525 monsters slain, 63560 gold, 7780 ore, 5357 aether, 200 souls
I picked up from the tail end of Normal difficulty in the forested version of the "town" that only appears immediately after defeating the game. I had 300 souls on hand and put them to use by purchasing the next rank of Unbreakable Will; I had tons of unpurchased Gold Gain levels available that I really needed to start picking up. The only rune that I wanted was the Folded Rune to increase the Armor blocking percentage from 35% to 39% which fortunately only required two rune weight upgrades. There weren't many options in the equipment categories either, not if I wanted to preserve the Ammonite set bonus by running all four of those items, so the only change that I made was upgrading from the base Leather Trinket to the Leather Trinket +1. This was the best choice in that slot until I found the Ammonite Trinket and even provided the Leather unity set bonus of 20% resolve all on its own. This left about 50k gold available for stats; I took two Gold Gain levels to get the bonus to 20% and then the usual handful of Vitality, Strength, and Armor levels. This Ranger didn't get that much stronger than the previous one and I was hoping to find better equipment and runes now that I was entering NG+1 difficulty.
Defeating the game on Normal difficulty opens up the "Threads of Fate" and the chance to reach New Game Plus difficulty for the first time. I followed the same pattern as I did with my initial Knight Legacy challenge, turning on the burden transforming normal Lamech into the more dangerous Lamech Prime boss refight and then adding two points in Burden of Evolution (monsters have 20% chance to transform into the next tier up) and Burden of Adaptation (monsters have 6% chance to gain a commander buff) along with one point in Burden of Scale to make the dungeon 10% larger. This was significantly more burdens than needed, as the player only needs to pick two of them and I'd selected six, with my goal being to recreate the feeling of increasing the difficulty level from the original Rogue Legacy. From my previous playthrough, I knew that these additional burders made the random monsters across the dungeon significantly tougher opponents.
Ranger #6: 49 Vitality, 53 Strength, 87 Armor, 10 Dexterity
This Ranger had no traits or relics which was perfectly fine with me. It was disappointing to find that the higher difficulty required two or three arrows to kill each monster, a far cry from the one-shot power that I'd been enjoying back in Normal difficulty. I found a red portal early on in the dungeon and went inside to test myself, something that proved to be a mistake when I rolled one of the most difficult setups with the bouncing spiked ball miniboss (Blightborn Purson) that appears in a small room with a bunch of other monsters. I actually played this challenge quite well in minimizing the damage to only three hits taken... but each of those hits did more than 100 damage and dropped my Ranger into the danger zone. I started clearing the Study afterwards only to take too much damage and need to retreat back to the Citadel, followed by getting hit by a random bouncing spiked ball which did 60 damage to finish off this character. Yikes, what a disastrous opening to NG+1 difficulty. I found nothing of interest and brought back essentially zero gold for upgrades.
60 monsters slain, 8292 gold, 858 ore, 138 aether
Ranger #7: 49 Vitality, 56 Strength, 87 Armor, 10 Dexterity
This character had the Aerodynamic trait: your spin kicks are replaced with downward strikes. I haven't found this trait to have much effect on the gameplay besides using a different animation for the down-attack move. The entrance to the Study was in the very first room of the Citadel and thus I headed up there first for the guaranteed Blessing of Life. I found that the Study wasn't too hard for this Ranger to clear even if it did take several arrow shots to kill most monsters. I worked my way through the whole area and found lots of useful equipment, not surprising since there's a whole bunch of stuff that won't drop until moving past Normal difficulty. The biggest highlights were the Ammonite Trinket and the Ammonite Chest +1 which together would allow me to run the Ammonite set bonus while swapping over to more useful stuff in the Sword and Helmet slots. I took the time to clear through the Citadel next which didn't present any problems followed by the first half of Axis Mundi. My biggest regret thus far was poor luck at completing fairy chest challenges; I kept rolling some of the more difficult ones and failed to unlock much in the way of new runes. I did find the second Quenching Rune but still lacked even the first Bounty Rune for more income.
