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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.