HCE First Time Walkthrough & Tips/Tricks

FriarChuggsFriarChuggs Posts: 3
edited November 2014 in TL2 Hardcore Mode
In light of the http://www.gamespot.com/news/torchlight-ii-sales-hit-2-million-6412032 I suspect a lot of people like me are just getting into the game and may be a bit frustrated by the lack of HCE content on these boards which appear to have died about six months ago. If you're like me, and tried Normal and Veteran and just didn't feel like the game was even trying against you, and then rolled an HCE character as overcompensation... and died... a lot...... well, hopefully this helps. I also selfishly hope people will post their own tips/tricks/strategies here since I"m relatively new to the game as well. The below information is my own experience melded with obsessive forum reading and general HC experience from things like D3. I'm writing this from the perspective of that you don't have access to **** gear since you're new to the game like me.

Required reading
On HCE attitude: http://forums.runicgames.com/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=55486&p=470612&hilit=hce+builds#p470612
A few build ideas: http://forums.runicgames.com/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=42592&hilit=hce+builds
Some good tips: http://forums.runicgames.com/viewtopic.php?f=44&t=43170 (see 2nd post and subsequent)

Act 1 Warn Estherians:

After running this zone you shouldn't be over level 3 so you can still respec out of any skill you don't want (I'm looking at you, Eviscerate berserkers). It's very possible to die in this zone, particularly if you pull too many of the thieves who are sometimes in the bottom right corner. Be careful with pulls and I strongly recommend a ranged weapon for these early zones before your skills can protect you (looking at you, Embermages with your stupid melee staves). Pro tip: most classes can use most weapons, so your embermage can use a gun or bow for the first zone or two till you get wands up and running. No shame in getting a ranged weapon with your zerker or engi or ember just to make sure you live through this zone, you can always switch back to your "standard" weapons once you get a decent one. My attitude in these early zones is basically just to use best available weapon, regardless of type.

Act 1 Path of Honored Dead:
Clear it all before the relatively easy dungeon. This is easier than the first zone because you have some actual skills and gear now.
Dungeon Corrupted Crypt:
Don't get surrounded in here, it's very easy to get clipped on a corner, or by a sarcophogus, or cornered in without an escape skill to get out. Watch out for skelly archers too, they do a lot of damage if unmolested. I prefer to pull carefully so that I draw melee troops away from them and then they are unprotected. If you have zerker with shadow burst or something though you can just go straight at them to get in/out with burst.
The boss room is very easy if you pull right, and death if you pull wrong. Slowly kill mobs and inch forward into the room until you've cleared the near half of the square dais in the middle, then you can fight the boss kiting him around that area and the entrance to this level. The Fallen Guardian is the actual boss down on the second level, but there is another champion level mob there and if you pull both it could be gg. Always kill all other mobs before the Guardian, he doesn't spawn any and it's easier to avoid his attacks when there aren't other mobs. The Fallen Guardian himself has two attacks you need to dodge, where he raises up his sword above his head and pounds it into the ground creating a circle of green poison around him, and then after he does that his next power attack is raising the sword and slamming it into the ground to send out three tendrils of poison on the ground which will track you so run out of their range or break Line of Sight around a corner or something. As with all boss fights in HCE, your primary focus is avoiding damage, DPS is incidental and you need to stay alive over killing him fast. Pay close attention to attack animations so you can run away before he slams his sword into the ground.

