Hardcore 101: The basics

With release fast approaching I thought I would take a little time to go over the basics of DiabloWikiHardcore. This is not meant to shed light on new ideas or strategies for you old school hardcore folks, but to enlighten those who have never heard of it, or have been on the fence for a bit.

What is it?

Hardcore is the same game as normal. Same monsters, same bosses, same loot.The only difference is that when you die, it’s over. Instead of finding your character resurrected a few feet from your death you will be prompted back to the character screen. You will see a ghostly visage of your character and if over level 10 you can archive it into the halls of the dead.

Why should I play Hardcore? It seems like I’d just be wasting my time if I died.

For myself and countless others it’s about the journey. You will die playing Hardcore, but in the deaths you learn and get better. It can be frustrating, but that frustration leads way to a much greater feeling of success then simply hurling your corpse at a boss until he gives you loot. In looking back at Diablo 2 I don’t recall finding the items I had been looking for, or defeating Diablo for the first time, but each death ( both my fault and out of my control) stand out and remain distinct and clear. Diablo 3 will fade, like all games, but those memories and the feeling of what you did will stay with you for much longer.

How is  Hardcore unlocked?

In order to play Hardcore you must have played a soft core character to level 10. You do not have to keep that character after hitting level 10 and it can be deleted to allow more space for your Hardcore characters. Originally you did have to complete all of Normal difficulty but that stipulation has been removed.

How do I make a Hardcore character?

After reaching level 10 on a soft core character, you can then go into character selection and click on Create Hardcore character. After naming your character you will then be prompted to accept the fact that if you die Blizzard will do nothing about it. If you do not see that warning, congratulation you made a soft core character… go back and try again.

What do I lose when I die?

Everything on your character! However anything in your stash(including your gold), and your Artisan’s progress, will remain in place for your future characters( assuming your didn’t rage quit). This is a nice relief from D2. Back then you lost everything on your character and in your stash, and the only hope you had was if someone could loot your corpse.

What about Lag?

There will be lag, I won’t lie on that. However since I’ve played Hardcore on a 56k modem I feel like anything now seems trivial. The best advice is if it’s feeling risky don’t do it. If you don’t trust your connection then maybe Hardcore isn’t for you.

Who should I play with?

Friends would be your best bet. Public games are a crap shoot. You cold get a great group that works together or one that is running every direction. When your life is on the line you want people there you have your back and expect you to do the same. If you don’t have HC friends try our forums, diablo.incgamers to find someone to play with. You know at least that way your getting someone who is concerned enough about the game to seek out other people to play with rather than simply roll the dice.

I died what do I do?

Start over! Start two characters in fact! try to level two characters and keep them around the same level, that way if one dies you have the other to fall back on and take some of the sting out of it. It can be kind of harsh to have to start back at zero and even a few levels can be the difference between restarting and quitting. Other than starting over take note of how you died, what caused it? What can you do to prevent that in the future? those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

How can I stay alive?

Without the retail of the game I can’t get too specific, however there are somethings that translate really well into D3. First :slow down, rushing won’t get you to sixty first, it will get you killed. Second:Play defensively, each class has skills that are made to help them stay alive. Get aquatinted with them. Fire off a your skills in town and in lower level areas and test them out before you go into the fray. Third:If you don’t know ask! We have a great community here and post your thoughts, builds, and questions in our hardcore forum!

I just lost a level 50, this sucks

Okay not a question but losing your highest level character really sucks. I wrote a piece a few months ago on losing a character read it and start again.

If I pause the game as I’m about to die and disconnect I’ll be okay right?

Nope, pausing and disconnecting will cause you to initiate the ten second logout. Which should lead to your demise.

What is the DiabloWikiHalls of the Dead?

The Halls of the Dead is archive for your deceased Hardcore characters. You character must have been over level ten when they died in order to be archived. This helps prevent your character  slots from being flooded with the ghosts you will accumulate. The Halls of the Dead also provides a view of your character int he gear they died in and you can view their stats and build as well.

Finally some great advice from Toque

Rule #1: Get comfortable. Starting off you’re going to have zero idea of what you can and can’t get away with, so approaching every pack of mobs should be done so with the mindset that they could kill you.

Rule #2: Your shield is your best friend. Giving yourself a chance to block full damage from attacks makes shields an HC players best item for survivability.

Rule #3: Don’t be a hero. If you don’t feel like your character is ready for a specific fight, then don’t go running in guns blazing. This is especially important for bosses. Go farm, craft some gear, grind some levels, then go fight that next boss. If you actually have no clue how to know if you’re ready, judge it by how easy the mobs before the boss are. If the mobs are hard, the boss is going to wreck you.

Rule #4: Gear accordingly. If D2 is any indication, certain bosses will be easier with certain gear. Poison resist for Andy, Fire and Lightning for Diablo, etc.

Rule #5: Don’t ignore resistances. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve watched HC noobs run through higher level content with no resistances and get instagibbed by elemental mobs.

Rule #6: You will die! Never think for a moment that you are safe, complacency is what kills HC characters the most. Thinking you’re never going to lose a character is probably the worst attitude you can have.

Release is getting closer, and even the developers are jumping into the Hardcore realm. The only question that remains is: are you ready to go Hardcore?


