One Life to Live #1: When Did Hardcore Become Less Hardcore?

One Life to Live #1: When Did Hardcore Become Less Hardcore?

A new weekly column debuts today, by a new site writer. Entitled One Life to Live, it’s authored by Xanth, and is going to cover every aspect of Hardcore in Diablo III. As we know, Blizzard has (inadvertently?) given a big boost to DiabloWikiHardcore play in D3 by excluding the DiabloWikiReal Money Trading aspect of their Auction House from HC mode. If you’re one of the anti-RMAH crowd thinking about giving mortality a try, a long-time HC player, or you just want to gain some insight into that most unforgiving style of action, this is the column for you.

Here’s the first installment; click through to read the whole piece and let Xanth know what you think of his effort. Also, if you’re interested in writing a column or other features for the site, get in touch with me. We are seeking additional contributors, as things start to ramp up towards the DiabloWikiBeta and release.

When Did Hardcore Become Less Hardcore?

The deluge of information from Blizzard as of late has helped the community get a glimpse at what hardcore is shaping up to be. As an avid D2 hardcore player I know my first Diablo III character will be hardcore right out the gates (if that’s possible). What surprised me is how now I may have a few more people to play with, due to a simple decision to “ save us from ourselves”

What is Hardcore?

Hardcore characters are mortal, there is only one death. Each decision you make can lead to the demise of your character, and by association loss of items and time. It’s with that knowledge that we create Hardcore characters. We seek that thrill of danger challenging ourselves to not mess up. If we choose to play in the middle of a thunderstorm on a 14-year-old 56k modem, we know the risks; we know what we might lose.

The greatest thing about Hardcore is the close calls and the deaths. I remember more vividly the first time I lost a hardcore character then any boss run, or loot drop I ever had. I also remember that feeling of hesitation going into Duriel’s lair, waiting for someone to go in first so I wasn’t stranded and killed. Duriel is a joke on softcore, but when you know that one death is all you get he becomes more menacing. Even a Nightmare magic find run with my barbarian could turn deadly, Bremm Sparkfist with a Lightning enchant stopped quite a few of my runs dead in their tracks. Suddenly, the mundane choices have ramifications and we go into hardcore with that knowledge.

How is D3 taking away from Hardcore?

It comes down to taking away our choices. I’m not a huge fan of the Real money auction house, however its absence differentiates us more from softcore. It says that we can’t handle what they can. Do we need saving from ourselves? We are aware going into Hardcore the risks it implies, that being said if I buy an item I know it might lose it. There is nothing worse than losing a character right after you’ve upgraded them, and that feeling might sting a bit more if you bought the item with real cash. It also opens us up to third party sites that may try to fill the void Blizzard left. Anyone who has played D2 recently knows how bad it is with bots and spam, and while I don’t see D3 getting to that point if we leave this window open, I’m not sure.

The lack of a RMAH could be a good thing as well. We might see more people try out Hardcore because of their hatred for the monetization of the game. It also may allow for a stable economy. Now our items won’t be split between gold and cash but all centered around one stable currency. Which then goes back to my original point. How would you feel if you just found a Windforce in hardcore and your friend in softcore just sold his for $50? He is now playing Diablo for free while your only option (aside from stashing it) is to place it up for gold, gold you may or may not need. This exposes the separate but not equal concept behind the lack of a RMAH. While your softcore friends are making bank, you’re struggling to survive and can’t see pay dirt for your strife.

Another large thing we lose from Hardcore is player killing. While I wasn’t a huge PK, and definitely wasn’t a fan of my character being mowed down by someone 30 levels ahead of me, I did somehow enjoy the fact I had the option. There is a rush hearing that hostility noise and knowing that you have to choose between killing monsters and hiding, or running back to town to be safe.

Hostility is now gone, and while I hated it at times, I hate to see our ability to duel and hunt each other down leave the game. What we have instead is the Arena. The Arena is no replacement for hostility. If I want to duel and change my mind I could run back to town, I can’t escape the arena. While I count myself as Hardcore I am not hardcore enough for that. Dueling and Arena are fundamentally different, for the most part dueling was solo, Arena is team based. Which lead to problems, how can you develop team chemistry is you die after one loss? How can you trust your teammate not to lag out?

