Blizzplanet: Diablo III Nightmare Difficulty Impressions

During my first attempt at Nightmare (Solo), I managed to reach Act II Belial at level 42 with no success in beating him. After several wipes, and my ego crushed, I decided to try Belial (Nightmare) solo later, and to level up in coop-mode for the first time. Several hours later, and few long naps forward my monk character level 49 finally beat Diablo (Nightmare) coop.

At first, I thought it was a bug — the achievement was listed, but I couldn’t queue to Act 1 (Hell) coop. Apparently you can queue when the character reaches level 50. Hope that helps those lvl 49 wondering what happened.


When playing a Monk, one goes with the dps mentality. The key to victory against a final boss (coop) for a monk rests mostly on the healing role. Healing other players shall be your calling as a Monk. I’m a Holy Paladin in World of Warcraft, thus it’s part of my mindset to keep everyone alive. In my first attempt at Diablo (Nightmare) I went with the retribution paladin mentality, and died miserably oh-so-many-countless times.

Someone whispered me to join his group. He said I was pretty good at healing him in a past group. He needed me to help at his Diablo (Nightmare) encounter where he had wiped a few times. This time I came forth with the healing mentality. Healing in Diablo is very different to World of Warcraft healers. In WoW I can target a player and heal them from 40 yards away.

In Diablo III, it’s trickier. Use Mantra of Healing with Circle of Circular Breathing (regens 3 spirit per sec — thanks leephus) so that you don’t have to hit a mob to regen spirit. Run around to stay out of harm’s way if death is too often an issue with a specific boss, and run at low-health players to heal them. The catch: The Monk’s Breath of Heaven skill requires you to stand within 12 yards of the low-health player to heal him. It works like an AOE.

After a lot of hit-and-run strategic heals, Diablo (Nightmare) died.

I can now queue for Act 1 (Hell) in coop mode. Played 62 hours according to my profile.

Champion Mobs

I think the developers still need to tune up some Nightmare Champion mobs or set conditions/rules for what type of random abilities they can’t have at once. The death rate is really high. Jay Wilson teased you will die, and he delivered. Except, some Champion mobs are impossible to beat.

Some are simply impossibly hard to beat. Examples:

  • Arcane Vortex: In this situation three arcane energy lines rotate 360 degrees. Adding vortex to a boss that can do arcane means no matter how quick you are at running away from the arcane lines, the mob is going to magnetic pull you back toward him right in the middle of the arcane lines. Guaranteed death. Rinse and repeat until the three Champion mobs die. 50 deaths if you are lucky. A full armor repair cost ranges around 1800 gold. Be ready to spend a lot of gold in repairs.

  • Hammerhead: These are the tallest mobs in the game. If you manage to find three champions, prepare to wipe at least 100 times. Their lengthy arms are moved upwards and smash. Other than the visuals of them moving their hand upward there is no alert they will smash. The movement is too fast. Add three champions and virtually no melee player can survive or run fast enough to avoid the smash. The developers either need to increase the time of the smash animation to allow melee players to move away, or remove the unit altogether from the champion list.

  • molten, arcane,plague + jailer,vortex,waller: A champion pack (3) with any combination of these spells is a guaranteed 10-25 deaths before beating the champions, if there is any possibility of defeating them (depending the combination of skills). Basically, all three champions spamming will make melee players unable to even approach the champion to damage them. The jail/vortex/waller variant with any combination of molten/plague/arcane is depressing.

Other situations I observed in Nightmare difficulty:

  • During the Diablo (Nightmare) fight he creates clones of the players. The Barbarian has a Mortal Kombat Scorpio-like ability where he throws a chained-harpoon at the player and pulls toward him. This doesn’t allow you to run away. Not sure if this one should be looked up. We beat Diablo (Nightmare even with that)

  • Bosses like Rakanoth or champions with charge ability: One-hit-kill with no sound/animation warning is not fun for melee players. Charge ability has no place in the game for mobs that can literally kill you in one hit.


While there are some things that cause one to complain (see examples above), the gameplay is very fun and engaging in solo and coop even with strangers. Everyone has been kind to go out of their way to resurrect me, even Barbarians. The social aspect is definitely the best. I haven’t seen anyone yet yelling at someone else for messing up. I get invites from people I don’t even remember playing with asking me to help out in their run.

