[Feedback] Drain Essence on lower levels

Okay, I just started a new Necromancer and looked at the skills. I decided that I would, once again, try out Drain Essence, just to be reminded why I never intended to do so in the first place:

  • the first level deals basically no damage.

You are practically better off simply attacking with your weapon, for the damage of Drain Essence with one or two points in it is extremly low. At the first level, you get 3 aether + 10 vitality decay per second for two seconds. A single hit of your weapon easily outclasses that damage, and costs no energy. Lets take, say, Arcane Missiles as comparison. At first level, with a lower cost of 10 per cast instead of 12,5 per tick, you get 15 damage multiplied by up to 3, dealing AoE damage. Something that DE doesn’t do for a long time.
Worse yet, you have to invest a lot in order to gain a chance for AoE. So, even with all that huge cost, it still is a pitiful single target spell that is completely overwhelmed when faced with multiple enemies. The only notable advantage of 10% ADCH is completely invalidated by the low damage - or the ridiculous increase of energy, which leads me to the next point:

  • DE’s energy costs becomes extremly high

I don’t know what is up with the Energy cost anyway. In the first levels, you have some weird plateau where the cost doesn’t increase, only to increase by roughly 4 energy (which is about a 33% increase compared to the base). At 16/16, which can be attained at level 7, you get to a staggering cost of 100 per tick! That is extremly high and practically unbearable at that level! Compared to Arcane Missiles, that costs 30 at 16/16, it is practically unsustainable, especially since a Necromancer has no passives to either reduce the energy cost or drastically increase their mana pool.
I still fail to comprehend, why the DE baseskill has such a high energy cost, when their Nodes have far less of a cost.
This is especially prominent if you compare it to Decomposition. It has at 12/12 roughly the same damage as DE at 12/16, but a far lower cost. In total, you need to pay 12,5 (+ 4,2) + 16,7 = 29,2 (33,4) energy per tick, while a 12/16 DE costs a far higher 66,7! Decomposition is not even half of the cost of the DE equivalent, and even if you put one point into the previous node, it is still only half of a 12/16 DE!
That is basically the only way I can currently use DE - by only putting in one point and maxing Decomposition instead. I can’t even fanthom why I would max DE before I have really good gear and or good passives to support my energy expensure! And for what gain? … Apparently you don’t even deal that much more damage. In fact, I believe that the OA shred on Decomposition is far more relevant than the slightly higher damage (assuming the Decay stacks. If it doesn’t even stack, then I am completely lost).

Yet again, both nodes have similar ‘plateaus’ where the energy cost stays the same for multiple levels. For what purpose was that designed? So that you think twice if you want to wear that item that gives +1 skill because your energy consumption would suddenly jump up for just a small increase in damage as a reward?

TL;DR: Damage on the lower levels is extremly low, energy cost/damage ratio becomes unbearable on higher levels. It is far more preferable to forego DE at the beginning and instead rushing and maxing Decomposition. Skilling DE becomes demtrial due to the stark increasing energy cost, and you often want to stay on certain skilllevels in order to not increase the cost more than necessary.

I think you’re confusing Energy per tic with Energy per second.

At rank 16, Drain Essence costs 24 Energy per tic, or roughly 72 per second at 100% Cast Speed.

Having personally leveled a Drain Essence build quite recently on Ultimate, I agree that it has a high cost, but managing that cost is part of the playstyle.

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You are indeed right with that. Still, that merely means that the damage is somewhat higher than I compared with. I still think that the 100 energy cost per second is unsustainable and therefor it is a bad idea to max DE early on.
That in itself is a rather curious thing, since DE is a level 1 skill.

Currently, I am playing my Necromancer at level 28. The damge itself is not that bad, and the cost is not that terrible either - but that is because I have not put any points into DE and maxed Decomposition instead. If my cost were double or even triple of what it is now, I could not even keep my energy at the same level if I were to drink an energy potion once it is no longer on CD…

Ectoplasm is a great way to beef up your energy pool and regen at low levels.

Don’t forget that Drain Essence deals that 3 Aether damage every 0.3 seconds. So you’re actually looking at 10 Aether damage per second, and 5 Vitality Decay damage per second as well. Totalling 15 damage per second.

This is in line with other similar pure damage spells with Panetti’s Missile dealing 15 Elemental damage and Dreeg’s Evil Eye dealing 7 Acid + 9 Poison per second. The trade-off between Drain Essence and Panetti is AoE for consistent health recovery - which is extremely useful early on as you have no health recovery.

Then you don’t have to. If you look at the skill line again, you’ll notice that Decomposition is more efficient in terms of damage vs energy cost:

  • 16/16 Drain Essence: 66 Aether damage per 0.3s + 99 Vitality Decay damage per second (totalling 319/s) for 100 energy per second.
  • 12/12 Decomposition: 102 Vitality damage per 0.3s (totalling 340/s) for 16.7 energy per second.

This is not just true for Drain Essence either. You’ll commonly find that a skill line’s modifiers are often cheaper than the base skill while offering a significant amount of damage. Sometimes it is worth just dropping 1 or 2 points into the base skill and rushing to/maxing these modifiers first.