Thankfully we are hearing that the Arena may not be as hardcore as we thought. While nothing has been confirmed we did hear from Jay Wilson at the recent press event say:

Hardcore, you had mentioned that you changed it to a death match where you respawn and do total kills. Is this still when you die that first time you are dead forever?

Jay Wilson: That’s what I want to do. There is a lot of pushback on the team. I announced that at Blizzcon and the community were all for it. We have gotten a bit of mixed results outside of Blizzcon. It’s easy for me to get a crowd worked up so… The PvP strike team that focuses on that area, they are pretty nervous about it. Their basic feeling is that if that is what happens, then hardcore characters just won’t PvP. But then there was hardcore dueling in D2 so we may change that. We may allow hardcore PvP players to play without dying.

That being said, I still want a way for hardcore players to duel even if not at ship. I am going to push for a way. Even if its basically just a place where you can go in the world where you are flagged for PvP. Even if it is that simple, there is a community, even if it’s a small community that I want to support. Those fuckers are crazy. Part of me is like aww you crazy bastards.

I for one like these ideas, a place for dueling and the chance to hone those skills in the arena. It also means more people will be alive to play with making our community stronger. While I don’t think I’ll take advantage of risking my character who knows the confidence I may gain in the arena?

Now the lack of hostility also allows for us to run with a group out people for a decent amount of time with out the errant level 19 coming in hostelling the group and causing panic. It also eliminates your fear of any TP that wasn’t your own. If I had a dollar for every character I lost to hydras greeting me on the other side of a portal, well I’d have like ten bucks.

We have to accept the Hardcore game in D3 will be different than what we saw in D2. However the fact I don’t have to fear my party members makes me uneasy. Suddenly Hardcore is feeling less so. As I stated earlier I won’t use the RMAH but some will, and how sweet would it be to see a D3 fetish mow down the guy who dropped $100 and has been bragging about his gear? That in essence is hardcore, taking a risk, in D2 I had to worry not only about the monsters but also the people around me, the portals I took, and even how close I was to waypoints. Now in D3 I’m protected from my fellow players and even from myself (hmm.. mortgage or shako?). All that’s left are the monsters, which ironically feel safe.

One Live 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.

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40 thoughts on “One Life to Live #1: When Did Hardcore Become Less Hardcore?

  1. nice read. i might be one of those guys who turn to hardcore due to the RMT aspect of softcore. i have never played hardcore before, so i’m looking forward to some more insight next week :).

  2. I was always Hardcore and I appreciate this blog, you noted all of the feelings that I have felt reading the latest news.

    There isn’t too much more information about HC though, and whenever I ask questions on Blizzard’s forum no one ever answers me.

    Keep writing!

  3. i’d rather lose characters and items in hardcore than play in a money hungry society.

  4. I think a more important reason to keep RMAH out of hardcore is to level the playing field. Nobody will be able to buy their way out of hardcore with nice gear as they play. Sure they risk losing these items, and a lot of money, but they give themselves a huge advantage. Personally, I think that takes away from the essence of hardcore!

    • Can’t stop laughing. Who told you no one will buy items for real money on HC if there will be no RMAH? Especially now, when you can’t be ganked by other players. So siilly. 🙂

    • If there is no RMAH in HC, people will just use eBay to buy items period.
      I doubt Blizzard will police the HC community for 3rd party transactions since  the community will be significantly smaller than softcore and will not be generating micro-transaction money.

      • This is certainly possible. However, in Diablo 2, much of the market relied on Duped Items and MF bots. In Diablo 3 this is expected to be effectively eliminated. With a much smaller player base and the increased challenge of finding valuable items due to death, I think that a HC black market would not be viable.

  5. I have always played HC and I love the draw and believe with great risk comes great reward.   I also believe that not using the RMAH in HC is within spirit of playing HC.    I am hoping that the D3 HC community will be similar to my experiences in D2 with a tighter and more cooperative group of players to play with.    I look forward to reading more.

