Aegis recognized the signs of a nearby Displacement, and gripped his blazing sword with renewed resolve. Suddenly, and in the blink of an eye, a rift began to form in the air. Aegis felt a wave of heat fly by him as an enormous wall of fire erupted into existence. Aegis glanced over his shoulder and caught sight of the awe-inspiring and terrible expression Vulpecula wore, as her eyes glowed a faint red, sending a chill down Aegis' spine that echoed to his very core.
The bright light of the towering flames behind the Warriors created macabre silhouettes that instilled pure dread. With little time to spare, he rushed forward into the flames and began striking the undead warriors with fervent zeal. The air rippled with heat, as Undead and Living clashed. Aegis' heart ached for his brethren who had long since abandoned the Holy Order, and had been corrupted by the poisonous influence of the Lord of Destruction.
The Defiled Warriors quickly disintegrated from the intense heat of the blaze, and Aegis was relieved. However, what would happen next, he was not prepared for. Three more Defiled Warriors came charging out of the darkness at light speed, as they each collided forcefully with Aegis. On the verge of death, Aegis collapsed to his knees, and attempted to maintain consciousness, as one more strike would surely end him. Suddenly, Vulpecula Displaced next to him, gripped his arm, and began to mutter an incantation of some sort. Aegis shut his eyes and awaited his demise, as the fabric of time itself seemed to falter. The light slowly but surely dimmed, as the noises surrounding him began to fade, and lastly, the words uttered by Vulpecula no longer reached his ears. Darkness replaced his conscious, and he knew that they would live to fight another day.
-The host of this game has left-
Guardian Vulpecula_III, lvl 86 Sorceress
Guardian Aegis, lvl 86 Paladin
Fed: Naranjadita and I decided to combo a Sorceress with a Conviction Paladin, for our dynamic duo. Since this was my first time doing any kind of MP, and playing Hardcore, it was definitely an interesting experience, and a total blast!
I don't know a whole lot about Paladins, but the idea was to max Conviction for the massive resist penalties. This allowed Naranjadita to dish out some massive DPS via her fire spells, and I would take advantage of the Conviction aura using an enchanted Zeal.
Things started out fairly simple in Normal mode, as they tend to do. We decided to twink, and soon enough we were to be seen running around in Sigon's, with Ravenclaws, which is ridiculously fun. I can never get over the fact that packs get wiped out so easily with Exploding Shot, sometimes in just two shots; it's simply too funny.
Naranjadita: Go Go Ravenclaw! Boom! Boom! BOOM!!1!
F.: Normal was indeed easy enough. EXCEPT for our Diablo fight! I seriously cannot remember a boss battle ever being this crazy. It was unsurprising that Normal Diablo once again went on one of his frenzied rampages! Never has the word "Chaos Sanctuary" seemed so appropriate, since this fight embodied utter chaos. Since my Zeal was still fairly weak, it was actually more effective to shoot our explosive arrows at him instead, and we tried to have our mercs tank him so we could safely fire arrows, but of course they would be quickly instagibbed. Naranjadita was teleporting all over the place, while I stood back and fired arrows as carefully as I could, often having to run away from the Lightning Hose of Death, and Diablo was running all over the place too! I know we both had NDE at least once in this battle, which was terrifying. Lord of Terror indeed. Needless to say, it was a huge relief to have dispatched him.
N.: Possible reason for this (among others) is the fact that Normal and NM (especially Normal) was played like a rush game from the point I got access to teleport. So we faced Diablo at ~26 lvl, and we didn’t take time to equip mercenaries with any slowing spear or pole arm. No wonder we were nearly eaten alive.
F.: Nightmare was a little more challenging, but by now we had gained access to all of the skills that we would be using for the duration of our journey, so it made for good practice.
Even though Nightmare was scarier than Normal in general, I still felt a bit safer, with a larger life pool, and max block HoZ. I used Butcher's pupil for a while, before I turned 58.
N.: Nightmare was fairly easy (easier than Hell, and definitely easier than Normal Diablo). Monsters died before they could land a hit or two on my companions.
F.: Since I was not a typical Zealot, I did not have access to Fanaticism, and therefore had to supplement the missing IAS from elsewhere! I'm not sure exactly why, but It was my goal to hit the last Zeal breakpoint (4pa if I'm not mistaken?). Fortunately there was a very easy way to do this, which was to use a phase blade, and obtain 75% IAS. I ended up going with a Shael'd Lightsabre (40%), LoH (20%), and I threw a Jewel of Fervor into my helmet for the last (15%). The end result was a small amount of damage that was dealt VERY fast. Fortunately the 4pa went very well with the crushing blow. And the enchant + Conviction combo was awesome!
