Grim Dawn: Once Taken, Twice Shy (Pt. 3)

Wreathed in walking bones.

I’ve always been fond of the idea of Raise Skeleton for this build. However, due to the limited quantity of skill points, it’s not possible to invest in Raise Skeleton without diluting everything else. Unless I substitute one skill for another. Which is why I decided to substitute Curse of Frailty for Raise Skeleton, as I would prefer to have more pets to distract enemies. So that I don’t get surrounded and consequently murdered. It offers some reasonably decent synergy with Blood of Dreeg, too. Not only does it provide a significant chunk of retaliation damage, but it helps to keep the skeletons alive.

Given that skeletons (as you would expect) are fragile.

Immediately investing in the Undead Legion modifier meant that I have six skeletons available. So, in total, that makes seven pets with the Blight Fiend. With that number Bonds of Bysmiel becomes more attractive. However, I’d need to substitute another skill to invest in Bonds of Bysmiel and it just isn’t worth it.

My pets have never really been designed to deal damage. They’re designed to draw attention away from me. Which they would do better with more health and higher damage, but the damage potential that I would lose with that investment is not worth them surviving a few seconds longer. Given that later difficulty levels will significantly reduce their survivability. Having the extra distractions does help, though. Especially when you consider that the higher levels of Raise Skeleton offer more powerful skeletons, which means I’ve got skeletons firing crossbows and spells at enemies. I suppose that I could consider whether Bonds of Bysmiel is worthwhile at a later date. I might be inclined to substitute something if I find that my pets are dying too frequently. Or I may just substitute Raise Skeleton for something else.

A corrosive cacophony of flesh and bones.

The warm sands of the Korvan Basin have been about as forgiving as I expected they’d be. It’s not necessarily difficult content, but it is very tightly scaling to my character level with some enemies being five levels higher than me. I’ve narrowly avoided death on a few occasions, too. I’m not sure if this is indicative of what I should expect in Act 2, or if Act 2 will be slightly easier as it may not scale to my level. I’m not really sure what does and doesn’t scale to your level these days. That said, I’ve had a lot of fun with the content and I suppose that this confirms it can be done with a freshly built character.

Not that I’m likely to proceed out of sequence again.

I didn’t really consider that the rewards for the factions in the Forgotten Gods would be useless to me. For the time being at least. As they all require you to be Lvl 65-90, which wasn’t a concern for my (higher level) Warder but isn’t really benefiting my (lower level) Cabalist. I’ll be back to purchase them later on, though.

That said, proceeding out of sequence did highlight the surprisingly complex nature of dialogue in Grim Dawn. There are several interactions which are altered (or entirely absent), as this character has not yet met those factions and has no relationship with them in any way. In particular there was a group of refugees which my Warder could threaten or kill due to his faction alignment. But my Cabalist doesn’t have anything to say to them because she doesn’t know them. Nor is she aligned with an opposing faction. It’s a small yet satisfying alteration, and makes sense as it could potentially sway your allegiance if this content presented factions in a certain way. Whereas the lack of an interaction means you’ll make the natural choice when the time comes. Which is how things should be.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Grim Dawn: Once Taken, Twice Shy (Pt. 2)

The stench of rot and decay.

One of the few identifiable problems with this build is the heavy investment required in both Necromancer and Occultist Mastery. It’s a problem that quickly disappears, but does affect the first few levels as whether you specialise in Necromancer or Occultist you won’t have many offensive options. This is one of the reasons that Raise Skeleton was appealing. That said, I could have invested in Occultist first but I don’t believe that having Dreeg’s Evil Eye and Curse of Frailty earlier rather than later would’ve helped. Having the Blight Fiend to soak some of the incoming damage made more sense.

The investment also allowed access to Ravenous Earth.

Which, to be fair, doesn’t function as I would’ve expected it to, but it’s still a powerful addition to the offensive capabilities of the build. I’ve seen it melt bosses within seconds if they’re hit by multiple fragments. It’s also a great skill to use when surrounded, which is one of the first issues I’ve noticed with this build.

