One life to live #16: Us and them

In honor of Thanksgiving I thought I’d analyze our own gaming family, and in it our own family squabbles. With two modes of play, two differing experiences, two different play styles and two very different attitudes. Softcore and Hardcore are meant to be the same thing with the lone difference of a severe death penalty. With D3 on the horizon we are starting to see the differences appear not only inside the game but outside it as well. The rift between softcore and hardcore is widening, we are cut from the same cloth but don’t enter too often into eachother’s worlds. We don’t play with eachother, and that can lead to misconceptions, airs of superiority and the occasional forum flame war. We both play the same game yet we look at eachother as outsiders.

As a writer for a column focused on hardcore, I do my best to talk about my passion for our side of the game and the concerns I have with it. I’d be remiss however if i didn’t notice our growing divide with our better half. As I’ve stated before I played softcore during D2, and without knowing about hardcore was having a great time. I killed things, traded with people and got loot. Upon trying hardcore I become embedded in the playstyle and didn’t go back. That isn’t the path for all, and I don’t think we can get people to try or like our playstlye through name calling, and virtual willy waving.


Hardcore has always been an offshoot of the main game. It’s harsh death penalty has drawn a following but also critics. We’ve seen our lone difference questioned ( as well as our sanity) and seen radical changes suggested. Our softcore colleagues (not all of them) have lobbied for hardcore to softcore conversion on death and for character time locks after death instead of full character deletion. This causes us to run to our convictions, hold on to what we know and distance ourselves even further from where we once stood. In hardcore we don’t have much but if we take away the characteristic that drew us there what do we have?

As an offshoot of the main game we are also reliant on pulling what we can about out playstyle from the softcore reveals. With each new system update we’re not told how it is on hardcore, or what to expect, we must simply make our own conclusions. Hell, as early of 2009 we didn’t even know if we’d have a hardcore.

Question: Has anymore thought been put into Hardcore? Are any features decided-upon?
Bashiok: I think the last thing I heard from Jay on it in public was something along the lines of “Ok fine we’ll just commit to a hardcore mode here and now” outside of that no details have been released.

The average softcore player has a great idea what their gameplay will be like. They’ve seen videos, systems reveals and PVP. Hardcore on the other hand is full of mysteries. Will we be able to create HC characters from the start, or must we play through softcore? Is there perma-death on PVP?

While we may be spurned we have a tendency to look to our characters( or future characters) as being above our counterparts. We managed to get through the game without dying so naturally we are better. Or are we? Does the person with limited time become a noob because they don’t feel like losing a character they may play once a week when they have the time? Can we really measure our virtual willies in a game so dependent on luck? I think it’s best to wave our virtual willies at those in our own community as it’s apt for comparison. ( just reading that sentence makes me chuckle) Softcore to hardcore is apple to oranges. We need to stop measuring ourselves against who we strive not to be but the players we can be.


“Carebears”, “noobs”, “idiots” and the life blood of the franchise, softcore is the main game. We have to accept the fact that without them we wouldn’t have our niche. Think for a second of any major game that has a death penalty as harsh as hardcore, can you think of one? I’m hard pressed to think a company could ship a game that penalized all players so severely. It’s a great option for some but by no means for all. They will look into our community and point out flaws, suggest things, but most importantly try it, and hopefully join it. If we continue on our high horse we become what we hate, Like it or not we have something very important in common, a strong desire to play this game. We will do it meticulously, they will do it recklessly. We will bunch together while they flock apart. We will mourn our deaths, while they respawn. Our communities will be separate but always willing to take in a new member who wants something different.

Next week: What I’ve been doing wrong: my new keys to success

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, Follow me on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly.

Tagged As: | Categories: Diabloii.Net Columns, Hardcore


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  1. Will we be able to create HC characters from the start, or must we play through softcore? Is there perma-death on PVP?
    1 Yes 2 no

  2. I think Bashiok said HC will be available after playing on Normal with one character.
    HC guys avoided dangerous zones in D2, so it will do on D3, they will not play exploring all the game area, will be to risky for them (especially now without townportal and potions on their side). They will play the main quest and farm in safe areas.
    SC on the other hand gives you more freedom and the liberty to explore, both the environment and builds. And the possibility to sell items for real money. 🙂

    • In Diablo 2, certain zones were avoided if possible because of they way they had difficulty set up.  Its been mentioned a number of times here that things went to easy (or at least manageable) to insta gib.  Hopefully this is an issue D3 will explore and correct.  As a hardcore character I explored many areas, and have seen videos of hardcore characters doing content I thought was impossible (usually given their gearset,or lack thereof), so I would actually disagree with your comment that hardcore characters would only farm safe areas.

      The draw hardcore has for me is challenge, I can work hard and explore those areas that are tougher.  I can earn my gear, and also know that people I play with had to earn their gear as well(at least as a general rule).  The players I see have had to face similar challenges that I have, so I feel safer trusting them with my virtual life.  Its a bond that was only created in D2 when placing your life in anothers hands.  It gave a sense of camaraderie.

      In hardcore, No one purchased their toon for them, they didn’t just fling themselves at a boss repeatedly until success was finally gifted to them.  Personally I don’t find games where victory is given freely to be any fun.  I find challenge and creativity, and yes defeat to be the actual GAME rather than the pretty special effects and graphics.

  3. I am a softcore player and likely always will be.  I guess I never paid much attention to any “conflict” that has or is going on between the factions.  I think hardcore mode is ultra cool and I guess I admire it from afar (kinda like skydiving).  I think the draw for me (if i were to convert) would be that people wouldnt be so casual in the play style.  People would be careful and care for each other during gameplay.  Also, the playing field would hopefully be more level as items would be more scarce.  In the end, I am just too reckless or quite frankly just suck too much to have such grave consequences.  For me, Diablo is about having fun.  I don’t mind the investment as long as I can continue to play over and over. Gaming is stress relief for me.  I dont need my games causing me heartburn.  LOL. This isnt me being critical of hardcore, i think its entirely great and Im sure it adds to the rush.  Who knows maybe D3 might get me to start a character in HC that I can chip away at over time.

