Hardcore mode and Shattered Realms!


After having completed over 15 different builds in HC I’ve come to conclusion that some elements of the game weren’t even designed to be played in Hardcore. Sure, there are some players here who have completed SR 75 and braved every Celestial, but those were pigeon-holed into using a very small subset of builds and classes.

My biggest frustration with GD in its current state is Shattered Realms. It is just unreasonably random. Even if you get lucky with mutators, you can easily get wrecked in SR 45-50 in that tiny arena map packed with a bad boss combo. So, players are forced to either agro abuse or kite forever hoping that their AOE and DoT skills will finish off the bosses on time. How is that fun?

It’s all about damage/DA mechanics in my opinion. Previously, we had the ability to achieve high DA which would greatly reduce both the chance to be hit and damage dealt by mobs. We complained a lot and got it reworked/nerfed to a 60% cap. Great! But try running your favourite (non-tank) build in hardcore Crucible 150-170 or SR 45-60 and tell me how you feel about it.

Maybe the HC player base is just so small and negligible that it can be completely ignored? Or maybe the Devs are just too busy “fixing” retaliation warlords and Octavius based builds to pay attention to our concerns?

Regardless, I’m gonna post my findings down below and let you all figure out whether this game is properly designed:

  1. Physical EoR Warlord (Warborn based) - 3K Armor, 3K DA, ~85% AR, 13K HP, 13% ADCTH - Max SR 20 - reasonably safe
  2. Cyclone EoR Paladin - 1.8K Armor, 3K DA, ~83% AR, 13K HP, 15% ADCTH - Max SR 25 - reasonably safe
  3. Vitality PB Witch Hunter - 2K Armor, 3K DA ~85%AR, 14K HP, 30% ADCTH - Max SR 20 - reasonably safe
  4. Ghol Pet Cabalist - 2K Armor, 3K DA, 80-85%AR, 16K HP - Max SR 30 - reasonably safe
  5. Spellscourge Battlemage - 2.8K Armor, 3K DA, 80-85% AR, 14K HP - Max SR - 20 - reasonably safe
  6. Deathmarked Infiltrator - 2K Armor, 3K DA, 80% AR, 15K HP - Max SR 15 - reasonably safe
  7. Retaliation Oppressor - 3.2 K Armor, 3.2K DA, 80-85% AR, 15K HP - Max SR 40 - reasonably safe
  8. Retaliation Warlord - 4K Armor, 3K DA, 80-85% AR, 14K HP - Max SR 50 - reasonably safe
  9. Justice Cadence + Mortar Commando - 4K Armor, 3.2K DA, 85% AR, 13% ADCTH,15K HP - Max SR 60 - reasonably safe
    10 Pseudo Retaliation Commando - 3.5K Armor, 3.3K DA, 85% AR, 20K HP - Max SR 70 - reasonably safe

How is that balanced, Z? Note, each build was optimized for HC. DW and close range casters seem to suffer really badly from burst damage coming from multiple sources in SR. There’s one build that shines here against all odds by abusing a specific game mechanics, but if I post it - the nerf bat is gonna swing and insta kill it. Let’s leave that one for another time and focus on the main issue please.

Hope this provides some useful info to those who can address and fix the issue. As for now, I’m forced to play one very specific build to safely farm high SR in HC.

If other HC players disagree, please post videos of your recent SR60-75 runs.

Thank You!

I find several of those to be completely baffling. How does Warborn Warlord Eor, Retal Oppressor, Deathmarked Infiltrator and Vitality PB Witch Hunter only reach those SR floors?

Not trying to be a dick, but it seems more that you built those builds poorly because my crappy Chaos AAR Mage Hunter can reach those SR floors with no issues. And by no issues i mean not dying once.

And while they can make it less random (and it has become less random with each patch), the randomness will never truly go away. Playing HC is far more dangerous than SC on SR because you can’t afford to die, and that randomness will always ensure that.

You have said it yourself. In HC you can’t afford dying. In SC, you can get each and every one of them to at least SR 60. In HC I still have them all alive after many many runs, meaning they are built ok for their SR levels, but can’t be run safely at higher Shards, not with my piloting skills. How do I decide when to draw the line? Simple, if the health bar drops below 10-20% multiple times in a singe boss fight, - you need to be concerned. If this happens in multiple runs with multiple different mutator/boss combos - you have reached your ceiling.

The builds i mentioned should be cruising at least until SR 50 with their eyes closed. They are that strong, hence why i’m having an extremely hard time believing those are “safe” floors for them. It should be much higher than that.

Posting the Grimtools of those builds would help a lot actually in finding out why their safe floors are so low.

