The Darkening of Tristram

Season 16 recently began in Diablo III, and with it there are some new features as usual with these seasonal updates. I haven’t really played through a season in quite some time, despite sort of jumping into season 14 after having purchased the Necromancer DLC pack. I didn’t stick with it that time, and I haven’t yet leveled a Necromancer to 70. There was a bit of hype around this season for whatever reason, and I caught wind of many people on my social media feeds giving it another go. I decided to do so myself, and also learned of the “Darkening of Tristram” limited-time event that was running as well. I remember hearing about this event before, that a chunk of older Diablo games would be recreated in this newer engine, but having played through the special event, I now know this isn’t quite what has happened. The event is marked on your adventure mode map with a pentagram. You can go to that particular zone and will find a portal in what remains of Tristram to go back in time.

The first thing you’ll notice is the grainy textures, but the UI is also simplified and animations not quite as smooth. Essentially it’s a lower quality filter over the top of the existing engine, but it does what it sets out to do. Sounds and music from the original game are present and this gives a great nostalgic feel, if not being a little harder to follow. It’s amazing how bad old games look after a few decades, and this is already running much better than those older titles in the series. Whatever the case, you are now in the original version of Tristram, but it’s clear that everyone and everything has been decimated. Your only objective is to “Slay the Dark Lord,” and there is no real direction on how to do so.

Those of us who played the older games will remember that you would head into the labyrinth and continue on down until you finally face Diablo (a feat I never accomplished when playing the original Diablo). On the way down, there are various sub-levels that are one-offs and will contain various enemies. Some are more familiar than others, like the Butcher (pictured above), and many of the unique creatures feel like they are designed with RNG, but that’s the nature of this style of game.

I made the mistake of taking a break from my run the first time around, and was already about 11 or 12 levels deep. Fair warning, if you log out of the game while running this dungeon, you will have to start all over again when you come back. So today, I decided that I would run the dungeon again and make sure that I didn’t log out until I completed it. Thankfully, there are only 16 floors to conquer before you run into the Dark Lord, and there wasn’t any one part of it that was really a challenge. I was only running on Normal difficulty, so that’s probably why, but when you run hardcore characters like I do, you want to avoid death and I didn’t know what to expect.

The Dark Lord caught me by surprise, randomly appearing on the 16th floor, but I had a feeling it was coming up soon due to being teleported to a mini-dungeon and fighting some important sounding mini-bosses, and then being teleported back to the “same” floor that looked completely unexplored. The fight was over before I knew it, mainly because I’m running skeletons and the golem and I sit back and syphon life, so he was downed quite quickly. After killing him, what I assume is the original end game movie from Diablo plays, and that looked horrible but set up the events to follow in Diablo II. Afterwards I was able to collect my loot, earning this interesting gem:

I haven’t seen exactly what this does just yet, but I did slot it into my current helmet. There were banner unlocks and a new transmog that came along with completing this event, and I earned a few achievements along the way. As a whole, I’d say this limited event was successful and a good little time waster. I look forward to other things like this added to the game, but with Blizzard doing Blizzard things, it’s unlikely we’ll see much more before we end up with a new Diablo (or they move completely to mobile with that Immortal thing). If you haven’t checked this out and want a little nostalgia trip, the event is still running, so hop in game and check it out!

Diablo III: Season 14

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I was diddling around with StarCraft Remastered the other day and sort of checking in on Blizzard games that I still enjoy. I realized that I had purchased that Necromancer DLC sometime last year and had only played for a few hours. My Necromancer was a hardcore seasonal creation but I only took him to level 22. I believe that was around the time I really started concentrating on my backlog, and I have made significant progress on that front. At this point I was tempted to play again, as I hadn’t joined in on a season for quite some time despite having played like the first 6 or so seasons religiously.

