Eisenefaust for doing a ton of theroycrafting in my stream chat. The dude is awesome and had a serious impact on this guide.
Shek's Raze Build [HC Viable] (FULL VIDEO) 10/1 by Shek333 http://forums.runicgames.com/viewtopic.php?f=44&t=35143
The dude dropped a pretty solid build/advice that I've used as a basis for my beserker almost since the beginning. I've just made some adjustments to it based on what I've seen and where I think the priorities with the beserker lies.
Updated Feb 25th 2015
--I removed all the links to TL2 Armory since it's down, and I replaced the talents with a github talent calc.
My stats and gear, first Level 100 NG4 Beserker
Full Game Data - http://i.imgur.com/aGin0.jpg
Full Gear - http://i.imgur.com/nmN3q.jpg
Stats Sheet - http://i.imgur.com/lbFFT.png
My Hardcore Elite New Game 4 Run
Part 1 - http://www.twitch.tv/tieryal/c/851223
Part 2 - http://www.twitch.tv/tieryal/c/851225
Second level 100 NG4 Beserker (Jan 7 2013)
Full Game Data - http://i.imgur.com/bEsxf.png - (I dunno where this img went)
Full Gear - http://i.imgur.com/rotri.jpg
Stats Sheet - http://i.imgur.com/R2uLT.png
HCE From Start to finish.
Part 1 is almost from my start. I am level 8. I was playing a little bit the night before off stream since I didn't have a big chunk of time before I had to leave.
Part 1 - http://www.twitch.tv/tieryal/c/1765052
Part 2 - http://www.twitch.tv/tieryal/c/1765053
Part 3 - http://www.twitch.tv/tieryal/c/1765372
Part 4 - http://www.twitch.tv/tieryal/c/1766142
Part 5 - http://www.twitch.tv/tieryal/c/1766348
Part 6 - http://www.twitch.tv/tieryal/c/1768190
Part 7 - http://www.twitch.tv/tieryal/c/1768393 - NL Kill
Part 8 - http://www.twitch.tv/tieryal/c/1770300
Part 9 - DEAD - http://www.twitch.tv/tieryal/c/1780447 (NSFW)
(The death clip - http://www.twitch.tv/tieryal/c/1783801)
Since I died I've been re-leveling a character asap back to where the previous one was.
Levels 24 to 42 - http://www.twitch.tv/tieryal/c/1783777
Levels 42 to 59 - http://www.twitch.tv/tieryal/c/1783782
I will most likely be continuing with part 10 tomorrow, since I died at ~63.
Back on track. The 2nd Character.
Part 10 - http://www.twitch.tv/tieryal/c/1789820
Part 11 - http://www.twitch.tv/tieryal/c/1792253
Part 12 - http://www.twitch.tv/tieryal/c/1804272
Part 13 - http://www.twitch.tv/tieryal/c/1819452
Part 14 - http://www.twitch.tv/tieryal/c/1819455
Part 15 - http://www.twitch.tv/tieryal/c/1819456 - NG++ NL KIll and NG+++ speed run to minehead
Part 16 - http://www.twitch.tv/tieryal/c/1821753 - NG+++ and NG++++ NL Kill/speed run. Series finished.
HCE NG5+ Speed Runs
http://www.twitch.tv/tieryal/c/1856057 - 35:39
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QogUIngr9EY - 29:20:37 - current world record
The build with skill points
http://ralrom.github.io/tl2-calculator/ ... f0000f00f0
StatPoints: If you can reach 225 dex, and 100 vit through enchants you should do it that way, and then dump all the rest of your points into STR
REALLY IMPORTANT. Save the 14 points you have for frost breath until you have enough mana on hit to cover it's 15/15 cost (50). LEAVE it at 1/15 the entire build until that point. Any points in it before and it eats way too much mana.
Now what I need you NOT to do, is run into that talent calculator and spec our your character to exactly that, because there is some in-between that I want to discuss.
Blood Hunger, 1/15
I had previous beserkers with blood hunger higher, around 9 or 11 before they had died. Honestly it is a 1 point talent. The return you get on it, even when critting a lot simply isn't good enough for the points you have to put in it, and it is completely outshined by shadow burst in every way.
