Tag Archives: Darkening of Tristram

Seeking the Eerie Red Glow in Tristram

Last week I ran through the Darkening of Tristram event in Diablo III with my best equipped character.  That got me a look at the whole thing, but left me shy on the achievement and rewards front.   Specifically, I wanted to get what seemed to be the main achievement for the event, which had a pet included.

On my list...

On my list…

That required rolling up a level 1 character and running through the event.  So, in a fit of unoriginality, I created another crusader… I really like the class… named Maurice (Steve Miller Band joke here) and set off to run the event one more time.

Unfortunately I got a little bit lost on the was in, as I started out in campaign mode and then tried to blitz through the whole thing until I got to the portal.  However, the portal is only there in adventure mode, which is the free form, open world.  I figured that out after a bit of fruitless searching, then exited that game, changed modes, and started over again.  The portal was listed on the map, so I jumped straight there and off I went.

Event Here!

Event Here!

I have already advanced to nearly level 4 at that point, but for the event you just have to start a level 1 character and eventually run through and slay Diablo.  This was the first alt I had made since I ran through season six and got into Paragon levels, so I a bit surprised to find that I had access to those as a low level.  Still, waste not want not, so I allocated those and headed into the dungeon.

Maurice versus the Skeleton King

Maurice versus the Skeleton King

The Crusader excelling at defense, the paragon levels, and a series of fortuitous equipment drops meant that the run was pretty easy.  I waded into mobs and slew them with abandon as I made my way down the 16 levels to finally face and defeat Diablo.

Level 26 and the pet

Level 26 and the pet

That got me the achievement, the pet, level 26, and a third crusader that I probably won’t ever use again.   The whole thing also felt a bit easy, as with my first run.  So I decided to go up a notch.  Season 9 had just begun, so I figured I ought to do the run with a seasonal character.

Welcome to Season 9

Welcome to Season 9

That would cut off access to paragon levels, gold, extra equipment and such.  I also decided to go with a Barbarian.  While not completely out of my comfort zone, I have not played one for ages, so it would be at least a bit of a change.  I couldn’t just count on the Crusader’s defense to get through the massed of mobs.  I thought about making this a hardcore character… one death and he’s done… but decided that might be too much.  I’d hate to die way down at level 16 and have to start from scratch again.  And finally I decided to do it real old school and never return to town.  No vendors on the run, just going with what I could pick up.

Sigwerd the Barbarian was rolled up.  I set the game to Adventure and the difficulty to Hard and set off for the event.

One of the things with starting out as a level 1 is that you do level up quickly.  This makes getting regular gear drops somewhat critical to progress.  Since the mobs scale with you as you level up, having old gear starts to really weigh against you.  Worst of all is being left with an old weapon, as killing stuff becomes a chore, and all the more so when your defense pretty much depends on killing stuff before it kills you.

And weapon upgrades were in very short supply.  I didn’t get my first weapon upgrade until I was already level 7 and it was taking 10 hits or more with my primary attack to kill random mobs.  Fortunately the game relented literally one room away from the Butcher.  It wasn’t a huge upgrade, but it was better than the no-stats, 3.0 DPS gray starter axe I had been swinging up until then.

Sigwerd versus the Butcher

Sigwerd versus the Butcher

I thought perhaps the game had relented at that point, but I was wrong.  The game seemed keen to keep me on the hair edge of viable gear.  The fight with the Skeleton King was especially taxing as I was several levels up but was still chopping away with the same axe I had against the Butcher.  With the mass of skeletons the Skeleton King has with him… and he summons more the longer the fight goes… the battle went on for several minutes with me kiting him about, clearing his helpers, and running after health globes that the game seemed as tight-fisted with as it did gear drops.  I came away victorious, but it was some work.

By this point I had also noticed a problem with health potions.  They didn’t seem to be working reliably.  If I was in combat and clicking then hit Q for a potion, the timer for the next potion would start, but I wouldn’t get healed.  I had to make sure I wasn’t clicking or hitting any other controls before I hit Q to get that critical heal.

Down I went, level by level, always hungry for a gear update, but the game seemed to want to keep me that way.  I got a very nice orange axe at one point that sustained me for quite a few levels, but eventually fell behind and left me beating on mobs for ages to slay them.

Around the 15th level of the dungeon I got my last weapon upgrade, a 60DPS 2-handed sword.  I didn’t mind laying aside my shield and going with that as I had not seen a buckler upgrade during the whole run so still had the wee level 1 buckler I started out with.  I was level 22 by that point.  And I finally got pants during the big fight to open up the portal to final level of the dungeon.  Up until that point I had gone pantsless.

