Reaper of Souls Hardcore from the Start?

This is a topic Xanth will probably tackle in a column at some point, but a fan brought up the issue of tackling Reaper of Souls Hardcore from the start vs. some initial playtime in softcore to get the hang of the new system and changes and difficulty levels, and got some Blueage on the bandwagon.

I switched to playing HC months ago and when the RoS announcement first came out I told everyone I’d be playing HC right away when the patch drops. That has changed and I’ll explain why…

Before we can safely play hardcore we need to understand how all the mechanics work. Even items as simple as potions are different. Probably for the better but still different. Until we can adjust to these slight changes we are putting ourselves at risk.

We are too comfortable with this and until we learn to life without ls we are bound to put our characters in a spot they shouldn’t be in.

The change from MP to normal-torment is really going to trip me up. I know what mp Id be able to handle but what level of difficulty will we test this out? One slip up and you’re toast.

With many old members coming about there are bound to be additional lag and we are going to suffer the most.

Because of these reasons I will most likely start out playing soft core for 1-3 months then switch back to HC. I think my characters will thank me.
Grimiku: Personally, I plan on playing it safe when the expansion goes live. Rushing into an expansion on a higher difficulty is a little like aiming Vault into unexplored areas of your map.

And what’s wrong with Vaulting into unexplored territory? πŸ˜›

Grimiku: Nothing if you don’t mind a dirt nap!

I found Reaper of Souls has a greater tendency to lull me into illusions of safety (and then drop the hammer when I’m unsuspecting) than the current live game. I’m used to playing on MP10, but it didn’t take long before Master difficulty wasn’t comfy. Also, I should admit that I’m talking about my Normal mode character here, but I play it like it’s Hardcore.

I recently swapped focus to my Hardcore character in the beta, and am currently leveling from 60 to 70. The first few levels are easy, but somewhere around mid 60’s the difficulty starts getting more unpredictable. We’ll have to wait and see how things pan out after some tuning passes, but I think it’s worth mentioning to the Hardcore community that the difficulty settings may not be as straight forward as they seem. I know it’s part of the fun, but it’s good to know when the road might get rocky too.

I leapt into RoS with my hardcore Monk, who was Paragon 70 and arguably the best equipped of my D3V paragon level characters, and I had no regrets. (Admittedly, I felt safer since the Beta works as a sort of PTR where nothing is permanent, so I wasn’t *really* risking my Monk.)

Xanth started off RoS in Hardcore...

Starting off HC in RoS has potential drawbacks

The Monk leveled from 60 to 70 over several hours of semi-cautious, “Hard” level DiabloWikiAdventure Mode games, and it wasn’t a real tough voyage. That Monk, as well as the level 60 softcore Demon Hunter and Witch Doctor I’ve since made the voyage with, all felt overpowered at level 60 in RoS, about like I was playing on MP1 with much lower monster density. That OP feeling faded quickly as I leveled up and the monsters scaled up with me, and by 65 I felt like I was on MP3 (with much lower monster density), and by 70 I’d have been dead, had I not been gearing up as I leveled.

I think gear is the real issue, more than new game mechanics and skill changes and such. Those matter as well of course, but Diablo 3 is a game chiefly about your gear, and while not knowing how to react to Elites with Poison Enchanted or Frozen Pulse is dangerous, playing with crappy gear is fatal. Therefore I think you’ll be fine leaping right into RoS with your hardcore chars, so long as you don’t get too crazy overconfident and pull a Xanth’s WD, leaping right into Master and relying on your now nonfunctional DiabloWikilife steal knife to keep you alive. (With grim results.)

Will you start of Reaper of Souls playing Hardcore?

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Click through for more discussion of the changes to difficulty levels in Reaper of Souls and some first hand insight on how hard those levels are for newly geared up characters in the beta.

Difficulty Settings in Reaper of Souls

  • Normal
  • Hard: 75% Extra gold/xp
  • Expert: 100% extra gold/xp, Bounties award double currency.
  • Master: 200% extra gold/xp, Bounties award double currency, New legendary recipes can drop in this difficulty.
  • Torment 1-6: 300% extra gold/XP, Bounties award double currency, New legendary recipes can drop in this difficulty, New legendary items can drop in this difficulty, 250% bonus legendary drop rate, Additional gold/XP/legendary drop rate per slider tick.
  • Yes, it was much simpler just calling them DiabloWikiMonster Power 1-10. I guess we still could, though there are only 9 increases if you count Normal = MP0, but as you see in the tooltips, there are really points of punctuated equilibrium in Reaper of Souls. That is not the case in D3, where as long as you’re at MP1, you get the full monster density and higher levels just move the slider up on the damage, exp, magic find, etc.