Temple Steppes:
Huge zone. Clear it all before attempting any instances here as the bosses of those instances are much harder than anything you face outside. There are two dangers out here, one is when you are kiting champion mobs, make sure you have a clear area to kite back into so you don't trigger another mob. The other is SUMMONERS who are, in scientific fact, the devil. Summoners periodically cast a spell which summons plodding fell walkers. You can usually kite them around easily while you slowly DPS down the summoner, or if you have good AOE you can just burn through the trash faster than it is re-summoned and kill the summoner. You may want to take out the spear-chucking jerks before attempting any kiting (they don't ressurect, just the little guys). When fighting summoners make sure you have clear retreat paths, as there are a couple places they can appear on narrow sets of steps, and it's very easy to get stuck and die.
Instance Fisherman's Lantern/PlunderCove:
I think this is the easiest of the instances here, so I suggest doing it first. Watch out for bridges and dead ends, don't get cornered, and pull carefully as the gun-toting ghost pirates are quite deadly en masse. These trash mobs are appreciably tougher than outside, so if you are having trouble with the trash you may want to reroll the outside world (start new online game, check "reroll world" box) and clear it one more time to get some gear and a level or two before starting the instances. The Ghosts can be deadly too, make sure not to trigger a ghost chest (it glows an unearthly green/blue) with other mobs around. The ghost AI is pretty dumb though so you should be able to kite them away one or two at a time. For the pirate captain One-Eyed **** (goonies, YEAH), you can use his ship as a choke point to kill the adds and/or do ranged DPS. **** is the first boss monster who summons adds, but he does so infrequently and on a timer so you should kill adds then DPS ****. He only has melee attacks and does an obvious animation before the big ones so back out of those. Melee chars should be able to easily tank his normal swipes.
Instance: Bring Out Your Dead (Mordrox)
The instance itself is pretty standard. Have an escape route, pull carefullly, don't get trapped or overwhelmed. Mordrox himself, however, is by far the biggest danger you've yet faced. When you get to his lair, two giant skellies will come off the wall. DPS them fast and hard, as Mordrox and waves of other skellies are coming fast and the two Giants don't respawn. There are now three other sources of adds you need to contend with besides Mordrox: 1) a flame skelly mage, who respawns as soon as you kill him so just don't attack him, 2) skellies crawling up from the crypt on a timer including archers, so kill archers right away, and other skellies them when they reach a convenient mass, 3) summoned adds on a timer which should also be DPS'ed when they reach a convenient mass for kiilling. Most of the non-ranged adds are very slow so you can sometimes get some good DPS on Mordrox even while adds are up. Mordrox does a big poison slam and casts poison bolts which track you (poorly) so when you see his big attack animation start make sure to get out of range. You should be able to get 1-2 hits in between his strikes, which also only hit in front of him so zerkers can shadow burst behind him and keep attacking through his strikes. The socketable he drops, Eye of Mordrox, is great in weapons as it provides more damage than regular sockets and poison reduces armor.
Instance: Phase Beast Portal
Why would you go in there? I haven't. Don't plan on it. Heard it **** and you die a lot.
Instance: Wellspring Temple
Make sure you are comfortably killing mobs in here, as there are a lot of packs which can cause death to the unwary. If you don't have the DPS or armor to feel comfortable, go re-run Temple Steppes. This is the part of the game where I found weapon switching to start becoming very important. I tend to gravitate to one item set with a good shield with high block and/or flat Damage Reduction (DR), and the other set with a good AOE 2-hander for clearing trash. In the Temple, make sure to blow up all Urns as two of them unlock "secret rooms" which are full of treasure and goodies. There are a few dangerous champion mobs in here - a Summoner who also casts homing fireballs which then turn into exploding fire bombs (run away, let bombs explode, then re-engage). There is also a set of stairs onto a bridge where it is very easy to overpull a champion and a summoner together with many adds and that can be difficult. In the second Secret Room you should also progress carefully as you have little room to maneuver and you can easily pull a bunch of ghosts and spear jerks. With those big pulls you can use your AOE weapon to clear trash/adds, and then DPS the champ mobs with your one hander + shield.
General Grell is the boss of this instance. I would suggest being level 14 for comfort, though if you are familiar with him he is very doable even at 11. Grell is a lot like Mordrox - he periodically summons adds, which you should kill first, then DPS him. He has a ground pound which is short-range and you should avoid when you see him rear back to do it, he has a cave-in spell which drops boulders all over the room (sorry outlanders and embers), and a fire attack which is also dodgeable so if you have extra fire gems put them in your armor. The adds he summons come in waves and are of different types: shamblers, warbeasts, sturmgeon, etc. You have practice fighting these already so deal with them like you normally would. Grell is slow enough you should be able to pull the adds away from him. Grell sometimes drops a gem which gives you a flat 3% DR when put into armor. It is probably worth it to farm him to get some of these, as they are useful all the way into the late game. The game saves 2 dungeons at a time, so if you want to farm Grell you need to walk into two other dungeons then he will respawn.

Frosted Hills
I'm just getting started here so I'll add more as I progress. The first time I zoned in I was immediately confronted with a charging elite mob, which was incredibly deadly and almost killed me twice. Most of what I've read warns about the Yetis being able to one-shot you if a couple attack at the same time. As I get more experience here I'll add some more, but if this is your first time playing HCE it is probably wise to farm Grell a little bit before tackling this. Unless you play an engineer. They cheat.