I had also gotten the whirlwind skill for my Barbaian, a signature skill for dealing with rooms full of foes.  I got that setup on the right mouse button and headed into the final level, knowing that I would be facing rooms full of mobs.  And then I ran straight into the first full room on that level and promptly died.  The skill isn’t all powerful.

Up until that point I had been wondering if I should have gone heroic.  Wouldn’t that have been a pisser, having gotten all the way to the final level only to have to pack it in?

Instead I revived at the previous checkpoint, which was the portal into that level, so I could finish it up.  Having to start back without a full globe of fury meant taking it careful, which I should have done in the first place.   I cleared the first few rooms, unlocked Diablo, cleared off his helpers, then danced with him for a while, chipping away until he was finally defeated.

Diablo down

Diablo down

That finished up the event for me.  There are a couple more achievements left, but I am not sure I want to hang about re-running the whole thing until I slay every single possible named mob that can spawn.  I saw the place, I got the pet, I had a bit of a challenge, I think I might be set.

I am still not feeling the full rush of nostalgic enthusiasm I thought I might for this event.  Putting it in Adventure mode in the game meant you could run it with any character you had, which was convenient.  But it also marked it as just some additional content.  There isn’t any real story around the event like there was back in the day, just the achievements and an in-game goal to slay Diablo.  I am not sure this will be a big drawn as a yearly month-long event unless Blizzard drops in more rewards/achievements.

This also makes me think about any potential plans Blizzard might have for Diablo II.  Some time back there was an indication Blizzard was hiring to convert/create HD versions of Diablo II, Warcraft III, and StarCraft.  That still sounds like the best plan to me for Diablo II.

Too Fast Through Tristram!

Mistakes were made.  Also, there may be some spoilers.

When I got home from work yesterday I got to check out the new anniversary event in Diablo III, the Darkening of Tristram.  The patch had been deployed, the event was live, it was time to log in.  And, upon doing so I was greeted with the announcement.

Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary

At the bottom of the announcement was a button that opened up the achievement list for the event, because how else will you know you’ve done the event unless you get the T-shirt?  Yes, I know some of you will object, but I admit I like getting the T-shirt.

New Achievements under General

New Achievements under General

After that I got into my character, got into the Act I area of Tristram and looked around on the map until I found the marker for the event portal.

Event Here!

Event Here!

I immediately went there and started running around… and died.  It had been more than six months since I last played, the game was set to torment level VII, which I think was me pushing things last I played.  I decided that I ought to dial that back a bit.  So I dropped it down to level VI, then V, then down to III because I really couldn’t recall how bit the jump between torment levels was and I wasn’t sure if this event was going to be harder, easier, or the same difficulty curve as everything else.  Paranoia.

At Torment level III I was able to clear my way to the portal to the even easily enough.

The portal, complete with cursor glitch

The portal, complete with cursor glitch

The portal has a pixelated texture to indicate that you will be going back in time.  It also causes some sort of glitch with the cursor when you take a screen shot.  On my screen there was just one fist cursor, but in the screen shot it shows the six variations that make up the animation, all laid out in a row.  I went back and tried that screen shot a couple more times and always got the same result when it was over the pixelated portal to Tristram.

Glitch aside, it was time to go through the portal and see what lay on the other side.

Sudden reduction in graphic quality!

Sudden reduction in graphic quality!

Now we where the rubber meets the road and I was not sure what to expect.

There are a couple of problems with Diablo nostalgia for me.  For openers, it has been nearly 20 years since I first played it and maybe 17 since I last played it in earnest.  So I remember some bits quite clearly.  I recall going to town, piles of excess gold laying about, the Skeleton King and The Butcher, the alternate entrances to the dungeon that allowed you to pick up your quest in progress between sessions so you didn’t have to start back at the repopulated level 1 every time, and that last level with Diablo himself, where you had to clear the level around him in order to unlock his chamber to fight him.

But it is all pretty hazy and a lot of my memories are clearly Diablo II graphics and features impinging on the memories of the original game.  The problem is that, for me, Diablo II was such a good sequel that it overshadowed the original.  The way I never even considered going back to play the original Civilization once Civilization II came out, I never thought to set foot in the original Diablo after Diablo II came out.  One just eclipsed the other and that was that.