Diablo III feels like a game you would want to come back everyday or a few days a week depending on your real life schedule. I can see people switching back and forth between World of Warcraft and Diablo III. You can leave a Diablo III game at any time, and the system automatically invites more players to replace those that left. Blizzard still needs to make some server tweaks due to a problem where only two players get to play throughout the game instead of five — but it’s something a representative recently said is in investigation.

Most times, new people join automatically when someone leaves the group. Boss encounters in Nightmare difficulty are not easy cake. It requires team efficiency and patience. The encounters can be a bit lengthy. I spotted new abilities added to Nightmare bosses, that I didn’t recall seeing playing solo in Normal Difficulty.

My view for what Diablo III gameplay should be is: “Mastering your skills to prevent death, and to defeat the enemy is more satisfying.” In the situation of champions that kill you in one-hit, I’d like to see new sounds or visual effects or animations in Champions to warn you of an impending attack, and to learn and implement skills to counter certain boss/champion attacks. Dying 50 times until the champion is dead doesn’t seem like a fun option for melee players who need to close in to damage the champion. As soon as you close in you die on three Hammerhead champions you die instantly. No chance to run away and prevent death. There was only one range class (Wizard) doing damage to the Champions — in my experience.

It’s been a week since Diablo III retail went on sale. I haven’t seen a single patch yet, but now with millions of players simultaneously some of our complaints and observations will reach the developers, and they will take care of these via patches.

Very important: Blizzard can’t fix something if you don’t voice your concern with a comprehensive description of the problem. Make sure to explain the situation in a calm and logical tone (i.e. avoid insults, sarcasm, slurs, and other type of tone that might get you banned or ignored). Your point is valid, just make it gentle and with good manners. Submit bug reports at the Bug Forum.

I’d love to forward Bashiok your personal feedback on Nightmare Difficulty — whether it’s complaints about certain champion ability-combinations (i.e: arcane+vortex, molten+arcane), bugs or other concerns. Post your comments below.

Tomas Hernandez is owner of since 2003. I post news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film.

Blizzplanet is a leading fansite covering news about upcoming Blizzard Entertainment licensed products. I also post previews and reviews. I have interviewed book writers and Blizzard game developers.

I was previously an employee of the OGaming Network (2003), and IncGamers (2008-2010). I was a guest newsposter for GosuGamers (World of Warcraft) a few years ago and for (formerly

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  • I soloed Nightmare on a Demon hunter and died roughly 200 times. At one time I got stuck on elite phase beast mobs in Act 3, the ones that teleport behind you and hit like trucks, and they had Arcane orb and jailor…. so I would get stuck and then blasted. Was pretty frusterating, but I only died on Diablo 3 times.
    If the enemy was elite I pretty much had to kite them across the entire map before they died, usually ending up in pulling more mobs, at unlucky times elite ones or rares. Lots of death.

  • I played through normal and nightmare with my monk friend, while im being a barbarian, and it was pretty tough; i soloed act 1 on hell, while i died countless of times; now i’ve reached a point where i meet: Plagued, molten, vampiric or the likes; i have absolutely NO chance of defeating rare spawns alone, that have vampiric and anything else; i’ve tried several tactics; even hit n’ run/Kite, nuke, letting my mercenary do the job.
    In short; Yes the game needs some kind of change for us melee classes versus rare mobs;
    I killed the butcher on hell – on first try, with my hit n’ run tactic, but rare spawns are more difficult than bosses, which is just stupid in my opinion.
    So im kinda stuck on act 2 hell since i keep dieing to rare spawns, with no ability to continue whatsoever

  • Very nice read. While i agree with some of the mob difficutly in Nightmare i think it kinda forces you to either level up more in normal or play co-op. It definitely can be a super pain as a melee class vs a lot of these tougher mobs.

    Some people buy their gear in order to progress easier and faster, i like finding my own gear so it makes it harder but also more rewarding i suppose.