I headed into the Sun Tower next and found the climb to be tough but manageable. There were several places where I was able to use the Ivy Canopy to good effect, such as the pictured room where it kept me safe from a pair of tier 3 volcano commanders. I had the most problems with commanders that rolled the Blocker and Cursed traits since the arrows fired by the Ranger's bow don't work very well against either. I was able to address the former monster type by finding a Blessing of Wisdom that let me swap over to the Fireball spell, great for getting past the Blocker trait with its ticking damage over time effect. The heat-seeking ghosts from the Cursed trait didn't have an easy answer, however. I made it most of the way up the Sun Tower and then headed back to Axis Mundi on low HP for safety. That's when I ran into a Cursed tier 3 hammer commander who was tucked into an inaccessible corner of the bridge architecture. There was no easy way to fight that opponent and I should have simply run past without engaging. Instead I tried to fight the enemy on low health and wound up dying without ever reaching the eastern end of Axis Mundi. This was a disappointing early finish to a run that had been off to a promising start.
291 monsters slain, 69808 gold, 3501 ore, 489 aether
I knew that I was going to need more equipment and rune weight levels to make use of the stuff brought back to town and thus purchased another rank of Master Smith at the Soul Shop. I also decided it would be worthwhile to spend 5000 ore/aether on the second Strange Transaction for enough souls to take Existential Appeasement and lock the Fireball spell in place permanently. This would provide a tool for dealing with those Blocker commanders that I referenced above. I picked up the second Quenching Rune from the Enchantress and then spent heavily at the Blacksmith for the biggest upgrades of this character interlude. I purchased the Ammonite Chest +1, Ammonite Cape +1, and the Ammonite Trinket along with the six more equipment upgrades needed to wear them. I wanted to purchase the Obsidian Helm as well but unfortunately was just short of enough ore for the purchase. I guess I shouldn't have spent so much on that Strange Transaction, whoops. There wasn't enough gold remaining to get any of the Gold Gain upgrades and therefore I sunk the remaining funds into more Vitality. I really needed the next heir to bring back a big haul of gold; my "economy" was stalling out here due to lack of Bounty Runes and two suboptimal heirs at the start of NG+1 difficulty.
Ranger #8: 53 Vitality, 58 Strength, 103 Armor, 7 Dexterity
This Ranger had the Nature trait (no gameplay effects, only text description) and the Zealot's Ring relic that causes spells cast at max MP to deal 25% more damage. This was effectively a waste of 25 resolve since I didn't rely on spellcasting with this Ranger character build. I don't have much to say about this character because I died - AGAIN - in the Study while just getting started. What did me in this time was a series of vertical rooms where I couldn't fire arrows through walled segments while various monster projectiles could still pass through and hit me. This is a major weakness of the Ranger class which separates it from the Mage class or other spellcasters (who can use the Searing Shot projectiles to go right through terrain obstacles). The bow is awesome in open areas but it's sorely lacking whenever there's some kind of barrier in the way of your arrows. I wasn't able to purchase anything beyond a little more Vitality; this was one of my worst stretches ever in terms of playing characters.
52 monsters slain, 11160 gold, 454 ore, 329 aether
Ranger #9: 55 Vitality, 58 Strength, 103 Armor, 7 Dexterity
This was another heir with no traits or starting relics. I went back to the Study again and had reasonable success at clearing it out while continuing to take more damage than I wanted along the way. Most rooms were fairly straightforward but every now and then there always seemed to be some kind of architectural formation where my Ranger couldn't avoid taking hits. I fell under 100 HP at one point and had to beat a retreat back into the Citadel for safety which I completely finished before getting back to a safe zone on health. The turning point for this run took place when I discovered Freon's Reward relic which grants health equal to the Intelligence stat every time a treasure chest is opened. For this Ranger that was 23 HP per chest and it was remarkable how big of a difference this made in terms of keeping health topped off while exploring the dungeon. While Freon's Reward is useless for fighting the main bosses, it's a great choice when the goal is simply clearing as much of the dungeon as possible. I ended up adding Achilles' Shield (deal 10% more damage when over half HP) with the remaining 25 resolve which helped kick in a bit of extra damage.
Freon's Reward allowed my Ranger to finish the Study at full health and that gave me the courage to try the Gonghead Twins minibosses. I was disappointed to see how little damage my arrows were doing and how long it took to whittle down their lifebars. I played this miniboss fight quite well but couldn't avoid taking several hits while slowly shooting the pair of them to death. I fared better in Axis Mundi where the danger level was low and there was another Blessing of Life to increase total health. Then I went into the Sun Tower where I had a major equipment find in the Drowned Sword, the best option by a wide margin for a Strength-based build until the Kin Sword appears later. With Freon's Reward continuing to sustain my Ranger with every treasure chest, I was able to reach the top of the Tower for the first time in NG+1 difficulty while keeping the healthbar close to full.
