We’re at the midpoint of the Delve league as pointed out by a recent update from GGG and it’s time to go over the current status of the game from my viewpoint. There’s a hint in the recent post of things to come and I want to address those points as well.
First, I’ve been switching back and forth between a few characters. I started off with Arc Totems then moved to a Pathfinder Toxic Rain character. However, due to gear problems, that character has been put on temporary hold. I did try creating a few other characters, including the start of a Molten Strike Chieftain build, an Essence Drain witch and eventually a Juggernaut Sunder build.
Overall, because of two 6-linked items I found early in the league, I ended up sticking with the Juggernaut Sunder build. The biggest advantage with this build for me is just the raw survivability as a result from the gear. I do have issues though with single target where bosses can be a huge wall due to the single target being extremely mediocre. Mostly, I’ve been relying on Vaal Ancestral Warchief (which has been 6 linked) to do the bulk of the single target damage. The sockets for that aren’t linked properly so I do feel the missing damage. On the other hand, the item is Corrupted so there’s very little I can do at the moment.
I do have room to grow on this character, but I might focus initially on damage then move towards increasing his life. Supposedly, he can do well in Uber Lab just from the massive health pool, physical damage reduction, life leech and life regeneration. Since I have still 3 more trials to go, I’ll have to wait a bit until I can try my hand at Uber Lab. But I figure for now, he’ll be a good starting point for unlocking Uber Lab.
From here, I’m uncertain what other characters I might try. Originally, my plan for the Essence Drain character was to go Occultist. But thus far the leveling process has felt exceptionally painful and I have a lot of doubt about how such a character can handle Delving. I am tempted to try a Golem elementalist build but so far it looks quite expensive and I haven’t seen a really solid version that I like. Similarly, I’ve been investigating Guardian builds with Smite, Herald of Purity, etc. but so far there hasn’t been anything really outstanding. When I started leveling my Arc Totems templar, I used Smite and found it reasonably good. So it is a skill I would like to return to eventually.
Another option is to return to a Scion build. I’ve been watching Alkaizer’s Scion-Vaal Reave build. It looks interesting but I can see that he has a few very expensive items like the Watcher’s Eye. So it’ll be hard to replicate what he’s doing. The concept looks good though.
The other oddball idea I had was doing a Scion with Hierophant and Pathfinder or Trickster, using a ranged totem type of build. I honestly don’t know how feasible it would be, but the gist is to employ Toxic Rain on a ranged totem support. Using the Soul Mantle and Skirmish, you could try to hit up to 5 totems. It’s a really bizarre idea but it’s something that I’ve been playing around with in my head. Not sure how viable it would be nor the survivability.
Going back to my toxic rain character, I will say that part of the problem could very well be just gear and my setup. I’m still using a very vanilla setup I discovered from a post. Since then I never managed to properly upgrade my gear and have been using my normal leveling gear. It is a little disappointing since there are quite a few aspects that I truly enjoy about this character.
Next, I want to talk about my Delve progress. Since moving to my sunder juggernaut, I’ve been enjoying the Delve portion significantly more. Part of it is just understanding how to farm the side areas for loot. I think now the game mechanics have settled down with minor bug fixes. Overall though, the core Delve feature feels mostly solid.
That said, I really enjoy the side area loot hunt. It’s not a terribly difficult mechanic but it’s highly addicting. It’s really fun figuring out these side paths, tossing a flare or the occasional dynamite and finding small caches of treasure. Most of that aspect is resource management in ensuring you do not overspend your flares nor over extend yourself in deep areas.
Combining this portion with the experience gains through long Delve periods, I definitely want to say that this system belongs in the core game. While leveling my Sunder character, I found a good pattern/system to progress. Right now, I’m avoiding Delves until roughly Act 4. The first three acts are better off being used to accumulate Sulphite. By the time you arrive at Act 4, you’ll have plenty to commit to a few really long delves. Then you should have enough experience to hit normal lab.
I should add that when I’m using this method, I’ve already dug deep enough into the delve on a few other characters. So I don’t have to worry about spending Sulphite for Azurite delves and can just use that to build up more Azurite on the side for the new character. Also, I’m twinking my new guys out with reasonable leveling gear. So I try to get through the first three acts as fast as I can (not speed run them, but not waste too much time neither). The main goal by doing it this way is to out level certain walls like Kitava or Lab and making them trivial.
Lastly, I want to go into the update provided by GGG today. So the most relevant point made in the post (to me at least) is that they will not be holding a flashback league before the end of the Delve league. This is quite good since I’m really liking the Delve league and progress aspect. I felt that the Incursion Flashback hurt since it was a huge step back at least in terms of acting as a distraction before Delve league would start. At least now, I can continue to focus on my character progression as well as potentially make a few more characters.
They did mention that there is a small event in the works. My guess is that it’s going to be another weekend Battle Royale type of event. If that happens, I’ll probably stick to the normal Delve league but it shouldn’t be something kills the entire league prior to the next major content patch.
The last hint they provided was on the size of the next expansion/league/patch. They mentioned it would be slightly bigger than Delve/Incusion/Beast league. Right now, the main things that should be guaranteed are 1) more reworking of the masters and 2) incorporation of Incursions into core. Given the past few leagues, I’m guessing that we’ll see more currency, some new maps/areas and faster leveling on top of the usual additions/modifications of skills and uniques as well as a theme to bind it together.
What I’m hoping for is that the master re-work is along the lines of how they re-did Zana. I don’t think they should make the master re-work too complex but provide options to allow players the ability to select the mission type. I would especially like to see an improvement on the Vorici missions. Those are just a pain with no real purpose outside of gating some of the most important crafting aspects in the game.
With Incursions being incorporated into the core game, I’m hoping that we’ll see them while leveling again. I don’t want them to be handled the way that Abysses are handled currently in appearing around Act 6+. Incursions don’t have to be in every zone as they were in Incursion league but perhaps treated similarly in randomness to masters just so that you can get the occasional temple. In my case, I really miss the String of Servitude belts; they really helped with leveling, especially the all resistance ones.
I do wish that Beast crafting and aspects of the Beast league make a comeback sometime. It probably just needs a tremendous amount of fleshing out. I think crafting and having item hunts are always fun in ARPGs so it’s just a matter of identifying which aspects to retain.
As far as the specific new content/theme is concerned, I’m just hoping for more of Delve-like stuff. I really enjoy having an alternative leveling system to the main storyline. It would be great just having a separate, non-linear system like a Delve act as a way around the main story line and provide the main story line as a compliment to whatever this new system is. Ultimately, allow the player to choose which methods they want, which will keep the game fresh and prevent burn out.