Death, The ever looming spectre over our characters lives. At any moment we could lose our character and yet that spectre has felt absent as of late, death forgotten about, and almost entirely avoidable.
Now lets first say that death was a very real threat at the start of the season. My clan was littered with death notices from characters ranging from level 1-69. After that first week rush the death notices stopped, and only on occasion does the epitaph of a fallen comrade blink on my screen. Usually it’s followed by a lament, and a curse about lag, and only on rare occasions acknowledgment of pushing too fast and too hard in grifts.
So why are we not dying as much? Because it’s too avoidable. As we leveled we faced death with each fight as we rushed to 70. We were ill equipped and ill prepared, but we soldiered in anyway to progress. As we accumulated our gear in torment, we developed a cushion, and a level of comfortability only lag could take away from us. Now we can stay in relative comfort in T1 gaining the same rewards ( with lower drop rates) while missing out on the rush of fighting for our life.
That isn’t to say everyone chooses to play it safe, many are pushing t6 content and higher level grifts but it’s far too easy not to, and there is no real reason to stray into them outside of personal preference. In Vanilla there was only one torment, and in the earlier iterations it was a foul beast determined to reap the soul from your character( see what I did there?). Each passing patch neutered that challenge, and while I don’t long for the days of being one shot by wasps in A2, I wouldn’t mind the challenge either.
I distinctly recall the rush of hitting paragon 100 on my HC WD, even at paragon 90+ I was hesitant in torment on a low monster power knowing that the wrong pack could seriously end my trek. Now with forty different difficulties(hyperbole!) I have to be cognizant of the lack of death and actively pursue it as opposed to fearing it. Hardcore works best when death is a part of the equation, I was excited for the greater rift ladders and seeing the names fall of as they encountered the perils located within. However, as the season has progressed that hasn’t happened.
Now is it all doom and gloom? No far from it, in fact I’ve found myself playing now far more than ever(and writing far less); Hardcore simply requires a shift in mindset. No longer must we run from death but chase it more consciously, when we push our limits in upper torments and greater rifts we can feel that rush again. So choose to chase death, seasons will end, starting over isn’t too bad, and damn if it isn’t fun.
How has your season gone? Are you chasing death or is it chasing you?
One Life to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. It is written by Xanth and is now back to being published weekly. Post your comments below, Follow me on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly.