The beta has been going on since November and I count myself lucky to have been a part of it since its release.During that time I’ve lost several crusaders, a Witch Doctor and a Barbarian (just out of spite). Each time I’ve had the chance to build back up in the new system, and each time I’ve had a chance to digest how hard the death penalty for Hardcore can be. I thought with paragon points and the smart drops, hardcore death would be marginal by comparison to the old system. However, I’ve found it to be actually quite the opposite.
The good part of death
Leveling back to 70 (as stated before) is actually really nice. I’ve normally dreaded the process but now with bounties, rifts and [/wiki]paragon[/wiki] points; it’s more of an adventure back. This is increased by the drop rates and ability to gear up rather quickly. A few marquise rubies in weapons and you can be clearing on expert with subpar gear. This makes for a fun experience, and one that I don’t mind doing every so often. The trek back to 70 also gives you a chance to pick up some good items on the way especially from 60-70 that should help you dip a toe into the higher difficulties.
Paragon points also make the climb a bit easier. You can run a bit faster, have a higher health pool and get back to where you left off a bit quicker as a result. The paragon points don’t feel essential to the process however. Frequently while rerolling I’d forget about assigning them at the start and would be well into the 40’s before I opened the tab. The quest for upper level paragons doesn’t really exist any more, and as a result getting back to 70 is the only goal, instead of getting to 60 so that you could begin to grind to 100.
That being said death isn’t all sunshine and lollipops
The bad part of death
The gear, the sweet sweet loot you’ve accumulated, labored over, grinded for, is all gone in one fell swoop.The journey back to 70 might be nice, but the path back to gaining what you lost is not. Drop rates even while recently doubled can be cruel, and if you are dying on your way to get them you can lose any progress you’ve made.
The Auction House could deplete your funds but it was always reliable. You could always farm for gold, or sell items you didn’t want in the hopes of procuring something better. That is no longer the case and your survival in HC is tied to what you find. No bartering any more, just playing. I’ve been able to gear up with rares to a level that had me close to Torment but finding the right mix of legendaries to make it seem manageable has alluded me.
That can do one of two things to a player. Motivate or delude. On the one hand it’s a quest for bigger and better things, on the other it’s a high wall to scale and dying on the way up doesn’t make the wall any easier. For me it’s added a new element to the game that has me doing things I never considered in vanilla. Now with rerolling a very high possibility I am having to store away gear for the later levels, and make sure each side grade isn’t simply disenchanted but saved for the possible next character. In tandem with that, I’ve come to appreciate my drops a bit more and become more giddy with each new item. You can feel a sense of progress with your character as they can slowly break through the trenches in
The death penalty now feels very permanent and it’s not just time you lose but the character that was crafted by the game you played. That experience is unique for each character. You can no longer ding 70 and simply replace the parts from an auction house. You must trudge through the monsters before you and make your survival with the items they provide. Hardcore is going to become a game of patience. We will not jump into Torment 6 on day one, we won’t have all the legendaries right away, and we might die several times on the way to our goal. However if we are patient, we can reap the rewards of the system and enjoy the journey we are on. After all isn’t that what hardcore is all about?
I was hesitant about the new system; the item binding, the paragon points, and the mystic. I thought it would take away from the sting of death you could feel in Hardcore, and really how it would diminish the time loss. Having gone through the motions several times now and scaling the gear mountain again and again, I can say it is actually nice and true to the essence of hardcore. I have found myself not thinking about hours lost when characters die but dwelling on the items I had lost, and how they may not be seen again. However, I can look to my stash and start the climb again, and with each new experience I have the chance to find what alluded me before. I’d still love the ability to trade my goods, and attempt to gear up via the bartering system but for now I’m content chasing RNG and relishing the good drops I find that keep me alive and hopefully banking some just in case.
What are your thoughts on the new death penalty?
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!