The hard playthrough is significantly easier in most instances than extreme, though there are exceptions. Some parts are also much different for one reason or another. As a reminder this playthrough should be done on hard, you need to turn on old school mode, and you cannot have any puppet deaths. I talked to KilldbyNecropsy after he finished it (who also figured out the hard achievement only works pre-patch it seems) and he said you could simply reload a save if you lost a puppet. I actually dashboarded and reloaded a save, but that's because I didn't want to take any chances.
As a reminder, this has to be done pre-patches, which means you need to delete the game. If you don't know how...
1. Quit the game to dashboard.
2. Highlight Shadows Awakening and press start, then choose manage game and add-ons.
3. Choose to uninstall all (your saves will still be in the cloud if you've been playing online).
4. Press the Xbox button and pick settings (the gear icon).
5. Choose network, then choose go offline.
6. Reinstall the game.
You can go online and play other games after this, but you have to make sure you turn off auto-updates under system in settings. This way it will not automatically update SA when you go online. Also make sure not to select the game when online, as that will open the prompt to download the update.
-The Shadow Trader does not have the option to reset stat/skill points. You're stuck with what ya pick.
-Equipment does not show the changes to damage/armor, so telling which one is better is a little harder. Use X to compare.
-Loot in general seems to be much worse than current patch. Many crystals dropped nothing at all for me.
-Frost chain doesn't work on the annoying spirits, but seems to work fine on almost everything else.
-The saves work differently, though I didn't notice any problems with actual saves. The date and time on the saves are wrong, and the newer one is displayed at the top in the save menu, but in the load menu the newer saves are at the bottom. Really spooked me when I couldn't find my save.
-Also, you only have 4 saves, compared to the few dozen you could have in the patched version.
-In the patched version, enemies that could block would deflect arrows, but they would do no damage. They do damage in the prepatched version, just like blocked magic does (AKA Evia's attacks).
-ring puzzles are different, LB/RB to turn rings, press X to select ring, only highlights platform
-Cenotaph menu is different. Instead of scrolling through options you have to pick an area and then choose from the locations related to that area.
-Traps seem to randomly do a shit ton of damage, and some of the flame gauntlets (where you flipped a switch and then waited for the fires to stop one by one) would sometimes break and all the jets would come back on. Be super attentive when going through traps.
I will detail the changes I noticed as I played. If I mention nothing, then I didn't see any changes worth nothing.
-Pick Jasker as your main puppet. Remember that shortbows pierce, longbows do blunt damage, this is important for Jasker. In your Evia playthrough Evia did elemental damage, so pierce and blunt resistance did not hobble you as much. In this case, you won't have that, so you probably want one of each bow so you can deal with this, especially early on.
-Jasker is superior to Urshak, Jasker's skills are much more useful than Urshak's. Jasker can summon a puppet to help tank, and has a skill that roots enemies. As a result I used Jasker instead of Urshak in this playthrough.
-In order to get the Arcanum key with Jasker, you need to talk to Shakkik in the cage northwest of the cenotaph with Jasker, after finishing the first Arashad quest you can talk to him for Arcanum key.
-Spider queen boss throws poison much more often and tries you melee you less often, just kited her with Jasker.
-Darmok was very hard for me with a shortbow, make sure you go into this fight with a longbow. The golem part is the hard part if you don't. The fight is the same as extreme. Jasker walks too slowly to dodge the homing fire bolts, so switch to the Devourer when he shoots them.
-In the Zaar discussion, pick the top option until the top one is "Release me - I must head to Broken Spear pass". Instead choose the fight option. You can actually pass this without a fight as Jasker, but this will unlock a new quest that changes a certain place quite a bit, we don't want that.
-In the Zaar fight, the shaman that drops healing totems does not seem to appear. Instead there's a bunch of small soulravens. So freezing him with the Devourer is much safer.
-In The Outlands, the Sebeken Mages do incredible damage with their lightning, and the window you have to dodge it is much less than the patched version. This actually goes for all lightning attacks. When it slams its staff down instead of shooting a bolt at you, start running. If you fight it in melee range it seems to attack much less often, and doesn't use the lightning. Best option if they're alone or you can tank the other enemies to kill the mage.
-In the Canyon, the ring turning puzzles only let you turn left instead of left AND right, so the solutions need to be different.