This is in line with other similar pure damage spells with Panetti’s Missile dealing 15 Elemental damage and Dreeg’s Evil Eye dealing 7 Acid + 9 Poison per second. The trade-off between Drain Essence and Panetti is AoE for consistent health recovery - which is extremely useful early on as you have no health recovery.

Indeed, the damage is in line - if you only look at a single enemy. The problem is, that the lifesteal is not as relevant in the lower areas (I dare say, until ~Wightmire), and that the AoE is far superior. It does not help, that your health does not scale as much as your damage does (as in, early lifesteal is less useful than later). I personally never had a problem with recovering my life, running around does enough for that. Especially since level ups not only heal you, but refill your constitution completely as well.

This is not just true for Drain Essence either. You’ll commonly find that a skill line’s modifiers are often cheaper than the base skill while offering a significant amount of damage. Sometimes it is worth just dropping 1 or 2 points into the base skill and rushing to/maxing these modifiers first.

I just want to ask - why is that designed as such? To give an incentive to the player to invest the points into the mastery instead of the skill? In my humble opinion, it merely makes the very beginning (as in, level ~4-10) just unnecessarily grueling and exhausting. I took a lot of time to kill the Reanimator compared to even Krieg. It strikes me as imbalanced, and frankly, a trap for players who did not ‘prepare’ their builds.

All in all, this Feedback is merely my experience. I simply do not see a reason to skill DE while leveling and I personally dislike that.

You are right that having a source of strong AoE is nice to have but there is a case to be made for life steal as well. Being able to deal damage without fear of stopping to recover (thus wasting time not doing damage) is notable. I often take Twin Fangs on characters early on for a similar reason.
Though this might just my experience as I often start characters on Elite so am more exposed to damage.

Regardless of that though, eventually enough life steal means you can often stand your ground and tank Bosses down and Drain Essence steadily builds up to allow you to do this likely by the end of Act 1.

No idea, that’s something you’d have to ask Zantai. It’s just a pattern I’ve observed.

That said though, I don’t ever find the early game particularly difficult. If you’re struggling with Bosses at the stage you mentioned either due to low damage via under-investment or high energy usage, you can look to using component skills like Fireblast to cover you for awhile and come back to those skills later.

There’s no shame in using a better skill option for a little bit and swapping to the one you want to use when you have enough skill points or gear to make it shine.

That’s fine :ok_hand:. Different playstyles for different people. I’ve personally levelled a Drain Essence character on 2 separate occasions through Normal to Ultimate sometime before Forgotten Gods released and I quite enjoyed it. Not the fastest killer but the built-in life steal makes it quite tanky. There was some preparation/management in energy that I had to do (e.g. Ectoplasms, Bard’s Harp/Tree of Life, the Rover’s Bone Charm) but I was able to work around it without too many issues.

I mean, yes, I did in fact socket a Fireblast since it vastly outclassed my DE until I got a good chunk of points into Decomposition. I just thought, that, you know, these components were planned for builds that do not have access to a level 1 skill because the skills they want to use are a bit higher up. Not so that everyone sockets them once they hit level 6.
I actually only struggled against the Reanimator, since you need to beat him to access your stash. With struggle, I mean that it took me a pretty long time. I don’t know, the lifesteal was only notable when I entered Burrwitch.

As I said, as level 28, with Decomposition fully skilled, it is decent. I even defeated Korvaak with him (and I do think that he is far much stronger than any Act 1-3 content), though it took me ages (he still outdamages my heal, so I can’t face tank him)

I’ve personally levelled a Drain Essence character on 2 separate occasions through Normal to Ultimate sometime before Forgotten Gods released and I quite enjoyed it. Not the fastest killer but the built-in life steal makes it quite tanky. There was some preparation/management in energy that I had to do (e.g. Ectoplasms, Bard’s Harp/Tree of Life, the Rover’s Bone Charm) but I was able to work around it without too many issues.

Yeah, but why is it necessary to wait until you can attain the components before you can skill DE? To begin with, why do other skills do not need these components, but DE needs so much setup? And why only DE and not decomposition … Welp, its simply something I really dislike.

Like Zantai said, working around the energy cost is part of the skill. There are alternatives if it’s not your cup of tea.

DE gains more targets later, and its innate lifesteal is too valuable to have damage and energy be on-par with other spells. Especially during levelling where sustain is scarce.

If you want aoe you do have access to siphon souls!

Because that’s called “Balancing”. It’s part of a (good) Balancing to have Skills which performs better than other, and than again the weaker Spells might have a trade-off which makes them attractive. Take away lifesteal from DE and do boost the performance to your examples… than you basically have another mere Damage Skill withou unique Trait. But in with this way you might sacrifice some damage until you can build the Skill around it, but allows a different playstyle with a different skill. And if they would boost DE without taking away the Life-Steal, the Skill would feel somewhat broken and than people (mostly like you) would mourne that the other said Skills can’t compete with a skill like DE without Components and stuff. It’s impossible to bring all Skills in one line, but it’s possible to nail the sweet spot of balancing that each / most Skill have it’s purpose…

Remove energy from the game and the problem is solved

Every channeling skill have high energy consumption, it’s part of the skill. Flames of Ignaffar it’s not cheap skill either.

But you have still the options to use components and devotions to harness the energy cost. Cold for example can easily fit Harp. Aether can pick Arcanist class and use Mental Alacrity, that’s helping big time.