With one column behind me I thought I’d jump into a topic close to my heart. What makes you go Hardcore? Is it the auction house? Your joy at laughing in the face of death? Or simply the mortality of it?
I didn’t start out hardcore in D2,in truth no one could. I sloughed through softcore with everyone else not realizing that such an option existed. My necro farmed bosses, made corpses explode and died more times then I could count. Eventually I noticed the avatars in chat that were slightly different than mine. The red nameplate called to me while they stood there poised and ready to attack. I immediately messaged one asking how they made their character do that. ” I’m hardcore, you can only die once”. I quickly recalled my many deaths that evening, and nonetheless went about creating an amazon who didn’t last long enough to be classified as bow or javazon, just a corpseazon. I was upset, cursed at the screen, deleted my ghost and started again, determined to do better. I never went back to that necro, the thrill wasn’t there anymore. I had a debate with myself as I deleted him to make room for mules and other characters, but my mind was set and there was no going back.
What will entice you?
It might not be as simple (or you may not be) as red lettering. Right now there are a lot of reasons to go hardcore, but are they the right ones?
#1: No Auction House for cash.
While I have my reservations about this (see here), this might be the carrot that pushes you into the mortal realm. We will have a hardcore economy based purely on gold. Which has cause a lot of of people to consider hardcore. However, will that be enough to make them stay? Whatever your reservations are about the auction house will they be strong enough to make it through the first death? It may be frustrating now to know people are buying items for cash, but will it be as frustrating as making little to no ground on your own loot because you’ve hit a few snags and died at inopportune times? I’m reminded of the saying “there are no atheists in foxholes” and while it’s easy now to say “Ha! No Bobby bucks for me, I’m going hardcore” will that last after a week in the trenches (to complete my bad metaphor)?
This also does not take into account the lag spikes and disconnects. We know we will have to be online at all times, and are at the server gods mercy. Will the qualms that carried you to hardcore be enough to keep you there when your death wasn’t your fault? I’ve mentioned on the forums that disconnects never bothered me, I was upset of course, but I would be more upset at things I had control over. I am not typical however, and responses will vary, but I imagine it will be a lot harder to check that box again.
#2: We have a fancier Banner
Does your softcore friend have a pile of corpses under their banner? Didn’t think so. I don’t know what I was expecting when I heard hardcore characters would be differentiated from their softcore brethren, but a pile of skulls wasn’t it.
No intent, no. But they’ll definitely have more prestige and flashy things to show off for being so awesome.
From what we’ve seen thus far I’m less than impressed. Now to think logically for a second, (and I know how dangerous logic is in a game where I shoot lasers from my hands) if I’m placing a banner down where do the skulls come from? Am I carrying those with me as well? In D2 we stood out, the lettering and the battle stance put us primed and ready to strike, a pile of sticks doesn’t evoke that for me. Though with a glut of info coming from Gamescom this gem appeared as I was editing this column.
Does this mean we have more in store for us that our stick bundle? Or does it simply get larger during Inferno? Time will tell, but i’m not holding my breath.
I’ve seen some posts in our forums and Blizzard’s suggesting something radical. The concept being that a hardcore character’s death would transfer the character to softcore. I can’t stress how bad this would be. It would eliminate the whole concept of hardcore. What point would there be to taking it seriously when death isn’t a real punishment for mistakes? This would flood the community with people who wouldn’t be as meticulous in what they were doing. Now everyone could just rush into packs of demons with no care for their teammates since there would always be a reset. Hardcore means one death, not one death then being put out to pasture in softcore.
One of my more successful Hardcore characters was a druid right as LoD came out. It took me a few times with him to make it work, a death at 30, a death at 35 ,until finally I had him cruising in the seventies. Each time I could have walked away, each time I lost a lot of gear and time , but each time I learned what wasn’t working, and made adjustments. If i would have found that druid alive and well in softcore, would I have taken the time to go back?
That being said there is an enticement in seeing how far you can go, what you can accomplish with your one life. The lift a quote from Mouseman from last week’s comments
“The more it hurts to die, the more you want to stay alive. That’s the reason to be hardcore.”
That is spot on what hardcore is about, avoiding death at all costs, and if/when you do die you will take that knowledge and start again, better and stronger. As Max Schaefer Senior Designer of Diablo 2 once said about the game, “The entire game is set up to kill your player. Every monster, boss, and trap has as its only goal is the death of your player.” That’s the thrill of Hardcore, every monster you slay, or boss you kill you’ve survived to tell the tale. No one really cares if you’ve killed Baal on softcore, but suddenly killing him ( at an appropriate level) in hardcore feels like an achievement.
#4: The Community
This alone is enough for me to keep with hardcore, and was one of the factors that kept me hooked. Now as it was brought up last week, I need to mention that the Hardcore you see now in D2 is devoid of life and riddled with bots and spam. However in Diablo’s heyday it was a rich culture filled with people to lend a hand. That druid who died at 30 had most of his gear replaced by some fellow players who stayed in game until I came back to help set me up. That druid who died at 35 had players who looted his corpse and gave his gear back! I would also jump into low level games and shower them with my leftover items to help them out. When everyone you play with has a shared goal of staying alive, you want to work together to make it happen. Also, where else can you enshrine your characters demise but in our very own Hardcore Graveyard? Your characters deeds of valor truly can still be remembered in the community that supports it.
Now there were Pk’s, and scammers as any game will have, but most of my time spent in Hardcore was absent of them. I don’t remember that as much as remember the good I saw in my community. D3 will also now eliminate that hostility option, and as much as I may say otherwise it will help our community band together. Now with the rise of Inferno difficulty it will be pertinent that we can rely on each other,as we will be challenged like never before.
We can see from this that Blizzard won’t hold our hand through this difficulty, so we will have to rely on each other, and if my early D2 experience is indicative of what is to come than we will have the experience we long for. The fact people are already doubting our ability to last in Inferno has me salivating, clearly a challenge awaits, a challenge we’ll face together, and battles that will wipe out friend and foe alike. No more Baal runs, no more Mephisto MFing, just a group of players fighting with each other against the hardest possible monsters. If theres one community I trust to go into this fray, it’s this one.
In the end the choice is up to you to wander into the Hardcore realm. There are a lot of reasons to do so, what may grab you might be silly, or serious but it needs to be a choice made consciously and not out of spite. Hemingway once said “A man can be destroyed but not defeated” and if you find yourself in the hardcore realm I suggest you remember that.
Next week: Coping with the lost of loved ones: How do /did you react to the loss of your characters?
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 or contact the author directly.