-Also in the Canyon, a crab doesn't spawn when you loot the chest, 2 scorpions do. Small change.
-Outside the Shrine is another ring puzzle, here's the prepatch solution.
-In the Shrine, the fight against the demon is quite hard. He has 8000 HP and his sword form also has 8000 HP, meaning you need to chew through 16000 HP. The whole time the altar will be spewing lasers at you as well as the attacks from the boss itself. You can either sacrifice the human to get the sword and avoid the fight, or come back later when you're much stronger. I'm sure beating the demon now is possible but it would be tedious as can be and not worth the extra effort, since you get the sword for the quest either way.
-In the Oasis when you try to escape from Evanger, Valkarin does not call down the lightning rain or whatever it is, so this part is much easier.
-For the Sebeken Slaver boss, his lightning will likely kill Jasker in one hit without Bone Armor up. You have to be extra careful since it hits very quickly compared to the patched version. My suggestion would be to kill the 3 peons with the Devourer (dodge lightning if he drops it) then just attack the boss with the Devourer. It won't summon lightning if you're in melee range.
-For Kiri, choose the top answer both times.
-The Anarchist Werewolf boss is a little different. The shamans that you have to kill to damage the werewolf in the shadow realm (which you have to kill to damage the werewolf in the mortal realm...) spawn periodically, instead of there being 3 or more right when the phase of the fight starts.
-In the Graabak fight, it seems the fight is broken. Graabak's design is different, and even though his attacks are the same, it seems the hitboxes are garbage and even after he finishes his animations, you can still be hit. I would pick the answer to try and get your puppets, Bone Armor will help a lot. I was able to manage it without, but had to use most of my soulstone charges. If you want, you can do Kogog'Aak and use the Serpent Crown to bypass this fight, but eh. A lot of extra time.
-For the boss outside Kyallisar, he cannot be frozen. Still, I just used Soul Rend and tried to weaken him as quickly as possible after I killed his clones so it'd go to the golem phase. The lightning rods also have 800 HP, meaning one hit won't kill them. On the plus side, the lockon feature will lock onto the lightning rods, so you can kill them more easily. The first golem is also the weaker 3000 HP version that doesn't summon an orb, so that part is much easier too. The 2nd golem is the 8000 HP one though.
-In the prison section, the rat doesn't seem to have an auto attack. When you cross the wooden beams and reach the barrel you'll have to use your other "mortal" soul (Darius or Falon) to destroy it to continue.
-In the old sewers, the boss fight is different. In the patched version we've been playing, the lasers come from pillars and don't move. In the prepatched version, you'll see the pillars before you ever pull the switch. The pillars will start spinning when you pull the switch. The strategy for the fight is the same. What I did was run clockwise around the pillars, and stayed ahead of the lasers. The boss would chase after me and get hit, but I would escape harm.
-Also in the Old Sewers, when trying to flee from Evanger, you only have to flip each switch once to open the door, making this part hilariously easy compared to the patched version.
-Shadowhand, the skeleton boss you face in Imperial Tomb V and VI (that drops the last two bonekeys) does not move in the shadow realm in the prepatched version. This makes the fight significantly easier, because you can use Frost Chain and reposition at will with the Devourer.
-The fire jets in Red Smoke Mountains are glitched. The fire that is supposed to signal it's about to spew fire does not appear, and instead what looks like rock comes out of them. Be careful of these as they do a ton of damage.
-In Imperial Tomb VI, the room we went to for Evia's personal achievement is guarded by lasers, these lasers did 6000 damage to my Devourer in one hit. Needless to say, I would skip this part...after you kill the boss just backtrack out.
-Valkarin in the Oracle does not disappear and summon a firestorm. The fight is much easier, though he still does a bit of damage, and his golem is annoying.
The rest of the game was not different. When you defeat Mara, you'll get 3 achievements.
Even though it would have unlocked much earlier if we were online, the first one will unlock now. For me, all 3 of them unlocked while I downloaded the patch. However, they did not unlock at the same time, so I wouldn't worry too much if they don't. Restore House Malfagon unlocked first, the other 2 unlocked shortly afterwards. I assume that's the order it will work for everyone.
I'm not sure how it will be for you, but for me when I downloaded the patch again it seemed to have all my prepatch and postpatch saves together. Anyway, you should have every achievement now, rejoice. It is done.
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