In Diablo II, Hardcore players could allow friends to loot their corpse, enabling them to save your gear in case of disaster. That only worked when playing with friends (while most deaths occurred in solo item harvesting games), of course, and anything in your stash, cube, or inventory was gone forever, looting or not. That scenario is exactly reversed in Diablo III, since all HC chars on an account have access to the same stash. On the other hand, the loot option is gone.
This creates a perverse incentive to sometimes *not* wear your best gear, since if you die with it on, it’s gone forever. As all experienced D2 players learned, it was FAR tougher to obtain really high quality items than to level up a character who could use them, and this situation will almost certainly repeat in D3. This means that the top items on your HC character will be worth much more than the character wearing them, thus if you’re going into a really dangerous situation, you’d be wise to stash your best items and put on gear that’s almost as good, but not so irreplaceable.
At least that’s the theory, one I brought up during our in a couple of news items afterwards. Most players seem to think it’s not a great idea; that switching out the gear would just make you more likely to die, but it’s still a hypothetical, as we don’t know anything about the spikes in difficulty we’ll see during the end game.last year, and repeated
That issue came up in the B.net forums today, and Bashiok replied with an eye on the long term economic effects of item loss upon death.
Our approach at this point is to see how this works out, because we think being a bit harsher on Hardcore is ok. Absolutely people may be scared to keep items on them, but maybe that becomes part of the fun and the strategy of it. We’re taking a wait and see, but definitely after release we’ll be interested to hear thoughts from Hardcore players and see how it’s working out.
As a once and future HC player, I have to vote against dropping all your loot on death. While it would provide the first *real* incentive we’ve seen in D3 to play in a friendly party instead of going alone, this, along with the shared stash, would take virtually all the sting out of death. HC players are accustomed to rerolling; so having to recreate your character isn’t a big deal. If you only lose what you’re carrying in your inventory upon death — not gold, not stashed gear, not runestones in skills, not Artisan training levels, etc — that’s putting too many training wheels on the Diablo Hardcore experience.
Update: Many players in comments point out something I didn’t mention here; that any sort of “drop gear upon death” would be a huge incentive for griefing. Trapping waypoints or town portals, suddenly vanishing from a boss battle just when one player is low on health and needs assistance, etc, all become more than a mere prank when the possibility of making a corpse pop is added to the equation.