One Life to Live: Fearing Hardcore Death


I haven’t died at 70 in ROS yet, but the RNG gods have made Hardcore death far crueler than I could have ever imagined. I’ve played a lot of ROS since release and still lack a cushion of good gear for when I die. That’s worrisome and discouraging.

tasker-theo-int1I’ve been off the writing grid the past few weeks (a few articles here and there) somewhat due to my schedule but mainly due to my incessant quest for a pair of Tasker and Theo (10k shards and counting!) and with each rift and massive amount of shards thrown at Kadala I’ve come to realize how harsh death will be.

I thought almost two months into ROS I would have found most of my WD’s set and would be working on back up stuff in case he met his maker. However, in that time the only torment restricted set piece I’ve found was the thorns set( fairly useless on my WD) and my stash,while almost full, is empty of gear to help build back up. If I wanted the next WD to be prepared he’d find himself only with an extra Mask of Jerem and about a billion Magefists. While I’m sure the future WD will find new gear, my current experience makes that hard to believe.

I’ve had only a handful of close calls in ROS, some due to horrible affix combos and some due to lag, but each time I find myself thinking not of the character but of the gear. I had said gear was going to be a huge loss when you died in ROS but the loot tables being the way they are makes death almost devastating. For example two of the pieces I’m striving for have a 2% chance of dropping( Tasker and Theo, and Starmetal Kukri); if hit the RNG lottery and snag them I’ll still be at the mercy of RNG if death befalls me. Since I haven’t seen either in almost 8 weeks I could only assume the future WD’s quest would be just as arduous.

There in lies the problem with the system now. When I lost a high paragon character before I knew that with time I would get back to where I fell off. Now it feels like if I die I may never reach where I was before. This is a stark contrast to D2 or even d3 vanilla. Diablo 2 could have you up and humming rather quickly after a death, your items were important but you could survive well on your skills and build without elite equipment(or trade for it!). D3 vanilla had a longer trek back to paragon 100 but you could augment that journey with the AH and find items to help fill the coffers along the way. In ROS you are reliant on RNG and strive for builds and items and your only means of attaining them are in your own hands. Each time it doesn’t drop, doesn’t mean you’re getting closer to your goal, it just means you have to try again.

That is what has made hardcore death go from something frustrating to soul shattering. That said I’m still playing( a lot).Maybe I’m a sadist, maybe I’m having fun, but I’m going to get those damn gloves or die trying…

One Life to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. It is written by Xanth and published weekly. Post your comments below, Follow him on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly. For all the archived news about Diablo 3 hardcore check our Archives!

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  1. That’s why we play hardcore, it should be hard, we shouldnt find all gear after only 1 month, IMO it should take even longer time to find the BIS-items.

    • Seriously. The amount of entitlement people have with this game in regards to gear is silly. BiS for SC takes long enough. The whole point of hardcore is that its HARD. Losing characters and gear SUCKS, effectively making the process to BiS much, much, much, MUCH more painful and arduous… that’s the point, and that’s what people signed up for. If it was as easy as cashing in some gold for whatever cookie-cutter minmax build that was mapped out to the aps breakpoint after a HC death, the game wouldn’t be fun, which is, you know, why they took out the AH and implemented Loot 2.0.

      I’ll be the first person to say that RNG/BoA needs to be looked at, but shareagon and crafting has made it incredibly easy to get back to Torment after death. Also consider that Xanth hasn’t even lost a 70 yet, so he’s effectively talking out of his ass when it comes to calling death “soul-crushing.”

      I mean this without trying to be a smart-ass, but honestly. RNG is RNG and needs to be looked at, but calling death soul-crushing without actually dealing with the consequences is silly.

      • I was pissed when I lost a 60 preRoS and a tonne off nice gemies. But I didn’t lose any of this new RoS stuff and what not. But that’s not the point, what always matters is this, can I play without dying the way I did in my last character? If you can’t then HC doesn’t work and shouldn’t be played at all.