Looks like when I actually picked up the Necromancer DLC it was Season 11 and i had missed the 5 seasons prior to that. These reset fairly rapidly so that’s not saying I hadn’t played in years. Apparently we’re into season 14 at this point, and I’ve used the rebirth option on the last Necromancer I created so I could start over. It’s still seasonal and still hardcore, but I want to actually see what a high end Necro can do. I have a month to do so during this season, and I think that’s doable. First up, have a gander at the latest season’s notes if you aren’t familiar with the game, or haven’t played in a while like me. There have been some changes that came down the pipeline that I only discovered once I was in game. As usual, there is a Season’s Journey.

It’s the same as always, though you’ll get different frames, pennants and armor sets. What was new this season was what they’re calling “themes” and season 14 is the season of greed. Treasure Goblins spawn in pairs now, and they drop more loot than usual.

More of the cross-promotional goodies were added to my account as well, apparently I happened to login during the StarCraft 20th Anniversay celebration, so we get this sweet Terran ship as a pet. Doesn’t really do much but it’s interesting nonetheless. I like these cross-promotions because if you’re already playing multiple games from a developer, you get free stuff in each. Hi-Rez has done a lot of this as well, and it’s pretty cool.

One of the new features that was added during my absence are “Challenge Rifts.” These are predetermined Nephalim Rifts that you must complete with a custom built character. There’s a time limit for completion and I assume the rewards are decent but I have yet to try one. I’ll get to that sooner or later.

Another new feature is the Armory, which is located next to your personal stash. This is a great option for those with multiple full armor sets that might be beneficial in different circumstances, and being able to swap gear load outs on the fly is a nice touch. I won’t have use for this for a while but I still am glad it’s something that’s been added.

Otherwise it’s more of the same old Diablo III that you either love or loath. Personally I still rather enjoy it, as I can play and zone out for a few hours without having too much to digest. You’ll see above the new pet in action, me fighting some of the treasure goblins, and how my new lowbie Necro looks at the current time. I’ll be trying to hit level 70 before the seasons reset and have my new set armor installed by then. I don’t know how much I’ll play going into the future because it is more of the same, but I at least want to see the new class in action at high level. There are a couple other ARPGs that I want to get to so I won’t be spending too much time here. Grim Dawn has been calling my name as well, as I picked up the expansion and haven’t really gone all that far into the game. Anyway, that’s all for today’s post. Are you still playing Diablo III?

Thoughts on the Diablo 3 Necromancer

It’s been a while since the Rise of the Necromancer pack released, and initially I had very little interest in it. Sure, the Necromancer was my favorite class in Diablo 2, and like most people I wanted to see it in Diablo 3, but the Witch Doctor sort of filled those shoes and I enjoyed the class well enough. When Blizzard decided that they were going to continue to add things to Diablo 3 like new zones, a portion of the first game and now a new class it was great to see, but also somewhat disappointing. I honestly thought they would put out another expansion by now, though I suppose the additional zones and features and now this class could count as such, but it would be interesting to see a new Act added to the game.

The Necromancer pack includes access to the new class, provides some other frivolous items like a portrait frame, wings and banner pieces, and a new pet. The pets just run around and pick up gold for you which is nice but not entirely necessary and I can’t count how many times I’ve tried to attack the little bugger running around. Regardless, it seems like a fairly decent value, though I think I would have priced it around $10 rather than $15. Still, breathing new life into a game that is a few years old is nice and it appears that people are still playing it regularly. I’m late to the party this time around, as season 11 started back in July, but I still rolled a hardcore seasonal version of the new Necro:

He looks like a vampire but he really isn’t. Sort of reminds me Geralt from The Witcher as well. As far as the class goes there are some abilities that remind me of the D2 version of it, things like corpse explosion:

It feels much more effective than it did in the prior game however. If you down a large group and fire this ability off it can really start mowing enemies down and creates a chain reaction. The summoning portion of his abilities feel a little more lackluster, but I’m still early in my progression, so perhaps they will improve. The first summoning skill is the ability to procure Skeletal Mages, which were a stable in D2, along with normal skeletons, etc. These are on a temporary timer in this game though, whereas in D2 they were permanent until they died (or they had a much longer timer, I’m not exactly sure). They do some work, killing things much faster than I, but it feels like something you should be able to keep up all the time, so I’m hoping in the later levels that’s the case. I’m not fully aware of all the class can do just yet, but overall it feels pretty fun.

