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 Post subject: Hell Unleashed primer - overall strategy & info
PostPosted: Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:18 am 

Joined: Wed May 12, 2010 9:43 am
Posts: 149
I've picked up this mod a number of times over the years and played in small groups with different people that hadn't played it before. It's going to happen again in the future so I figured I might as well write something down rather than explaining things over and over. I thought it could be of benefit to someone else out there looking to jump the learning curve for this mod so I decided to write it here on the official forum.
This is not going to be completely version-specific but it will mainly apply to the "traditional" versions of HU like v2.1 and the old versions pre-1.16.

The first and most important aspect of HU is to choose a char build & party composition that works and won't get stuck. Since there's no access to respecs and it's rather time-consuming to start new chars and get them caught up this step is crucial.

The bare minimum you need is to have two different types of damage (fire, cold, lightning, poison, magic, physical) from skills that can be realistically used in boss fights.
Nearly all significant bosses including the act bosses in the game have "counters" which are spells they will cast each time they get hit by something. This means skills/attacks that hit at a high frequency and with short/melee range are bad in many cases.
Most bosses especially in the later difficulties have very high resistances (close to immunity) which means having ways to lower the resistances is crucical. While wands with charges of Lower Resistances and Amplify Damage can be shopped these are significantly worse than having a Necromancer with those curses maxed which makes necro the MVP of this mod in my book with all the other utility it can offer. Paladin with conviction is an option also but it doesn't help phys-damage based chars and there's not a whole lot of good builds that can be played running conviction as an aura.
The third priority should be to have a bulky char that can tank and help keep the bosses in place. While Druids and Barbs both had Battle Orders and Oak Sage nerfed into the ground and other chars had their hp scaled up to level the playing-field those two chars are still some of the stronger ones for this task as they still tend to have more HP than the other classes.

This generally means the smaller your group is the more restricted you will be in char/build choices that can realistically make it all the way to hell act 5 untwinked without help.

Now I will give a quick overview of all the regular skills/builds and what their strengths and weaknesses are. This will always vary depending on the patch played as different things are nerfed and buffed but the nature of certain skills work will generally always make them favorable for particular tasks but this list will still be largely based on v2.1

Amazons overall are amongst the weaker chars for boss fights since they tend to have less hp & defensive capabilities than the other chars.

Fire Bow - Immolation Arrow used to one of the strongest skills in the game for killing bosses as long as you had a way of keeping the boss in place. It has been nerfed since then but I imagine its still decent DPS for bosses IF you can tank and keep them standing in the patch of fire which isn't very easy in v2.1
Cold Bow - Never seen one played but on paper it should be subpar build since it doesn't offer good AoE for trash mobs, doesn't offer good DPS for boss fights and its fragile like any shield-less build.
Phys Bow - Good DPS potential for many bosses but again a quite fragile build. High dex will turn it into a machine for clearing trash while high vit will make it more viable in boss fights but slower for clearing trash. Very gimped in boss fights that have auto-target counters or very limited space to maneuver/dodge stuff on.
Jab/Fend Phys - Very rarely seen build as it lacks the DR%/Absorb/HP abilities that most of the other phys melee builds have at their disposal. The one good thing it has going for it is the ability to use ethereal weapons from quite early on as rolling javelins with replenish mod isn't all that difficult.
Poison Jav - Used to be the easiest and one the strongest boss killers in the mod since the combination of being ranged with poison attacks circumventing the whole counter-attacks thing made it very easy to play. I think poison finally got nerfed into the ground as a result in v2.1 as I haven't seen anyone playing it.
Lightning Jav - Unplayable character in boss fights due to the amount of counters generated UNLESS you can reliably farcast Charged Strike manually. Lightning Fury is as usual one of the best skills in the game for clearing trash as long as they're not immune.