Obviously in Act 1 this isn’t really a concern. Enemies are less aggressive, use less potent skills, and are generally less threatening overall. But once I’ve progressed to either Act 2 or Act 7 (if I choose to proceed out of sequence) that will very quickly change. Blood of Dreeg and the restorative properties it offers does balance out the damage, but that’s not something I’m going to be able to rely on. Especially at lower skill levels when it only recovers 14-16% of my health. It does, however, keep the Blight Fiend alive quite competently. So that’s something. The health regeneration is probably the more attractive component of that skill, as the duration outlasts the cooldown and so it can be kept active almost indefinitely. Which basically means I’m always recovering a trickle of health.

Life ebbs akin to fading embers.

The damage output of the build is, as expected, excellent. The synergy between Curse of Frailty and either Dreeg’s Evil Eye or Ravenous Earth is potent. Not only are enemies slowed and generally weakened, but they suffer more damage from my various skills and even the Blight Fiend becomes more effective as a result. It does, however, rely on damage over time. Which means you’re waiting for enemies to expire. So it’s kind of burst-y. Enemies will fall in numbers once the overwhelming number of ailments finally claim them, but they have more potential to retaliate as they don’t immediately fall.

That said, Dreeg’s Evil Eye does provide some direct damage.

Damage which will undoubtedly become more potent as more modifiers are unlocked. It will eventually become an AoE of its own. Which, when combined with Ravenous Earth, and the weakening component of Curse of Frailty, should mean that this build will specialise in AoE damage either directly or over time.

I feel as though I’m making good progress through Act 1 at a somewhat accelerated pace. I’m not sure if this is due to balancing changes in one of the recent updates or just the proficiency of the build, but, as of writing this, it’s going quite well. I’m surprised at how effective the build is even if it does take some time to really start to function properly. I’ve been considering moving onto Act 7 next and seeing just how viable the Forgotten Gods content is for a new character. I’m not sure it’s advisable for a character that doesn’t really have any equipment or items to supplement them, but that’s the reason I’m doing it. Science. Or the insatiable desire to do things I know I probably shouldn’t be doing in video games. It’s a twenty year habit that I’m not about to break. Not now and likely not ever.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Grim Dawn: Once Taken, Twice Shy (Pt. 1)

You’ve got to serve somebody.

The recent excursion to the Korvan Basin in the Forgotten Gods expansion pack reminded me of how much I dearly love Grim Dawn. Despite playing my Warder (Shaman/Soldier) who is not only the first character I’d ever finished the campaign with, and has since been subject to countless changes as a result of numerous updates, it was still an exhilarating and satisfying chunk of content. That particular character is in dire need of being tweaked, though. Which is why it’s unlikely he will ever finish Elite (or even start Ultimate) difficulty. Too many things have changed and it’s simply easier to start again.

Which is (and isn’t) the purpose of this post.

I’ve wanted to experience Grim Dawn again for some time, but the idea of documenting this process was inspired by my recent series of posts regarding the original Diablo. The character mentioned herein is not a replacement for my Warder, either. But instead a fresh perspective that draws on previous experience.

For this character I wanted to do something that didn’t rely on close quarters combat. I’ve not really built many Occultists, Arcanists, Necromancers, or Demolitionists and the only Shaman I’ve built was focused on two-handed weapons. I’ve been fond of the Necromancer since the Ashes of Malmouth expansion pack, but I’ve only ever started a Death Knight (Necromancer/Soldier) build which didn’t finish Act 1. After fiddling with several Masteries I finally settled on the Cabalist (Occultist/Necromancer) with a build focusing on poison and acid damage. I’m unsure as to whether I should invest heavily in pets or not, though. I’ve already got Summon Blight Fiend but have been thinking about Raise Skeleton. However, I did prioritise Blood of Dreeg over Raise Skeleton for it’s regenerative properties.

Huddled amongst the remnants of humanity.

On the other hand, due to the acid retaliation damage of Blood of Dreeg, it’s actually suited to having more allies to buff rather than less. So having Raise Skeleton would provide more acid retaliation damage overall. I’ve also been looking at Curse of Frailty, which, with it’s Vulnerability modifier, reduces enemy resistance to acid and poison damage. This is more or less occupying the same idea as Blood of Dreeg. As the Aspect of the Guardian modifier increases poison and acid damage. Together they do an exceptional amount of damage, individually they function more or less the same immunities permitting.

As Vulnerability could break immunities if such a thing is possible.

