Plains of Despair (Act 4) Farming Guide - Diablo 2
How to Reach: Pandemonium Fortress > Outer Steppes > Plains of Despair
Zone Level: Nightmare: 56 -- Hell: 83
Golden Chest: No
Boss/Champ Packs: 4 - 7
Hell Immunities: Fire (Venom Lord & Doom Knight), Cold (Flesh Spawned & Flesh Beast), Lightning (Burning Soul & Doom Caster), Poison (Venom Lord & Corpulent)
Plains of Despair is one of the outside/field/overworld areas in Act 4 that you will come across. What I mean by outside, field or overworld is (basically) that it isn't a dungeon. There will be obstacles like broken walls and pillars throughout the zone that will block your line of sight but for the most part it's pretty open.
Some classes and builds (like Bowzons) excel in open areas like this which is why I have included these zones in my Farming Guides. City of the Damned, Outer Steppes and Plains of Despair are the 3 highest area level outside/field zones in the game. All three of these zones are located in Act IV next to each other which makes them easy to all hit in one farming rotations. River of Flame is pretty open too and worth checking out; bonus points for that zone since it is a level 85 zone!
The Area Level for Plains of Despair is 83 which means that it can drop all but the highest Treasure Class in the game. If you'd like to learn more about Treasure Class and what this all means head over to my Diablo 2 Magic Find Guide for more information. To put it simply, unless you are after the best in slot items in the game you shouldn't worry too much about this not being an Area Level 85 location.
Throughout the Plains of Despair the hardest enemy you'll encounter by far will be the Burning Souls (pictured below); the wisp enemies that use Chain Lightning. If you have low Lightning Resist these enemies will pretty much instantly obliterate you on Hell difficulty due to how hard their Chain Lightning hits and the fact that it stuns you when it hits you (allowing groups of them to attack you all at once).
Mob Alert: Burning Souls will rip you a new asshole. These enemies are feared by all players due to their extremely powerful Chain Lightning attack. Players with low Lightning Resistance will be taken down almost instantly by their attacks.
For the most part, the rest of the enemies that you'll fight throughout this zone aren't too difficult. There are different enemies that are immune to Poison, Fire, Cold and Lighting throughout the zone but none of them are as devastating as the Burning Souls to deal with. They're mostly just inconviences if you encounter an enemy with an immunity to your element.
Tip: If you're someone who can debuff the Burning Souls you'll more easily be able to keep an eye on them as they go invisible and move around. The debuff that floats above them will stay visible even while they're cloaked and moving!
In my experience when hunting in this zone you will find most of the Champ/Boss enemies around the central portion of the zone or nearby the Entrances/Exits to other zones. Rarely do I ever find them around the outskirts of this zone and the same holds true for Outer Steppes and City of the Damned.