  6. “The more it hurts to die, the more you want to stay alive. That’s the reason to be hardcore.”
    I read that in someone’s description in like 10 years ago. I created a HC character immediately and I still remember that quote.

    • Epic quote and sooo true. Once you go HC and your lose that first character 20 or 30 levels in, your heart stops. The chill subsides, slowly, and you make another one with a smile on your face. Diablo I was spooky, but I think HC really brought the ‘terror’ into the game. Survivalist terror.

  7. Finally, a column on a topic i care about!  The only news items i never read were the columns, until this one.

    I’m not a huge fan of the Real money auction house, however its absence differentiates us more from softcore.

    That actually reminds me, i always thought the intent with HC was that it be identical to SC, except permadeath?  The no-RMAH changes that bigtime.

    On the no-PK/hostile thing, an old article i recently came across by Max Schaefer shows just how differently the new diablo dev team sees things on the issue.  I guess we’ll have to go to Torchlight 2 for the PK style.

  8. “I wasn’t a ‘huge‘ PK…” 
    “I did somehow enjoy the fact I had the option.”
    “I hate to see the ability to hunt each other down leave the game.”

    Was someone PK’ing in hardcore….?

  9. Please, 99% of hardcore games were people playing solo (or with a few good friends) in password-protected game.  The only public games actives were up to normal-tristram or enchant-games with bot bugging game mechanics so that they could enchant while in town to make sure you dont met another player in the danger zone.  

    I think the most I ever saw was maybe 2-3 hell game doing baal run but thats still an extreme minority. Most people wouldn’t risk going into these games until the point they got bored with the game and even if they died they wouldnt care much anymore. 

    I welcome this change with open-hand

    • even if the players were playing solo or with friends, The rush was still there. That is what is worth preserving.

    • Public, 8 player HC games were quite common in D2C and D2X until oh… 2003 or so. I played in thousands of them. It wasn’t until hacks like TPPK became prevalent that public HC games came to an end. I’m sure that public HC games will be very common in D3, assuming Bliz can control the hacks.  Just the removal of the PK switch will boost them enormously.

      • Yea, I only played HC but never stuck with the game as long as most people here probably did and back then we only played 8 people public games.
        How else were you to level fast enough?

        That said, I am very, very glad that they have removed PvP from HC as that was nothing but an inconvenience.

        Whenever you played public you would esc->quit out of the game the second you heard the pvp switch noise.

  10. I hope there is hardcore one death means death duels in the arena.  I also hope there is a way to be an observer, to watch these duels go down.  Like gladiators in the Colosseum. People want to see blood.  It would be so exciting to watch hardcore players fight to the true death.  Way more exciting than watching people duel without consequence.  Yes the loser will lose all their progress on that character, but such is the life of a gladiator in the arena.

  11. I never had to worry much about my own party when it came to hardcore – perhaps maybe at low level but at the higher levels peeps (even the pk kiddies) didnt risk their character much.
    I still remember taking out a charge/paladin thou with my frenzy barb (before frenzy was popular).  Was kind of a challenge.
    Then again this was when the ladder meant something and before all the bots/hacks …
    To me if there was no HC mode in D3 I probably wouldnt be playing – nothing like that feeling of impeding doom … and I hear it will be even harder then D2.
    I actually am a little sad about no RMAH with HC – I am opposed to it but if its there wouldnt mind using it to sell stuff.  And it would be hilarious like you said if someone paid 100$ on a toon and to see that toon die.
    I just hope blizz doesnt go pansy like it appears they have (no skills/free respecs) – not having to go to town etc etc …
    Keep it Hard-Core!

  12. They could offer two PvP modes. One where there is no risk of death and another where there is. The only problem is then who is going to do the PvP with a risk of death, except perhaps apart for the simple thrill of it. I think what they should do is offer \Hardcore\ PvP mode some sort of incentive, like a reward, that makes people take the risk.

