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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