Tips and recommendations for completing the Hardcore Legend achievement
One of Titan Quest’s more challenging achievements to complete, ‘Hardcore Legend’, requires a full clear of the game without ever recording a death. If you have Ragnarok that is Surtr in Act 5 Legendary, otherwise that is Hades in Act 4 Legendary.
A full hardcore run in Titan Quest can be a bit of a challenge if you’re not careful. There are enemies that can really give you a hard time. Some can put out huge spike DPS, others have abilities that can devastate you if you’re not paying attention or not geared properly. Difficulty wise through I’d say TQ isn’t too bad overall if you have the relevant game experience and meta-knowledge, gear properly and play defensively it shouldn’t be too difficult a task to complete a successful hardcore run through vanilla.
I don’t usually worry too much about deaths on my characters actually as I’m mostly playing xMax nowadays to multiply the number of enemies and bosses as vanilla starts to feel a little boring and stale in comparison.
This guide provides some tips and recommendations for successfully finishing a full hardcore run legitimately. There’s separate achievements for completing Normal and Epic difficulty as well, obviously the tips listed apply to those achievements as well.
When working towards a hardcore 0 death full clear of Titan Quest, your primary goal isn’t putting out huge DPS, it’s not dying! Play defensively – play slowly, pull enemies carefully and avoid getting swarmed by enemies to prevent yourself from getting burned down.
Even more importantly, build defensively. TQ places a heavy demand on mitigating incoming damage taken and has a largish pool of defensive stats to take care of.
A brief overview of defensive stats:
Firstly, there are resistances. Your primary resistances include elemental (fire, lightning and cold), pierce, vitality, poison, bleeding and physical. Resistances reduce certain types of damage by a set percentage. They are capped at 80%. It’s really important for your hardcore character to have good all around primary resistances at all times at a minimum. Epic difficulty applies a -40 debuff to all primary resistance except for Physical, while Legendary applies a -100 debuff. Going into higher difficulties with sub-par resistances will get you killed very quickly, low or negative resistances will get you killed by spike damage in a hurry.
All the resistances are vital to get. The only one you can mostly do without in your ‘main set’ is bleeding and physical. Bleeding is generally one of the most niche damage type in the game. It much rarer to encounter than other types and if you can keep it in positive amounts it should generally be manageable. Some bosses (ie: Demon Bull and Golden Boar) can put out tons of bleeding damage unless you cheese the hell out of them so you might want a set in your stash for these guys. Physical resistance, on the other hand, is the rarest resistance and doesn’t get debuffed so generally most build will have 0 in it. If you need to sacrifice a resist to get more of one of the others, then bleeding/physical generally are the ones to do so. Skimping on pierce will get you murdered by archers, elemental will get you destroyed by staves and casters, poison is semi-frequent, etc.
Secondary resistances include Slowdown, Trap, Energy, Disruption, Stun, Freeze, Sleep and Petrification. Stun I’d say is the best to get; you don’t want to get stunned and killed while you’re completely helpless. The others generally have impact and are pretty niche, if a set of gear that has stats you want also has then it’s just a bonus.
Defensive Ability (DA) – Determines enemies chances to hit and crit you in melee combat. If you have good DA compared to the attacker’s Offensive Ability (OA), then they can miss their attack. If you have poor DA, on the other hand, then they can crit you causing spike damage. You should shoot for a decent DA if possible to minimize this risk. Beginning of Legendary, ~800 is generally a good number to shoot for and ~1000-1200 in Act 4+.
Chance to Dodge Attacks – Gives a chance to dodge melee attacks. An extra way to avoid melee damage in addition to DA. It’s more nice to have compared to the previous stats.
Chance to Avoid Projectiles – Same thing as above but for projectile attacks. This is much more useful than Dodge Attacks as DA does not impact it and it’s the only way to completely negate an incoming projectile. Projectiles attacks include bows, throwing weapons and staves. Certain enemy ‘spells’ also seem to be counted as projectiles and avoidable. Projectiles otherwise always hit. If the projectile comes from bow/throwing weapon then it will have a pierce component that will bypass your armour and only countered by your pierce resistance. Projectiles from staves will need to be countered by the relevant resist corresponding to the stave damage type. Also capped at 80%.
Finally, there is your health stat. 0 health = Critical Existence Failure. You’ll get the bulk of your health by maxxing out the masteries bar. Extra health from your gear gives you some extra padding that can help eat damage shocks. It’s not as vital as mitigating the damage but can be a life saver.
