One life to live: On the Path

I missed a lot over the past few months, and missed even more in the past few years. One of the things I missed and have slowly making up time in is Path of Exile. I’ve always been drawn to Hardcore in Diablo and as the Season was winding down I was interested in mixing it up. I fell hard into PoE and think it’ll be my distraction of choice for a bit. As I’ve been playing I’ve noticed so many things I’d love to see in Diablo, and in fairness so many things that are Diablo. Luckily, I was able to interview Chris Wilson about his game and the mode we all love so much.

X:As you were developing PoE when did you decide to implement a Hardcore mode?

CW:We planned a hardcore mode right from the beginning of Path of Exile. We played hardcore in other Action RPGs like Diablo 2 so we appreciated how fun it was. We feel that once someone has experienced the thrill of building a character where every decision and action matters, there’s no going back.

Back in our very first years of development, hardcore characters were called “Mortal” characters, to try to more clearly explain their perma-death status. This idea was scrapped because we didn’t want to call non-hardcore characters “Immortal”.

x:What is your design philosophy for the mode?

Like much of the rest of Path of Exile, hardcore mode is about the acquisition of items. In this case, though, the items represent a safety net and accelerant for future hardcore characters after the first one dies. If you’re able to stash a set of twinking items, then your second character will progress a lot more quickly than the first. Our hardcore players accept that deaths occur, and try to recover their progress as quickly as possible, often with an improved character build.

X:Do you feel you’ve been successful?

CW:Absolutely. Path of Exile’s hardcore mode is extremely popular and is growing larger over time as more and more players try it out. Objectively, I know that it is a successful mode because I have a lot of fun playing it whenever testing content out or playing recreationally.

X:Do you play Hardcore? Class?

CW:Yes, I and many other staff members exclusively play hardcore. This year I’ve been playing Marauders (my highest died at 86). Some of our team have hardcore characters in the high 90s, achieved while also also managing a full nine-to-five job.

X:Your approach to Hardcore if vastly different than that of Diablo, in that you retain the character but in the softcore league. What was the motivating force behind this?

CW:This idea was a really early part of our hardcore mode and we feel it was really successful. It came from the observation that:Non-hardcore players were afraid of trying out hardcore mode because they would lose all their progress if they died. By having the character convert to the standard league on death, those players would still gain something of value from all their playtime True hardcore players would not value this standard character at all, because it wouldn’t be in the hardcore league with access to their other hardcore items and characters. It would essentially be perma-death to them.The plan worked! The mode has a good rate of non-hardcore players trying it out, while the hardcore players also ignore the standard characters that they get when they die. These characters are essentially glorified tombstones for them.

X:The boss fights are truly frightening, and I’ve personally felt like I was doomed at the start quite a few times, How do you balance these encounters around Hardcore?

CW:Even non-hardcore players have significant penalties for dying, so we balance the fights so that deaths are significant in either mode. It’s very possible to play through all the boss fights without dying, but it’s made a lot easier by learning patterns and signals so that you know when big attacks are coming.

X:Have you ever created something that was just too hard to do without dying?

CW:We have some very talented players who have set up extremely efficient characters that use clever combinations of items and skills. It’s honestly sometimes hard to create things that are hard enough for them! The difficulty with this process is that if we make some truly hard content for extreme players, then the everyday casual players will really struggle with it. We try to pitch our content at a variety of different player skill levels so that there are options for everyone.

X:With the myriad of talents, how do you attempt to keep balance, or prevent things from becoming too mandatory?

CW:The balance team are kept very busy with this. We feel it’s okay for there to be some “right answers” – powerful skills that are better than other ones, because the discovery of these is a mastery behaviour that makes players feel good about their progress. Pragmatically, it’s hard to achieve perfect balance, so we accept the skills that are better than average and generally only try to tweak them between leagues.

X:Diablo 3 brought to it skills for each class that resurrect characters after they die, and then have a cool down before their next use. Has there been any discussion of something similar for PoE?

CW:I hadn’t heard of that – it’s an interesting idea, but is something that we haven’t discussed for Path of Exile.

