As promised in our earlier post, here is our interview with Azimuth, the first ever player to get to level 100 Paragon in Hardcore mode.
Note: Thought the interview you will see in-game screenshots provided by Azimuth himself. It is important to mention that any stats shown in the pictures are unbuffed.
First of all, thanks for doing this interview with us. Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your gaming background, and how long you have been playing Diablo 3?
I'm from Russia, married (10 years) and have one kid (daughter, 7). Actually I'm not a big gamer, I hadn't been playing anything seriously for at least last 6 years, only some casual easy games, generally with my daughter. But before that I played Diablo 1 and Diablo 2 quite a lot. First Diablo really had an impact on me and it is because of this game I was pulled into nostalgia and bought Diablo III - bought EU-version, though I could wait for 7th of June to get much cheaper "russian version" (30$ only). I wanted to start exploring D3 as soon as possible, so I plunged into the game on 15th of May.
Is there a specific reason why you chose the Wizard to undertake this task?
Well, I don't know why that is so, but I always had liking for mages and wizards. I used to play them in all old RPG-games, like Eye of the Beholder, for example. I didn't change my habit and so chose wizard class in Diablo 3. And since 15th of May I played wizard class only. Though, at the very beginning, there were some thoughts to start Witch Doctor too, but that hasn't happened, as you can see.
Did you set out with the goal to get to 100 Paragon or did it just happen as you played?
The second. I was just about to quit Diablo in 1.0.3 (august), because I finished all inferno on hardcore by that time. But then they released 1.0.4 and that arose some additional interest in me for the game. At first I just played, farmed with friends, the progress was quite slow. But then someone told me - "Hey, congratulations, you are on 9th place in world Top-10 paragon HC". I said: "Ye, okey, that is cool". Some time passed and I heard "Wow, you are in top-5". And so I thought: "Hm, what if i were to farm exp faster than before?". However, the idea to get lvl 100 (as it is, not necessarily to be with that on the 1st or 2nd place or whatever) came to me much earlier.
Which acts/quests did you mostly grind while leveling? I understand that safety is more important than efficiency in Hardcore mode so Act 3 may not have necessarily been used.
Exactly so. Alkaizer method does not work here, at least, with my char. When I finally engaged into this marathon, I tried to find the best location to farm, which would give very good exp per min/hour/day and would be safe enough. I tried different places on all 4 acts on inferno difficulty, even tried to farm on hell difficulty. Act 1 inferno turned out to be the most efficient in my situation. The best and safest place in act 1 to farm exp is the "Crypt of the Ancients". With my gear (I used there cain's set as well) and archon build it gave me 30-33 mln exp per hour. However, you can't farm that area for too long - there is a limit on games you create. So I farmed this crypt for 3 hours early in the morning and 3 hours late in the evening. In between I made act1 runs on the following route: "Tower (if spawned) -- Leoric's mansion (run to it straight from tower, don't clear all those areas you run across) -- Weeping hollow -- 3 Cemetery crypts -- Festering wood -- Prison (run straight through halls of agony lvl 2) -- Butcher (run straight through halls of agony lvl 3). I got 20-23 mln exp per hour with this route. If I played all day long (like I did from 90 lvl), I could get ~280-320 mln exp a day.
Some people were surprised to see that your gear was not god-like. Can you tell us how hard it was to gear your character in Hardcore mode? Did you use outside sources like forums to get trade gear?
The thing is that you should not confuse Softcore gear with Hardcore gear. This is very hard to get a good gear in Hardcore, even if you have gold. For example, on 90-ies levels I had 200 mln hardcore gold, but I just couldn't buy anything good enough, neither on auc, nor on forums, not even from personal offers from other players.. If someone puts smth good on auc - it disappears very quickly, so if you are not lucky, you will always miss such items. Or - alternatively - the price is so insane that no one buys it. And still, even with such insane price, this item will be considered "bad" or at least "normal" if taken into Softcore games.
We understand Hardcore mode can be very frustrating. How many times were you close to death? And if you were, was it ever because of outside interferences like an internet drop out?
Yes, many-many people die on Hardcore all the time no matter what is their gear, progress, skills and so on. Reasons are different too. As for me, I started playing Hardcore mode from 18th of May and I saw a lot. The problem is, indeed, is your internet connection, which should be stable enough, not necessarily fast. Here at home I've got 2 different lines. One line is very fast, but gives me 1-3 disconnects a day in Diablo. Another one is very slow, but gives no disconnects. However, this provider is not perfect and sometimes reserts the line or apparatus or smth like that - so it happened several times that I play and uppps... no internet connection at all (for some mins, hours or even days!). One time I also had all electricity cut off in the whole house (so I had to buy UPS). So lets say - these are force-majeure reasons. By now I had been playing for 1000 hours and for all this time I lost 3 chars. However, none of them died because of this force-majeure, but died in battles.
With my main char "Mage" I experienced smth like 6 disconnects, but I survived them all. One was very dangerous, on the pack in act 1, but it was almost done and I think my hydra saved me, because it finished it while I was off-line. There were also some dangerous situations in different locations on my way to 100th. Two times I had big problems meeting with double pack on act 1 being in cain's set. The most frightful moment was on the 99th level when I got caught by two freeze-packs, stood in one place and couldn't do anything, while health was going down and down and down. However, again, luckily enough, when smth like 25% hp left, I was released from freeze and still had teleport skill avaliable which saved my life.
How many days did it take you to complete this goal?
You can calculate easily. Patch was released on aug 22, and I reached lvl 100 on oct 13. So, almost 2 months. However, if I had plunged into marathon from the very first day, I would have done it much faster of course. By the way, I pushed really hard starting somewhere from 89-90 levels. Before that I played for 6-9 hours a day, sometimes farming 3rd act in the party (to relax a bit from boring solo-runs).
What are your thoughts about patch 1.0.5?
I have no plans at all to participate in 1.0.5. Yes, it is full of new stuff, but I don't want to make my diablo 3 play endless. As I said, I had already almost quit the game in august, but finally stayed for 2 month more. But now I'll quit for sure - at least till PvP patch or even more than that - till add-ons. Got many things to do in real life.
Concerning the patch itself - well, can't say much, I didn't test it, though yes, I read patch-notes. People say inferno is going to be very very easy now (unless you switch on Monster Level(s)), so almost everyone can now do Diablo on Inferno Hardcore even with very moderate gear and skills. I wont say this is good, I wont say this is bad, because every time Blizzard changed anything, I accepted it just as a new reality and tried to adjust to it. If something got nerfed, okey; if otherwise - still all right. If I were to play 1.0.5, I'd have the same attitude to it.