Once the Sun Tower was finished, I started ducking into the Dry Lake whenever my character had a safe amount of health. I cleared out a few rooms down there, headed back to Axis Mundi to lifesteal for a while, then returned back to the basement again. This allowed me to make steady progress at exploring the huge complex of rooms down there. When I reached the end of Axis Mundi, I used the boss fight against the two Void Beasts for another minor health refill knowing that they wouldn't pose particularly dangerous opponents. The two big skeletons managed to hit my Ranger exactly one time and I found that the Ivy Canopy was quite useful for dealing damage against this pair of foes. It even blocked their bone toss attack which I managed to capture in the above screenshot. After that it was back to the Dry Lake again where I continued making good progress through the subterranean biome. I thought that this was going to be my first full dungeon clear on NG+1 difficulty only to go through a disastrous sequence in two back-to-back rooms. I was facing the tier 3 Infernite flying monsters in both rooms and failed to dodge their movement well enough; I went from 600+ HP down to dead in a matter of seconds as they dealt 150 damage per hit. Thus even though this was a good run, it ended on a deeply sour note as I easily could have made it through the Plateau and the rest of the Dry Lake. I was also really hurting at this point due to the lack of any Bounty Runes - I had found 29 different runes thus far and STILL didn't even have the tier 1 version of the Bounty Rune!
449 monsters slain, 121486 gold, 7443 ore, 2921 aether, 100 souls
I had been skipping some of the scar challenges on the last few trips back to the docks because I was so annoyed that I wanted to race back into the dungeon and do better with the next heir. This time I paused to tackle the "Closed Spaces" scar that places the player into a tiny box with the mimic form of estuary Enoch. It turns out that this is an extremely easy scar for the Ranger class to complete, with the Ivy Canopy on hand for staying out of reach of the mimic's dashing charge and the ranged distance of the bow to shoot in safety while Enoch tosses out exploding vials. The bouncing chest is the only somewhat difficult attack to avoid and the trick there is to stay on the ground and refrain from jumping. I was able to land the perfect score of 50,000 points for the S++ rating on my third attempt and claim the 300 souls associated with the Bronze Trophy.
This gave me 500 souls to spend and I dumped them into ranks of Absolute Strength and Master Smith at 250 souls apiece. I held off on any rune purchases for the moment as the second Reinforced Rune was the only thing that I wanted and it was still a bit too pricey to be viable. It was better equipment that I wanted starting with the Drowned Sword (worth 11 Strength!) and the Obsidian Helm (worth 13 Vitality!) They required a combined eight equipment levels and cost me a bit of Armor but were enormously worth having; I still kept the Ammonite unity bonus while getting much higher stats in two key categories. There was enough money on hand to drop 50k on a pair of Gold Gain levels and then I was very close to hitting 75 Strength for another point of lifesteal so I made sure to get a few levels of Strength to reach that mark. The new equipment also left my Ranger at 23 Intelligence and thus it was worthwhile to purchase two cheap levels in Intelligence to hit another point of Soulsteal value from the rune I was running in that category. I was really happy with these various upgrades as they left me with more health, more damage, more gold income, and two additional points of total lifesteal. Maybe now I could finally clear the full NG+1 dungeon.
Ranger #10: 69 Vitality, 75 Strength, 93 Armor, 7 Dexterity
This Ranger had no traits but started with the Arcane Necklace: after three spellcasts the next one costs no mana. This wasn't terribly useful for the setup I was running with these Rangers. It was hugely satisfying to see this Ranger dealing 170 damage per shot, up from about 130 damage on the previous character. Many monsters dropped from the 3 hit to 2 hit category which made killing them much easier. What wasn't as satisfying was finding that I was getting 5 HP per monster kill and not 6 HP; I had exactly 25 Intelligence and needed another point there to trigger the Soulsteal Rune, whoops. The game doesn't round up if the value is exactly equal to 25. I finally managed to hit the first Bounty Rune from the initial fairy chest that I opened in the Citadel, very much a case of better late than never. And would you believe it, the very next fairy chest had the second Bounty Rune inside, heh. RNG works in mysterious ways sometimes.