X:As both these games have grown at the same time, we’ve seen Diablo start to slow, while PoE seems to be just getting started. We’ve begun to speculate wildly already for Diablo 4, could we start speculating for PoE 2?

100% of our development efforts are focused on creating more content for Path of Exile. We’ve designed it for the long-term, and it keeps continuing to grow, so we see no reason to start over.

X:What would be your advice to someone transitioning from Diablo to Poe, in hardcore or Standard?

CW:My advice would be to take the game slowly and explore it as it comes naturally. There’s a huge temptation to start reading guides written by the most experienced players so that you can immediately make a lot of progress, but that can be a confusing experience. It’s best to play Path of Exile at your own pace, and once you understand the systems, then you can read up on the depth behind the systems.

X:Worst hardcore death? (I lost my first Ranger to a trap in the lab, felt like quite the rube)

CW:The one that sticks with me the most was in a race event a few years ago. We run these races that are a few hours long where everyone who joins has to start new characters and rush through the game. The highest level characters at the end of the event win points that that unlock various alternate art items. Normally I’m not a very good racer, but in this one event, things went entirely my way. I found great items and had really good map layouts to push ahead. It was getting close to the end of the race, and I was farming a relatively safe area. I just had to keep my experience rate up and not die by the time limit. Dead players weren’t considered for prizes at that stage. Needless to say, I became greedy, pulled too many monsters onto me and lost the character and race.

X:Hypothetically speaking, if the world was in peril, and the only way to fix it was you helming the Diablo team, could you do it? (Taken from Twitter)

CW:If it didn’t involve stepping away from Path of Exile, sure!

It’s always awesome to gain insight about a game and what really goes into making it,, and I appreciate Chris taking the time out for this. As I delve further into PoE, I’ll be contrasting  Hardcore to that of Diablo and what Diablo could glean from it in both its current iteration and the future of the franchise. Have  you tried PoE hardcore? How does it stack up for you? Sound off in the comments below!

One Life to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. It is written by Xanth and published (semi)weekly. Post your comments below, Follow me on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly.

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The Diablo 4 Blizzcon Announcement Dice Conspiracy Theory


OK, so I have seen many “conspiracy” theories about Diablo announcements in the past 20 years and the latest one concerns a BlizzCon 2016 Diablo 4 announcement which seems a little too “out there”.

In the BlizzCon goodie bag there’s a set of Diablo 3 D&D dice but the four sided dice is the one that is causing the fuss. The theory is that there’s an error on the numbers that have been printed on the dice which when rolled the numbers on the side correspond to the day of BlizzCon 4/11. It seems a bit of a stretch that this would indicate a Diablo 4 announcement at this year’s BlizzCon.

The other evidence is the logo on the dice bag which has four sides meaning it’s Diablo 4 but that seems very far-fetched.

So therefore, Diablo 4 confirmed! What do you think?

Rhykker also explains it in this video if you want to see what the fuss is about.

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Last Chance for Free Windows 10 Upgrade

Windows 10This is a public service announcement! In around 24 hours Windows 10 will no longer be free, and if like me you have sat on the fence about upgrading, then it’s now time to make a decision.

As someone who avoided Windows 8 like the plague, I was reticent to upgrade to Windows 10. This week I took the plunge and pushed the upgrade button and fortunately by PC didn’t explode.

If you are going to push ahead with the upgrade then take a look at the Windows 10 free upgrade period ending – A guide to upgrading and privacy article on PC Invasion, it should help, expecially when sorting out the privacy settings. Microsoft want ALL your data.

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Diablo 3 Patch 2.4.2 Overview

diablo 3 torment levels

Diablo 3 Patch 2.4.2 will be arriving soon, we’re not sure when, and in preparation Blizzard has posted their overview of some the new changes which include new Torment XI–XIII difficulty levels, items, UI and adventure mode.

Check out the full post after the break…

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BlizzCon 2016 Virtual Tickets on Sale

A quick heads-up that the BlizzCon 2016 virtual tickets are now on sale for those who prefer not to make the trip to Anaheim this year.