  • I agree that having rares and champions that are tougher than act bosses is pretty dumb. I think the big difference is that Act bosses have been designed specifically to have more telltale attack patterns, and you can figure out what’s being thrown at you fairly quickly. With rares & champions, you’re often dead before you can even mouse over them to see what their skill combinations are, and most of the those skills have little or no warmup animations (or just being close enough to see them means you’re going to die from them).

    You would have thought after the years of players complaining about Iron Maiden on the chaos knights in D2, Bliz would have been wary about putting skills on mobs in D3 where there’s a clear disadvantage for melee players. Apparently not, though.

  • sebastianulrich94

    sry but i fully disagree. in Nightmare i played my monk with my friend (wd) he did nothing and i killed threw all mobs… In hell i needed to change my skills a bit but since that i can go alone threw it with a few problems but nothing more…

  • I disagree with the author as well. While Nightmare upped the difficulty with Champion and Rare mobs, I soloed most of it with a Monk. Only one group of Champions gave me problems throughout the playthrough…Act II there were some of those spinning skirt blade guys with Fast Attack + Vampiric. I died twice and then didn’t bother. Total playthrough I probably had less than 15 deaths throughout all of Nightmare…most of those probably being my own fault.

    Hell is where they get difficult, and even then I wouldn’t ask Blizzard to change anything. I just need better gear and to play better.

  • I think there are two important things to consider when playing Nightmare (and even more so Hell or Inferno):
    1. Your build => you need some survivability skills, be it defense, crowd control or whatever, and some good single target damage (as opposed to normal where you can just AOE everything, right?).
    2. Coop done right is easier than solo. For example, those Hammerheads that killed MD’s monk probably wouldn’t have even hurt my wizard; but he would kill easily other mobs that cause me trouble.

  • Pol Trokk

    Blizzard make always quality games, but for me they are overpriced,games made for child, so from where 11 yo should get 50$ for licence, thanks god all popular games are good income for hackers as well, you can play free on publice servers,
    Blizzard get hacked again ))) proof here

  • Hey buddy, we don’t encourage hacking around here. And I don’t think Diablo is intended for 11 year-olds… ^^

  • I can solo Act 1 Inferno on my Monk. It’s tricky but it’s certainly doable. And the mobs you mentioned are fine as-is. You need to use your abilities to avoid the damage. Serenity, Healing Mantra with Boon of Protection, Seven Sided Strike, they all get you some form of immunity so that you have a few extra seconds to get out of the way.

    I really hope they don’t nerf anything, I’m happy it is this hard.

  • The thing is that you can’t just run into the champions, you have to find them and clear the area depending on their mob-type.

    It’s not impossible, it just takes tactics. Almost all of the damage is avoidable. I can solo Act 1 on Inferno with my monk and the only mob I had to skip the other night was Invulnerable Minion, Fast, Plague, Molten 2-hand Skeletons in the Jail. If they had Arcane or Wall or something else I would have been fine, but the Invulnerable Minion is nuts!

    I’m really glad that the game is hard, if it was easy I would just plow through with it and end up bored and moving on to another game. I had that problem with Skyrim. Wonderful game until you get to the end boss, sneeze on him, and then leave it behind.

  • I just finished Nightmare solo. I died MAYBE 20 times through the whole game, as a monk.

    Th key, IMO, is to use Dashing Strike and Cyclone Strike. Dashing Strike will quickly get you away from the strike of Hammerheads, and was even key to me defeating Diablo easily (I died once on the Diablo fight). Cyclone Strike is effective at many of the elite mobs, such as Jailers, because it will pull them toward you, giving you the opportunity to break their jail. Also, mobs will tend not to cast AoE spells when right on you, so spamming CS is effective.

    There were a few mobs that gave me trouble, but it was mainly when there were Elite and Champions at the same time. But talk of dying 50-100x for fight? You’re doing something wrong if you’re dying that much. Maybe try upgrading your gear from the AH. It’s cheap…

  • Uhm… Nightmare? Isn’t that one of the tutorial / casual difficulties?

    Everything up to Inferno is rather pointless and dull, and seriously, you should not have ANY trouble whatsoever. I am amazed how someone can have any difficulty with the entry difficulties of the game.

    Inferno Belial, now THERES a challenge…