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[LoD v1.09] Eastern Sun v2.0b6 by Perfect Cell
Title [LoD v1.09] Eastern Sun v2.0b6 by Perfect Cell
Description Reviewed by Darkmage for the Phrozen Keep.
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What Works
The most notable thing in ES is probably the items. Every mod I've looked at thus far has had its share of new/tweaked items, but none to this extent. For one, an elite version of every item (including brand new items) is in, and while that may not seem like a big deal now, they were all created from scratch before Blizzard's were. Eastern Sun's elites are fairly comparable in terms of damage to the regular elites, and they work very well for the mod. New graphics abound on many of the exceptional and elite items and help differentiate them from their normal counterparts. Then there are the 39 sets to check out, complete with partial bonuses and all the neat new expansion stuff. There are 4 sets per class (5 for the Barbarian), 6 "generic" sets, and one set for each mercenary type (great idea!). The sets are well thought out and specific to the needs of each class. Most of the upper end sets leave a lot of inventory slots open as well; so you are free to fill in the "gaps" with more resistance, more attack speed, elemental damage, or whatever you may need to maximize your character. Then there are a handful of new unique items. I think the number is somewhere around... *400* at this point, with another 100 or so being worked on as we speak. Admittedly, PC had a lot of help in this department from fans, Lothar, and Ondo, but it's an incredible undertaking regardless. NONE of the original D2 sets or uniques remain, so these are 100% new items. And being a sucker for the green and gold items, this entertains me to no end.

There's more to ES than new uniques and sets though. Gems have gotten a healthy boost to remain competitive with other items, and more items are socketable than in regular D2. Cloaks, gloves, belts, and boots join the standard socketable items to give some more opportunity for resists and other important modifiers. Jewels have gained some new, more powerful affixes, and rare versions of them drop more often. Runewords were added prior to the 1.09 patch to make them worth something.

Skills got a healthy tweaking to go along with some increased monster difficulty. Monsters more or less simulate a four-player game and uniques and champions spawn more frequently than before. To compensate, skills have been given a boost to remain in line with the tougher monsters. Nova has been changed to the fire spell "Immolation", which sends out fireballs in all directions. It's fast, does good damage, and makes for a nice alternative to firewall in its tree. Thunderstorm has been heavily altered to do far less damage, but hit constantly, about every half second. It's works incredibly well, and it's one of my favorite skills in the game. Blizzard's timer has been removed which really makes it a nice skill, and a viable alternative damage-wise to the other two trees. Having a high level skill in each is important in LoD, or at least very useful, so it's nice to have highly damaging skill in each tree.

What Needs Work
The only problems I had were really LoD problems, just magnified by the increased difficulty of the mod. Soloing in Hell used to be very possible, and somewhat easy with a powerful character but that is no longer the case in LoD. Everyone's immune to something which is always a hassle for a sorc, and the bosses spawn with a ridiculous array if abilities and immunities. Almost every boss monster I encountered in Hell Act I was extraordinarily difficult, with MSLEB immunes abounding, and some very dangerous auras. I think the bottom line is that partying or OBSCENE defense and -dam and -magic dam is necessary in hell difficulty now, and the new items and skills can only help so much. Ultimately, my Sorc was unable to handle Hell difficulty on her own, at least not with my run-and-gun style. I don't like playing slow and careful, and I'm sure that caused me to suffer a bit. I think I'll play some multiplayer on the ES server and see if my sorc can be more successful in Hell difficulty.

Final Thoughts
Ahhh, my first expansion mod. I've played ES off and on since way back in the day, but I never really sat down and went all the way through it. It's a mod I've been planning to look at for quite some time, and I finally got around to it. Needless to say, I'm glad I did. ES has been around for a long time (as far as mods go), and all the time spent on it shows. It feels like a cohesive experience all the way through even playing through about 20 different betas as I worked my way through the game. I'm fairly comfortable guessing that PC spends more hours a week working on the mod than I do sleeping, and that's nuts. All the work is appreciated though, and I'd have to say ES has kept my interest in Diablo II extremely well, which is getting tougher and tougher as time goes on. ES is going to be tough to beat.

(Note: My impression of this mod comes from playing as a Sorceress. My first high-level Sorceress ever to boot.)

-Dan


Anyone wishing to check out the Eastern Sun mod can do so by visiting the official website at http://es.d2mods.com.


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