Every single one of my pet builds from here can run SR 76: The Carnival - A Guide to Pets

So forgive me if I find it hard to believe that Ghol Pet Cabalist can only go for SR 30 max.

Here’s the warlord, the tankiest of the 4 you mentioned, except for maybe oppressor.
As you can see, on paper, this should be crashing SR 50, like you say. And yet, even in SR20-25 you can get insta-killed if 2 hard hitting mobs like Moosi or Ben’Jahr land 2 non-crit blows when you are outside of your ascension window. That’s how I lost one of my warlords.

As for the Pet Cabalist not being able to go over SR 30, I’m talking about HC not SC. I love your builds and am currently trying to complete one of them to try the reap + birbs version. But the Ghol version doesn’t work for me in HC. Once in a while you do lose pets (again, thanks to the damage spikes in those small arena maps), and once that happens you don’t even have time to recast anything, either rip or exit game.

I played SC GD before, it’s a completely different experience. When you got nothing to lose, you can push much higher and feel safe.

I know, I was also talking about HC. It is not like I repeatedly die in SR while trying to complete the level.

But piloting plays an important part. Like do you take on all the bosses at once or do you try to lure them one by one and then focus down one at a time etc.

You also need to know when to use your potions, when to use your Medal agument Teleport, which boss to focus first.

But personally, I am one of the worst pilots in the playerbase and I have yet to die even once over like 12 runs on SR 75-76 with my Ghol Cabalist.

I am not saying that it is impossible to die however, as no build can boast that.

And while talking about my Ghol build in particular, losing pets should not matter even in the slightest as blightfiends ahve 3 second CD and Reap spirits are immortal. Furthermore, it is made with the idea that you use your pets as suiciding bombs, so they are supposed to die.

I’m using the Witching Hour Ghol build, skellies instead of spirits, so it does matter if they die.

But that’s not my main point. I’m not here to argue about the safe limits for particular builds but about the entire SR concept being poorly designed for HC (and maybe SC too).

You mentioned luring bosses and that’s exactly the issue here. You get that small arena map quite often between SR 30 and 60 and while at 30 it is still possible to take on all of the bosses at once with some builds, the situation changes drastically after 40-45 when you can get Aleks + Larria + Grava/Ben’har with some extras. I can’t even count the number of such encounters I had to skip. It does get considerably easier in higher SR when you can safely take on the bosses one by one.

Now, the entire concept of aggro abuse is problematic in itself. Is it there by design? And if not, does endless kiting look much better? Both are the result of poor design in my opinion and should be revisited by Devs. No tank can aggro all of the bosses in SR 75 HC and keep in one spot while chopping away. In fact, the only 2 types of builds I was able to use in high SR (reasonably safely), are the DoT casters that can kite while effectively killing stuff and massive ADCTH + HP pool + tanks that can get away with minimal kiting but pay a huge price in damage output.

Witching Hour is not mine though, it is by Sigatrev and not exactly suited for SR.

Give mine a try. Let me know how it goes.

As for “aggro abuse”, if you are expecting to just leeroy jenkins and make it work then obviously it won’t. Strategy does play a part.

My Retaliation warlord can facetank bosses in SR 76, my Pet builds can Kite them even if you aggro all the bosses save for certain combinations like Grava, Kaisan + Benny.

So again, I find the claims hard to believe. Half of it is piloting while the other half is the build. But every single type (like tanks, casters, pets) can do SR 75 even in HC even if every single build or every single player cannot.

And how many of those vids have you seen lately? Except for a couple Octavius and Retal runs which were made before the nerfs to overguard, I don’t think there’s much out there. Definitely not the DW or squishy fluffy close range casters. The only legit one from the recent attempts I know of is a commando tank (2 flavors, both sacrificing 3/4 of their potential damage to greatly overcap all possible defensive options, which proves my point BTW). How about you GDStash yourself a HC DW Deathmarked Infiltrator, then try SR 75 and post a video?

So again, claiming that something is doable in a mode you don’t normally play is like saying “You can swim 2 miles in a stormy ocean, because I easily do that in my local olympic pool”.

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The difference is there is no difference between HC and SC other than permanent death.
So your argument doesn’t hold water (get it? water? :smirk:)

I already gave you 2 examples, my Retaliation warlord and Pet builds, both in, which actually made it impossible to lure bosses 1 by 1 in the Conclave map. It was fixed just recently with the latest hotfix. You can loot in the patch notes.

Now, as for me playing an infiltrator, I won’t be doing that to convince you. But how about you post a video of you struggling with builds that easily pass SR 75+ so that others can actually help?

Also if you are taking highly offense focused Crucible Specs into SR then note the rest of my post that you quoted. Specifically this part “even if every single build… cannot”.

