Well, my buddy and I lost our hardcore characters at the very last boss of normal mode in Path of Exile. I’m happy to say that he died first, so the teasing will flow naturally towards him instead of me. He also died first in our hardcore game of Torchlight 2, so this just adds fuel to the fire of how much he sucks.
He got pretty miffed – which I don’t use here as an euphemism; it’s an accurate choice for how he was feeling. He was frustrated but only a little angry. He’s played hours and hours of D2 and lost hardcore characters before. I haven’t, though; I didn’t really get into D2 and often play these games more out of a sense of hanging out than really enjoying them (though Path of Exile is a good quality game in that genre). I thought I’d be angrier, but really I wasn’t. Part of that reason comes back to why we died, though.
He’d played through the whole game in normal mode in the pre-release beta. I hadn’t; as a result, he’d have to let me know dangerous boss mechanics before we got to them. The Act II end boss, for example, had a very dangerous electricity ranged attack that you had to keep moving to avoid it. My buddy really beat these dangers straight into my psyche. I was legitimately afraid of dying when we went to fight this boss. We’d made a suicide pact, too, so that if one of our toons died, the other one would, too, so he was being so terrifying to protect himself as well as my character.
The Act II boss was tough, but not particularly dangerous. I didn’t get hit by any attacks the whole time; my buddy got tagged a few times, but it turns out on normal difficulty the bolts weren’t instant death.
This same process commenced for the Act III end boss, Piety. He terrified me more about her various forms and I worked hard to get my elemental resists up; she does a “lot” of elemental damage. “She can’t one shot you,” he said, “but she’ll whittle your hp down so quickly that a potion can’t save you.”
Again, I went into the boss with high blood pressure and a clenched buttocks. Again, the boss was no big deal. She took a little longer, and I was struck a few times and had to drink potions, but overall, she was a breeze.
Afterwards, my buddy and I were flying pretty high, except – wait – we weren’t done. Unlike in the beta, Piety was not the final boss of the game, some fellow named Dominus was. We pushed forward into his zone and found it pretty easy. As we approached the final boss, I stopped and asked, “So, do we want to look the fight up?”
What a stupid question. Of course we did; this is hardcore. But my buddy and I were riding the serotonin train to failtown and said, eh, the others were pretty easy. We can figure it out as we go.
We couldn’t. There was a mechanic that if you hadn’t seen it before and were ranged characters, you were dead.
The boss had three phases. In the first, a horde of boss-level minions descends upon you and you have to deal with them while staying alive. That was hectic, but not particularly deadly. In the second phase, the boss descends and uses a lot of electricity to wallop you. When you kill him, he comes back as a nasty Garrosh v.2 type beast that uses blood attacks to whip you.
In our fatal encounter, I was the first to be targeted with an opening blood spray which nailed me. It didn’t kill me, but as a result, I kept as far away from the boss as possible. That’s part of what got me killed later. My buddy, a summoner, kept max distance, too, and let his minions do his work for him. Then it started raining blood, a light rain that slowly melted away my hit points. The whole platform was covered. There was no way I was going to run TO the boss and get hit with another blood spray while I was already at half life.
And that’s the decision that killed us. The boss put up a barrier around himself that you have to stand in to survive the rain. It was as simple as that. But my buddy and I, being at max range and being gunshy about being near the boss, never saw the barrier. As a result, my buddy dropped, and about 20 seconds later, I dropped.
My buddy was angry because “we shouldn’t have to look up a strategy to succeed and survive,” but I pointed out that an average person would have played normal, not hardcore, first, an would have seen the mechanic through experiencing it firsthand by dying in normal mode until they figured it out. Since neither of us had done that, it’s really our fault that we didn’t survive; we could have been more observant, been less scared of the boss, done research, or been normal people and played through on normal first. Our hubris over the Act II and III “end” bosses killed us. Our own arrogance.
He got over it pretty quickly, but I don’t know if we’ll go back to the game or not. Only time will tell.
Stubborn (and dead)