        The burn of losing HCC’s for casual players imo is higher because we have less to lose. The best way to soften the blow (if that is needed) would be more inventory space so we can keep more gear for our post death follow ups.

  2. I mirror that sentiment Xanth. My monk is currently approximately 3 pieces of backup gear away from being able to die and be able to jump right back into t3. With 2 of those pieces being the weapons I currently have equipped. I am wary of pushing beyond t3 because I would hate to have to come back missing those 3 key pieces of gear.

    So in some regards it keeps me safe since I am not pushing into the much higher torments.

  3. FYI, the site is having a random cookie issue. It’s like ‘welcome back, random username’, except I’m not actually signed in and can’t post, so I have to ‘log out’ before I can ‘sign in’ again. Anyway.

    Like I said in the RNG post, you’re completely right about how you don’t get to work towards anything and can’t trade small wins for a big win. Even the whole point of blood shards, earn them up and then spend them…..is to just keep gambling. Blood shards, you gamble. Drops from killing monsters, you gamble. Drops from horadric caches, you gamble. Gamble, gamble, gamble. There’s no EARN. You’re not EARNING anything.

    The only slight ‘earn’ is reaching torment 1 and unlocking torment-only legendaries. You also ‘earn’ the ability to gamble more frequently, which isn’t much honestly.

    I’ve never really liked games where luck is valued more than skill, and from the moment they killed trading that’s what Diablo 3 became. Obviously skill isn’t completely wiped off the table, but luck matters more.

    And even if skill can compensate for bad luck and still allow you to do high torment levels, it can’t compensate for the lack of fun from not getting the legendaries for the build you’re actually trying to go for.

    Imagine if all trade was blocked in diablo 2 so you could never actually trade for those uniques vital to whatever crazy build you have. In fact, ‘theorycraft thursday’ is becoming quite a good example of coming up with builds where the person coming up with the idea does not even have the gear required for the build in the first place. It’s pretty sad talking like “If this one belt ever drops I could totally make a build around it, but without that belt the build is useless.”

    Add to that the sheer amount of split-farming going on in adventure mode (perhaps it’s not as bad in other difficulties but it’s pretty much 100% split farm A1 in normal difficulty), and also my personal annoyance at how you have an extremely low chance of finding a public game when at any level between 2-69, and my desire to play Diablo 3 is at an extreme low right now. I have no idea whether I’ll get the items I want in 5 minutes or 5 months or 5 years, and the most fun aspect of the game for me (playing with others) is pretty much killed. I get called a newbie simply for not split farming. It’s aggravating.

  4. Well Muggs, basically you’ve got a backup monk ready. It is the same for me, albeit at T2.

    Instead of looking for the same equipment I’m gathering stuff for another build in my stash, my 2nd monk will be a very different build.

    I think the key part is the time between deaths. As long as you stay alive long enough to gather good backup gear you will be fine. If you stay alive really long you can make more very good characters and you are set. If you die to quickly you can get stuck in having to gear one character all the time.

    In summary, I think it’s ok as it is and it is a good risk/reward. You can go risky, play high torment and get lots of XP and more items and die more often or go slow and safe, staying alive longer but upgrading slower. Same as vanilla basically with people sticking to MP1 and people rushing to MP10.

  5. I have the opposite prospective on the issue. I’ve gotten so much “decent” backup gear, that I build 2 extra crusaders and now I have 3 capable of T2 which is what I regularly farm. Sometimes T3 for a bit of challenge, but not often.

    Admittedly, I play more than most people and I don’t have BiS gear to run high Torment on my main guy. I haven’t completed any sets. But with the right expectations, I think the drop rates are not too bad currently on Tier 1-2 items.

    http://us.battle.net/d3/en/profile/blurst-1989/hero/43656905

    • Also I should add that I’ve started to actually create new characters to run new builds. To me, that’s how it should be. I’m not expecting all 3 of them to have Thunderfury.

      They run different elemental focus and different skills. I actively avoid the “cookie cutter” feel to my characters, and find the variety is nice to switch between them every few rift runs.

