Dealing with Diablo 3 Hardcore death

With the game out now for some time (and in light of the recent lag massacre) I thought I would republish a column I wrote on how to death with death in the DiabloWikiHardcore realm.

I’ve lost a lot of characters, but the one that stung the most was the last barb I ever created. After a few hours cruising through DiabloWikiNightmare Meph runs I hit the jackpot. A nice Arreat’s Face to complement my gear. I’d been trying to trade for it for weeks but just didn’t have what anyone wanted. I slapped it on, admired my gear and went back to what I had been doing best. Now maybe I should have stopped right there and called it a night, but like gambling you can’t stop while you’re on a hot streak, who knew what Meph had next? I don’t really know what happened, I recall the leap over to Meph, and then seeing the screen we all hate to see. My deeds of valor would be remembered.


“A quick alt-F4 and I’ll be a good as new,it had worked so many times before” I thought. When a character was moving but the screen wasn’t, when a few too many mobs were after me, or a vicious pk was hounding me; it was alt-f4 to the rescue. No such luck in this case, the death screen was up, as was my barbs time in the hardcore realm. Denial is tough in a game when your death is staring you in the face. It is however quite easy to shift the blame, I could have blamed my connection, the distraction around me, but it couldn’t I knew it was my fault.  It’s that realization that pushes us to step two.


Ah nerdrage, is there anything more humorous? Youtube it if you need confirmation.Throwing stuff, punching the air, screaming over virtual things? Sure I can say this now because the sting of death isn’t fresh ,but when it hits you are going to be mad. You of course have every right to be. You’ve spent a good deal of time with that character, and now you can’t anymore. Anger can lead to rash decision making, rage deleting your account, swearing off video games, going outside etc. It’s important to keep a level head about these things. If the goal of the game is to kill things, you can do that at levels one through sixty. Death of your character won’t take the game away from you, but your anger can. If you are someone who takes this really seriously and can’t handle failure then you have two choices: be the greatest hardcore player ever who never dies, or avoid hardcore. Once the dust settles, you pick up your keyboard and move on to step three.


This is the dangerous one, and one that really could shape hardcore in the years to come. How many times have we thought “ If I could just have one more shot” but the way hardcore was set up we knew we couldn’t. That ghost was already in our selection screen and no amount of time  complaining to Blizzard in their customer service channel (trust me) would change it, no matter what the circumstance was. It’s this desire to bargain after death that leads me to fear a monetization for hardcore. What amount of money would you pay to have it back? It’s easy now to say none, but I can guarantee the option would be used. We’ve already seen there won’t be a RMAH, so Blizzard won’t be making money off the hardcore community, so this option might be the doorway to do just that. Hopefully we won’t see that, as we’ve already seen a vocal part of our community vehemently opposed to it. We’ve also seen that the Dev team seems to be opposed to it as well:

Paying to bring back a fallen hardcore character was something I read someone here post once, and I simply repeated it to say I thought it was an interesting idea. I’m not a designer. Things I find interesting doesn’t mean they’re being implemented. I have though heard Jay (who is lead designer) say that paying to bring back hardcore is pretty much a horrible idea.

Granted this also comes from Bashiok in 2010, who also gave us insight into why DiabloWikiInferno is a bad idea.With that in mind, If we look to other Blizzard titles,( WoW in particular) we see they allow their customers a wide array of options with their characters from server transfers, faction switching, gender reassignment surgery, and gigantic space ponies. Hardcore resurrection could easily fall in this vein, but as long as we aren’t shouting for it, hopefully we won’t see it. I think in this case it’s better to remember when you get what you wish for, you may not be happy with the result.


I think this is where  we lose a lot of good players to. No people aren’t slitting their wrists over the death of their characters ( though that puts a new spin on hardcore), but a lot look at the time invested and ask “What’s the point?”. I think the game is more than your character, it’s the experience. We go into hardcore because we get to be mortal, we can’t quit because we encountered that reality. Each death as I’ve said before is a chance to grow and learn, if death is something your concerned about it’s probably best to not only have one character but several to fall back on just in case. That way if you lose one you can pick up with another and assuage the sting of death by focusing on your new character. You can also (and  I hate to say this) have a soft core back up  to jump on every now and then to remind you why went  hardcore. It was my forays back into softcore that would push me back to where I belong. Seeing people die and get back to the group in a few seconds, or just committing suicide via fallen can give you a perspective on what make our community unique. This may then move you to..