Same as blood hunger, and honestly with 1 point you see it proc all of the time. It's solid to have.
No brainer here. The skill is amazing and is your main single target damage.
Battle Rage VS Howl.
Battle Rage 0/15
I had battle rage at 10 for a while, and then I had it at 5, battle rage at either spot seemed lack luster in terms of the apparent return they were giving me. Enough to the point now where I seriously don't think you should put any points into this skill. Especially because if you have both howl and battle rage in your skill rotation you have less time for dps and you potentially don't cast ice shield soon enough and that is unacceptable (more on this later).
Until recently I had used Battle Rage and this skill is clearly superior.
The Attack Speed/Cast Speed reduction: It's extremely useful on multiple levels. Mobs that cast fast, or attack fast have a serious reduction in their damage output, and it is extremely noticeable. This survivability is much greater than what %DR reduction battle rage is going to give you. Factor that in when you should already be at 75% DR anyways, and it's clear who the winner is. I still haven't tested if Battle Rage is a flat reduction in damage against the mobs hitting you (as in, their damage is lowered before the swing) or it's defense effect is entirely canceled out by having 75% reduction. If someone has notes on this it would be appreciated.
The Slow: The slow is actually really useful, in many ways, some are mob specific, others are just mechanics. You can cast howl on mobs chasing you that are in the front of the pack to slow them down to bunch up with the rest of the mobs, allowing you to more effectively AOE them down. AKA, 1 NR instead of 2. Also, this is more mob specific but the charging yeti's in the ice zone in act 1. If you debuff them with howl their charge (which is usually easy to dodge to begin with) get's stupidly easy to avoid, especially with a lot of chaos going on when fighting multiple mobs (like doing Chillhoof with a few mobs up). This allows you to maximize your survivability by giving you the greatest amount of time to react to what's going on around you.
The damage buff: Yep. It's good.
Frost Breath, 1/15 (15/15)
This is for the 20% flat damage debuff. Later on you get 15/15 for mana on hit properties when you have enough mana on hit.
As for theory crafting, something that is interesting to note, is 15/15 frost breath procs weapon effects, like mana on hit. If you were to obtain a high dps weapon with 4 sockets, socket them all with +48 mana on hit gems, you could get enough mana back from mobs with ice breath to cover the cost of ice breath AND a northern rage cast. Since both are ranged it would be possible to avoid contact with most mobs, increasing your survivability by a shit ton (on top of it freezing them). It also charges your charge bar. I don't have the gear on my main to test it's viability and I haven't made a sandbox character.
Northern Rage 15/15
This is by far the second best ability in the game for beserkers. It puts out such a serious amount of damage when combined with Shatter and Cold Steel Mastery. It keeps you safe, it knocks mobs around, it's long rage, the pathing is generally really good. It's a solid skill.
Ice Shield 10/15
Simply the best skill in the game for beserkers. A shield that reflects with 100% chance all missiles, has a cooldown shorter than the duration, so it's capable (AND SHOULD BE WITHOUT EXCEPTION) up all the time? You're insane if you play HCE without this.
Cold Steel Mastery, 14/15 and Shatter 1/15
They are simply awesome. CSM gives you a LOT of damage. Shatter is for a good aoe/freeze
Shadow Burst 15/15
The third best skill in the game for beserkers. You should always be getting this skill. It increase your survivability almost as much as ice shield. It gets you out of tight spots, it breaks shields and scales with as much HP as you can stack. It's fucking amazing.
Battle Standard 15/15
Battle standard being 15/15 has more to do with the dodge cap more than anything else. If you're playing Shield (you should be), it puts you way over 100% knock back which is really useful on boss fights that knock you around so you can stand there are really shell out some DPS. The mana regen is a great bonus. It allows you to disengage from fights and gets some mana back (re-cast ice shield) and then go back into fights. This also gets you to the 75% dodge cap.
Shred Armor 15/15
Less armor for them. More armor for you. More DPS and survivability? Yesplz.
Stat points: aka, really important.