So there in old Tristram, I had to sort through mixed memories.  The event itself doesn’t have the story of the original.  It is more like a massive dungeon with that single “Kill the Dark Lord” objective.  You just have to go get him, and so off I went.

Into the Labyrinth!

Into the Labyrinth!

My feelings on the whole thing are bit mixed.

Overall I am happy.  A five year old game got some new content.  All else aside, that is a plus.

While I appreciate the work done on the graphic filter to make things feel more like 1996 than 2016, I am not sure how well that has really paid off.  The problem is that even with fuzzed up visuals, the whole thing is clearly made up of assets from the current game.  You would have to pixelate the visuals into oblivion to hide the fact that you’ve seen all these dungeon tiles and layouts before.

Without wanting to spoil the event, I sort of wish there was a “Diablo III visuals” version of the dungeon.

The pixelation also didn’t help with one memory I had of the original game, which was that of different parts of the labyrinth feeling distinctly different.  The top part was an architectural basement of sorts with lots of skeletons, and then there was the tunnels with the goat men, then magic users then demons.  The blur of everything managed to wipe out some of that feeling of distinctness.  Yes, it did progress from skeletons to goat men and so on, but was so indistinct in color/tone/visuals that they blended together.

And then I added to the problems by dropping the difficulty down to Torment III, which made everything trivially easy to kill with my current gear.  I was tearing through things like no other, to the point that even bosses were like soap bubbles.  I tried to get a screenie of The Butcher, but I clicked first and one-shotted him.

Nice cleaver

Nice cleaver

The experience was good.  I managed to get seven paragon levels running through the whole thing, which I did in one sitting.  That, too, is true enough to the original I suppose.  I remember starting new characters in the evening with friends and running through and killing Diablo before the night was through.

The loot was almost a bit too good.  Lots of stuff dropping everywhere in a game that already drops things everywhere.

Look at this mess...

Look at this mess…

I had to go back to town a few of times to clear my bags.  There were even some good old reminders of loot from days gone by, including the coveted Godly Plate of the Whale that everybody wanted.

This one is legit, I swear!

This one is legit, I swear!

I actually got six of those on the run, no doubt a nod (as is the description at the bottom) to the fact that back in the day somebody had a hack or exploit to obtain them well beyond what Blizzard expected.

Also a plus was the sounds and music, which certainly did their bit to evoke the spirit of the original.

Another item true to the old game was the ability to sort of rush on past things.  Bosses like the Skeleton King and the Butcher were optional in the old days, and if you pressed on every time you found the way down to the next level you might very well miss them.  I managed to miss the Skeleton King on my first run as I was taking every downward option, which got me down to the portal to level 16 in under an hour.

Diablo is somewhere past here... also, cursor glitch again!

Diablo is somewhere past here… also, cursor glitch again!

As with the Butcher, I clicked on Diablo before I managed to get a screen shot, so he was dead before the camera went off.

That was fast

That was fast

If you look at the time stamp at the top, I walked in at 4:19pm and Diablo was dead by 5:09pm, which left me time to go pick up my daughter by 5:30pm.  Such timing.

As I noted above, despite some issue, overall I am happy to have the new content this month.  The speediness of the run was largely my fault.  However, one of the achievements for the event is to take a level 1 character into the event and run them through to slay Diablo.  I will have to find time on the weekend to do that, during which I will give the whole thing a much more thorough examination.

On my list...

On my list…

But now I have had a preview of it, a mission, and I am back playing the game.  A success on that front.

Waiting for the Darkening of Tristram

Am I the only one who logged into the Blizzard launcher on January 2nd (I allowed them the first, a Sunday, off) wondering where the 20th Anniversary event was?

I knew it wasn’t likely to be there, but I was keen to check just in case.  Then the news came yesterday that the 20th Anniversary event update was in the 2.4.3 patch and was going live in Diablo III at midnight.  We would at last be able to play the throw back to the original Diablo that was being put in the Diablo III.

Back when 640x480 was a desktop screen size

Back when 640×480 was a desktop screen size

Of course, on a work/school night, midnight was too late for me… midnight was frankly too late for me on New Year’s Eve… so I will have to wait until after work today to check the event out.

I am actually looking forward to this enough that I even attempted to give the event a whirl while it was on the Diablo III Public Test Realm, only to find that trying load PTR build crashed for me every single time I launched it.  So I have been waiting.

This is, of course, a risky nostalgia venture, attempting to recreate the old game within the new.  It could be quite the event or it could be soundly rejected by fans.  Until I get home though I will have had to content myself with Blizzard’s anniversary retrospective video.