I managed to play for an hour or so last night and decided to play through the campaign for once, just to familiarize myself with the class. I’ll likely jump into Adventure mode sooner than later, because that’s more my speed. If a new season is starting soon I’ll probably rebirth this guy just to be able to run him through a whole season. Earning the rewards is worth it, even if it’s really just more of the same. I will say that they managed to add some bits and bobs that I was unaware of, the last time I played was season 6, so it has been a while. I’ll report more on these as I get more involved.

No matter how many times I walk away from this game, I always manage to come back. It’s elegant in its simplicity and there’s something about zoning out and aimlessly smashing things that tickles my fancy. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this as I progress, so stay tuned!

Season Journey Complete

I’ve finally completed the Season’s Journey for Diablo III. This would have been a much easier feat to accomplish if I was playing the game on normal, but playing it on hardcore meant that there was the potential for stumbling blocks, which is exactly what happened. I’ve gone over it before, but just to recap, I leveled a Barbarian to 70 and was working through the journey when he died, and due to playing on hardcore mode, that death was permanent. I also lost some of my Haedrig’s gift set pieces, so that meant grinding til I found a set on my Crusader. I was at the point that I had nearly all set pieces for multiple sets, but just couldn’t complete one. I ended up getting a piece last night that was a duplicate, but I only needed one more piece of the Akkhan set to finally enter a set dungeon. You can use Kanai’s Cube to reforge these items into another piece of the set, so after spending a bunch of death’s breath and forgotten souls, I finally had the last piece that I needed.


The set focuses on giving bonuses when you use Akarat’s Champion, which is an ability I was already using, but the overall stats of the set were less effective than the Invoker set. I started to feel how much harder I was getting hit on Torment VI in this set as opposed to the mixed up pieces I had on before. Part of that was due to having a few ancient pieces in other sets. Anyway, the first step towards getting the season journey was done, now it was time to find the dungeon. I headed to the Royal Quarters, and found a clue.


Being too lazy to figure that out (and also trying to make some progress in a limited amount of time) I looked up where to go for the set dungeon. This particular one is in Bastion’s Keep in Act III. It was easy enough to find, after knowing where I was going.


Set dungeons come with a list of things to complete, and have a timer, so there are similar to Greater Rifts, but have more specific things that you have to do. This particular set dungeon had these goals:


I already use Condemn and Akarat’s Champion normally, so these objectives sounded rather easy, but I went into the set dungeon on Torment VI, and ended up dying. Thankfully, even on hardcore mode you don’t actually die if you die inside of a set dungeon. I’m thankful, because I was about to rage and never play this game again. I lowered the difficulty to Torment III and managed to complete the dungeon, but didn’t complete one of the primary objectives, so I had to run it once more. I dropped the difficulty to Torment I and at that point I was at least able to complete one primary objective, but ran out of time so got no mastery for it, and I’m not sure what that does anyway.

Hitting ten enemies at once with condemn is harder than it sounds. Perhaps I should have lowered the difficulty even further, and perhaps I will in the future while doing these. With that, my season journey was complete, and I earned the portrait border, a pet, and a new sigil for completing that dungeon. I was surprised to find out that there was more to the season journey after the fact though, and I have already completed a couple of the tasks:


I’m not sure if I’ll actually complete this section of the journey, as all it does is give you another portrait frame and an achievement. Those are all well and good, but I may have had my fill at this point. I think I’m ready to wait for the next season and move forward with a new character. But maybe I’ll play more, I’m not sure. I still love this game but I think it’s time for another break.