Tips & Tricks:
Fish are important, they all make your pet much more powerful. Turning him into a Mimic or Warsnout seems the most powerful incarnation I've seen.
Vitality - I've heard mixed reviews of it because it gives so little HP, but it also adds Block. If you intend to use a shield, getting 100 vit total is probably a good idea as that lets you hit the block cap in the endgame.
Itemization - +HP is one of the best affixes in HCE, especially at lower levels, and especially if you aren't stacking vit. I'm also very fond of all ways to regen health and mana.
Skill leveling - be careful about leveling your bread and butter skills because it often increases the mana cost. Thus, it may be more effictive to save points to go from rank one to rank five (available at level 14 for starter skills like Rapid Shot or Frost Breath) rather than level up one by one. Passive skills are the opposite though, since they cost no mana if you are going to level them don't save up to do it.
Potions - use them anytime you even think you might need one. It's better to spend a measly 120 gold on a potion than to have a 1% chance of dying from a strong follow-on attack. Mana potions can either be great DPS boosters for bosses, or if your escapes depend on mana (zerkers + outlanders) you may want to treat them like health potions and always make sure you have enough mana on hand to do one or two rune vaults/shadow bursts. Using higher level potions has benefits beyond the total mount healed, since all potions are heal over time, the big potions heal more HP faster and thus have uses even beyond the total HP healed.
Hotkeys - bind your skillbar down to a comfortable set of keys near your non-mouse hand rather than 1-10. For example I have QE as potions, W as spell switch, Tab as weapon switch, ASD as buff/debuff skills.
Banking - You can't transfer gold, but you can bank items to sell on another character. Goldfish are particularly useful for this, I bank all of them in the shared stash.
Alts - there are three primary approaches to alts in HC: just level your main toon and stash extra gear for when you die then reroll, level your main toon but level an identical toon behind him so that when main dies you don't have to redo everything, or level multiple different class toons simultaneously so you can cross-swap gear. I like the last option both for the gear boons and because I like the variety of choosing what class style I feel like playing at any given moment. The major downside with that plan though is that you don't gain the muscle memory for escape skills and quick action so sometimes you end up just button mashing when you are in a tight spot rather than quickly and efficiently doing exactly the actions you need to do to live.
Enchants - I dont' know what the max number of enchants on an item is, but they are randomized and you can add/remove them from the enchanter so getting the "right" enchant can be very expensive. Save money for it.
Buying Gear - the purchased armor in particular can be really great. The guy at the forge even sells some set equipment. I make sure to check him every time I'm in town.
Death - I've said "when" you die a lot in here, because it's true. YOU will die. Accept it and plan for it, that's what makes HCE so exciting.
Move vs. Hold: You need to bind something to "stand and attack" and another key to just pure "move." For example I have shift as my stand button and cntrl as my move button. When I'm at range attacking I hold shift and attack, that keeps me from accidentally running forward if I misclick. If I'm in a tight space and need to run away, I hold cntrl and click so that I don't accidentally stand still and attack something if I click on a mob rather than on empty space. If I'm moving into range to attack you can just click the normal attack button and you will move towards the target till it is in range and do your attack.
Range: Even melee weapons have range, so if you are using a 2handed axe or polearm for example, if you Frost Breath another melee unit you can attack it in melee and be out of its range.

Suggested Mods which I think are still in the spirit of HCE (if you disagree that's fine, play your way and enjoy it!):
Bigger Inventory - saves time from muling, but doens't enable anything you couldn't do in the game with enough effort: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=136235847
Quick Respec - Can be cheaty, but also can be very fair and a life saver if you realize you screwed your build up or if you are one of those people who thinks lag/bug deaths shouldn't count in HC so you want to resurrect your HC character:


  • Saved for moar stuff
  • kuhchungkuhchung Posts: 72
    Are you still playing? I liked reading this. Agreed with all of the trouble spots.
  • NauzhrorNauzhror Posts: 1,090
    Why would you go in there? I haven't. Don't plan on it. Heard it **** and you die a lot.

    Totally not that bad. I always do the phase beast portals when playing HCE, if you do it after Wellspring Temple, you should have no issues if you have a decent build. You can even do it before Wellspring usually with little fuss. Theonly potentially difficult challenge you can get is the one with the 3 buttons and the giant waves of enemies, that when killed spawn chests - but even then - yes, it requires high dps to win usually, but there are other options, stand on the staircase so they have a bottleneck and then use something with knockback so that they can't reach you, or worst case scenario, flee up the stairs and escape - there's no reason to die, fleeing beats dying in HCE.
    Unless you play an engineer. They cheat.

    I'd honestly rate embermage or berserker over engineer for HCE. I played as embermage, Tieryal as berserker and we both beat HCE with far less fuss than any engineer I've seen. It very much seemed to be the case to me that the best defense was a solid offense - something that low level engineers lack.
    "All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others." - Douglas Adams
  • kuhchungkuhchung Posts: 72
    I guess I will add on some points that I thought were problems.

    In general, go slow. There is no rush and no shame in running away. If there is a really troublesome group, try to lure them out slowly. Don't rush in to kill generators or somesuch; this will likely get you surrounded and killed.

    Frosted Hills: The spellcasters hurt really bad and seem to have a lot of hp. The ice tornados are deadly. Be careful, especially in tight spaces.
    Chillhoof: His big ice attack has a large startup... don't stand directly in front of him when he slowly lowers his head. Lure his mobs out one at a time and handle them before you fight him. There is a champ spellcaster with him.
    Watchweald Temple: The large ground pounders can hurt a lot. Also, don't underestimate the mana draining leeches! If you rely on a mana escape skill, you may find yourself in big trouble if they nip you!
  • NauzhrorNauzhror Posts: 1,090
    I find the bats in chillhoof's cave to be far more problematic than chillhoof himself.
    "All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others." - Douglas Adams
  • kuhchungkuhchung Posts: 72
    Randomly adding more stuff.