Finally you can move on, create your new character and spring back into action. You may want to hang on to that ghost for a little bit for nostalgia, or delete it right away and steal its name, but eventually you come back, hopefully learning something in the process

Having recently lost a level 60 WD I know this process all too well. Don’t give up the fight, take a breather, and come back stronger than what you were before.


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27 thoughts on “Dealing with Diablo 3 Hardcore death

  1. I would NEVER roll a hardcore character in this game after seeing so much cheese affix combos in hell/inferno that one shot you before you have a chance to react.

    • You must be running around really under-geared if you are getting one-shot by anything. I’m playing a Wizard in Act 3 of inferno with glass cannon and my all-resist is actually pretty bad right now, and I don’t get one shot by elite mobs (unless it is something like a pain-monger or mallet lord, something extremely slow but easily dodge-able).

        • Force armor doesn’t protect you from being one-shot, at least not anymore. They patched that out before I ever even got the rune. If something hits you for 100% of your health or more, you die, force armor or not.

          Normally I do use it, but when I was testing the resistance one instead against Belail (which seriously took FOREVER on inferno), I wasn’t getting one-shot by the elite mobs before him or him in general except two of his phase 3 attacks. His normal fist slam wouldn’t kill me, but his double fist slam would and so would those bomb fields on the ground. Other than that, I survived just fine.

          I don’t say this to be a dick, but I really can’t comprehend anyone getting one-shot that easily, especially on a class like barb. My gear is average at best because I don’t farm (for gear or gold) and just spend what little gold I have on the AH.

      • i dont think he means literally one-shot kill. he means dying in a split second. like when a vortex pulls you into molten fire chain desecration and gives you one tap on the shoulder and you’re dead.

        • That’s true, but that is why hardcore in inferno or even hell you don’t just go running around, you slowly progress and check elites across the screen before they see you. If you see crazy shit like that, you leave and reset.

    • While that’s bad, you should be more concerned about random disconnects and lag. BNet just hit some massive lag spikes, so I hopped in Hardcore chat — yep, level 57 monk down and 44 demon hunter. I’ve lost two to disconnects and one to the only crash my client ever experienced.

      • Ive also lost two characters, level 13, and one bar from 57 both wizards. Both due to lag. The most recent, the 56 was in old tristram, and there was not an enemy to be seen when I was booted from the game (due to error 30somethingthousand). Log back in and no more wizard. Apparently a risen had sauntered over and beat away my 46k life and templar heals whilst I was out off game.

  2. Ah, “How to cope with getting exactly what you asked for.”

    Well that’s uh… something, I guess.

  3. good article Xanth

    but playing HC in this D3 beta is just begging for death, D2 HC is still fantastic tho, maybe with a LOT of luck D3 will catch up in a few years (just saying that is so freaking ridiculous)

  4. Your story reminds me of one of the best items I lost: the Hellslayer Elite unique axe. I had always wanted it. Dreams of Wearbear Druids throwing Fireballs and the ultimate Ax Barb build… Yes! Finally!
    One Hell Meph run later? Gone. I never got to use it. Along with Oculus, and all my MF gear. Good times! I love HC.

  5. As a long time player of HC from D2, I agree with the sentiment of the article.

    Aside from unlocking HC, my very first character on D3 was hardcore. Playing blind without knowing what to expect beyond the Beta zones, I beat Normal and Nightmare while playing with my brother and his girlfriend. I hit level 60 HC on my very first character. I consider that fairly successful.

    Act 3 Hell finally did me in, from a combination of bad elite and solo farming when I shouldn’t have been. I took a break to play SC, and came back wiser and refreshed with a new game plan for HC.