If we were to ignore that possibility then both Blood of Dreeg and Curse of Frailty will boost acid and poison damage. Which means I could easily substitute either for Raise Skeleton. But I’m more likely to substitute Curse of Frailty as Blood of Dreeg allows me to heal my pets and myself, while accelerating their health regeneration.

Having too many pets would make Bonds of Bysmiel an alluring prospect, though. Not that I’ve ever wanted to have dozens of pets. At least not in Grim Dawn. I’d never decline a box full of kittens. But having to make these decisions (and these decisions having consequences) is why I dearly love Grim Dawn, as, unlike many modern RPGs, building a character is not a hollow and unsatisfying experience. Every character is unique. For the best or worst reasons. I’m interested in seeing how this character develops, too. When looking at raw statistics many things seem to be viable, but in the harsh light of day there are tweaks that need to be made. Even learning about the character can be a satisfying experience as you quickly learn what you can do, what you can’t, and what you’re better off leaving alone.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Cults of the Witch Gods

Don’t enter portals opened by strangers.

If you do you might end up in the Korvan Basin. It’s sandy. Very, very sandy. It’d make for a great holiday destination were it not for the bloodthirsty wildlife, the fanatical cultists, and the statues which come to life desiring nothing more than to see you rendered into viscera. You might also have to join one of three cults when you arrive, each of which represent the desires of one of the three Witch Gods. Which, thankfully, doesn’t require a human sacrifice. So that’s something. You will, however, have to fight for your life against the forces of Ch’thon to prove that you are the one they’ve been looking for.

Which is exactly why I don’t like people looking for me.

Forgotten Gods is the second expansion pack for the exceptionally exquisite Grim Dawn. It follows the events of Ashes of Malmouth, but can be experienced out of sequence as soon as you’ve completed Act 1. The content scales to your character level, though. So it’ll always be level appropriate for your character.

Act 7 is set in the lush, scenic, and sometimes volcanic Korvan Basin. Alongside the extended main campaign content there’s a new Mastery (the Oathkeeper), newly introduced Difficulty Merits and Iron sharing mechanics, expanded (personal and shared) stash space, additional Constellations and skills to unlock, and the endless challenge of the Shattered Realm. You’re now able to skip an entire difficulty level by using the respective Difficulty Merit. For instance, if you have a character in Elite you are able to buy the Elite Difficulty Merit which can be shared with another character via the shared stash. You can also condense Iron into Iron Bars to share wealth in a similar fashion. Which is undoubtedly great news for everyone who has multiple characters that might need a little help.

An old god sleeps in a fragment of a distant reality.

The sole new Mastery in Forgotten Gods is the Oathkeeper which (as always) can be combined with existing Masteries. The Soldier has always offered benefits to those who use shields and boasted greatly bolstered survivability, but the Oathkeeper unlocks the offensive capability of shields. If their shield isn’t hitting someone in the face they aren’t happy. Which could present some interesting possibilities for close quarters combat builds. The new Constellations also offer deeper customisation through the Devotion mechanics. While there are new mobility skills which (I do believe) are applied to medals.

It’s a surprisingly content-dense expansion pack.

Not that the developers have earned a reputation for anything less. They have continually and consistently delivered both paid and free updates of the highest quality, and have supported Grim Dawn since the days of Early Access. I’ve enjoyed seeing every new development as they seem passionate about this project.

While it has been hinted that Forgotten Gods may be the last expansion pack, the developers have done incredible things with Grim Dawn. I’ve always had the greatest expectations for Grim Dawn (and any additional content available after release) and they’ve been exceeded in every possible way. Not only does it feel entirely reminiscent of the ARPGs of yesteryear, but it delivers the kind of character building which is often painfully absent from modern RPGs. The developers have never settled and have always pushed ever-forward with new ideas, new concepts, and new updates. This dedication to delivering a truly one-of-a-kind experience is what has led Grim Dawn to be as enjoyable, engaging, and exhilarating as it has been in all of the years that I’ve been building characters in it. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys ARPGs!

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

First Impressions of… Children of Morta

One family to stand against the encroaching corruption.

Children of Morta is an exceptionally satisfying ARPG that functions as a dungeon crawler. An exquisite narrator tells the story of the Bergson family in their tireless struggle against an unnatural corruption, while the main campaign affords myriad opportunities to learn more about each family member and their motivations. There are numerous events to view or quests to complete throughout the main campaign that award permanent progression, too. These may unlock playable family members, build on the rich history of their ancestral home, or simply tie the main campaign together. It’s a simplistic but effective approach.

