The experience, and the levels, have been flowing quite freely in Diablo III, as various boosts and bonuses stack up.
First, there is the xp boost for playing in Hard mode versus normal. As I recall, that gives you an extra 75% boost in both the xp and gold departments.
Then there is the current community boost, which seems to lay down a 50% boost on top of the Hard mode boost.
That is the gift that will keep on giving until the Reaper of Souls expansion comes out on March 25.
And then I keep running into xp boosting shrines in the game, which appear to give you something akin to a blue bar xp boost in WoW for a specific amount of xp.
All of which got my barbarian to just shy of level 40 by the time I finished up Act II. I suspect that if I carry on apace and finish up before the expansion launches, I should be level 60 by the end of Act IV.
Which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.
When it comes to playing Diablo III, I think I am more interested in the story and the loot progression than I am about levels. Levels do unlock new skills, so it will be nice to have all of those unlocked at the end. But being level 60 won’t inhibit me from playing further and it will set me up for the expansion and Act V. And since the content scales with your levels now, being ahead to the curve on levels doesn’t matter so much.
Meanwhile, Act II is now complete.
As Act I was an echo of the first act of Diablo II, so Act II was an attempt to hearken back to the second act of that game as well. And while Act II has all the elements… encounters in the desert, tombs buried under the sands, and even some time in the sewers of the main city… it doesn’t quite resonate with me in the same way Diablo II did. I do not know why. The graphics are quite good, especially in some of the locations under the desert. I guess the place doesn’t seem as sun drenched as the desert was when searching for Tal-Rasha’s tomb.
It isn’t bad, it just doesn’t evoke as much emotion as the original did.
I also settled down on a set of skills and weapons that carried me pretty well through the whole act. While I keep unlocking new skills, I have kept with an early set that focuses enough on healing to keep me alive while having enough AOE potential to allow my barbarian to wade into masses of lesser foes. For weapons I have been happy enough with a one handed weapon and a shield. Act I ended with an epic orange two handed flail that had good damage and an excellent life-steal on each attack. So I ran with that for quite a bit. But eventually I ran into the same issue I always do, which is that damage and stats from one handed weapon drops quickly caught up to the flail as I went along (no doubt due to leveling up so readily) and while the epic was in a league of its own at level, for the most part two handed weapons tend not to have the stats and damage to make them obviously better than going with a one handed weapon and a shield.
So if damage output and stats are about the same, why not add in a little blocking to mitigate incoming damage? That got me through the final battle in Act II with Belial.
My first time through the game, back at launch, Belial was a tough boss for me. I think it took me three tries to get past him. But I was not optimized so much for self-healing back then. This time around I got him on the first try and was never really in any danger. It wasn’t a faceroll, but hard mode still strikes me as “just hard enough to keep you on your toes” as opposed to being really difficult.
Now I am on to Act III, which departs from following the Diablo II locations in order, being akin to the campaign from the Lord of Destruction expansion. Time to fight on the battlements and in the basements of Bastion’s Keep.