In terms of making my way through the dungeon, the additional stats on this Ranger definitely made a difference as compared to the previous heirs. I had to take my time working through the Study and dropped low on HP a couple of times (thanks to continuing to force my way through red portals) but never quite had to leave the biome for safety reasons and eventually cleared everything out. I found several Blessings of Life along the way to increase max health along with a useful relic in the Incandescent Telescope. This deals 12% more damage to enemies outside of melee range which was a natural fit for the Ranger's arrows, increasing damage up to about 190 from the typical arrow shot. I felt comfortable enough to head into the Dry Lake at an early date and the various upgrades from the last run definitely seemed to hit a tipping point as I was able to pass through the whole basement without ever needing to retreat for HP gain. This was partly due to finding lots of meat and flask drops down there but more importantly due to the stronger overall power level of this Ranger. I was able to collect lots of gold and find another critically important piece of equipment in the Ammonite Trinket +1. This was getting me closer to the second tier of the Ammonite unity bonus which I've found to be pretty mandatory due to the obscenely high cost of Armor upgrades.
After full clearing the entire Dry Lake, I rebuilt health for a little bit in Axis Mundi and then portaled to the Study to face estuary Enoch. I did well against this boss back in Normal difficulty and avoided a single hit against the first form, only to experience much worse luck this time around. It was entirely my fault as I flubbed a bunch of easy dodges and found my Ranger taking a bunch of unnecessary hits. Then I had the exact opposite experience with the second mimic chest form of the boss, avoiding all damage while shooting the creature to death from a distance. That was two perfect performances against each half of Enoch - maybe next time I could combine them both together into a single good fight!
Despite those mistakes, I hadn't lost too much health overall and used a teleporter to hop directly to the Citadel's throne room. I judged that this was a good moment to face Lamech Prime and used the doors of the boss room to heal back up to full. The Ivy Canopy was highly useful once again for this battle as it blocked the daggers, blue fireballs, and the heat-seeking orange fireballs that Lamech shoots out when falling to half HP. I used the platform a bunch in this boss fight and honestly could have gotten even more use out of it. Lamech Prime's abilities are significantly harder to avoid than the default version and I took several different hits over the course of the combat. However, his attacks don't seem to hurt very much as they were only landing for 79 damage apiece which didn't exactly cripple this Ranger. He would have to get hit 16 different times to perish and that simply wasn't going to happen. Lamech Prime proved to be pretty straightforward overall and I was able to win the fight without any issues.
I focused on clearing the remainder of the Sun Tower and the Plateau afterwards in order to lay claim to a full dungeon clear. These were easier areas than the Dry Lake and eventually I was able to complete the feat for the first time on NG+1 difficulty. This left me in boss rush territory and I started out with estuary Irad as one of the more dangerous remaining opponents. I had hit on the key insight of fighting the battle from atop the Ivy Canopy and this tactic worked beautifully again. The platform only blocked the cursed ghost projectiles and I still had to dodge everything else but having a safe place to stand and fire was enormously helpful nonetheless. I mostly dodged while the Ivy Canopy was on cooldown and fired arrows when it was up. This turned into a victory at the cost of about half my health.
Naamah was next where I used the boss doors healing to my advantage once again. She was very easy to defeat by pelting with ranged attacks and I only took a single hit throughout the fight - thanks for the health refill! So now it was time to face estuary Tubal... or not so much because I hadn't defeated the two minibosses in the Dry Lake yet, whoops. I cleared my way past the pair of them, taking one hit in the Onyx portal and two hits in the Pearl portal. Not bad. I went back to the teleporters and broke some of the pots there to get some healing items and then finally faced Tubal. Once again I concentrated on staying at a distance and avoiding his summoned minions until their invincibility period wore off. The Fireball spell was highly useful against them as it would leave the burning effect that instantly killed the automatons as soon as they could be damaged. Even the Ivy Canopy came in handy at times during this boss fight as it blocked Tubal's cursed projectiles and provided a place to stand when he put burning fire on the ground. I've clearly gotten much better at this boss over time and landed the victory with about 500 HP remaining.
