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I'm trying for the third or fourth time to make it through the Elite difficult level in Torchlight 2, and as usual, I'm unable to proceed past the second stage of act 1 (the Estherian Steppes). This time through I'm trying out a two-handed engineer, which I've had good success with on other difficulty levels. However, my character simply cannot stay alive against the monsters I'm fighting. The Healing Bot, for example, simply cannot provide enough heal points fast enough, and I inevitably run out of healing potions.

My problems typically go one of two ways:

  1. I load up on defense points (Vitality), but this results in a noodle armed character who cannot deal near enough damage to make progress.

  2. I load up on offense points (Strength), but this makes my character extremely vulnerable, especially to mobs and champion monsters. The damage I deal is still considerably less than it would be in a lower difficulty level.

Long story short, what should I be focusing on to survive (and eventually beat) the game in Elite difficulty? I know the game says I should expect to die a lot at this difficult level, but the brick wall I find myself up against seems impassible.

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Use the force(field). I don't play engineer but from what I hear, a summoning engineer with forcefield is one of the easiest ways to clear Hardcore Elite. –  jw013 Feb 17 '13 at 20:38
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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Firstly this mode WILL require you to be carefule more than the others. The damage spike from the monsters means you are vulnerable to be OHKO(One-hit KO) with certain monsters. The difficulty is visible from the beginning. So here is the excerpt from a thread I had started on the official forums HCE help/guidelines. Credits to miniminionette on runic games forums

  1. Always kite the mobs around. You'll take too much damage if you stick to one place. Every class has some form of escape mechanism, ala, "oh shit" buttons; learn to use them effectively in the offense/defense.

  2. Every class has some form of Crowd Control, whether through slows, stuns, immobilization or other effects. Use them efficiently!

  3. Summons are your HCE char's best friend!~ Always have 2 - 3 summon spells on your pet to help mitigate some damage.

  4. During Boss Fights, focus on the trash mobs first, boss later. They do more damage than the boss due to their quantity.

  5. Always let your pet start every battle if you are unfamiliar with the boss mechanics. Don't leeroy the fight. Study the battlefield.

  6. If you cant stack ADR (all damage reduction), stack % Reflect Gems on your gear instead; most of the damage you'll receive will be ranged attacks.

  7. A shield is your best friend, always have one in handy for very tight fights.

  8. Target Priority during trash mobs are:Chargers, Casters, Mobbers and anything else. Chargers first because casters in general have predictable attacks and you can avoid them, chargers can sometimes put you in corners leading to death.

  9. Always be at least 3 - 5 levels ahead of the mobs; those extra levels help.

  10. Town Portal whenever possible; no shame in running away to fight another day.

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For #10, don't make a portal in the middle of a mob, unless you plan to take the long way back because you'll need to clear that mob out somehow before the portal becomes safe to use. –  jw013 Feb 17 '13 at 20:44
    
I think #9 is bad advice for two reasons. Everything else looks good though. First, many enemies do more than enough damage to one-shot you several times over, even if you are 5-10 levels higher than it. There is no substitute for learning enemies and attack patterns and which ones you should never get hit by. A level advantage doesn't give you any more damage reduction or armor, only some additional HP and some more stat points. In addition, if you plan to play the endgame, you should expect level 120 mobs while you are capped at 100. –  jw013 Feb 17 '13 at 20:48
    
Also, in order to maintain a level advantage that high, you are going to have to bore yourself to tears with grinding. –  jw013 Feb 17 '13 at 20:54
    
I know, they are probably relavent to a HCE playthrough since not getting killed is such a big part of the whole thing. You will take any advantage you get! –  Samyam Feb 18 '13 at 6:34
    
Actually, I say that precisely because I play HCE exclusively. If you can't handle mobs your own level or 1 level higher, your build isn't cut out for HCE. If you try to maintain a 3-5 level advantage, you will bore yourself to tears - I know because I have tried it, and it still didn't help. Being overlevelled is simply a waste of time. I had a level 50 HCE character get one-shot by a level 43 rock troll. 3-5 levels do not matter compared to a sensible build, good gear, and smart play. In my case I got overconfident while farming and was rushing by enemies without killing them. –  jw013 Feb 25 '13 at 17:02
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