Having played many hours in this game I thought it was time to give my feedback on difficulty. I’ll try to keep this concise.
So far I’ve “completed” the game with the following builds:
Light’s Defender elementalist
2H blade arc witchblade
Dreeg witch hunter
In terms of the main campaign each of these builds destroyed the content. I went into Valbury while OA was still inflated in 18.104.22.168 when it came out and I set that damn place on fire with my Ulzuin elementalist. There was very little challenge to it. Each of my builds could do the same. The main campaign is great because there is a lot of build diversity; you can basically complete the game and beat all nemeses with any class combination. It is a bit of a sandbox because you see people making builds specifically to take down Mogdrogen and you get those blademasters with crazy DPS taking down target dummies in seconds.
Game mechanics are quite prevalent here which is especially true in nemesis fights. Moose is probably my favourite given that you have to manage killing him and killing his spawns. Iron maiden is all about surviving her up in your face. Fabius can be kited if you’re fast enough. Valdaran mechanics are a bit of a dance. Zantarin is the runt of nemeses in that he is incredibly easy.
The problem I have though is that any decent build isn’t really tested by the nemeses or any other content for that matter. It’s just a matter of how quickly you can complete the content. Nothing is difficult enough.
Now moving on to gladiator difficulty Crucible, some flaws in the game become very apparent. These flaws are forgivable in the main campaign only because the main campaign is so easy. The main flaw is that there isn’t really such a thing as “CC”. By this I mean that none of the CC skills actually work on anything that is worth CC’ing. Every build I make and take to gladiator comes down to coping with inevitably facetanking the content. None of the game mechanics actually work in Crucible because there is essentially no such thing as a ranged class. The mobs, especially Iron Maiden (LOL), will be up in your face immediately and there is nothing you can do about it. Traps, slow, freeze, stun… None of it works. What is up with that? I completely ignore CC in all of my builds because of this. It’s an entire aspect of the game gone up in smoke. The only this that works is the fumble mechanic (Searing Light, Circle of Slaughter, etc), which is shaky at best.
I will include a small disclaimer for DoT builds, especially the Dreeg witch hunter. This build can actually kite in Crucible and complete the content, so long as you resist the urge to slam all your heals in one go when Iron Maiden and Fabius are on your tail and rotate them instead. Ranged, melee and caster classes who don’t rely on dots need to get time to attack the target in order to be able to do damage. This is especially harsh on melee, although they do get the luxury of the weapon damage mechanic. Having said that, being able to lifesteal is useless when your 16k health with 2.3k DA, 2.4k armor and 98% absorb gets dropped in less than a second. My conjurer is the king of damage converted to health to the point where his health will jump to 10% and immediately back up to 100%, but unfortunately his health can drop from 100% to 0% just as quickly.
Essentially what you need to succeed in Crucible every time is soldier with a shield. Grab Overguard, Shield Training and Menhir’s Bulwark. Oh yes they also get that insane skill Scars of Battle. From there it’s just a matter of not being too brave when Overguard is down and working out how to do as much damage as possible.
With enough consumeables gladiator is doable with a lot more classes and I’ve seen it done, but the sad part is that consumeables don’t add that much to the game. They’re only there to compensate for the fact that you have to cope with enemies up in your face. There are some instances where they’re used to plug holes in a build and that’s cool. Or when I see Valdaran I’ll pop a lightning resist potion, etc. In most cases though you’re just padding up your defenses in order to survive. Or you’re ramming that panic button, AKA Aether Clusters.
So to wrap it up: The main campaign is a little too easy at the upper tiers of the game i.e. what is supposed to be the hardest content. Crucible is very difficult, but it just comes down to creating a build which can facetank well enough because in most cases tanking is the only effective mechanic.
I just want to include two side points quickly:
- I don’t mean to disparage the game in this critique, or to imply that it is in any way brainless. It’s an incredibly rich game and even with the situation in Crucible, there is a lot of finesse to beating it even while tanking.
- The difficulty curve is quite good in the game. It is a daunting learning curve for those who are just starting which for many adds to the wonder of the game. It also increases the sense of accomplishment when you finally do actually understand all of the mechanics. All I’m saying is that in the top tiers of the main campaign it isn’t hard enough. I feel like those roguelikes need a fourth difficult or something (with reviewed CC mechanics).
Anyway, I’m busy levelling my Infernal Knight commando caster with a shield, LOL.
P.S. Shout out to Mad Queen! She is a very cool boss and I love those mechanics. I enjoy that wave 147 or 148 (I forget) in Crucible where she makes an appearance.