A lot of people give this stat shit because the health return you get from it really is lack luster in later stages in the game. If I can gem 1 socket with a 1540 health, why the fuck would I put points into vitality? Block. That's why. (But seriously, it's a joke for health)
The block cap is 75%. 50% is the maximum you can get from stats, but that can be pushed over via gear/enchants/scrolls to 75%.
What you should look for is a low, or lower vitality, and a shield/scroll with high block.
There are also the blocking scrolls to increase your block. The highest is level is 6 (12% block) . What this means is you should get your vitality to 100 through stat points.
100 vitality will give you 18% chance to block. The higher block shield will give you 15/30 (45%) and the 12% scroll together will put you are 75%
Given the fact that you are playing HCE. I DON'T SUGGEST having such a low block value for such a long period of time before you get that 45% shield. It's not that it can't be done, it will just be a lot harder. Especially early on when you don't have 10 points in ice shield. Maybe enchanting for vitality to get another +95 would be good, wear a 15/10, and get at least 70%.
I previously thought that you might not be able to do well in HCE with only 100 vit for block before you get the 45% shield and the higher scroll. With some mid level enchanting you can make up for any loss of block percent early on in the game and it actually isn't that bad to begin with. You still end up with plenty of block for late game before you find the shield.
The dodge cap at 75% is 226 dex + battle standard. IMO, over this amount is simply wasteful.
The rest in strength that you have chosen not to put into vitality, after 226 dex.
Dervish 6 - Attack speed and cast speed. It's amazing.
Haste 6- This is specific for doing speed runs and getting around, I use the added attack speed for killing bosses
Block 6 - Explained above.
Concentration 6/WildCard -
I sometimes use 15% MF on this because right now It's hard to squeeze any MF into my build without coming to close to dying. I really think it's a toss up on what could go in here. I REALLY don't think it should be spells you have to cast, so if anything choose another passive. Dervish and Haste casts already take up a lot of mana and cast time when combined with debuffing a boss to dish out damage.
I exclusively use Concentration in this slot now. It's simply too good.
Concentration 6 is useful and it can help out in tough situations where you need to be away from a target before going back in.
Fast Weapon high dps + Shield.
75% Damage Reduction via Eyes of Grell [urlhttp://torchlight.wikia.com/wiki/The_Eye_of_Grell[/url] and later on Skulls of Liamony
The rest +HP via Skulls of Riechliu
What I would suggest is mana on hit. As much of it as you can get. The less time you have to spend auto attacking the boss for mana the better, because you spend it on casting ice shield/NR/Raze/Howl/Dervish/Haste etc.
You can forgo the MoH (Mana on Hit) weapon sockets if you happen to have % mana stolen gear that you are using and can survive with. I didn't find any on my character during the runs that were good enough to warrant using. The 2pcs set bonus from Inquisitor might be the best to get and then you can socket something else into your weapons. Maybe some more +ice damage, or +poison/+ice for the poison debuff.
I've always done ice damage. It's better than flat +str. For gear, +str is better because the + ice damage comes as a percentage.
Don't ever have this down in HCE NG+'s. It will be your downfall. Also learn early on what can be deflected and what can't be. IE. Grells ground slam is 100% reflected by this, but Grand Regents ground slam is not at all (From what I've seen, I try to avoid his ground slam at all costs. It hits too fucking hard).
Don't worry about spamming howl. If you have a choice between howl and ice shield, it's ice shield, every time.
DPS vs Bosses
You cast a lot of spells with long-ish animations so a boss fight might start looking like this.. Drop battle standard, cast ice shield, pop Dervish, Haste and howl, auto attack for full mana, frost breath raze raze raze, full mana frost breath raze raze raze, ice shield, full mana frost breath raze raze raze, howl, battle standard, ice shield, full mana frost breath, raze, raze, raze. You get the idea.
Big shout out to my stream viewers, you helped shape a lot of this information. You make gaming a lot more fun and interactive. My stream count use to average a smaller amount of people, but every day it grows and I appreciate EVERY single one of you that sit in my stream. You're all wonderful and I hope you know that. <3