Holy shield was another neat commodity that took some getting used to. For most of Normal and Nightmare Naranjadita had to remind me over and over and over again, "recast shield". XD Luckily I was able to finally switch on my Barbarian brain and figured 'hey, it's just another warcry, right?' (Apart from the fact that it affected only me). The neat part is, at end-game level, it lasted over ten minutes. I really like this skill.
N.: As for the “log” of my char’s development, it’s quite simple and plain:
- meleeing till 15
- equipping Ravenclaw (further to be changed for Kuko) and blasting everything till ~60 lvl or so.
- equipping Caster stuff and maxing out Fire Mastery.
- drooling at insane LCS numbers.
The good thing about a Firewall Sorc is the fact that all equipment she needs is fairly cheap and obtainable. Swap HotO for an Oculus, replace Soj and BKWB with two shimmering rings and a couple Burning skillers – voila! Here you are, dealing 20k DPS with NO RUNEWORDS AT ALL.
The difficult part was learning to control the angle of the Firewall. It takes practice. But once you get used to it, you’ll release a 50 yrd wall of incineration through a corridor full of monsters while actually staying behind a corner.
Oh, and Blaze is fun. I found two major applications of the skill:
- Drawing smilies (say cheeeze!) http://diablo.incgamers.com/gallery/...php?photo=4358
- Showing the way out of labyrinths and catacombs to your companions.
F.: What i find to be very interesting, is that: it seems as if Normal bosses are very difficult, and Normal monsters and boss packs are offensively easy, but in Hell, it's reversed. The monster packs were considerably more dangerous, and much care had to be taken. But on the other hand, we were instagibbing them Hell act bosses like it's nobody's business
F.: As far as actual gameplay went, it mainly consisted of me running up and acting as a meat shield for Naranjadita, alongside our mercs, while she did the majority of the damage with her fire. She also generously volunteered to apply Life Tap via charges, when the going got rough. This was a very effective method of fighting, and we cleared most things easily, unless we were cursed, in which case it was usually a good idea to stay back and let the mercs take the beating.
N.: Well, Fed is exaggerating a bit. His Zeal (along with mercs’ Jab) came fairly close to my Firewalls in terms of DPS (especially when we encountered Fire Immunes, who had Fire Res at 80-90 even after Conviction), especially against small packs or single fat monsters.
Life Tap wand was definitely a good idea as it saved lots of nerves and potions for both of us. Even better idea was placing leftover skill points into Glacial Spike. At 105% FCR I could keep quite large pack of monsters frozen! Unfortunately, Minotauri, Souls and Undead Stygian Barbies cannot be frozen.
F.: Durance 1 and 2 were a serious challenge, due to all the Undead Stygian Dolls running around and exploding everywhere, and I know i was nearly killed here too. Another area of considerable difficulty had to be Act 4, with all the gloam packs floating around and shooting lightning at us D: These two areas were quite nightmarish, especially since they were back-to-back. Hell Ancients were definitely the toughest of the difficulties, but what scared us the most was WSK. We were hoping beyond hope to get some good monster rolls, for fear of being instagibbed by Burning Souls and more dolls! Fortunately we got REALLY lucky, and didn't encounter either of these monster types UNTIL the throne room, when there actually were Burning souls!!
When we finally dispatched (instagibbed) Baal, it was a huge relief, at least for me, to have made it all the way without dying!
N.: Same here! All those NDE’s! We went through legions of Dolls, ripped through hoards of Gloams… After all that nightmare, every act boss on Hell (especially Baal) was just a beating toy for us: none lived for more than 13 seconds.
F.: Overall, this was a completely new experience, in all regards, and It was totally awesome. I absolutely love the Hardcore aspect! It is completely terrifying and thrilling at the same time. Each NDE caused my heart rate to skyrocket, and there's nothing like that feeling Plus my terrible ping made for an additional challenge (There was one game where I momentarily spiked up to an epic 4000+)
I'm just lucky I had Naranjadita watching my back the whole time, because I definitely would have been instagibbed several times over. Like I said, this is the most D2 fun ever, and I'm glad that we both survived up until the end.
N.: That was FUN. That was just as awesome as it could have ever been. No less than that.
Some random screenies:
P.S.: The game was played at p8 on Normal and Nightmare; p5 on Hell. All areas we ventured in received a blessing of Full Clear ™. All quests (except for Nilly) were completed.
P.P.S. I found out a funny thing about Fed