One life to live: Chasing death in Diablo 3 Hardcore

one life to live chasing death

Death awaits. Well, not so much…

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.


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  1. I have lost four 70's during the season so far, once b/c of elite proc clutter, once, because of evil bad terrifingly horrible elites, once because i didn't have the revive skill on my wizardette and once because i was humongously stupid and it didn't have to be.
    one lvl 69 toon and another lower lvl char because … it could've been avoided.

    but besides that, and honestly, death is a lot less of an issue anymore. i play rather reckless and as i've been mostly playing barb (in total), i'm almost always in the middle of it all and up front pushing to the limits and therefore my deaths don't really count because moar careful = moar survival.
    but it's just so much fun.

    practically, the only elites i really fear are anarchs et al with teleport, vortex, fire chains and frozen.
    when i see those affixes on them i bail, hide and just try to stay out of their reach.

    i intend to try to find out what my death count is because, since i only started playing hardcore with diablo 3 in oct/nov 2012, i believe i possibly am in the top 1 toon killers in the world.
    i used to just play instead of really taking notice of res all and stuff.
    like one time, i had a wizard with (d3v) 1.+ mil. life, ran over a firewall in torment -> deeds.

    come ros my death tool drastically decreased, not counting dcs.
    i see death only as a factual possibility in torment 4+, not really in lower torments if you're fairly well geared/gemmed.

    but now in seasons, i've a full stash tab of 1-69 legendaries to quicken the rerolling and i already cleared most of y live stash to accommodate the future season end item transfer.


  2. I’m 26 years old, and have been playing hardcore in D2 or D3 since I was 12 years old. I’ve always loved the Diablo franchise for for the rush that I get when I get close to death, or the lament and frustration when I do die. The frustration is quickly turned into a desire to create a character better than the last to avoid the mistake that resulted in my untimely death.

    In the early days of D3 Hardcore was very frustrating, because regardless of personal skill, if you did not choose a specific class you had no chance of progressing in inferno without serious exploitation. I lost (and are still in my fallen heros) 13 lvl 60 wizards before I finally decided to drop the pipe dream of creating a hardcore inferno viable wizard.

    I have lot a few characters this season, most of them because of some connection problems on my end (which I have since rectified) two from the issues blizzard’s servers were having a couple weeks ago (I knew full well that the servers were having issues, so I take full responsibility for my deaths), and one or two that were legitimate. I currently have a well geared DH that has completed GR34 solo (without taskers), and a decently geared fire wizz.

    I feel like the game is in a good place for hardcore now. You have the choice of taking the safe route; farm t1-4, or take the more dangerous route of farming t6, or GR25+ for a far more efficient (depending on gear) reward rate. I farm t6, or GR25-34 regularly, and I still get about 1 heart race per hour, which is what I think most of us are playing hardcore for.

    I think a problem would arise if we were in a place where we were farming as efficiently as possible at the highest difficulty possible without a fear of death, but I don’t think we are there just yet.

    I do, however think that we could use some higher (non greater rift) difficulties in the future, because inevitably player power and toughness will increase as new season only legendaries are released.

  3. Lost my first on Saturday night. Pushed to T3, did an Act 1 cache with no problems and then decided to do a rift. Got perma-locked in by waller-fire chains-extra health pack. Not fused about re-leveling because you just stick a really big ruby in a weapon socket and hit T1 (and I found the plans for Cain's at level 22 which was nice) but I was bothered about loosing the perfect emerald. That sucks because I'm still poor – both in cash and in emeralds to re-cut a new one… The three piece Roland's and seasonal crusader shield were nice as well… Ah well… Viva hardcore!

  4. Death component is really the fun factor of HC. Never lost char from DC's only by my stupidity or "i will do this later just to clear this area". My last death was so depressing but with little sweet at the end.

    My crusader without Akkhan set finally found very nice Ice climbers boots (was very happy),TP to town,stash it and said to myself: "i will wear it LATER but…just to clear this area…. " (

    3 minutes later my akarat champion was down, my indestructible passive was on cooldown , engaged 2 elite pack of Wood Wrath with frozen…frozen orbs in chain reaction killed him….. 10 seconds a could not move and watch how death is approaching to him….

    I will never found a good reason why i did not put those damn boots on him….never….

    meh…. powerleveled new one, with full akkhan,BoP….steamrolling T6…

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