With clawblock heavily nerfed it doesn't have as much potential for tanking as it used to.
Light traps - Traps can't be fast from a distance in HU they will be placed where your character is standing. Combined with the frequency of attacks vs single targets generating A LOT of counters this build is more or less unplayable in a group. Used to be very strong for solo'ing many bosses where you had enough space to run around.
Fire traps - Same to above but worse I believe.
Blades - One of stronger phys damage builds in the game as of v2.1 since its technically ranged without having all the glasscannon drawbacks that ranged phys chars typically do. Blade fury is also one of the better "melee char" skills for clearing trash.
Psychic hammer/MB - Used to insanely powerful for normal and early nm since it scales based on being a 40 pt investment but fell off tremendously on hell. Not sure where it lies in v2.1
Dragon Claw - Suffered greatly from the clawblock nerf
Elemental MA - Unsure where this is at in v2.1 but I'd think its weak versus bosses and sub-par for trash compared to so many other builds.

Still one of the best tanking classes in the game thanks to the extra HP from Increased Stamina and potentially huge def bonus from Shout/Iron Skin.
Whirlwind - The king of melee skills, uninterruptible, doesn't care about slow from curses like Decrepify and being able to move/dodge whilst applying damage makes this the go-to phys melee build.
Frenzy - Got buffed to provide a chance for it to rival WW but the a) gimped by Decrepify and b) lack of flexibility in weapons and not being able to wear a shield when required just makes it inferior.
Berserk - High damage output potential for bosses but obviously very poor for clearing trash where it would be relying on merc.
Double Throw - Strong on paper but has similar drawbacks to Frenzy alas since it is ranged it doesn't need a shield but it will not be much of a tank which is generally what you want a Barbarian for. Getting two decent (ideally ethereal) throwing weapons is also a time-consuming task when you play untwinked.
Warcry - Strong build since its magic-based it will not struggle much with immunities but on the other hand it won't benefit from amp/LR/conv supplied from party either. From what I know it falls off a bit in late nm/early hell until you get enough magic res pierce endgame as is the case with just about every magic damage build.

Even with Oak nerfed their ability be the highest HP char in the game and being able to provide absorb from SoB for their party druids are still amongst the best chars in HU.
Raven/Summon - Before Oak got heavily nerfed this char was a very welcome addition to a group. Now what it mostly offers is the meat shield for a particular few bosses/fights where minions don't actually die instantly. Ravens in v2.1 is a meme build that can solo a lot of content (albeit slowly) since Ravens are invulnerable and have quite a long range
Fire Claw & Frost Bite - On paper these chars have a very high DPS potential but since a lot of that is based on 3-FPA and 4-FPA attacks which will rapidly generate many counters and their damage being ele-based and thus largely unable to utilize life leech makes them rather lackluster skills.
Rabies - Got hit hard by oak & poison nerf. Haven't seen anyone play them in v2.1
Maul Werebear - Potentially great tanks with the extra life/def/lifeleech and absorb from SoB they have access to. Fairly slow at clearing trash in Hell as nearly all phys melee builds.
Fury Wolf - Similar to above but weaker since it doesn't have the extra def and Fury having to complete the 5 attacks before you can retreat makes it harder to play.
Fire Ele - Armageddon potentially reaching very high damage numbers that doesn't hit all that fast makes this skill one of the best in the game for bosses that aren't fire immune.
Cold Ele - Arctic Blast used to be a fairly strong skill for killing non-CI bosses but since it requires you to stand still while you're casting you come easy prey for many bosses. Hurricane used to have absurd instagib potential for trash farming with endgame gear and I imagine its still up there for non cold immunes.
Tornado - Used to be quite strong in the glory days of druids but without a max amp necro its useless in v2.1

With all the utility necros can offer for a group between CC, summons for tanking and lowering enemy resistances they play a crucial role in party play. They're also amongst the chars with highest skill cap from a player perspective as they require more hotkeys than any other class.
Poison - Used to be one of the stronger boss killers before the poison nerf. Not sure where it stands in v2.1 but I imagine it still works but significantly harder to play with poison duration being much lower vs hell bosses.
Bone - Very fast trash clear in normal and nm and with the ability to solo many bosses on those difficulties. Falls off quite a bit in Hell until you get high amounts of magic res pierce.
Summon - Only a support (curses) char for boss fights but probably the best necro build for trash farming in Hell. Makes a few fights very easy that otherwise be very hard for some groups, such as hell Ancients.