Progress Report: D3 Season 5


The above screenshot paints a picture of what’s going on with my latest character in this season’s journey. He’s max level. He has 124 paragon levels. He’s got all but one of the season journey objectives completed. He’s got mostly matching gear. Grinding Torment IV rifts has become nearly effortless, and moving onto Torment V is happening very soon. I’m sure you can probably guess which one of the objectives he hasn’t completed yet, but I have already spoiled that in the above sentence and also on the latest episode of Couch Podtatoes. For those of you who suck at guessing or weren’t paying attention, this Crusader still has yet to finish a set dungeon.

Ah, the elusive set dungeon. Truth be told, most everyone who isn’t playing a hardcore character (or didn’t kill their first one off like I did) had no issue getting their first complete set of armor, allowing them entry into the exclusive club known as set dungeons. Nay, they had Haedrig’s Gift on their side, and they completed all of the objectives needed to earn that full set of gear, and they triumphed over their dungeon and perhaps moved onto other set dungeons. My stupid luck meant that I had only one Haedrig’s Gift to reap on this character, as the other two fell into the ether once my Barbarian died. The last gift contained only one set piece I could use, as I had already found the other via RNG (grinding). I have since been grinding quite a bit. I pushed through the 20 levels of Greater Rifts required for the last gift a week or more ago. I’ve earned a bunch of paragon points along the way and have increased the difficulty each time things started to feel easy. I’ve upgraded a legendary gem to rank 25, and a second to rank 10. I’ve found ancient weapons and armor. I have matching set rings. I have set pieces in almost every slot, legendaries in the rest. I’ve even nearly filled up my stash with more set gear, legendary gems, and legendary weapons and gear.


At this point I have gear that will go to my other 70’s who aren’t seasonal after this season ends. I have four pieces of the Akkhan set, four pieces of the Invoker set, three pieces of the Light set, and two pieces of Blackthorne armor. This isn’t counting duplicates that I broke down for components. I really don’t care which set is completed first, I just want one to be complete so that I can get the last bit of the season journey done and probably go back to not playing Diablo III for a while. At least, til they add something new or refresh the seasons once again. I feel like I have had my fill, but I want to finish what I’ve started. It will also be fun to flesh out my other 70’s whom I’ve spent less time on but have some gear waiting for them in my stash.

At this point I just want to share my personal build for the Crusader:


I’m running Slash with the Zeal rune which gives 1% attack speed for 3 seconds, stacking up to ten times. This combined with the Heavenly Strength passive means I can still sword/board with two handers and attack a bit fast during sustained fights. Fist of the Heavens with Divine Well rune means the initial strike of lightning spreads out to other enemies. AOE is killer on Crusaders. Akarat’s Champion with the Hasteful rune gives my Crusader extra damage, wrath regen and attack speed (this really helps with elites/bosses). Condemn with the Unleashed rune makes the damage instant, and this is another great AOE tool. Combining that with my first Kanai’s Cube power, from the Blade of Prophecy makes the Condemn trigger multiple times. Bombardment with Impactful Bombardment rune makes for a stronger damaging single projectile. I have a proc from one of my set pieces that makes this effect trigger twice. Finally, Falling Sword with Flurry is a great engage/escape tool. You leap into the air and come slamming down, and then a ring of swords pops out that continuously damages nearby enemies (also staggers weaker ones). My other three passives are Indestructible (death prevent), Holy Cause (+10% damage – helps to offset the -% damage from Heavenly Strength), and Vigilant (health regen and -20% damage).  The other two Kanai’s powers are from the Death Watch Mantle (25-35% chance on receiving damage to shoot out fan of blades causing 750-950% weapon damage) and Countess Julia’s Cameo (prevents all Arcane damage and heals for 20-25% of the amount prevented). Also, here are my paragon points at this time:

Mainly keeping with the themes of more attack speed, sustain, and some other defensive stats. Overall I have found this build to work really well for me. Perhaps it will work well for you too.