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Thursday, 22 March 2012

Nephalem Valour: analysis

OK, after absorbing the news it's time to analyse the new game mechanic. (Because that is, after all, what this site is all about).

On the face of it the buff encourages people to simply play through the game without cherry-picking. However I still think that's probably sub-optimal.

Inferno item farming will be all about killing random boss packs and champion packs that have random affixes. I wrote about D3 end game farming here and about boss affixes here.

Not all boss mods are equal. Moreover, not all boss mods have the same impact on different types of character/build. A Barbarian for example isn't really hurt by the Vortex mod. The boss pulls the Barb in close, the Barb smacks him in the face, what's not to like? Nor is he hurt much by the Teleporter mod. The boss Teleports to the Barb, the Barb smacks him in the face, again what's not to like?

However Plagued (extra poison damage plus aoe poison damage if close), Molten (extra fire damage plus aoe fire damage if close), Frozen (extra cold damage, slows movement and attacks) and Electrified (extra lightning damage, spits out highly damaging bolts in its vicinity) - that would be a horrible boss to melee.

So it makes sense in that example for the Barb to skip very melee-unfriendly combinations and cherry-pick easy kills.

Also you only need to achieve a minimum boss kill per unit of time that will be determined by the developers before release. They're toying with the 15 minutes to an hour range. I don't think it will be 15 minutes. 15 minutes to find your next boss pack and kill them? In a game where people wipe for an hour on boss packs? It's too fast. They have to allow for people needing to afk and people with no faster run so I think it will be at least 30 minutes, possibly an hour.

If you have an hour to kill your next pack then it will certainly be possible to skip difficult ones. In fact if you spend an hour wiping you've lost your buff anyway.

Next they've said the buff will have a stacks cap of a "number you can count on one hand". There's lots of boss packs and champion packs in a game. There are a lot more than 5 just in the Beta content and that's just a part of one of the 4 acts. So there's lots of bosses to choose from.

The waypoint system will, I think, become part of a complicated routeway of boss running.

Teleport to Old Ruins
- run back to the Dank Cellar, check for a boss
Town Portal
Teleport to the Cemetery of the Forsaken
- run back to the Weeping Hollow, check for packs and shrines
Town Portal from the far end of the Hollow
Teleport to the Cemetery of the Forsaken again
check graveyard and each Tomb, skipping the jar of souls event (because it doesn't spawn a boss) but doing the Lady event (it always spawns a boss)
and then on to the Cathedral etc.

Possibly you might know how many packs normally spawn on each dungeon level so if Cathedral 2 only shows you one pack before you find the way down you might double back to check the other bosses.

It could be possible that once you have a full stack of Nephalem Valour an act boss drops better  than random bosses so you might do 5 bosses + Diablo, save and exit, repeat over and over. But I think that's possibly less likely because for several of those bosses you'd be at gimped Nephalem Valour.

What might be better if Neph Valour makes Act bosses really good is you get your full set of stacks then kill each Act boss, Baal running style. So basically you'd kill 5 champ packs in the Cemetery or wherever then use the last waypoint in each Act to get the act boss.

Now there's an advantage to working through the quests - you get extra bosses on the quests. For example Manglemaw is a boss that only spawns if you're doing A Shattered Crown quest. Otherwise his spot is empty. So part of this optimisation process may include doing the quest.

No quest? No shinies.

However, even with all the waypoints and optimising the hell out of the system you may end up doing something very similar to playing through the whole game in the right order (with some boss skipping). So well done Bllizzard! Looks like mission accomplished.


  1. The system isn't bad at all. What worries me is the time between killing the last pack and reaching the boss. If there's no waypoint close to the boss you'll have a lot of running to do. Also, I would have preferred if the buff was limited, say, to 5 stacks but it be permanent until the boss is killed. Otherwise I'm horrified at the thought of killing rares and champions for 5 hours in the off-chance that I will get better drops from the boss.

  2. I have a feeling the bosses might be harder than the elite champs. Never know though. They will definitely have a lot more HP so that you can't zerg them down like you might be able to with an elite. I don't think act bosses will drop "higher quality" loot, just more items. The more items that drop, the more chances for a legendary to appear. Just killing mobs on the way to the bosses and elites will be fairly lucrative as well. In fact, a decent number of your good finds may come from regular mobs.

    1. Correction, looks like elites will be harder in most cases. Bosses will just take longer to kill than elites. They will drop loot just as good if you have the NV buff. According to the Bashiok quote I posted below.

    2. In D2 elites are a complete lottery. There are elites you only notice when you murder a load of things and one of them drops lots of loot and potions and you think "that one must have been a boss". There are elites that are really tough. And sometimes you can find yourself suddenly dead and think "that elite was REALLY nasty".

  3. This was the post you accidentally deleted. It is a question to Bashiok. It relates to Neph Valor. You may want to add it to the info on the other article.

    When you say extra loot, do you mean, extra loot. Or do you mean extra loot that is on par with what elite/champs drop. I remember from the article before, bosses do not drop gear that is as good as champs/elites.

    They will drop gear as good as champions and elites with this buff (because you have to kill champions and elites to get it, which was the point). With the buff active you’re guaranteed one extra item drop from the boss, and it’s likely that it’ll be 1 item per stack of the buff. Up to X stacks. We don’t know how many it’ll be, probably a handful.