The only bosses remaining now were Jonah and Cain. I healed back up to almost-full with the remaining breakables at the teleporters and used the heal from passing through the Golden Doors to get back to max HP. Jonah rarely causes me problems but this time I struggled mightily with a bunch of hits taken in the opening stages of the fight. I have no idea what was different on this occasion, just some sloppy gameplay from me in terms of dodging his attacks. The real issue wasn't Jonah himself so much as the fact that I would only be getting 40% of my HP back to face Cain who would present greater problems afterwards. Thus while I did defeat Jonah, I took too much damage in the process and only healed back to 1061 out of 1306 max HP for the last boss encounter. Despite that handicap, I came very close to beating Cain and knocked him down to about 20% HP remaining before succumbing to a barrage of his blue fireballs. I think that I would have won if I hadn't been thrown off when Cain jumped onto my own Ivy Canopy (!!!) at one point and then used his burning wheels attack that flew through the air rather than running along the ground as it normally does. I had never seen that before and it caught me unawares. It looked like I would need one more character to polish off this difficulty.
626 monsters slain, 212935 gold, 29579 ore, 18238 aether, 600 souls
I spent most of those accumulated souls on the second rank of Embroidered Investments and Runic Horizons to unlock the +2 items and third tier of runes. Then I wanted to add the two Bounty Runes brought back by the last character which somewhat surprising only cost 20 rune weight apiece. I would have expected them to be more expensive given how awesome they are for economic purposes. I did not purchase the Soulsteal Rune since I could get 2 HP per monster kill value from sitting at 26 Intelligence and adding another rune wouldn't do a whole lot there. I was also content with my equipment setup aside from upgrading to the Ammonite Trinket +1. This left me at 40 points of Ammonite unity but I didn't want to remove the Drowned Sword or Obsidian Helm to get the last 10 points for additional Armor. This left a lot of gold for purchasing stats so I picked up another two levels of Gold Gain followed by lots of Vitality and Strength. I jumped from +30% gold income to +60% gold in a single character along with hitting the 26 Intelligence breakpoint for an extra point of Soulsteal value. This should be plenty to finish NG+1 difficulty barring truly stupid play on my part.
Ranger #11: 82 Vitality, 85 Strength, 98 Armor, 7 Dexterity
This Ranger had the White Star spell since I chose to select a Ranger that wasn't on the locked right side of the character screen. No traits or starting relics on her so I hoped to find some powerful stuff in the dungeon. I had the good fortune to come across Hyperion's Ring early in the dungeon (revives your character at half HP upon death) which meant that I wanted to stack as much bonus health as possible for use against the final boss. I wound up having bad luck in this regard as the entire dungeon served up only three total Blessings of Life (including the always-present one in the Study) and no instances of Demeter's Trial for further health increases. This was also a pass through the dungeon where I struggled for ages and ages to keep my Ranger's health up. I don't particularly think that I was playing badly, it was just that for whatever reason I kept getting nasty monster draws that sapped away this character's lifebar. I did managed to get everything done for a full dungeon clear and 200k gold, eventually, but it was much more laborious than I expected. This venture through the dungeon did helpfully clear out a bunch of the junk Leather +2 and Scholar +2 items (thanks to purchasing Embroidered Investments) so that I wouldn't have to waste treasure chests on them during the next difficulty. And I also kept swapping out my spells at Blessings of Wisdom for fun, doing so four different times in all. This had no effect at all since I wasn't able to find any spells that I liked along the way.
Of course it was all going to come down to the last boss fight against Cain as I knew it would. This was the third time that I'd faced the Immortal King with a Ranger character and I could tell that I was getting better at the encounter with more practice. The Ranger class seems to be better at the last boss than I had been expecting coming into this variant, able to stay at a distance while attacking and therefore gaining slightly more time to read the incoming Cain abilities and dodge appropriately. I continued to use the Ivy Canopy for protection against enemy projectiles and was caught off guard a couple times when a blue fireball slipped underneath the platform and again when it failed to block the big yellow orbs shot out by Cain. Otherwise this was a surprisingly routine boss fight; I did an excellent job of dodging incoming attacks and took only five total hits. Hyperion's Ring was never needed as this Ranger won the battle in comfortable fashion at a little less than half HP.
Two difficulties down, one to go. The Ranger Legacy concludes on the next page of this report.