In thinking about my initial lack of enthusiasm for Diablo II Resurrected back during the beta, I suspected that part of my problem was that I went and played the same class in the same way as I generally have over the years, which contributing the the feeling of sameness. So I decided for my first post-launch play through I would try something new.
Having watched Potshot play a Necromancer as part of our first group adventure in the game, I thought that might be a good place to start, so I rolled one up for myself.
And I managed to bumble my way through the first act doing my usual routine of just putting skill points wherever they might feel good. I put some into skeletons, some into skeleton mages, some into teeth to give me a ranged attack, then put my stat points into making sure I had enough mana, and it kind of worked.
I died a few times in the first act, and the final boss, Andariel I struggled a bit. And end of act boss should be a bit of a challenge, but the first act is kind of a warm up and I’ve always been able to slouch my way past her.
I had to make a few trips back to town through a portal, but eventually managed to finish her off and wrap up the act.
My normal mode of operation is to continue to half ass my way through Act II until I am facing Duriel at the end and then use my re-spec to fix my setup because he is usually too tough for whatever nonsense picks I have made.
My problem with talent trees, and especially the Diablo II talent tree, is that I see a smorgasbord of choices available and I want to serve myself up a little bit of everything. I have some vision of flexibility, but anybody who crunches the numbers will tell me I am an idiot. The game doesn’t care about flexibility, it cares about damage on target and killing mobs dead.
So when I looked up necromancer builds I found that going all-in on skeletons was the optimal path. 20 points into skeletons, which gets you 8 followers, and 20 points into skeleton mastery, which makes them tough and hit hard. They have you put a point into golems early on, just to get something a bit tankie when you’re starting out, but after that it is all skeletons all the time until you’ve gone 40 points in.
Meanwhile, on the stats front, the guide was to put enough into strength to be able to wear gear you need, but otherwise to put everything into vitality so that your health is enough to survive. As a side benefit, your stamina is also huge so you can go everywhere at a run when you get enough levels behind you.
So I went all-in as suggested and headed into the sewers of Lut Gholein with six skeletons, a golem, and my rogue archer from Act I and the results were… pretty funny. The skeletons are all over the place, though they do try to go where you are going. As a group they mobbed most everything that showed up and, when I lost one now and then I just raised a fresh skeleton from a corpse. Ranament was no problem.
The main problem is that every time you start the game to play again you have to go out and find some corpses, which are required to raise skeletons.
My little army stormed the desert and made it through very well. It is a little tough in tight corridors, as the skeletons follow you and won’t run ahead until they seem something to attack. There are times when you have to act like a SWAT team with a no-knock warrant, kicking in the door to a room and rushing it to beat down anything that moves.
The most troublesome bit was probably the Arcane Sanctuary… Act II has the widest variety of locations, which is part of why it is my favorite… but that was largely due to pathing, skeletons lagging behind me, and the general narrowness of the ways through the zone.
I did ignore the advice to get one of the Act II followers which have auras that can boost your skeleton army, but I had found a very nice bow for my rogue and she was killing it, so I stayed with her.
I managed to get through Duriel at the end of Act II in two passes, jumping back to town through a portal to restock my skeleton army.
Act III was a cake walk. The paths are wide enough for skeletons to roam ahead and they just chewed up any mobs that happened by. I had enough points in skeletons by the time I got to Mephisto to do him in one go without having to head back to town. I was light on skeletons when I was done, but I was done.
Act IV saw me swarming through the first part pretty well. When you’re going through as a single character the game tries to get you with the big “Ah ha! Here comes a pack of a dozen mobs! Fight for your life!” routine. But by the time I was into Act IV I had 8 skeletons, a golem, my rogue, and a skeleton mage because I picked up a wand that gave me +1 to that skill, along with myself, which gave me a dozen on my own team as well, so the scrum was pretty even with me just needing to replace a skeleton now and then or summon a fresh golem.
Pretty soon it was time to face Diablo.
That turned into a bit of a challenge. Actually, the groups that came as I unlocked the five seals cost me some skeletons and a surprise attack actually brought me down. But once the seals were undone and Diablo appeared, then the real challenge began.
Diablo had my number when it came to skeletons. I would get on the floor with him and he’d do his big AOE attack and my rogue, my skeleton mage, and my golem would be down and my skeletons would all be fairly weak. They would beat on him for a bit before dying off and I would have to run around and find more corpses. That became the real issue for me, as corpses don’t last very long on the floor, so despite slaying hundred on the way in I was scrounging for corpses after expending three waves of skeletons.
I also decided to get in and do some damage of my own. The wand I had, which gave me a skeleton mage, also gave me +3 to the spell Bone Spear. And while my mana pool was pretty small, it isn’t a high cost spell, so I loaded up on mana potions and got in there with my skeletons to hit at the boss.
I finally brought him down with my seventh full wave of skeletons, five remaining alive when Diablo died.
I got the big pat on the back and collected my rewards and moved on to Act V.
Not being a huge fan of Act V, I was going to write this post ending with the death of Diablo. And then me and my skeletons stormed through the final act in a single evening where I kept saying that I was going to stop at the next waypoint, but then the waypoint seemed awkwardly far from where I would need to go next, so I just kept rolling along until I was at the final waypoint in the Worldstone Keep. And once you’re there you might as well finish the tour.
I had a bit of a problem with the last group that Baal summons before the final fight. For whatever reason my skeletons were not biting very hard on that round, even with curse applied, which doubles their damage. I had to get out the mana potions and Bone Spear again to push them along.
Then it was time for Baal. I had no idea how this would go. I went in, opened a portal to town, then headed straight at Baal, letting my skeletons get at him. As with Diablo, my golem, rogue, and skeleton mage were having a tough time of it, but the skeletons seemed pretty durable. By this point I was level 35 and had 20 points in skeletons and 15 points in skeletal mastery, so they were pretty tough. They just were not doing much damage.
So when I lost the first wave of skeletons I went back to town, want to the first waypoint and scrounged some more mobs to rebuild my skeleton force. Then, back in town, I filled up on more mana potions and went in to assist my skeletons with Bone Spear once more.
That seemed to tip the balance again and I only had to assemble one more pack of skeletons before I was able to bring Baal down and finish Act V.
Now, there was something odd with the fight in retrospective. There was no second, fake Baal in the fight. I don’t know if the fight is bugged, but I only had to chase down the one Baal, which made it go a lot more smoothly. And, thinking on that, I recalled that Diablo had gone a bit soft as well, not putting up the bone prisons on the town portals like he used to. Maybe they softened up normal mode because they were afraid kids these days couldn’t handle the truth as it was back in 2000. Or maybe it is just bugged.
Either way I finished my first play through of Diablo II Resurrected.
On the way through I managed to collect a whole bunch of gear and gems and jewels and runes and what not such that I have already managed to fill up all three shared stash tabs, so I am going to have to make a storage mule or two after all.
I am on such a roll that I will have to jump in and see how I do on Nightmare mode. I know I have played through Normal mode multiple times over the years, including my play through last year, but I cannot recall if I have ever finished on Nightmare. We shall see.
Also, I once again forgot to do the cow level. Still things to do.