This past week, as the title suggests, I wanted to level up my newly acquired classes, learn how they work, and also get a feel for the progression--from level pacing to loot. To give the reader some background, I’ve got about 200+ hours logged on DD2 and have been reasonably active on the forums. I wouldn’t call myself a veteran, but I’m no novice either. That said, I’ve only beaten chaos 2 using the upgrade NM4 gear, which equates to Chaos 4 level drops from the spreadsheets I’ve seen that detail the drop rate limits per each chaos tier. Some may simply right off everything I have to say at this point and that’s fine. I’m actually writing this as feedback to players in general as well as Trendy. This will be a long post. I’ve tried to format it so it’s not a wall of text, but it’s still quite long. You can skip to the end where I bullet the key points but I wanted to present my experience as I felt it. My piecemeal revelations happened bit by bit. My goal here is simply to try and be as objective as I can while leveling my new characters and honestly answer for myself the many presumptions I had already made based on several chaos playthroughs. I mixed up the classes to learn them as I played through the campaign, but would often use an entire stage to learn a classes defenses. In my latter games, I used defenses from all of these classes except the Dryad. I’ll explain why that was later. So...without further adieu, let’s be on with it. I began my saga by playing the Lavamancer. I didn’t expect to stick to this class too long. He gets a ton of flak on the forums and I can’t recall the last match I played where someone played this class. To my astonishment … holy ***. His Molten Core ability, even at lvl 1 was wiping mobs left and right. I accidently punched the Submerge button and found that I could move faster than any of my chaos level character even with the speed shard. Oh wait, I heal too? Wait...why is this class getting so much flak on the forums, I thought to myself. Slowly I learned how his resources work. You have to have a Fissure of Embermount...and more than one if you want to keep his ability power up. A lavamancer joining a midgame match where most DU is already spent can pretty much contribute nothing. As I played this class I found out that the fissures actually do pretty nice damage when relic’d and sharded, just like most defenses. And I found out that the Molten Core ability can be rehit if you go find it. Strangely, it took many levels for me to realize this. I never used the Harden/Inflame ability because the F6 description didn’t really shed much light on it. Only after reading the wiki (after completing my playthrough) did I realize this actually aids defenses. Over the course of 50 levels, I used the Fissure and Maw of Earth Drake a lot. The latter seemed to scale quite well with Totems, much better than the Mystic’s Viper’s Fangs. As I began playing the Abyss Lord, I found I really enjoyed the class, but my favorite part of the AL is the Colossus. I actually put two of these down on my first stage despite his high DU cost...I mean it’s a freaking colossus. This guy is going to be bad ass, so why not? As the stage progressed, I noticed the Crystal Cart was getting hit. Wait what? I had covered all 3 lanes. 2 Colossuses and 1 Maw of Earth. That’s when I learned something that the game never told me about. I can only have 1 instance of a Colossus. Same with a Volcano. Same with the Obelisk. The game never informed me of this. In any way. I didn’t lose the match or come close to it because I just pulled out my AL and ate some souls. Thankfully, core health while leveling in the campaign is nothing like core health in Chaos. Still, this was my first surprise of many things Dungeon Defenders 2 fails to inform the players about. It’s probably obvious at this point I was pretty ignorant about these classes. And while I had played many matches seeing them, it showed me that I really didn’t have any real clue of their capabilities. My first forays with the Mystic were...confusing. The ability power wasn’t like others and it started half full. I found early that Dark Torment does a crap ton of damage. All #3 abilities do, but this one was really nice because it had no long animation. It does pretty great damage and I was free to move. I found the Lavamancer’s Eruption to have a similar experience. Call to Madness was pretty fantastic. Make the monsters fight each other? That sounds like fun. The thing that struck me most about this class is how slow gaining favor was. I found that, in the early levels, I had to devote a good portion of defenses and the first wave to max out my ability bar. But once I did...I found she crit’d