    The real jump in Reaper of Souls is Torment, where you see huge boosts in the legendary drop rates. Your goal as a player should be to survive and prosper on Torment+, since that’s the most rewarding stage. Moving up each level of Torment increases those bonuses still further, but it *really* skyrockets the monster hps, and you won’t see anywhere near the changes or benefits going from Torment 1 to Torment 2, and so on, as you see going from Master to Torment.

    My HC Monk is able to play Master fairly comfortably at this point, after just a couple of weeks of RoS, without any great item finds. I’ve spent a lot of time with a HC Crusader and my old softcore Demon Hunter as well, so don’t take my two weeks of play time as any kind of intensive Monk-building exercise.

    YMMV, but the point is that it’s taken me less than two weeks of sporadic play to gear up to the point that my best character is almost ready for Torment. So, if you’re setting that as your target, even in Hardcore, it’s not a wild dream. And you get to do it without spending a dime in the Auction House! (Or earning a dime selling gear that way, but try not to think about that.)


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    1. Hardcore, only. From the very start.

    2. Great written article, Flux!

      I have been debating this very question myself in the past few weeks, and have decided to start in SC, see if I can get that old feeling of “finding all those uber itamz” from D2, and see just how quickly I do or do not get bored. When that will happen, it’s definitely time to switch back to HC mode, as I have been playing it constantly for the last year or so πŸ™‚

      I simply feel that starting in HC would be a mistake and would not let me experience all the new stuff the exp has to offer, since from watching streamers, it looks as if death truly does lurk around every corner.

      A part of the fun in HC? Absolutely. But I would rather first enjoy some relaxing months of playing first πŸ™‚

    3. Where’s my “No Hardcore, No Softcore, Not buying!” poll option?

    4. No Hardcore for me unfortunately – I’ve died to many times in Softcore D3C due to latency/rubberbanding. If they had servers in Aus, I would.


    5. Quote: Flux
      “YMMV, but the point is that it’s taken me less than two weeks of sporadic play to gear up to the point that my best character is almost ready for Torment. So, if you’re setting that as your target, even in Hardcore, it’s not a wild dream.”

      This has me fairly concerned (a post on it in general). Sporadic play and on hardcore has you almost to torment…

      Between this generous loot system making the current beta content negligible in short time and the removal of the auction house so you can’t trade for items to build specific setups (Mr. Monstrous thorns is likely the tip of the iceberg hopefully) I am hoping there are big changes coming.

      **I don’t mind hunting for the items but it could be incredibly long hunts for grail items in D2 and now we could want 6 or 7 items and possibly want specific affixes in slots on top of that to make tailored builds.

    6. Wow my english sucks this morning…

      I meant that I made a post in general about content.

      Also meant to reference grail hunting in D2 as some times very long and possibly unproductive affairs.

      • Don’t worry, your post was fairly clear. Enchanting will help a lot with specific affixes. Items are a big question. Right now Legendaries are falling like rain from the sky, but this will most likely change, as their drop rates are this high only to help with the testing.

        • I am imagining the huge numbers of legendaries (with 1-69 and 70 legendaries) available and the possible number of random affixes on each especially since we can only change one affix. I could easily be blowing it out of proportion though seeing as D3V is my primary base of experience.

    7. This is no different than when D3 was first released: level to 10 in SC, make HC character, delete SC character, never look back. πŸ™‚

      Even easier in RoS: HC all the time.

    8. Until Xanth write an article…

      New game mechanics: In my opinion not a huge issue. Just keep playing on Normal longer than you would otherwise, until you’re fairly sure you’ve seen everything. You may still get surprised of course, but if you aren’t prepared to lose everything you shouldn’t play Hardcore.

      No more Life Steal: Again, not that big of a problem. Replace your current Life Steal gear with Life on Hit pieces and get used to it until the expansion comes out. Sure, lot of other things will change as well, but you can still get used to relying on other forms of recovery right now.

      New difficulty settings: This is probably obvious to many people here, but my advice would be to stick to Act 1 after increasing the difficulty. It’s denizens are much more tame compared to the later acts, so it’s a good proving ground.

      Server stability: Yeah, no way around this. Server stability will most likely suck in the first few weeks. This is probably the only thing that will keep me from playing Hardcore at first.

    9. I appreciate the OP’s recognition that for all the discussion of HC being a better, or more pure playing experience to the point of sometimes appearing condescending, it is at its core subsidized by SC.

    10. the questions for me isn’t hardcore or soft core, it’s monk or xsader

    11. The only good thing about D3, the hardcore, has now been ruined by the fact monsters scale with you. This was a retarded change that everyone called and means your character is just going to be killed off unless you’re extremely lucky with item drops. What a horrible decision.

      Along with the death of trading thanks to BoA I can’t see anyone who didn’t suffer oxygen deprivation as a child wanting to pick up RoS.