      • Well you’re emulating what the game should’ve been like from the start.

        Weapon/Mainstat system kills affix system, character permanence kills one of the core aRPG features (rerolls).

        And the people who are catered to with those systems, the ones who don’t want /can’t spend a lot of time in the game, are playing other games by now because that’s just what they do – there are many excellent titles out there, after all.

        Oh well.

      • Seriously. Build around what RNG gives you, and you might actually *gasp* have fun with the game as you’re forced to work with the resources you’re given.

        The problem is that Xanth has gone in with an AH-fueled targeted itemization mindset into a game that decides what and when you find something. Those days are gone. Difficulty levels are fluid and relative to your gear level; so what if you can’t get to T3 within one week of death? God forbid you gear and build according to what you find and run an arbitrarily lower difficulty level… or is T3 = fun and T1 = noob, boring, garbage?

        Minmax != fun. Wish people would respect that.

  6. I agree in general, but I think the “gap-filler” for new characters will be crafting and enchanting. Since you don’t lose access to the plans that you’ve already found, a new-to-70 character can get T1 viable with Asheara’s, Born’s, and Aughild’s pieces. You do need to stay alive long enough to gather up mats, and even bad rolls on RoRG’s will be worth stashing for new 70’s.

  7. Now game is not like “I need leg A for my build X”, but “Uu, leg B, maybe I should try build Y”. It can hurt when you miss one item to make your build achieve best results and move up in Torment. But maybe there is a build that will work better with your gear? Maybe it’s time to give it a try? That’s what this dev team wants you to do. The game feels better that way.

  8. Speaking as someone who lost several set items to my first 70 Wiz, I can understand the feeling. I had been fortunate enough to be gearing a WD and managed to save a few items for my current Wiz. It has taken about 3 weeks, but I am actually better geared now than before. So, while it is painful, it just takes a bit of time to regrind the stuff.

  9. I started playing HC in RoS. I never played HC in D3V, though I did not particularly like using the AH in SC.

    I’ve lost one lvl70 in RoS; my main, a Crusader, in an embarrassingly bad situation. I had just over 70 hours put into her and I was at the point where I could cruise through T1 solo easily and survive T2 with a more defensive spec. I had a bad case of monk-brain after playing only monk for a week and forgot that a) Champ resurrect wasn’t a passive and b) Crusaders don’t have Dashing Strike, nor did I have my Steed panic button mapped to rightmouse as Dashing Strike was. So… helplessly shield-bashing the air in the midst of Horde Molten explosions in T1 while farming mats… oops.

    I absolutely do NOT buy the “HC death = soul shattering” argument. Yes, you’ll have to start over, but your expectation of a)targeted items you’ve ideally like to have and expectation of T3+ / BiS gear within any given timeframe are simply unrealistic. Perhaps its a difference in philosophy, but I have oriented my builds around what RNG has provided, not what I feel entitled to within a particular timeframe, and I’ve had fun doing it.

    I won’t go as far to say the RNG is beyond reproach – far from it – but you are being unrealistic when it comes to itemization expectations. You get what you get when the game decides, period. You can (rightfully) call it unfair and lament how death is soul-crushing, or… you can craft T1-level legendaries, put together partial Aughilds/Borns/Blackthornes, and get to work.

    Framing the loss of 8 weeks worth of play as “soul shattering” simply because you won’t be able to gear up to T3 in some arbitrary timeframe simply isn’t compatible with RNG as it stands. I had an awful time starting out in HC with my Crusader; big wrath problems and not enough gear or resources to facilitate having a big spender build. All of that changed when I found Death Watch Mantle and a high block% Defender of Westmarch; stack CDR, build Aughilds, elite + holy damage, swap in Punish/Roar and Renewal and I became a veritable punching bag of being-hit-effect spam death. I found Sanguinary and was working on working Thorns in when I died.

    Point being: build around what RNG, not crying and stomping your feet when you can’t minmax because X amount of weeks necessary for T3+/BiS makes HC death just absolutely devastating. Who knows; you might actually have fun with the game.