One that is painfully absent in modern RPGs.

ARPGs are rarely known for their engrossing main campaign stories, but Children of Morta wholeheartedly relies on telling that story and having you invested in the characters and events found therein. It feels natural and illustrates how the struggle against the corruption wears on both body and spirit. It’s an enthralling joy to play.

Each family member is rather interesting as well. John is the stalwart defender whose shield and sweeping attacks afford exceptional close combat proficiency, while Linda has heightened mobility and can pierce enemies with a hail of arrows. Kevin can dash effortlessly between enemies slicing and dicing with deadly efficiency, while Mark can draw enemies close before pummelling them mercilessly. I’ve had most success with Linda, Kevin, and Mark. I’ve never been particularly good at much of anything with John. While Joey is the newest addition and the character that best fits my usual approach to ARPGs. His potential for damage is quite impressive given that his health has been bolstered substantially. He can also charge through enemies like a burly lunatic.

Things are certainly starting to heat up down here.

Character development is extensive and intuitive. Levelling up any of the six characters allows you to unlock skills and (through investment in those skills) traits. Traits are shared with the family, and they provide an enticing incentive to level up multiple characters as each contributes to the proficiency of the rest. On the ancestral grounds you can invest in both Uncle Ben’s workshop (which improves various character attributes) and the Book of Rea (which offers dungeon crawling bonuses) to further empower the family. These investments affect the family equally and allow you to develop everyone at the same time.

Which makes using a less experienced character more viable.

While they might lack the skills or the traits of their more experienced kin they’re still quite powerful in their own way. Having more health, a better chance of landing a critical hit, or a higher dodge chance can certainly smooth out the difficulty curve in later areas. By surviving longer they contribute to the continual investment, too.

At first glance Children of Morta seemed like a rather engaging ARPG, but I’ve found it’s more of a dungeon crawler that’s actually quite reminiscent of Diablo in its execution of certain mechanics. The way that dungeons are divided into different areas, the obelisks which offer substantial bonuses, the deadly traps, and the possibility of uncovering random events make me nostalgic for the blasphemous bowels beneath Tristram. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have strength in its own convictions. It does. There’s an intriguing story that’s told exceptionally well by both the narrator and the various events or quests. But it’s still a unique approach that I’ve only seen attempted a scarce few times before, and fewer still have been successful in delivering the desired result.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Diablo: The Wanderer’s Eulogy (Pt. 3)

Maddening tormented whispers flood into your mind.

A jagged landscape wrought of bone and wreathed in molten flame stands before you. Vile, despicable, bloodthirsty demons crowd you. You’ve reached the final levels of the main campaign, and hell will never be inviting or comforting for it’s where the greatest challenges await you. Defeating Lazarus to crack open the door to this hellish domain is just the beginning. Diablo, the Lord of Terror, waits patiently for you to free him from his subterranean prison. It’s arguably the most challenging content in Diablo, and it’s where your story ends as you hope to contain the overwhelming malice of the Prime Evil. Not that you can.

It’s a more satisfying and apt conclusion if you’re a Warrior.

Quite a lengthy section of content, too. It’s deceptive in that way. You believe that there are only four more levels until the end of the campaign, but within those levels are side quests to complete and puzzles to solve before you are able to fight Diablo. Even when you can you’re likely to be swarmed by the enemies released when he is.

This would be as good a time as any to revisit the crypt as well. Given that it forms the final content available in the Hellfire expansion pack. These levels are sadly less impressive, but they’re certainly challenging (in a way) due to the overwhelming number of magical floating orbs on the screen at any one time. I definitely found these areas more frustrating than the hive, too. The challenge (for lack of a better word) disappeared as long as I could keep drinking potions. The enemies annoyingly ran great distances away and soon the screen was littered with an impassable sea of magical damage. The final boss of the content was also somewhat anti-climactic. I decided not to weaken him and he still died relatively quickly.

Only in the blasphemous bowels of hell will we find the Lord of Terror.