      • Yes, because the whole point of hardcore is to challenge yourself and face the risk of permanent death… while deliberately making things easier on yourself and fighting monsters you’ve outleveled.

        • but you obviously want to go back occasionally to easier levels and farm better gear before progressing onto higher difficulty

          unless you’re telling me that the proper way to currently play D3 hardcore is to constantly progress, never farm and always fight monsters your level or higher

      • Yeah, because Inferno MP0 is so hard right now. You do know that’s what the new Normal difficulty is, right? Also, how often do you on Hell with your level 60 characters anyway?

    12. No matter what gear you have.

      “You have been slained by unavoidable retarded affix combination”


      – Blizzbalanc team

      • Let me fix that for you

        “You have disconnected from the server, your deeds will not be remembered”

      • So far I haven’t met an affix combo I couldn’t handle or run away from, but then again I play a WD with pets. πŸ™‚

        Seriously though, in my experience the leading cause of death in HC is insufficient gear, impatient players (the two is kinda the same really) and not taking a hard CC + mitigation skill combo (preferably complete immunity). Also, people should stop using “cheat death” skills. All of them are horrible. They serve as pretty good red herrings though. πŸ™‚

        I’m lucky in the I have a stable internet connection, so I never died to disconnects yet. Still, HC disconnects are one of the reasons why Blizzard should allow us to play offline.

        • I have been saved my NDE 20+ times easily. I do use it as a crutch in a way so I can play a more aggressive build with less EHP than some people are comfortable.

          Typically I run around with a Skorn and 600kish EHP (bell monk!)

          • I think that’s exactly why it’s such an effective red herring: because you know exactly how many times it saved you. What about the alternatives though? In the same timeframe how many times Seize the Initiative or even Beacon of Ytar would have saved you? I have a feeling the answer isn’t that clear cut.

            In my experience, even if you play well it’s CC + short bursts of damage that tends to kill characters. I think this is what Delosombres called retarded, even though it’s not. True enough, out of passive skills “cheat death” ones combat these the most effectively, but complete immunity active skills help even more, only they require good reflexes. This is why as a Monk I would take Serenity (which you take anyway :)), combined with Beacon of Ytar instead of NDE anyday and use the two remaining passives to boost my always-on mitigation (still no NDE) even more. I think this way you can save yourself more often in those really hairy situation more often, especially if you also take a hard CC with you, like Blinging Flash, which is again a nobrainer.

            • Haha, I’d very much like to see that Blinging Flash. Oh man, I should check my posts for errors more rigorously, even though sometime the result is hilarious. πŸ™‚

            • The reason I don’t use Beacon of Ytar right now is serenity is my only cool down spell on my bar. What is it, 15%, 20%, 25%? Regardless, that is up to 3 seconds cool down reduced off a 20 second skill. I used serenity MAYBE once a game, and that is still a big maybe. Bell monk is so mobile, I rarely get frozen. If I know it’s going to happen, I always dump a bell to knock enemies away from me. If I get jailed, I can fist of thunder/thunderclap to a near by enemy to ensure I am not stuck on top of something. Walls I move when the first one is cast, I can’t remember truly being trapped on my monk as there is always a way out, you just have to want to find it bad enough.

              Cool down reduction is ROS is an interesting stat, I am torn between it and resource cost reduction. If you could get 60% of either, I may go for the reduced cost to bring bells down to 20 or so spirit. With some spirit regen, you could permanently cast bells.

            • don’t talk to me about bells monks hard rock, i got 63,66,100,83 paragons all bell monk πŸ™‚

            • and by that i mean dead.. all i play is bell monk now, pl83

            • No worries Korn. As I said, it’s hard to answer which line of thinking is better, there are many variables and it’s hard to measure how many times pure mitigation saves you versus “cheat death” passives. We can only say for sure that your method of relying on NDE and similar skills is a passive defense, while mine is an active one against burst damage. We simply have a different philosophy of avoiding that, there’s nothing wrong with that, just the opposite actually. πŸ™‚

    13. I can’t believe the number of people who have zero interest in trying HC
      I’m really shocked that option is leading

      I understand people may not want to focus on HC, but to not even try it out ?

      I plan on starting HC the second I start the game

      • I would think about it if I could play offline. Till then no thx.

        • I only play HC because my WDs have some serious issues with the whole dying thing. Maybe I’ll play with her again at some point. Not an HC player.

          I always run pets, cheating deaths skills, etc. even on SC because:

          – repair costs used to be a thing when I was getting MP10 budget gear for the barb/ MP2+ for the doc;

          – I was pisset to revive at checkpoints;

          – pets kept the mobs in place for acid rain/toads;

          Not dying was convinient.

          My SC witch doctor died (a lot) only on 1.03 (I think?) Cidaea – when I was forced to use bears – and on Diablo – until I learned how to kill the clones (too bored to run in circles…). Besides that I seldom died.