    • I highly recommend all HC players follow the plan my first D3 HC death inspired:

      I’m currently building a “dedicated backup” character. A wizard I plan to get up to lvl 55-60, finish Nightmare and then place on standby at a relatively safe part of the game in early Hell.

      The key is that this character will never be used to break new ground, only to re-gear up through previously mastered territory. Risk of death is very low and recovery with any new character is quicker. If my new Monk main is more successful at mastering Hell, the gear trickles down to the Wizard until she can farm Hell too, then Monk moves to Inferno, etc.

      • This is a great plan, I’m doing that as well. Originally I thought I would level a softcore character to fall back on, but now I realize that makes no sense. Better to have a 60 HC to farm while the others climb up to glory. 😀

  6. I’m fairly sure this article is an old one, but a good one never-the-less. You forgot the part about not muling your overflowing stash before you died, and lag brewing an evil mix with the ever bloodthirsty council members and ineffective XXL-Purple Pills.

    • He said as much in the very first line. Though i suppose it may have been ninja-edited in.

  7. There is but one way to deal with HC death: Roll a new Character and get out there.
    Good article.

  8. late monday night, june 11, SO MUCH lag
    I was in a multiplayer game, saw 2 people die
    was just lucky I didn’t die

    • I know I’m a softy, but after work June 11th was the time I had tabbed to finally dust off my wizard and take out Belial on Inferno. I had previously “almost” beaten him with my wizard with 23khp and 15k damage, so I figured my now geared up Wizard with almost 40k life and 25k damage would have no trouble at all (I can swap out damage for life as well, but I was trying to err on the side of safety). 2 VERY frustrating hours later, I had made it to phase 3 only about 5 times, despite having made it 2 of every 3 attempts previously with my inferior gear. 4 of those 5 times, I’d died in the meteor phase in an insta-jib fashion, despite the fact that one meteor was not enough to kill me, and I hadn’t been hit by even one. One time, I did actually get hit and died legitimately. June 11th, 2012. The day the lag made me ragequit.

      Now to relevance – I can’t imagine how much MORE frustrating this must be when it’s a hardcore character. I lost two hours of my life – a hardcore would lose the 100+ hours he’d put in. Scary.

  9. There is a thread on TeamLiquid that points out rollback and massive ban wave will be coming to other realms as well. Apparently since day 1 ppl have been duping gold thanks to the idiot programmer/designer that used local time for online auctions.

    It explains everything about D3 economy better than any article made by Azzure 😳

    captcha – filthy rich

    • Yes! Damn that hoax gold duping method and damn the programmer/designer who never implemented it! Damn all the hoaxes!

      BTW, you dropped your tinfoil hat.

      – Rayner

  10. My deaths have only brought feelings of annoyance. And a little bit of face palm, how did I die to something so simple and stupid.

    Almost back in inferno… will probably take it slow and get refamiliarized before pushing through act1 gain.

  11. Even though I have no interest in playing HC, I don’t think the “pay to get your character back” thing is in the spirit of the HC way of playing. It’s 1 life, you die and it’s over, simple as that. I might try HC in D3, as gear can be had by other means, not just finding it yourself. I never traded or duped anything in D2, and to think of losing a Grief PB or legit SOJ… way, that just did not sound fun to me at all. I have been really angry over SC deaths, I couldn’t imagine my reaction to HC death.

    I give you guys a whole helluva lot of credit that can make it to inferno without dying. My biggest complaint of the game(other than online only)is getting hit from across the screen because you were close enough when the monster started the attack animation. Then if you try to run away, the monsters can still make a successful strike from way behind your character. Oh well, one of these days I may be able to hang in the HC lounge, I hear the Kool-aid is the best there.

    • I guess the way all people do; “No people aren’t slitting their wrists over the death of their characters” hehe.

  12. only one word is the main reason of many hardcore characters death in diablo 3: LAG!
    blizzard should just remove the “online only” thing and change it to something more like “just online authentification”. this imho would keep some sort of copy protection and the safety of the classic single player.
    I can see in a near future lots of private server!

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