An overview of ethereal items in Diablo 2 Resurrected, including information on how ethrealness effects damage, defense, Strength and Dexterity requirements, durabilty and quantity.
Most equippable items in the game (excluding only set items, bows, crossbows, rings and amulets) have a 5% chance of being ethereal, which modifies the item in several important ways:
- Ethereal items have 50% higher base damage and defense than normal, non-ethereal items.
- Ethereal items have their Strength and Dexterity requirements reduced by 10 each.
- Ethereal items have their durability reduced by half, plus one (an item with 20 durability would have 11, if ethereal). This does not apply to the quantity of thrown items.
- Ethereal items cannot be repaired.
An ethereal item, then, is a mixed bag, as while the higher damage/defense and lower requirements are welcome boons, the durability issues give the item a finite (and relatively short) lifespan. Getting a useful unique like Harlequin Crest only to have it roll up ethereal can be painful. You cannot repair ethereal items at vendors, nor via the [Horadric Cube], the only recourse to preserve such an item is to socket a Zod rune into it, and given how prohibitively rare Zod runes are, you’re better off just looking for a replacement copy of the ethereal item.
It’s not all bad, however, as some uniques have the “Indestructible” modifier on them by default, making ethereal versions nothing but upside. Likewise, throwing items with “Replenishes Quantity” are not adversely affected by being ethereal, as their stock will continue to regenerate even if you deplete it - this is what makes ethereal Titan’s Revenge javelins so sought after. Armor with the “Replenishes Durability” property (like Skullder’s Ire) can also mitigate the effects of being ethereal, as these items will self-repair - in this case, however, you must be cautious, as they will still break if their durability is reduced to 0, and being ethereal, will remain broken forever. Still, it should be nearly impossible for an item with this property to suffer durability damage faster than it self-repairs.
Even if an item is ethereal and not self-repairing, it may not be a complete waste, as items equipped on mercenaries do not lose durability. An ethereal Vampire Gaze might not be of any use for the player, but it can be indefinitely worn by a mercenary. This fact also makes ethereal elite polearms (Ogre Axes, Colossus Voulges, Threshers, Cryptic Axes, Great Poleaxes, Great Threshers) worth seeking out and [rolling sockets] into, as they can serve as excellent bases for mercenary weapons like [Infinity] and [Insight].