The ticket costs $39.99 USD covering the event which runs through Friday, November 4 and Saturday, November 5. There are a few perks too, there’s the in-game extras that come with the ticket (still to be revealed) and the option to pick up BlizzCon swag in the form of the Goody Bag in a Box featuring a few nice items such as the Blizzcon Commemorative Stein. The box will cost an additional $35 USD (plus tax, shipping, and applicable fees).

blizzcon 2016


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Between Diablo 3 Seasons Doldrums

news-seasons-featureIt’s only been a few days since Season Six ended, and with still a week and a half until Season Seven begins, what’s a Diablo player to do with their gaming urges? I understand that there are members of the community who do not play Diablo 3 Seasons … but I don’t personally know any of them, and thus I desire to know what makes them (you?) tick.

I wasn’t able to play any in Season Six until the last few weeks, and with a real life full time and part time job my gaming time is very limited… thus I was just really starting to enjoy the push when S6 ended. I manage to finish the Conqueror page in the Season Journey the last night of S6, punching that extra stash tab reward in the nick of time. Then I had a day off last weekend and had a real urge to play D3… but without a season going it felt pointless to bother.

How about you guys? It seems like most people still playing Reaper of Souls dive in each Season and then gradually drift away over the next months before regaining interest again when the next season starts. But that’s very anecdotal, and short of Blizzard releasing player stats, we can only generalize by what our friends do, or by what we can extrapolate from the Leaderboards.

What are you doing until Friday, August 5th at 5pm?

Do you play Diablo 3 between seasons?

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The fresh economy and the fun of building a new character and seeing them become powerful is what makes the seasonal experience fun for me. And while we joke about the power creep and ease of leveling, I had to admit that I’ve come to really appreciate how Haedrig’s Gift enables a speedy ascension to T6+ via that first guaranteed six-piece. So what’s the the joy of not playing seasonal? Just working on perfecting the same character over a long, long time frame?

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Seasonal [6] Greater Rift Video Watch #12: Season’s End

Greetings all and welcome to the next installment of the Seasonal [6] Greater Rift Video Watch. This time around it has been a while since we’ve had many videos. As the sixth season draws to a close we look and see how high the current meta went.

Featuring videos by Empyriangaming, Alexis Williams, and Blatty.

Empyriangaming: [Diablo 3] Season 6 GRift 127 4man rank1 world

Update: Changed the video above with the latest greater rift vid by Emp. Thanks to TheHobbit for the heads-up.

Check below for the other videos.

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Diablo 3 Podcast #213: Top 10 Witch Doctor skills

Season Six comes to an end with a last push for GRs and Season Journey. Then it’s Witch Doctor skill debate, with the best and worst of the weird and witchy clicker options. Featuring Aahz, N3rdwards, and Flux.

Click through for segment start times and more podcast info.

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Diablo 3 Podcast #213: PALs’ Early Access

The newest installment of the Diablo 3 podcast is now online with an exclusive 24 hour preview for our Site PALs. Our beloved site supporters can check out the podcast right now, in the PAL forum. This is the sixth and last of our shows covering the Top Ten skills of each class. We’ve covered the Barbarian, Wizard, Crusader, Monk, Demon Hunter, so let’s finish up with the Witch Doctor.

Diablo 3 Podcast #213: Top 10 Witch Doctor skills

Season Six comes to an end with a last push for GRs and Season Journey. Then it’s Witch Doctor skill debate, with the best and worst of the weird and witchy clicker options. Featuring Aahz, N3rdwards, and Flux.

The podcast will go live tomorrow for everyone, but if you can’t wait and want to become a Site PAL, it’s easy and will only set you back a few bucks a month.

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Blizzard trails Diablo 3 Season 7 with an update

Season 7 is just around the corner. Friday 5 August, 5:00 p.m. PDT in North America, 5:00 p.m. CEST in Europe, and 5:00 p.m. KST in Asia to be precise. Ahead of the launch Blizzard has posted their pre-season update highlighting what’s new.

Patch 2.4.2 is live on the PTR for testing and headed soon to live realms. For our Seasonal heroes out there, we’ve prepared a two-part guide to Season 7 so you can roll right into a fresh start on day one.

Season 7 will begin with the usual updates to Season Journey objectives, Conquest rotations, and rewards. We’ll cover rewards later, but for now, let’s tackle the challenges you’ll face in Season 7!

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