  4. do softcore players really bash hardcore players? I’ve never seen it, but I believe it happens, which I believe is stupid though. its exactly the same game, except you can’t die.
    in fact I see the opposite all the time.

    I mainly play softcore (connection problems and my friends and gf doen’t like dying once then dead)
    but I do like hardcore. and I think its an awesome challenge. although those few times I hadda bail out of my own game because a higher level hostiled me pissed me off. also random lag spikes resulting in my toon dying piss me off too.

    but single player hardcore is awesome, no lag and I can (in d2) pause it for bathroom breaks

    also i believe the hardcore pvp the loser should die (they should respawn untill the end of the match, or give the players teammate opportunities to win the match and save their teammate. which in my opinion would add an even greater element of teamwork. “oh ffffk i died, DUDE SAVE MY CHARACTER I DON’T WANT TO START OVER!” lol

    a possibility for the loser not losing their character could be in the player didn’t die at all, but his teammate died to many times their team lost, just because if you got matchmade with a total noob in tdm and he threw his body against the wall to the point of you losing, although you hadn’t died. I don’t think a player should be punished for that

    • You are 100% correct.  Hardcore D2 especially with PvP created one of the most exciting and fun games that I have ever played.  I wish they would find a way to put a more free PvP into D3, and let people play on that server or something.  

      Having actual COMPANIONS, rather than fellas you game with, and trusting them  is a feeling no game has quite replicated since.  I really hope it will somehow come back in D3.  However everything I read indicates Blizzard won’t let it rise to the level D2 had.

  5. It was already said by jay wilson normal softcore must be completed to unlock hardcore. you wont be able to HC from the start, silly you still ask in this post, forget?

    • Hmmm. I’m fairly certain Xanth is aware of current news items as he is a columnist on this website, and hardcore is his topic. I think what he meant by asking the question is this: the game isn’t yet released, Blizzard is known to change their minds on things, therefore nothing is 100% certain. And he might be hoping for that restriction to change before release? Maybe it will have to wait for a patch, but I’m guessing it will be lifted at some point. I understand why they have it, but I think they’ll realize that it is a pointless restriction. People are still going to try hardcore and some will not enjoy it, and yes, complain about it. That’s unfortunately waht a lot of people like to do, is complain. Can’t avoid it so may as well lift the restriction.

      Anyways, I am not a hardcore player, and I am generally ignorant on the subject, and used to think it was only played by a vast minority. Now I think hardcore is definitely a minority, but larger than what I had imagined too. I think hardcore is intriguing however I do have experience in other games (Fire Emblem) with characters dying, not main characters, but to me it was worth restarting to save them. And I have learned that I hate restarting games, unless it’s like a puzzle and I’m using trial and error methods.

      Also, for me Diablo 2 was always about wasting time. If I want thinking games, I generally play RTS, or SRPG. But that’s just me, and I respect the hardcore community and do feel slightly disappointed that I’m disconnected from it. Softcore players may be guilty of ignorance when it comes to hardcore.

      As for hardcore players being arrogant toward softcore players, that’s also a kind of ignorance, that is being ignorant of different playstyles. One group of people that does get on my nerves though is the “griefers”, or maybe “open-world PVPers” is a nicer term. Of course Diablo 2 kinda fully supported that playstyle, so I can’t argue that. I’m just tired of listening to their whining about Diablo 3’s lack of open-world PVP. Okay, I get it, you’re unhappy, Diablo had it, Diablo 3 won’t, but why not instead of complaining over and over about Diablo 3, find another game that interests you?

      I think we’re kind of lucky to have a game like this, and shouldn’t be spoiling it by complaining, flaming, or being envious of what certain people who play certain ways are getting from it.

  6. I feel like the Hardcore community makes themselves out to be the victim much too often.  As a Softcore player, I’m indifferent to you as I feel that there can be both play styles without conflict.  It seems that most Softcore players feel that way.  I have limited time to play, and I personally feel that losing a character is a waste of time.  It is the Hardcore community with their ‘holier-than-thou’ mentality that seems to create this imaginary rift in the Diablo community. 

  7. Never played HC in D2 but I am definitely going to try it out in D3. I think both the SC RMAH and HC experiences will be awesome.

  8. I have to agree that the differences between hardcore and softcore are like Apples and Oranges.

    Yes, I play hardcore exclusively now, but it was not always like that.  I spent many years playing softcore, learning the mechanics, and visiting this website almost daily to learn about builds, tricks, and items I had not yet discovered (heck, I haven’t even tried Uber Tristram on Softcore or Hardcore).  After a while, and with the help of some clanmates who played Hardcore, I got away from SC, but never fell into the trap of feeling like I was better than SC gamers.

    I’ve been going on 4 years of straight hardcore but it wasn’t always easy.  I’m 39, have a wife, five kids, a full time job, and computer side business.  I HATED hardcore at first.  I got a necro to level 89 and he was killed by a stair trap.. fanatic/berserk dolls of all things in Throne of Destruction.  Being only able to play a five hours a week, I was furious.  But that was the thrill as well.  Softcore just didn’t do it for me anymore.  For me, anyway, the game is more fun with everything on the line.

    My 11 year old son plays SC and doesn’t want to do hardcore.  He still gets a bad time from older gamers who play with dad, but a lot of HC gamers were there once.  It is good for some, not for most, and both sides should respect the other’s choices. Heck, I might even just run a SC character just to help him learn the ropes.

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