Previously, my Barbarian, Zeta, had worked her way through Nightmare Mode (with some help from a friend), in an effort to go to Hell. After hearing so much about it, I was looking forward to the trip. Here are some highlights from the next part of Zeta’s adventure.

At level 50, and ready to begin Hell mode. My very first trip to Hell Mode just so happened to be on Easter Sunday.

My initial impression of Hell mode was that there were more zombies in the very beginning stages of Act I than what there had been in Nightmare or Normal modes. These zombies were somewhat tougher, too, taking more hits before they died. This much, I expected. To be honest, I would have been disappointed if the zombies were weak. Zeta didn’t have any problems with the first series of quests, and was able to work through them without dying.

I should also probably mention that I was playing solo. This was intentional. I wanted to get adjusted to Hell mode before going into a cooperative game. My concern was that I’d misjudge how powerful Zeta’s armor and skills really were if I was playing with someone else (who would likely be more advanced than I was). After being told that Hell is difficult, I wanted to avoid the mistake of accidentally concluding that Zeta was better geared than she truly was. That would lead to death.

It wasn’t long before I found my very first Tome of Blacksmithing. This answers my question about why I wasn’t finding any of these in Nightmare mode. It seems they don’t appear until Hell Mode. Wasting no time, I immediately used it to level my Blacksmith to 7.

Zeta and Kormac, the Templar, started the Legacy of Cain quest chain. This was when I started taking screenshots of Checkpoints. So far, neither one of them had died. I wanted a record of how far I got before my first death in Hell mode.

Time to save Deckard Cain. I suspected that I would get through this quest without dying – but wasn’t certain.

Success! Not dead yet!

Now that Deckard Cain was safely back in New Tristram (for the moment, anyway) Zeta could move on to other things.

Also managed to kill poor, afflicted, Mira Eamon without dying.

Things started to get really interesting in The Weeping Hollow.

It was at this point that the difference between Nightmare Mode, and Hell Mode, became obvious. Zeta and Lyndon ran into Anarchis Viletongue, who was accompanied by several Wretched Mothers, who spat out the new, somewhat tougher, zombies, faster than I could slay them. More than one of these enemies was spewing green “bad stuff” that it was difficult to avoid standing in.

To survive, I needed to resort to tactics that I worked well when I played my Demon Hunter. Run! Separate the enemies into smaller groups. Run when you are getting close to death. Return after you heal a bit. Lather, rinse, repeat.

It felt really weird to be playing a Barbarian who couldn’t plow her way through the monsters. Sadly, I started using the Demon Hunter technique too late, and ended up with my first death in Hell Mode at the hands of this mob of monsters. Eventually, I did manage to kill them all off. It took much longer than I’d expected from previous experience in Nightmare Mode to do it. After switching around the Followers, I figured out that it was best to have the Enchantress accompany Zeta.

Next up, a pack of Wretching Cadavers. Yep, I’m definitely in Hell Mode!

Off to find the crown in the Cemetery of the Forsaken! The crypts contained more packs of blue monsters than I was used to. Once again, the “run, regain health, return” technique worked pretty well (in most cases).

Here’s a tip: When you are getting close to death, run out of the crypt. The monsters won’t follow you out the door. Stand around outside for as long as you need in order to heal up. This advice probably works best if you decided to clear out the Cemetery before heading into a crypt. Otherwise, I think you would run the risk of being really low on life and engaging an unwanted waiting pack of skeletons just outside the crypt.

Pack of Hungry Corpse zombies

Pack of Ravenous Dead accompanied by Bilehack the Immortal. This was the first time that I’d seen zombies that had an orange “spell” surrounding them. Found out too late that this meant they were able to produce reflexive damage (and that I didn’t seem to have anything to counter that with).

So: Monsters that glow orange = bad. Good to know. I meant to go through my skills just to see if I actually did have anything to counter reflexive damage with, but forgot. (The hazards of playing really late/really early while tired). There must be something that helps Barbarians fight reflexive damage, right?

Upon returning to town, I realized that, somewhere in the crypts, I’d picked up more Tomes of Blacksmithing. My Blacksmith is now at level 8.

Blue Imps with fire chains. Guess what fire chains do? Reflexive damage! The best solution I could figure out for this problem was a combination of “run, heal, return” and to try and get the little imps to run away from each other. They can’t connect with fire chains if they are out of range.

I got the Jar of Souls random event. My favorite! This was extremely fun to do in Hell Mode!

After finishing Jar of Souls (without dying, by the way) my bags were full. Back to town to empty them. While I was there, I switched out the Enchantress for the Templar. Back to the crypts! It wasn’t long before they ran into Deathrattle Darkshade (who wasn’t alone).

He brought with him a pack of Ghostly Murderers (who could build walls).

Next up, Manglemaw. The first time I ran into him was during the beta. He came through the wall, which I was not expecting, and scared me. I wasn’t entirely certain I could survive fighting this monster.

That feeling had since faded away, after getting Zeta past Manglemaw twice, (and various alts once). Until now, that is. Hell Mode made me question, once again, if I could kill Manglemaw without dying. This brought back into the game some of the excitement that I had during the beta. It was nice to have that “OMG, I’m gonna die!” feeling again in Act I of Diablo III.

Eventually, Zeta and Kormac found the crown in The Chancellor’s Tomb, and fought Chancellor Eamon. This was tougher to do in Hell Mode than it was in Nightmare, and was fun!

Ding! Level 52! Wait a minute, when did Zeta hit Level 51? I somehow missed it.

After handing Haedrig the crown, and hitting the Checkpoint, I decided it was time to stop. Hell Mode requires more focus than either Normal or Nightmare did, and I was getting sleepy.

Progress this time: I got to experience Hell Mode for the first time. Zeta is now level 52. I learned about monsters that do reflexive damage, and that sometimes, a Barbarian needs to play like a Demon Hunter for best results.

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