and crit’d A LOT. I was doing what felt like a vast amount of damage and it felt quite good. I also got a speed boost that made things truly fun. I felt the embrace of a powerful entity and felt like I could slay anything in my path. And so I did. In sincerity it tooks many levels to learn this classes defenses and perks. I found that Viper’s Fangs did not scale as well with DH, but bubbled mobs and that bit of CC helped greatly. I found that Snaking Sands is probably the best trap in the game as many on the forums had stated repeatedly. It shocked that of the kills my defenses had, these always had a remarkably high number given that they slow and stun too. For most of the game, I used Viper’s Fangs quite often. Only after hitting level 50 and giving my huntress (NM4 gear removed and replaced with on level gear) and her PD tower a new shot did I realize that the little difficulty I had leveling would have been immensely mitigated by her PD tower. Which brings me to my next surprise. Flyers. It’s something we take for granted, but flyer lanes are introduced...not at all. They just show up. No warning. No fanfare. Just all of a sudden, hey things are flying now. Wtf? A sewer gate’s being attacked! OMG get over there! Something kill the bloody damn birds!! Of the classes in my deck, there was only 1 or 2 towers that would handle flyers with any hope of success. The Mysitc’s Sand Viper became my go to for this. But SV against a group of flyer’s? Well overkill is the strategy I used and embraced with SV’s. I have some screen shots that show the hilarity of my overkill, which may add some humor here. The stage where I encountered flyers was probably just the second one to do so. It was also here that I was experimenting with the AL. I used Ramsters. I used Archers. I used Skeletal Orcs. Ramsters were just okay. I was careful to Relic all defenses as I gained more powerful relics. Archers. Well, honestly? I found them useless. I was hoping for them to be my bread and butter against flyers, but they just never seemed to work out for me in that manner. I was putting 2 sets down to guard the sewer gates, but that never seemed enough despite their rather amazing range. Ultimately, I burned flyer’s down myself with the Mystic’s right click ability. It was only after getting to level 50 and bringing the Huntress back into the fold that I used her PDT for this purpose and many others. Honestly, I’ll use a PDT over a Ramster any day (save for where you can’t in chaos). Now...the Dryad. I confess I didn’t give her the time necessary. I have much better relics and gear now, though, I have kept her gear up. That said, the stage I devoted to her was Dragonfall Sewers. It...did not go well. The Harpy seemed like she should rock. Instead she just died. A lot. I didn’t use Hornets much at this time. The trees did block mobs...but were always badly injured by the end of a single wave no matter how much I had upgraded them. I’m going to give the dryad another shot, but this class is clearly a support class. That does no good at all in single player games. Sure she has corrupt form, but you can’t use it long and while her corrupt form starfall seemed to do fantastic aoe damage, I could never use it long as I think it shares the cool down for Starfall, which is maddening because this forces you to wait a good while after getting your power bar filled before going corrupt and using corrupt starfall to its full extent. This class simply was not fun for me. So...I never used it again after this. That covers my experience with these new classes on the whole. As for leveling, I found the pace was magnificent! I never lost a stage so by the time I beat Harbringer, I was level 49. Most new users will likely lose at least once and that should ensure they hit 50 by Harbringer. Loot progression. I was sure the system was borked. I’ve complained on the forums about the campaign to Hard to Chaos gear gap. What I found was instead...it’s not. Gear acquisition from 1 to 50 is simply amazing. It’s like the world new what I needed and gave it to me. Rarely did I get a new piece of gear that wasn’t an upgrade. And when I did, that was debatable because I only favored gear with AP. Ideally, I want HP and AP gear, but knowing how well ability power scales post Trials update, I knew this would be my most needed stat. And once I got into Hard difficulty, I found the upgrades kept coming. Not as fast, but reasonable. I began to level my gear and sure enough new gear would drop. The stats of the new gear would be roughly on par or a little lower than what I had upgraded, but the new piece had upgrade levels too. I also found that the vendors in the tavern have really good upgrades. I bought