Grim dawn isn’t balanced around hardcore play, especially so shattered realm. Hardcore players are a tiny minority of the playerbase.

The difference is very simple. If your build successfully clears SR75 9 times out of 10 (heck, even 99 out 100) in SC = It is DEAD in HC. Period. You don’t get to fail, then shrug and keep saying that your build is great. And the builds posted in my original post have a probability of such a fail even in those low SR levels. And the only way you can fully understand this is if you start a new char in HC, grind all the gear, complete the build and then slowly brave the SR and see how far you get before you RIP.

What would be the point of HC if there is no chance of the character dying?

Why not just switch over to SC if you fear losing your character?

And this is exactly why I play HC. But there’s, however, a big difference between losing your character in a good battle vs RIP to a poorly designed game mechanics or server disconnects. I’ve lost plenty of toons in D2, D3, PoE and GD. Played many glass cannon builds and was in top 20 in multiple leagues/ladders/seasons. Too bad GD doesn’t have those, as that would immediately reveal the weak points of the SR system and would force the Devs to properly fix them.

Good chat Maya,
I’ll go back to my grind and may try your build if/when the bysmiel’s trinket set finally drops for me. I do hope that Z is paying attention to this topic and not only looking for more unintended mechanics to nerf :wink:

Well, SR is optional and you know what the mechanics of it are. The devs know of it and the randomness is intended. They don’t consider it as weak points but as the defining feature of SR.

While that does hinder consistency of builds, without the randomness, atleast in my opinion it would just be another crucible.

That said, personally, I wish that they would replace the Boss chunks with special SR boss maps where SR only bossfights occur, like say the one with Gazer Prime.

I would agree with you on the point that there is a certain amount of luck involved and if the RNG gods are against you, even the best builds will fail.

Well, without seeing your builds it’s hard to say why you seem to be having so many problems when others don’t. Use grimtools to upload your characters then post the links here so we can see them and try and figure out what’s going on.

But SR isn’t meant to be safe for HC characters. It never was and never will be. Tweaks to balancing are still being done, but it’s never going to be a case of a HC character surviving no matter what it faces in there. Zantai’s already said that eventually the balance will get so skewed that even trash mobs could kill a character if you go deep enough.

You can’t pretend SR to be a safe space for your HC characters up to shard 75. The “mandatory” shard for completing the SR quests and getting the SG set is 55. A decent build should be able to reach that point with little effort. Anything above that yard is under the players’s own discretion. You would get a good point if the game gave you a quest to reach something like 80 shard to get a reward that’s too good to miss (like another skillpoint), but it doesn’t. There must be a point where the player is on his own. No one is forcing you to push that hard in the shards.

Valid point. Here you go - https://www.grimtools.com/calc/bVAgQmwN
I had two of these. One RIPed in SR 25 boss room. What’s wrong with this spec, beside my seemingly terrible piloting skills?

This summarizes the problem and further supports my statement:

Now, based on the feedback from the SC players so far, I have to make an important clarification.

There’s a huge difference between a farming spec and a pushing spec. Obvious isn’t it? The farming spec is supposed to be low risk, while the pushing spec is, well, for braving the high level SRs. It gets far more pronounced in HC, as you don’t wanna farm your gear with a build that fails 1 time out of 10, - not going to be efficient at all. Again, - duh… While in SC you can easily speed run 60-65 instead of say 75-76 and even if you die once every 15-20 runs, it doesn’t slow you down too much. See where I’m going? Hardcore would force you to drop lower, but in the current SR design, you either drop all the way to 15-30s on most builds, or simply skip the SRs (one of the best farming choices available) altogether.

So, due to the randomness of huge damage spikes in boss rooms, the HC farming spec is unreasonably low compared to that of SC. Now, as much as I dislike mentioning other games here as a comparison, D3’s GR (Great Rifts) design is optimized to eliminate atrocious damage spikes (some exceptions exist, but even those reflect mobs are easily manageable by every single build). This allows bridging the gap between the farming and pushing GR levels, so that HC players have a decent chance to farm high GR safely and efficiently.

Now, based on my personal experience with SR in HC, as well as some feedback posted here on the forums, there might be a very simple fix for both the SC and HC players. All Zantai has to do is make those boss rooms bigger, so that we can always have the option to engage bosses one by one. Make aggro abuse available for everyone at all times, why not? Those who complain about it, usually post their success videos running around in circles waiting for their DoTs to do the job. Much better?

Anyhow, I’m gonna leave it here for now. Once I have more free time on my hands, will start adding SR vids with all my builds just to provide more evidence for the Devs.

Thank you for the feedback, Guys!