Saturday, February 7, 2015

Diablo 3 Gem of Ease Powerlevelling

With patch 2.1.2 D3 released a few new legendary gems, the most interesting being Gem of Ease naturally. At first glance it looks interesting enough but eventually you realize that you socket it into weapons not jewelry, so effectively as long as you can get it to 25 you’ve got a 5 minute trip to level 40 with any class. The process of getting a gem to level 25 is pretty difficult, have to do around 8 Greater Rifts and at least the last few have to be in the mid to high 20s which is significantly more difficult than Torment VI; probably not a huge deal for people that have been playing forever but I did it on hardcore with a fresh character so a bit more interesting.

Somehow or other I got really lucky with my fresh character and could really murder even those high torment rifts, so I quickly got the gem up to level 25. Immediately I made a Demon Hunter and got to level 20 in a couple minutes… and then died. Turns out even with a comical amount of health the Torment VI regular ass zombies hit really hard. This was just comic gold to me despite the amount of time lost. Also the “Hall of the Fallen” has a rather amusing addition:

Not to be deterred I quickly started re-levelling another gem and got it up to 22. In the higher Grifts you can try to turtle up but the amount of damage that goes out is generally too much even for an extremely tanky character (there are builds that can tank it but they do literally no damage) so I figured I’d be safer with a powerful build and did reasonably well up to around 29. At 29 I had a few close calls but for whatever reason I didn’t revert to turtle mode and eventually got frozen/desecrator/thunderstorm/jailer or something and died. God rest her soul:

For whatever reason I did not just give up at this point, death is inevitable in Greater Rifts on Hardcore and most of the better Greater Rift players have at least a few backup characters with that in mind. So I set about leveling with the merely level 22 Gem which did not let me use level 70 weapons at level 1. Still it only took like 4.5 hours to get back up to 70 and the first character was so damn lucky that I had a whole backup set of gear for the next one that immediately put me back in Grift 26-27 range (instead of 29-31, admittedly a rather large gap in difficulty). Finally I finished the second gem and set about levelling with new insights in mind.

The main thing to note is that you need both vitality and your primary stat of choice (Dex/Int/Strength) on whatever weapon you plan to use. Generally a 2 hander is better which does actually make DH the “weakest” for once since you don’t have a ridiculous quiver or anything yet. For my first attempt I did not have dexterity so stuff actually took a little while to die which is not what you want before around level 45ish. Marvel at how slow the skill unlock screen goes:

For this second character I decided to go to the main powerlevelling area of choice immediately instead of continuing on the Torment VI route, perhaps a mistake but here’s the “slow” version of the 27-36 grind:

Eventually I decided to just do the first area at Torment VI some more on sequential characters, dangerous perhaps but also much faster. At level 41 I had an Aughild’s Authority ready to go with a Royal Ruby in it and used that across multiple characters, eventually this got upgraded at least for strength characters by an unbelievably lucky drop in the form of a Mempo.

Around level 50 the Torment VI killing speed is very slow on most characters (though for something like a Witch Doctor your cooldowns reset every time you level so you basically have infinite fetish army/big bad voodoo), so I tend to put it down to Torment IV until level 55. At 55 I had another marvelous item ready, a Leoric’s Crown with a perfect 100% roll, which sadly took around 250 rerolls to get to “Level requirement reduced by 15.” I also eventually had a Leoric’s signet for another 21% bonus experience, all of this stacking multiplicatively with the Gem of Ease’s innate +1750 experience per kill.

Around now the other powerlevelling method is much faster so I just do a string of Cursed Chapel bounty runs at Master difficulty. Why Master when you’ve just been doing Torment IV-VI? Well firstly Silver Spire 2 is probably the hardest fixed action RPG level ever and even in its presently neutered state it can be quite brutal (playing on console helps, you can actually quit the game before you die horribly!). Aside from that killing speed is what matters the most and even with all the bonuses higher Torments just take too damn long at higher level ranges.

All in all it takes about 1.5-2 hours to reach level 70, I’m sure you could do it faster depending on how familiar you are with the class and so on. Obviously this still isn’t as fast as just getting beefed up by your Torment VI level 70 buddies but for a solo experience it’s quite ridiculous and really that first 5 minutes to level 35-40 is extremely entertaining. I’m still not close to  500 bounties despite all this but I’ll probably just keep making characters until I’m at the limit because why the hell not? Here’s an appropriately quick monk run:

If you want to see the other classes (of which I’m only competent with a few) here’s Witch Doctor, Crusader, Barbarian, and Wizard. D3 still has some fun stuff to do in it despite all the various flaws that are well documented and I’m still pretty excited for Season 2 in a week, though it’s doubtful I’ll be as lucky as I was with my first character this time around.