Phys Zeal/Smite - Probably the best tank against phys melee attacks in the game. Not too great during normal-hell progression but has higher potential than most melee phys builds in endgame.
Vengeance - On paper it seems good since its a high damage output attack capped at 6 (?) FPA which also provides conviction for your party BUT since its a melee class it will need to use defensive-oriented items for bossfights making the damage output suffer. Would be nice to hear from someone who might've played it in v2.1
FoH - Used to have very high solo potential with the very high range auto-hit attack. Damage falls off in Hell (?) but the possibility of combining it with healing support from Holy Bolt makes it one of the stronger options for Paladins.
HB/Healer - Although it has been nerfed its still a very useful char to have in a group since it will reduce the amount of potions you have to bring for bosses and it can allow tanks to tank more/for longer periods than they would otherwise be able to. Can be built as a pure support char with max conviction relying solely on merc for trash farming or combined with FoH.
Holy Ele Zeal - Before slow was removed from Holy Freeze this build had some good potential but nowadays I think all three variations suffer the same issues as nearly all the melee elemental builds.
Sanctuary Zeal - Obviously very strong against undead(bosses) not sure where it's at in v2.1

While teleport is nerfed in HU, no longer being able to teleport over walls etc they are still the fastest/highest mobility class in the game. They are still also amongst the highest dps chars in the game. The struggle they face in HU is how squishy they can be. Energy Shield or not that is the question.
ES pros: Can make sorc one of the tankiest classes against non-elemental damage types, much tankier than vita sorcs can ever be. You gain some extra damage from being able to invest a lot in energy.
ES cons: Ultra fragile vs poison and completely dependant on high amounts of PLR/poison res for such bosses in order to be able to do anything.
Makes you unable to potentially get another skill/element for dealing with immunes or clearing trash faster.
Very fragile in early normal since you want to invest as little as possible in Vitality but it takes a while before you have enough pts in ES while you also want to get your damage up.

Blaze - Used to be a meme build that would kill any non-FI boss willing to step on the patch of fire in a matter of seconds. Doesn't work in v2.1 anymore afaik
Meteor/FB - Similar to immolation arrow - Meteor has a very high dps potential if you can keep the boss locked in place. Probably one of the weaker sorc builds in terms of trash clearing speed. Obvious downside is fire immune bosses like Hell Diablo and LoS druid.
Hydra/Ench - Nerfed into the ground in v2.1, there are various potential combos of oskills like multishot that can be used together with ench that might be decent enough for trash clearing but overall its bad.
Nova/TS - Nova is obviously one of the better skills for trash farming but completely useless for bosses. TS can be used for bosses and quite nicely with the auto-targeting but it requires you to get in fairly close range. Specialty of this build is the potential to farm hell Guardian for 90/95 uniques.
CB/TK - Charged bolt has insane shotgun potential against beefy trash mobs and is overall a fairly decent skill for clearing trash. TK is probably the strongest skill sorcs have at their disposal for bosses with the no-projectile instant hit at a fairly long range and potential to stun the bosses that can be stunned. Perhaps the strongest overall sorc build in v2.1. Obvious downside is light immune bosses like Hell Mephisto and LoS sorc.
Frost Nova - With Shiver armor as a synergy this is perhaps the best sorc build for clearing trash but it is pretty much entirely useless for bosses with the short range.
Blizzard/IB - Blizzard is a very high range skill that hits instantly and doesn't require you to stand still in the same place, those mechanics alone make it the best sorc skill alongside TK for bosses. The only downside is that its probably on the slower side of sorc builds when it comes to trash clearing speed but if you go vita that can be circumvented to some extent.
Frozen Orb - Short range and high amount of counters from bosses makes this skill suboptimal. The one benefit it has is that its effectively a 40 pt investment with mastery being 1-pt wonders in v2.1 allowing you to combine it with other skills/trees on non-ES builds.