    • “Perhaps its a difference in philosophy, but I have oriented my builds around what RNG has provided, not what I feel entitled to within a particular timeframe, and I’ve had fun doing it.”

      This is about the most fun I can get out of the game. And while it is fun, the ‘carrot’ of the item that has that cool effect that you really want can be quite UN fun if it pretty much never drops.

      It’s like saying “look how great and awesome this toy is! You can only play with it if you win the lottery.” It’s like, why even dangle that in front of us? Why make us want it?

      I do agree that getting rid of the “I have to have X item to be happy” in favor of the “let’s see what fun I can have with what actually drops” is more fun, the problem is that’s not what the game tries to make you want to do. =/

    • Yeah, you cant expect that you will get BIS-items, that takes time. If everyone were given BIS items in all slots after 1 month there would be nothing to strive for!
      But this guy, he can get other items that works great for another build, just not BIS items. It wont be as soul shattering as he thinks.

  10. If my barb actually gets EQ and IK set, and then dies to a dc, I will likely take a long break from D3.

    Past dc deaths were just a speed bump with trading. Trading isn’t fun…. so now we have this shitty drop rate.

  11. It’s so easy to get a lvl 1 to 70 (200+ Paragon pts helps), I’m fearing deeds a lot less now than in D3V. To think of how long I had to grind in D3V to get enough drops and sell/flip enough stuff on the AH to get the kind of gold stash it took to easily re-equip a high level character… that was a TON of play time. It’s really not hard to get a toon into T1, and that’s all that’s really necessary to get all the gear back.

    I can see once I’m actually wearing some good set pieces I might change my tune a little, but we’ve not even been playing two months yet. I feel pretty good about being able to rebuild after a deeds.

    • I had my Monk up at my Crusader’s level within 1 week of my Crusader dying. I started fresh in HC in RoS so I’ve had the same 8 weeks of accumulation to work with. Paragon points, legendary/set plans, and assorted gambled legs that literally anyone with more than 1 month of playtime make it very easy to get back up and running at Torment in no time

      Losing a perfect trifecta SOJ might take a little while to replace… but thats HC.

  12. I feel your prospective pain, Xanth. I just Kadala’d a Taskers a few days ago, and it has actually lessened my desire to play a bit – since I know if the WD dies, my Jerams, Kukri, and Taskers dies with her, and it will be a long time, if ever, that I find them again.

  13. Your problem is you feel you NEED to play at a certain difficulty level. Try normal difficulty with your WD then start complaining about how put upon you are by this game……. SMH

  14. All the reasons I see people complaining about the RNG confuse me.

    The AH took all RNG out of the game and was only a buy-sell gold grind that forced you to work for gold to achieve BiS items. I thought the idea of hitting 70 with a big bank roll and insta-gearing was the worst game model ever made… I quit the game shortly after release. I kept coming back for a day here or there but found the AH had only corrupted the game further.

    I came back to D3 for RoS with doubts. I have less time to play and wondered if I was just throwing more money at Blizz after the huge disappointment of the original release. I have to say that I am actually impressed.

    I know I will not likely end up with full sets and all BiS items, but now at least I have a chance to see them. I see room for improvement of course but the game is definitely on the right track.

    If the loss of a HC is too painful to think about – GOOD. Its supposed to sting — that’s the rush we play HC for. That’s the consequence the SC players know nothing of. The AH/gold hording system turned HC players into SC mentality players. The days of dying in HC and then being back to almost full strength after a shopping spree are thankfully over.

  15. I think most of the people here are missing the point. If you lose Torment 2 gear due to a death, that is not a big deal and you can easily get back to that.

    It is the fact that BUILD DEFINING gear is borderline impossible to find. Once you get a couple of these very rare pieces that synergize well and then die, you know you will not ba able to do that again in any reasonable amount of time. 8+ weeks just so you can use the skills you want to in the way you want to? This is diablo, not some long drawn out MMO. It would be one thing if craftable sets were build defining, but they are not. They are your normal “get into T2 gear” or whatever.

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