It took over 50 hours of playtime, but MacroBioBoi (opens in new tab) finally did it: They completed the "world's first ever completely untwinked solo self-found Hell pacifist Sorceress run" in Diablo 2: Resurrected.
In terms that'll be more familiar to people who aren't Diablo 2 speedrunners, Macro beat Diablo 2: Resurrected on the hardest difficulty without attacking anything, using only items they found during the run. ("Twinking," in Diablo 2 parlance, means using the trading system to give a character items.) Diablo 2 speedrunners had come up with theoretical ways to accomplish the run, but Macro was the first to do it for real.
"The only people who ever took the run past Normal had twinked a character with edited gear to see if it was possible," they told PC Gamer.
The Diablo 2 speedrunning community has created a detailed set of rules which define what a pacifist run is. You can't attack, of course, but there's more to it than that. You also can't force anything else to attack, set traps, or use damaging auras, either. For the most part, the damage you deal has to be dealt as a direct consequence of a creature choosing to attack you. To accomplish that, Macro loaded up their Sorceress with "chance to cast" items and abilities that sometimes cause a spell to be cast when their character takes a hit. By the end, they had a set of armor that caused them to cast the powerful area-of-effect Nova spell every time an enemy hit them. They also dumped points into the Cold Armor passive skills, which increase defense (the Sorceress doesn't have many hitpoints) and do cold damage to enemies who hit them.
Macro, who has the Pacifist Paladin speedrun record in Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction on Normal at 2h 25m 45, thought switching to Resurrected might make things easier for this Hell difficulty run. It didn't work out that way.
"I thought this run would be tough, but with the addition of Synergies to the skill Nova in Diablo 2: Resurrected [bonus damage for related skills], I figured it would actually be a lot easier than it was in Lord of Destruction," Macro told PC Gamer. "That quickly fell apart after eight hours trying to get a specific spawn pattern for the Seal Boss Lord De Seis in the Chaos Sanctuary. I couldn't survive his minions long enough to kill him, and if you die and go back to town, he will often cast a Bestow buff on himself that makes him regenerate faster than any amount of Nova procs from my gear could put out."
To deal damage faster than Lord De Seis could regenerate health, Macro needed an item that gave their character a 5% chance to cast Blaze, a spell which creates a burning patch on the ground. If Lord De Seis stood in the fire, he'd take damage every frame, preventing him from regenerating. (The full explanation involves even more complexity than this; it's in the video (opens in new tab) embedded above, starting at about 5:05.)
"I needed to force him into that fire, and he's a very difficult monster to manipulate to move," said Macro. "We basically got lucky that on my last attempt, he didn't Bestow himself and after 10 or so deaths, we got him."
It's a hell of an accomplishment, but Macro, who's been playing Diablo 2 since they were a kid, is already streaming another attempt at the run, this time with a Paladin. Unlike the Sorceress, Macro says that the Paladin doesn't have any skills that can kill Lord De Seis.
"I need to farm a very specific weapon from Mephisto in Nightmare to have a chance at doing it," Macro said. "It's called Boneslayer Blade, and it takes me about five minutes to kill Mephisto each time I do it. I started the challenge two days ago and I'm streaming it all again for people to watch me suffer."
"I come from a very heavy MMORPG background (EverQuest and WoW) and it seems like Diablo 4 will instigate a lot of social gameplay that I really miss when playing most ARPGs nowadays," Macro told PC Gamer. "I like the restriction on trading for BIS gear [the best items], and the pure aesthetic of it seems like a beautiful return to form after Diablo 3 and Diablo Immortal. Unlike most Diablo 2 players, I'm a fan of Diablo 3, but the aesthetic was missing for me. Add on that the Necromancer is a starting option for you to play, and they won my preorder."
When the socializing is over, I wouldn't be surprised if Macro started building characters according to unreasonably restrictive rulesets in Diablo 4, too.
"My background is in microbiology and science in general, so I've always been prone to asking the impossible questions," they said, "and if there's no answer, testing something until I figure it out."