For those who have experience with some of these builds in v2.1 that I haven't seen or played it would be nice if you chimed in.

Since you don't get any respecs in v2.1 except from defeating one of the last endgame bosses in the game it is VERY important how you place your stats and skills so you don't have to remake your character.
Skills - it is important to note that pre-requisites have been removed so you don't need to invest pts in any skills that you aren't going to use. Furthermore there are a lot of one point wonders that might be situationally useful that you would like to get perhaps. Find out if you can swap an item or use a weapon on swap with charges to get them for the situation that requires them instead. This is possible in many cases and might save you some points. A number of skills that used to be OPW's in vanilla or earlier versions now require you to max them out to reap the benefits as they do not scale with +skills much if at all but demand hard points invested - such as Lower res and Amplify damage for instance. As of v2.1 Sorceress masteries are basically OPW's allowing you to do actual hybrid builds since most skills will only be 60 pt commitments for full synergies.
Stats - Unless you know what the full endgame gear of your char/build looks like its very hard to gauge how much you need to invest in strength. The best approach is be very cautious and invest very little, try to use +strength charms/jewelry and amethyst sockets until you know how much base strength you'll need. It's also important to keep a good number of stats available in case you find out you need a certain amount more while being able to wear absorb equipment or similar.
As for dex unless you're playing a bowazon or paladin you'll probably want to invest as little as possible and often nothing at all in here. The superior approach is generally to use emerald-socketed armors/helms and dex equipment for the few bosses/fights where you NEED to have max block. This way you can have more life for the bosses/fights where block doesn't matter at all and you need the biggest HP bulb possible.
Energy - although some skills get a damage synergy from this you'll generally want to not invest anything in it at all if you're not playing an ES sorc as you need every bit of life you can get in this mod for the harder boss fights.

Starting tips, progressing tips, twinking tips
As of v2.1 you start with 5k gold so the first thing you want to do is to buy some basic gear at the vendors. For nearly all classes what you can do is to shop class-specific items with +2 or +3 to certain lvl 1 or 6 skills like Teeth, Firestorm, Fire Blast, Charged Bolt etc which can help you speed through act 1. The vendors sell druid helmets and necro shields so you can get a whopping +6 from the start already since the gold prices are also much lower than items with +skills usually are in regular D2. Exploding potions are also good for the first half of act 1 normal since has a fairly large splash radius similar to Fire Blast.
The most efficient approach is to run all the waypoints in an act first before doing any of the optional bosses/quests since you'll have more levels and items that way.
Since there are no TP scrolls, just a one-way TP tome that you get from Leoric who hides in the tristram cathedral the fastest approach is in many cases to simply exit and rejoin the game.
Its not necessary to mule a lot of stuff since most items you might want from earlier acts/difficulties are quite easily farmed later on when you have high damage output vs bosses with forced unique or set drop.

For equipment you generally will never have a one-size-fits-all setup. Especially before you reach endgame you'll want to swap a lot of items around for different bosses and tasks. For farming/trash you'll probably want topaz-socketed helm/armor, for bosses ruby-socketed or in some cases skull-socketed. Some bosses you'll want a shield with block, some you'll want a shield with a particular type of absorb etc. Even more so if you play a phys melee class.

Alas I think this got lengthy enough and have spent sufficient time on it for now, perhaps I will add more later.

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 Post subject: Re: Hell Unleashed primer - overall strategy & info
PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 11:21 am 

Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2019 2:13 pm
Posts: 2
That was very useful thank you so much.

Unfortunately there is not much pop up text on the new v2.1 char page. Do we face with any change in block chance compared to vanilla?

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