Of course, anything from your mastery that can help further help mitigate incoming damage should also be used. Crowd control (CC) to lock down enemies, protective buffs, debuffs on enemies, any ‘panic button’ type skills you might got, etc.
Understand Game Mechanics And Kill Priorities
Part of playing and building defensively is have a good understanding of TQ’s mechanics. TQ is a game where meta knowledge is really vital for doing a hardcore run. You need to know each enemy’s attacks and what type of damage it does so you can have make sure you have the proper damage mitigation in place to deal with it. Some enemies are also simply much more dangerous than others. Some enemies are absolute glass cannons, requiring careful kiting or burning down first. Others have nasty affects like Reflection that can kill you in seconds if you’re not paying proper attention. Casters and ranged are usually much bigger threats than melee enemies imo. Melee enemies are usually easier to deal with, while casters and ranged can potentially melt you down from afar shockingly fast.
Twinking, Twinking and More Twinking
You can copiously cheese and decrease the risk of yourself dying early on by aggressively twinking. Unlike Epic and Legendary gear which usually have an accurate level requirement based off their drop quality, Yellow, Green and Monster Infrequent items have their level requirements only set by their assigned ‘fixes’. Most fixes have fairly lowish requirements as well so as long as you can get enough stats to equip the items, you can equip some really good pieces early. Item reduction gear can help lower stat requirements letting you run through Normal with late Epic gear, Epic with Legendary gear and Legendary with your full gear set.
Remember You Can Skip Content
There’s no need to kill everything possible on your run. Annoying mini-bosses like Barmanu that can be risky to fight can be skipped with zero real repercussions.
Build Tips and Recommendations
A few general recommendations for builds:
Avoid Glass Cannons
Glass Cannons can be quite fun. You can put out tons of DPS. You’re also made of glass. I’d recommend using a tankier build for your hardcore runs. Not saying that hardcore runs can’t be done with glass cannon builds, just that it gives you more flexibility if you lose focus for some reason, make a minor mistake, etc. Something like a dual wielder can do lots of damage but die fairly quickly as well. Better to deal less damage but die slower I’d say.
You can run something like Haruspex can be a good idea if you want a strong class that can do good damage while also being pretty tanky. Lots of DA and Projectile Avoidance from mastery auras and buffs and can be played as spear + shield, throwing + shield or bow.
Nature In General
Nature in general is a great mastery for hardcore runs simply because of one single skill. Heart of Oak gives you a huge boost to your health. This helps you survive spike damage and the extra health will serve as an excellent buffer for this purpose. Just make sure it doesn’t drop without you noticing or you could be in for a rude awakening (either by running out of energy or getting spellshocked). With pets and support spells, Nature makes for a perfect support mastery in general and can be combined with pretty much any other mastery without much work.
One complaint some players have about Pet builds is that they basically can ‘Play themselves’. One advantage for a hardcore character is that pet builds Play themselves. If pets are doing the fighting then they are eating enemy damage instead of you! You do need to worry about the pets AI or the pets dying too fast at times (Typhon can be a real pain through with all his AOEs lol).
If you’re a caster, you’d want CC and panic buttons available in case you’re getting attack instead of your pet as you can be squishy. Not all pet builds are squishy through, my first hardcore clear was with a pet / melee Champion (Nature + Warfare), a tanky build that also puts out great DPS himself while turning his pets into murder machines with 100% uptime on Battle Standard.
Of all the pet builds, Trappers are kings. No seriously, trappers can be an absolute cheese mode build for hardcore runs. With +4 to Rogue you can summon them with zero cooldown. You can throw them ahead of you to deal with tough enemies and just let them cheese everything to death. For other enemies you can dodge attacks while the traps whittle down enemies. The only build that I’ve done hardcore xMax x3 clears with.
Icescale Reflection Templar
Reflection Templars are a build that specializes in getting their enemies to kill themselves for you. The Icescale monster infrequent from Ragnarok gives you a chance to reflect a ton of damage and has projectile avoidance. With multiple pieces on, you have an excellent chance to proc this reflection and have very high Projectile Avoidance greatly minimizing damage from archers, throwers and staves. Top it off with defensive boosts from Defence and Dream, you’ve got a really tank char that can run into a middle of a pack of enemies and yawn as they die while you stretch your hands.
Have any queries about hardcore runs? Got any additional general tips or suggested builds for hardcore? Please leave a comment and I will respond when I have time.
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