Wirt was my saving grace throughout this entire endeavour. I had not only managed to acquire a rather useful helmet with a +% Resist All modifier on it, but an absurdly powerful axe with substantial +% Chance To Hit and +% Damage modifiers, and a ring that had significant +% Resist Fire and +Strength modifiers. I’m unsure but I don’t believe that the first Warrior that I completed the main campaign with was anywhere near as powerful as this one. I could’ve done with replacing one of the rings and the necklace, too. But nothing worth buying was available and instead I spent my gold on Strength, Vitality, and Dexterity Elixirs.

Diablo was certainly tougher than I remember, though.

I was unlucky and got consistently knocked back so was rarely able to actually land a hit on him. It took more than a few potions to survive the ensuing onslaught as I crawled towards him only to be knocked back again, but he eventually took enough hits to be little more than a mangled heap of demonic remains on the floor.

This has been quite an unconventional series of posts, but I felt that this would be more interesting than a single In Retrospect post detailing the content and the character that I’ve played. There’s a possibility I may even add a fourth post to this series. That depends on what I do next and whether I decide to revisit Diablo in the coming months, but I’ve been thinking about doing a similar (but extended) series for a new Diablo II character. I’ve never really written much about either on Moggie’s Proclamations before as they were before its time. But the Diablo series is one I’ve greatly enjoyed for many years and I hope that some of that shows through with this series.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Diablo: The Wanderer’s Eulogy (Pt. 2)

There’s an unnerving skittering in the darkness.

Despite being reasonably experienced with Diablo I know very little of the Hellfire expansion pack. I know that it has an additional eight dungeon levels, that there’s a final campaign boss, and that it’s relatively self-contained but that’s about it. I do believe that there are a few shrines, the various Oils, the various Runes, and new equipment that can be found in the main campaign but most content is restricted to the hives and the crypt. Which allegedly mirror the difficulty of the caves and hell, respectively. There’s also a strangely low (arbitrary) level requirement to gain access to the hives via the Rune Bomb to start the content.

Strangely low because the content is for a higher level.

Or that’s how it feels to me. It could be that because Warriors run up to everything, often get surrounded, and essentially need to take damage to deal damage that they felt so flimsy in the hive. But I’m not so sure. The damage seemed absurd even after returning from the caves having cleared each floor and gaining access to hell.

It’s also relatively uninspired content in comparison to the main campaign. I found far fewer shrines, no actual quests or events, and even far less loot in those levels than I think I’d found anywhere else. I don’t even know if there were unique variants of the new enemies appearing in the levels, either. That’s not to say that it’s entirely bad content. It just felt like an exercise in repeating the same actions for a while. Even the hostility of enemies felt underwhelming due to the lack of anything else going on, and could certainly be improved with more of the puzzling quests or unique events present in the main campaign. That said, I wanted to experience the Hellfire expansion pack and I’m glad that I did.

The monstrosity beneath the throbbing hive.

The acquisition of Arkaine’s Valor earlier in the catacombs certainly made some of the Hellfire expansion pack content more bearable. The Fastest Hit Recovery modifier is definitely useful to a Warrior without a shield, but the additional -3 Damage From Enemies and +10 Vitality modifiers were perfectly suited to this particular build. Reducing the damage that I’d receive and bolstering my health even further. I also found the Optic Amulet which isn’t a spectacularly useful item, but does offer +20% Resist Lightning and -1 Damage From Enemies so it suited the build as it was at the time. I’d been gambling with Wirt for a while, too.

I was hoping to buy an extraordinarily powerful axe.

That’s one of the few things that endlessly frustrates me about Diablo. I’d like to be able to easily re-roll his inventory, or, at the very least, be allowed to gamble more than one item at a time. As Wirt is arguably the best (and most expensive) source of exceptionally powerful equipment, but it’s a hassle forcing him to re-roll his inventory to see it.

I was considering building a Monk when looking at the re-release of Diablo and the Hellfire expansion pack. However, I felt more comfortable with a Warrior as it is a class I’m more experienced with and I’m not sure what a Monk actually does. It seems that they fight with staves, but that they can also fight with their bare fists and that both offer some unique benefit to them. It’s certainly a class that seems to be good at a few too many things. In that they’re not actually exceptionally good at any one thing. I’m likely to come back to Diablo over the coming months as I’m intending to play through Nightmare and Hell with this Warrior, and so it’s just as likely I might try building a Monk.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie