I've had it said to me multiple times over the last couple of weeks that Act II Inferno is a brick wall that cannot be hurdled without spending something close to 30 million gold if you are a Barbarian. In 135 hours and only about 2 million gold later (I'm still sitting on a fair stockpile of the shiny yellow coins), I've jumped over the wall of Act II Inferno, and I keep asking myself "why are people finding this so impossible?"
That's not to say it wasn't hard. You definitely have to be on your toes...despite sleep deprivation on a couple of nights causing me to kill the Spider Queen Aranae in Act 1 while falling asleep a few times (and I have eyewitnesses). Nonetheless, Act II definitely felt tough, and having been through the entire act, I can retract one of my previous statements in multiple different blogs and threads around here: the first half of Act II is definitely more difficult than the second half. The enemies felt a little more brutal, a bit more...well, like a brick wall of a gear check saying "get your weight up, son".
"Got my weight up" is exactly what I did, though, and after downing Belial in Act II, I felt this great sense of relief come over me. I had done it, and now I could look forward to further progression.
However, Blizzard is still posting up stats that say a very VERY small percentage of the 7 million+ people that are playing this game have not even SEEN Inferno mode. Reading the Diablo 3 forums, there are people struggling with NIGHTMARE! This is something that my mind just...I don't know, I cannot fathom how people AREN'T clearing these difficulties. Act 3 and 4 of Hell, yeah. I can see some issues going into those, as you have to start dealing with some hard-hitting zerg-rushes of demons clattering to slice you open.
Don't get me wrong: this isn't some big e-peen post of "hey, check it out, I'm better than you". This is me saying "I've done it, so why aren't other people?" I can understand that cost is part of it, and it doesn't help that Blizzard really shot some players in the foot by manipulating good drop chances for useful gear in order to prioritize the use of their Auction House. However, I've spent 2 million gold on gear. That's it. It seems like a lot, but after about a month, that's not nearly as much as you think. That's about 20 Warden/Butcher runs (which in essence is about one full day of farming).
If anything, I think farming Warden/Butcher in Act 1 Inferno has actually been highly beneficial to me. I understand my character in ways that I did not before doing those farm runs. There's an understanding of how skills and stats synergize with each other that help to look at the builds I use and say "man, this would work really well if I use this along with it". Currently, my build is pretty much "cookie cutter tank". There's nothing surprising in it. Hell, my stats aren't even necessarily spectacular.
There's nothing special here. As a matter of fact, you'd be relatively surprised to find out that four of those pieces of armor...are blues...with nothing but vitality and all resist. Those particular pieces of gear never got me more than 100k gold. As for general stats, I'm sitting on about 700 all resist with my War Cry buff up (so around 460-480 unbuffed, which is not nearly that impressive) with no % melee attack or ranged attack damage reduction. I think the only "reduction" I have from any of that is 2% from elites, and that was on the 1k armor shield I'm using...that only cost me 10k. Seriously, good gear can be found for CHEAP! Hell, I know that when I find good gear, I'm usually posting it for under 200k gold (I have 10 auctions up right now that all have over 40 all resist for around 10k-20k gold each).
For wizards and witch doctors, I am sorry for the pain you have to deal with. I've seen the prices you guys are having to deal with, and it's pretty fucked up. Nonetheless, my buddy Findaill (that's his in-game name) has not only gotten geared for around the same 2 million as I've spent, BUT HE WAS ALSO HACKED and had his gear sold off, everything taken from him other than his Staff of Herding. He got regeared in about two days time.
So needless to say, I just don't understand it. I know part of it does come down to skill - whether the cut of your gib is capable of hanging with the Inferno difficulty. With 1.0.3 on the horizon (and changes that I am actually excited about rather than the perturbed sense I had before), I'm curious to see if the progression numbers change drastically or whether it'll stay in the same 1-2% area it has been stagnating at.
Until next time, keep pushing forward in Sanctuary and I hope to hear success stories from you guys. Oh...and piece.