    Damage carpets hurt a LOT. The molotov **** ratlins, Deathcaps, and Varkolyn Hurlers you need to be careful around. The deathcaps always fire a volley of things, and then throw the flasks, so use that pattern to your advantage (ie, don't go and melee them as they're throwing the flasks. Or if you do, leave as soon as they toss em)

    Swamp trolls/cave trolls can one shot you with the slow overhead chop. I lost like a level 70 to a champion teleporting troll... he teleported right next to me as he was downswinging :/
  • I just started an HCE zerker the other day, and I'm loving it; suddenly, everything everything becomes important. Tactics matter, and it requires a lot more planning before doing anything. That said, I'm still only level 11, lol

    I am dreading the second Geni quest in Act 2 though. Oh ****, am I dreading that, and the spikes in the floors in Act 2 in general.
  • I just learnt it the hard way: farm eye of grell in normal for ng+
    what's the purpose of that stupid level-requirement? same stats, but lvl50+??
  • It probably just follows some generic drop formula.
  • peti29peti29 Posts: 117
    Some pieces of advice:
    - Chillhoof is deadly. Use frost resistance potions and boost your ice armor before facing him.
    - Watch out for those tiny spiders that come out of cocooned corpses. They can be hard to notice and they can kill you pretty fast if you let them swarm you.
    - You may enter phase portals but first clear everything else (including level boss).
  • where can i get res-potions? (play HCE on plain vanilla and have respect facing chillhooof first time.... i just restart the game when i'm @his door)
  • peti29peti29 Posts: 117
    Yes, Chillhoof is hard. I can't even imagine how to beat him going melee.
    There is a chance that his frost wave knocks you back far enough that the same wave hits you again and again, and then you are dead no matter what.
    As for resist potions, you can buy them from the potion seller lady at the Estherian Enclave.
    (Btw, apart from the frost resist potion vs Chillhoof you will need lightning resist potions for the Artificer boss and the Luminous Arena and fire resist potion for the Arena of Slaughter later)
  • embermanemberman Posts: 729
    Chillhoof's most dangerous attack ice wave happens to be the easiest one to avoid. Even with insane ice armor, it still comes with the risk of killing you due to the multi-hit nature of the attack. However it can be avoided nearly 100% reliably by only fighting Chillhoof in an open space and not getting too far away. The key is to realize that it has a very narrow cone of fire, and a fairly long telegraph. Whenever Chillhoof does his motions to signal the attack, run around behind him and start poking him in the rear while the ice wave goes harmlessly off in the wrong direction. As long as you are not too close to a wall for the ice wave to bounce off of, it will never hit any area behind Chillhoof, so behind Chillhoof is where you want to be. This means you can't be too far away because the cone of fire gets bigger the farther away you are. This is why even though I have never fought him with a melee character, I think melee characters should not have much trouble with him. You need to stay close to him to be safe. Part of the reason why I enjoy that fight so much is because it really doesn't matter what gear you have as long as you have the right tactics.

    He's still dangerous though, so I always save him for last because the shorter you can make the fight last the better off you are.
  • embermanemberman Posts: 729
    Stay away from the minor NPC's with the mini-quests while fighting. I lost a promising outlander in Act 2 last week because I accidentally got stuck in a quest reward menu. There was exactly 1 enemy hitting me but by the time I managed to click on some reward and get out of the menu, I was already dead.
  • ye thx for chillhoof tips ... did him without any icepot didn't come back to this forum ... well...

    it was an intense fight :D i did't go behind him (read emberman's post to late) but i had teleport on my mage... and so i teleported out of ****, I never got below 75% HP ... so far this fight was ok... i farmed a lot and was well geared i guess

    @lvl 31 RIP <3 mage

    emberman wrote:
    Stay away from the minor NPC's with the mini-quests while fighting. I lost a promising outlander in Act 2 last week because I accidentally got stuck in a quest reward menu. There was exactly 1 enemy hitting me but by the time I managed to click on some reward and get out of the menu, I was already dead.

    thx fot the tip ... well also to late... but i have a few questions on it.....

    i mentioned this effect.... but mh i killed whole map around the quest-reward-dude... then i took the reward and mobs came to me... this happend more than one time... i think its part of the quest?!? :D well... with pets set to aggro it seems u have 2 seconds more :D

    then i tried the same with 2 players.... again... map around reward-dude cleaned.... i stand behind the other dude after while he gets his reward... and again mobs... ?

    any tric on it or is it just the train how to get ur reward VERY fast? ;)
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