When it comes to Diablo II, Act III is kind of the misfit.
In coming from the original Diablo, Act I puts you back in the world and connects the two games. Act II then raises the bar, showing you new places, while Act IV is the “Go directly to hell and slay Diablo” big finish.
And, in the middle, there is Act III and Kurast and jungle and a series of quests that are mostly skippable. It feels like the team had to meet a quota for six quests and six waypoints, so kind of made some stuff up quickly and moved on. Though, honestly, with Act IV only having three quests, it is as though a lot of work went into the first two acts and then time was running out and they had to get things ready to ship… which is, in fact, the story I have heard before.
The other thing that came up around Act III was we were starting to feel like things were a bit too easy. The necro with nine skeletons and a golem, the paladin with the might aura buffing up the skeletons, the druid now featuring the “mobs be gone” spell that is fissure along with three wolves, the amazon stabbing like crazy, and two Act I mercenaries providing ranged support and two Act II mercenaries providing two additional auras was a group that went into Act III bowling over any groups of mobs that cared to show their faces. We have forged our spirits in the traditions of our ancestors and built a fighting force of extraordinary magnitude.
As noted previously, our horde frequently outnumbered the locals as we moved through zones. We looked a bit into difficulty settings, but to get to nightmare you have to make it through normal, so off we went. I thought that at least Mephisto, the boss at the end of Act III would give us a challenge.
It isn’t that, as a group, we never die. But when we do it is usually because somebody is off on their own or gets ahead to the skeleton flying wedge that clears our way through most situations.
On getting logged in we did a bit of work on our gear. I found some mail and a helm upgrade at the vendor, allowing me to join Ulfar in the horned helm club.
But the best thing we came up with was an actual piece of runeword gear. I had been telling the group to be on the lookout for a chest piece with two sockets because I had found a Tal and an Eth rune along the way. Despite having played the game on and off for years, I had never managed/bothered to actually make any runeword items. But for most of the time I was playing seriously there were not the plethora of resources on the web to look all of that up.
But now even WoW Head has a page listing out all the runeword items you can make. So we put all of that together and made the Stealth armor item.
I am not sure it was the bestest best gear ever, but it was an upgrade for Talon, our Amazon. She seems to have to run a lot to get in there and stab people with her spear.
Gear set, we headed out into Act III.
We had actually gone to the first waypoint when we were done with Act II, so we popped in there and began looking for the Spider Cavern, the first necessary stop on the way to Mephisto.
Thus began the wandering in the jungle part of Act III, which is not a favorite of mine. Lots of up and down paths, across bridges and logs, only to find dead ends. We did find the Great Marsh waypoint along the way, but never used it. The layout this time made the Great Marsh completely optional.
We eventually found the Spider Cavern which was, as advertised, a cavern full of spiders.
From there it was another stumble through to find the Flayer Jungle. More running up and down paths and storming through crowds of pygmies until we found the Flayer Jungle waypoint and then, finally, the Flayer Dunegon.
That got us the second pieces we needed… a brain, or maybe an eyeball… and set us looking for Kurast proper at the far end of the jungle paths.
Once you hit Kurast navigation becomes simple. The three main sections are just rectangles laid out in a grid. We made it through lower Kurast into the Kurast Bazaar where we found our way into the sewers to get the next piece on our quest shopping list. We also made a couple of side trips into the smaller dungeons along the way.
The loot drops, while as chaotic as they tend to be in the game, did yield us up a few good items. You can see in the screen shot above that we found a barn door sized shield drop for a paladin.
Also along the way we managed to hit most of the side quests, which was a bit surprising, but it somehow worked out that way.
Then it was to Upper Kurast and then across the Kurast causeway into Travincal, which none of us could pronounce on comms. Another one of those words I’ve seen many times over the years and have never once had the chance to say aloud… and when the chance finally came I stumbled.
Travincal is one of the places in the game that is always laid out the same, so after we broke through the first couple layers of defenders I led the group over to where I knew the waypoint to be. Best to have that in our pocket in case something went wrong.
From there it was time to take on the city council there on the steps of the main government building in Kurast.
Solo this fight can be chaos and usually involves my mercenary dying a few times. As a group we pressed on through at the cost of a couple of skeletons.
At that point it was time to talk to Deckard Cain, use the cube to create the flail that would let us into Mephistos dungeon, and get started finding him. We came back and beat on the orb to get in.
We got into the Durance of Hate, the final dungeon for Act III and had our usual luck, finding our way through in what seemed like record time to me. I have spend long stretches trying to find my way through that dungeon, but as a group we found our way to the waypoint and then down to level three, where we put up a portal in order to unload and resupply in town.
That done we put up two town portals, just in case, then launched ourselves into the main chamber, hacking our way through the restored town council again, then working our way around to Mephisto.
The Mephisto fight was soon on.
And, honestly, soon finished. Once again the might and size of our group were more than a match for the final boss. We lost five skeletons and my minion, but otherwise came through intact. Having brought him down, we sorted through his loot.
From there it was through the portal and into the Pandemonium Fortress and Act VI.
We did use the waypoint to go back to Kurast to wrap up the sixth and final quest, so we managed to knock them all out, which is something I almost never bother with.
Then it was back to Act IV where we sold loot and went shopping for better gear. Talon joined the horned helm club, finding a deal on one at the shop.
Now just hell lays between us and Diablo. We will see how tough he is. The game is supposed to scale up in difficulty as your group size grows, but I think we might have picked a sent of complimentary classes that let us scale up more than the difficulty.