Okay, I’ve been obsessed with Diablo III on the PlayStation 3 for the past few months on and off. Why? two words: HELLFIRE RING. As I’m NOT cheating or playing online with cheaters who provide hacked gear to anyone who asks, I’ve been chipping away at the game’s Inferno mode, going past the level cap of 60 and into Paragon territory, where I’m currently at Level 15 (of 100 total Paragon levels). Now, I’ve gotten to Whimsyshire already (there’s NO “Cow Level” in DIII, but you do meet the Cow King once you create the Staff of Herding), but the big deal for me has been trying to craft a Hellfire Ring. Well, a few Hellfire Rings, but the first one is the hardest. Pull up a chair and grab a drink, as this is going to get all game-y and technical.
Anyone else, you can watch a free movie instead while I bend the ear of those who stayed behind with some caffeine.
Hmmm… let’s see now. Ah. THIS should do nicely – who doesn’t love some vintage Vincent Price? Oh, you don’t? Well then… step right this way and stand here while I throw this lever. A little to your left, please? Good. Oh, wait. Here’s a pillow. Consider it a parting gift. You may want to stuff it down the back of your pants, though…
(throws lever, trap door opens)
So long, now!
Now, hmmmm… where was I? Oh yeah. Why is that first Hellfire Ring the hardest to craft? Well, when playing solo and NOT cheating with overpowered hex-edited gear, you need to “farm” up keys from some very hard sub-bosses and then you need to nab a set of plans from another boss in order to construct the three Infernal Machines that open one portal each to special maps where three pairs of uber-bosses lurk. Defeating these deadly duos will (hopefully) make them drop one of three parts required to make that ring once they’re combined (and the game’s blacksmith is properly leveled to make the ring). One catch is, getting the keys to drop is tough unless you boost the difficulty level into Master levels. There are five Master levels past the standard difficulties, each one with geometrically more difficult monsters, yet upping the chance of good drops by a nice margin. For example, on the highest pre-Master difficulty level, you have a 50% chance of getting a key or those plans. Great odds in Vegas? Mmmmmaaaaaaybe. Great odds in Diablo III? Nope.
Master Level I offers up a 60% chance, which is better, but still not optimal. The percentage grows by 10% per Master level, with Master V guaranteeing parts and plans to drop. Herein lies catch number two: Master V is BRUTAL to play as legitimately in solo play. Monster speed, resistances, health points and damage are enhanced to such a degree that the game takes on a frightening tone it barely hints at. You’re attacked so quickly and so cheaply that the game’s awful change from previous installments to adding a time factor to when you can use healing potions becomes a total pain in the ass. In previous Diablo games, you could “spam” potions, provided you had enough to last an encounter (and weren’t cheating with enhanced stats or gear).
Granted, you can carry a great deal more potions in DIII thanks to them “stacking” in one slot (up to 1000) as opposed to talking up an inventory slot for each. But when you use one ion this game, there’s a built-in delay before you can use another one. YES, you can (and SHOULD) be equipped with gear that automatically restores X amount of health per second and weapons that steal life per hit, but it’s still unfair when you’re trying not to be killed by a pair of nigh invincible beasties coming at you with mad intent. Hell, the first pair or part-dropping bastards can slow you, drop tons of rocks on you while you’re slowed, blast you with a few types of nasty spells and if you’re grabbed while all that is happening by the big clawed thing, it’ll leech a chunk or your health as it has you in its grip before throwing your badly injured avatar to the ground (and hopefully NOT into one of those slowing energy bubbles. Yaaaaaah.
Anyway, I’m currently trying to get ONE more part, thanks to me only playing at Master I for a week on and off and not getting that second part after a few attempts. I upped the difficulty to Master II earlier today and had some success in getting more keys, meaning I can craft three more Infernal Machines and try again. On the other hand, If I fail to get that part to drop from that second Boss pair, Guess what? I need to go farm up three MORE sets of three keys and do it all over again. I may bump up the difficulty to Master III for this next set of Boss fights, but that leads to the third catch (that’s not that bad): getting more Nephalim Valor BEFORE those boss fights. DIII (at least on consoles) adds this system where killing tough Elite enemies gains you additional boosts to magic and gold find plus a few other perks. This lasts about half an hour, however, there’s also Nephalim Glory to consider. This comes from special gold globes some enemies drop, lasts a much shorter time and I believe, can be “stacked” by grabbing more gold globes should they be dropped.
Going into those tough uber-bosses with a half-hour of Valor plus any Glory you can keep going as you warp between maps helps out greatly in your chances under Master V. While you don’t need either for Master V (you’ve a 100% chance at what you want dropping, remember?), the challenge in solo play (legitimately, of course) is SURVIVING. Okay, enough babbling. I’ve worked up enough courage to attempt some Master III madness. Wish me luck and that damn ring BETTER be worth the trouble, as I’m currently wearing two on my Demon Hunter (Ciara, if you have to ask what her name is) that make her a pretty bad-ass arrow-slinger. Back in a bit – the rain outside is going sideways now – perfect demon-killing weather, I say…