  13. OMFG OUCH!!! playin HC on a 56k modem, hurt my eyes reading that!! Man someone really got a deathwish.

  14. This would be fun, maybe they have to be the same lvl also. Wouldn’t want people in there lagging it up. Be nice if they could watch without the added lag.

  15. nice column , i never played HC in D2 , but i might just give it atry , it sounds pretty exciting only having 1 life . My first char will be SC no matter what, after all i want to experiment with all the runestones andskills etc before i play till the death 😛

    • lol you’ll start off softcore? I thought you drove a harder bargain than that, at least that’s what your ex wife told me 😀

  16. I would play HC, but ONLY IF the HC characters that died were reborn as softcore! I supose that equipped, stashed and backpacked items would have to turn soulbound (or just non-sellable) in the process to not screw the economy.

    But imagine how many HC players there would be – and how much PRESTIGE there would still be to the HC char. Other than the item RM-value issue, I dont see a problem with it!

  17. I really like the idea of spectating, I really hope it gets in the game at some point as i would gladly take a seat once and a while and enjoy a good fight to the death, have a party with friends and bet each other who’s gonna win.

  18. I played hardcore after a few SC characters. Started playing HC mainly in 2001 january. I wasn’t much into PKing and stuff like that and wasn’t really scared any of them either. I rather tried to make fun of some silly stupid PK’s by playing tricks with them that I was in area X even if I was in some other area. With some PK’s if I had a cabable character I sometimes dueled with some wins and a couple of losses too.
    I never sacrificed a lot of time for item hunting because I knew I could lose them any time so I rather just gathered xp and get items while doing that, so the loss of a character was never so big deal to me.
    I had a couple of BvB duels in HC too and those where actually quite exciting but I only did those with a character I didn’t want to play anymore.
    I’m quite happy about D3 HC so far have to see how it feels when I get to play it. It would be a nice if there were some areas that were PvP and people would be able to show off in there.

  19. I’m happy they removed hostility button. I always played Diablo for it’s PvM asspect, and never was interested in PvP. At some point I just stopped playing on open games and played only with friedns. Just becouse I did not want to loose character I’ve spend loads of time to level and gear up to some kid who thought using TPPK hack = skill. And Diablo 3 is a co-op game, working in team is important part of the game, and having PK would kill part of fun.
    Also about RM AH for HC. I guess I wouldn’t mind it so much. I would never buy items from that, but selling them would be nice I guess. BUT Blizzard would have to make two diffrent e-balance for both modes. HC and SC had always separate economic, and if both modes had one e-balance you could easly just farm items on SC, sell them and then buy items for your HC char without any risk.

  20. Thanks for the comments guys! I have to second what flux said. The early hardcore community was great. What we have now with bots and spammers is a hollow shell that has reduced true players to private only games. I look forward to d3 revitalizing the hardcore community and hope you will continue to read as we get closer to that reality.

  21. Except it’s bullshit to say we know the risks when playing D3 in hardcore. While it is true that playing on a 56k modem in a thunderstorm means you know your chances of a disconnect, there are so many factors involved in online play that you have NO control over. What if a mainline disconnect happens somewhere between my ISP and Blizzard’s servers? What if my ISP has an outage in the DSLAM? What if Blizzard’s servers have hickups? If I lost my character for any of those reasons, I’d be turned off Hardcore forever, because that’s taking control out of my hands. The only other thing that can kill my character in singleplayer hardcore are my actions; when a constant connection to a server is needed, it’s no longer so.

    So your argument is flawed and ridiculous. Please look at this from a more balanced perspective.

  22. We lost RMAH, we lose PK. 
    What pk did u see in Diablo2 man, because all i was seeing were lvl 80+ killing lvl 20 to 60 or TP PK or a lvl 90 bought char from d2jsp braging about how good a player he was. RMAH will get out of Blizzards hand and it will act same as d2jsp. Thats what u want?; u want player killer that uses their fathers mastercard to get better in HC?


  23. Agreed.  I want to see those duels.  I also think the winner should be entitled to loot the corpse of their defeated enemy.

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