several pieces of gear and several relics. I might have spent about 300K in gold and that would have been unrealistic for a new player as the gold acquisition is just not at that level. I used Defender Medals to upgrade gear, relics, and shards. I began with about 7K DM and have around 3K now. Yea, but did you beat chaos? You’re probably asking. I admit, I was intimidated to give this a try. I know my other heroes can handle it, but...I just wasn’t sure. So I tried. It took me 4 tries, but I beat chaos 1. That win was a mercy because the bosses that came were never a siege roller. I consistently got to wave 3 on each try, though. A double siege roller did me in. I just didn’t have the dps to burn down 1.4 million hp. No with any quickness at least. I won’t say this is definitive and means everything is fine here because it will take me quite a bit of time to work through chaos 1 to get to chaos 2’s gear. I know my heroes need to be stronger and have greater dps than the 20K I am roughly averaging. Still my first chaos 1 win gifted me a Piercing Shot shard. That will help my huntress. Speaking of shards, I will say that after going through the whole campaign, I have gotten every standard shard there is. The pool of shards in standard is very small. Giving me a standard shard for my hard won chaos 1 win was...really disappointing. It’s not like I didn’t know that would happen. I’ve beaten chaos 1 many times, but having done the work for new characters this time I found it truly disheartening. Also after going through the campaign, finding any shard even when equipping to a relic or gear piece is more work than necessary. Shards should stack. At the least, they should have an alphabetical sort. Making them all distinct isn’t realistic, I know, so I won’t ask for that. So thus ends my really long post. If you read this far, thank you for your time. I just wanted to give back to the community my experience as it has tempered many of my assumptions. Oh and I also found that the DU limits were reasonable. Sure, I ALWAYS wanted more DU, but found I had enough to get the job done. As promised here are the bullet points to summarize my experience. I also realize that this is still alpha. More work is being done, but I hope a fresh perspective might help: Cases where a defense can only be built once, but can be moved need to be pointed out. Making the Lavamancer's character abilities dependent on Fissures of Emberment, which costs DU is...limiting. I never played this class pre Trials so I don’t know if this is a new change, but there is a real issue that the character simply can’t be used when joining a group match and that’s disappointing. I do wonder, can any Lavamancer in a match use the pick ups generated by the FE? Introduce the players to flyers. Also, note what defenses can attack flyers. There’s simply no indication of this at all. Explain the loot system. Honestly, this works so well that it doesn’t warrant further explaining until the very late levels of the campaign or, perhaps, even chaos. But users still need to be informed. There are several defenses that the training dummies don’t adequately allow for testing such as Obelisk. I honestly think that each class when they’re released needs their own training stage where the abilities are reviewed and any synergies between them highlighted. This will lead to informed players and better experiences. Yep. Gold acquisition is borked. You know this. Please make it as useful as Dungeon Medals are. Right now the ratios between the two are not in the same ball park of parity. The gear gap from campaign/hard to Chaos I is right where it needs to be. That’s better than I thought. I can speak to the gap between chaos I to chaos II. On stages where new lanes can appear, there is no animation lane for the newly opened lane. You just have to see it on the map. There should be a warning to the player after a wave if a new lane was opened. I think there is a warning that happens after the gate is destroyed, but I’ll be a little too occupied to read that then. I realize the Shard system is new and probably not in its final form, but the player is never informed about them. They just start dropping. If I have gear or relic with Shards equipped and replace said item, the shards should automatically transfer. If there are more shards in the present item than the item that is taking its place, slot from the top down and put the remaining one(s) directly in inventory...do not leave it in the item. Shards should stack... Favor relic types I use over those that I do not use. I get plenty of mythical/legendary 3 slot Orbs and Marks. I don't have a single defense that uses a Mark and maybe just one that uses an Orb.