Tagged As: | Categories: Diablo 3, Game Features, Hardcore


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  1. For any reason, UM except perhaps anyone remember the threat of some guy on US East to hack and kill hardcore characters? Well he did and Blizzard DID revive those fallen characters. I remember that clearly and i didn’t even play on US East.

    • You’re talking about D2, right? It’s quite possible that they’re 100% serious about this for D3.
      I wouldn’t be surprised if they make the rare exception when it’s truly merited. But it’s easier to advertise a blanket policy so you won’t have everyone whining and begging.

    • I hadn’t heard about that, but AFAIK the “we won’t revive your char for any reason” is a new policy to D3. It may or may not have been that way in D2, but it (presumably) is now.

    • haha your nickname is my real life first name 😀

    • Hero, the times are dire.

      This message was brought to you by a corporation. 

  2. What about gold? You do carry it on your character (well it’s implied that you do, because it’s shown when you open the inventory screen), but I think you don’t lose it, as it’s shared like the stash.

  3. ” If yo do not see that warning, congratulation you made a soft core character… go back and try again.”

    Haha, I did that more often than I’d care to admit in beta. 

  4. Protip ( more of a cheat ). if you’re high level and dying, pause the game, then wait for the maintenance ^^

  5. The Customer Service text totally ruins the text above 😀

  6. It does, but unfortunately some people need it spelled out for them.

    EDIT: Gah this was meant to be a reply to Laccnow.

  7. I dont know about you, but i get the feeling that the OP want us to play Hardcore. Nice try!

  8. 4 days! I CAN’T WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!asg V !!!!!!ag as!!!!!
    Thank you.

  9. to be honest with the shared stash and gold and artisans not wiping after HC death the hardcore isnt that hardcore anymore …

    • well to compensate, the difficulty in D3 is FAR WORSE than in D2….

    • It really isn’t.  Not at all.  Unless you also considered Muling to be the death of hardcore in D2, in which case Hardcore was always dead, so this couldn’t actually kill it. 

  10. i am REALLY looking forward to reports from the hardcore players that lvl-to-10 and unlock HC then play the game for the first time with HC, with no spoilers
    THAT would be an experience! please do a post about this come release, Xanth! 

  11. Another tip: do not use a wireless mouse / keyboard.
    It will kill you one day.

  12. I’ve forgotten, so maybe someone can remind me:
    Do HC and SC share stashes? I know HC can’t buy stuff with real money, but can’t a SC buy something with real money and put it in the stash?

    • No. There is no interaction of any kind between your sc and hc characters including stash.

      Guess the best peace of Hardcore 101 advice I can give to new hc players is: Slow and steady wins the race. 

      • Yeah, I’ve played HC in D2, but I was curious because I’m running through on SC wizard first then starting an HC barb. If they shared stashes, I could stockpile equipment in the stash, but I’m cool with it this way too.

      • Slow and steady and then slower still. Replay areas and quests. Full clear areas, but be ready to retreat and skip boss packs, particularly those with nasty mods, and be ready to pull an escape hatch (depending on your class), flee back to town, and start a new game, if your way is blocked by something particularly dangerous. 

  13. Sorry, the level 10 HC unlock was only for the beta last I heard Jay say anything about that. Still a full clear on normal for HC unlock for retail. Ah he’s tweeted it’s permanent since then.

    • I really doubt that. It makes no sense to make the 10lvl req beta-only. If you lose a beta character, so what? I mean you’re only running the first 15-20 minutes over and over anyway. Plus, the beta tends to be full of people who are already Diablo fans, since you have to opt-in in the first place.

    • Nope, it was confirmed on the forums by Kaivax and on Twitter by Jay that the level 10 to unlock hardcore is a permanent thing. 

  14. Last I saw, shields only had a % chance to block ‘x-y’ damage, not 100% of it…

    Of course, I might be wrong, but who cares, it’s only 4 days away ;D

    • You are correct. It would be nice if the individuals trying to give “tips” actually had the facts straight.

  15. I did not see in your article any mention of auction house differences.  Readers may find it interesting to know that the SC auction house and the HC auction house are separate, and that the HC AH currently has no real money option available.  

  16. I live in Southern California and during the summer everyone blasts their A/C’s and a few times during the season Edison cuts the power.
    A good tip is to be informed of pre-scheduled power cuts and avoid them.
    And for the unscheduled cuts maybe consider a UPS for your computer and modem/router?

    • Hmm makes me think i should probably change my habit of keeping my laptop battery *out* of my system (for battery longevity). Assuming i’m averaging 12 hours of D3 a day, if a power outage occurs, i’m 50% chance to be in the middle of playing!

  17. Here’s a tip! And a spear behind it.

  18. Any clue how the Arena will work for HC Characters? 1) If we die in Arena, will we be perma dead? 2) Will we only get to Arena vs other Hardcore characters?
    Really would like to know this information before deciding to go SC or HC.

    • from what i remember that if you died in arena you are in perma death. I might be mistaken

      • Jay and the team were fighting back and forth on this.  Last i heard it sounded like Jay was relenting and that it would not be permadeath.  I missed a block of a few months of news at some point tho, so i could easily be incorrect.

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