          After that experience, I started an HC WD.

          My TR monk survives, as well. Wizard and DH are squishy (No HC for them, ever).

          In the end of XP runs, I suicide with my barb at elite packs (whenever it’s possible) to revive at checkpoints before using TP, since it’s faster than killing them. (Death is quite useful on SC, since it moves you to a safe spot for TP. Saves some time, since I don’t kill elites in 30s on MP10 – and killing them always felt useless, imo, due to evil crafting odds.) He’s not used with the whole surviving thing…

    14. I’m sort of looking forward to trying HC again in RoS – much better drop rates, so when you have to roll a new character you can actually find stuff along the way, plus no more grinding through the story multiple times to level up (that aspect alone will make rolling new chars much more appetizing whether in HC or soft core).

    15. It is too bad people do not even try HC out. I had that same attitude at launch. Then after 7 months I could not stand SC anymore. I tired HC for the heck of it and I was hooked! It saved the game for me. I think if people still play SC regularly they need to try it out. My opinion it is much more enjoyable to play with the risk. More strategy is involved with health and defense being focused on. I recommend anyone who has not tried it to do it. If you love Diablo and still play it. Try it out and you will see why Flux and other prefer it over SC.

      • The best part of HC is that defensive stats matter, increasing the affixes you care about on your items and making the choice between shields and DW/2H a real dilemma. This makes the game much more interesting. People understandably don’t like the harsh death penalty of HC though.

        Still, this is a huge problem with Softcore. In the expansion the death penalty will be even milder. Waiting 5 seconds is not really a penalty anymore. Sure, there’s a gold penalty as well, but when you can cover the repair cost of a completely destroyed set of gear by doing one Bounty in a few seocnds things are getting laughable. This way defensive stats won’t ever be valued in Softcore, regardless of how the devs balance the monsters. I hope they’ll see this eventually.

        • I think defensive stats will matter more in ROS, even in SC. With the rewards of playing in the higher difficulties being greater than ever, having a balanced team of good dps and tank will hopefully matter. The HP on some of the monsters is just insane on some of the higher levels. Having to keep the monsters at bay so they can be damaged easier may actually be a new full time job for some SC characters.

          • I’m sure they’ll matter more, but by adjusting the monsters the devs can only make them valuable to a point, that will define a minimum level for them. Reach that and then go offense all the way. When you actually want to avoid death that level because much more fuzzy and I think that would be a very good thing for Softcore.

            This is why I don’t like that Nephalem Valor will go away. A similar system could be used to discourage frequent deaths if the buff stack would reset when you die. They could use harsher gold penalties as well, because gold still has value. Losing a few percent of Paragon XP from the current level would help a lot as well.

            I’m sure people are wondering why I care about this when I already play HC. The reason is that in my opinion many people who play SC don’t realize what they’re missing, how the lack of death penalty changes their decision about gear and how it can result in a worse game experience. I completely understand why many SC players don’t want to risk playing HC, the death penalty there the harshest there is, but there’s absolutely a middle ground between the two and I think Blizzard is making a huge mistake by not exploring it for SC.

    16. I currently don’t see much incentive anymore to play Hardcore. First, the “ironborn” mode is standard in RoS (almost everything is account-bound), and second, you actually don’t lose much anymore if you die in HC. Yes, the equipment on the dead char is lost, but you keep all account-wide paragon XP and everything you have in your stash.

      I’m having so much fun experimenting with my SC WD as new uniques/sets drop in while farming Master & Torment 1, and I currently cannot see how I can really experiment and reach higher levels than Torment 1 by playing too cautious (on my favorite WD). I’m afraid the HC play style doesn’t give me enough freedom to fully enjoy the new fun aspect of the game, so it will probably be SC for me on live and the ladder.

    17. I already play SC pretty much the same way people play HC, I’ve always tried to balance offense and defense, I despise dying all the time with glass cannon builds. That said, I played HC in D2, I understand the appeal, the community that grew out of it, etc. but I just don’t like wasting my time. No matter how much fun I had in HC the idea that I could have to start from scratch in D3 just kills it for me, it’s no fun to level the same class twice in this game. It didn’t seem so bad in D2, despite the fact you generally leveled the exact same stats, same skills, etc. but it just feels worse in D3 for some reason.

      • I do the same exact thing in SC, dying means I screwed up and I am out of my rhythm with the game and not an asset anymore to my party members.

        Leveling is also just flat out punishment in this game, going through the game 3 full times is just torture. I am pretty sure the definition of torture via the Geneva convention lists leveling in D3, its that bad.

    18. Pussies (cheesy hc players) will do sc first. REAL hardcore players will just play HC.

    19. It all depends on where my friends online will play, as we all play both sc and hc.

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