One life to live #20: We are the 10%

There is a debate brewing, one that affects every Hardcore player and will affect us from start( or at least I hope). Should we be able to start Hardcore from day one or does it need to be earned? While I’ve been watching from afar I jumped into the fray and hoped to start more conversation. The results and reaction after the bump.

The Diablo forums are a dangerous mix of apathy, trolls and perceived conceptions of importance ( which this may apply). That being said they are also our main form of communication with Blizzard. So with months without hearing anything about Hardcore, and several threads created and ignored I went to spark the conversation anew.

My goal in starting the conversation stems from the only bit of information we’ve had on the subject.

 Q. Do you have to play through softcore to unlock hardcore?
Jay Wilson: Oooh, good question, yes, you will have to play through to a certain point to unlock hardcore mode, I think it’s through normal difficulty after you kill the end boss. I’m like 90% sure, so we could change our minds.

In the spirit of debate I thought I’d outline the arguments presented.

Hardcore  grants a selective status.

Out of all the arguments this is the one that makes the most sense( though) I’m not swayed. Originally this was brought to me a long time ago by Dom who emailed me but I never got a chance to include it until now. The concept is that since you have defeated the normal mode you have earned the new difficulty and a part of an exclusive club. One that not anyone can get into, one that shows you’ve been tested and one that will keep the bad players out.

The problem with the earning of it is that it isn’t like Nightmare, Hell or Inferno. Earning the right to continue onto another difficulty is a game staple and that character you made is rushed into a new situation with new challenges. Hardcore is not that, earning it will not progress that character but allow you to start from scratch with the caveat that you cannot die.

As for the exclusivity of it, I don’t know why we would want people not to try it, or to give the impression that we are in some way better than our soft core counterparts. We want people to try our mode and to play with us, not everyone will stay but some may be swayed.


Just play through SC like it is Hardcore

First it impedes your characters from actually entering the hardcore realm and playing with other hardcore gamers. The second is that the Hardcore game is different from that of soft core, simple mistakes can cost people their lives and the lives of those they play with. If I happen to be playing soft core with a Hardcore mindset it doesn’t mean my teammates are. For myself it is merely the time that is attached to the single play through that is my greatest concern. I have no intentions of being the worlds first Hardcore sixty but with the play time I do have I want to spend it playing the option I find the most fun for me.


New players will be confused

Is it possible, yes. Is it probable, no. With a decent warning and explanation this should trip up no one. I know reading warnings is going the way of the Dodo but to be honest if they are too stupid to read before clicking, and want to complain when they die then they have reaped what they sowed.


D2 had you unlock it so D3 should as well

When Hardcore was introduced in Diablo 2 it was a new mode for the Diablo series. The creators wanted something to bridge the gap between the light death penalty of the soft core version and created Hardcore. Originally this was an earned mode from completing soft core, however with the rise it’s popularity and expansion pack the requirement to complete it on soft core mode was dropped.

The newness of the feature was a reason for the ability for a player to earn the mode, and the subsequent warning that followed character creation. There was no previous game to gauge whether or not a mode with such a harsh death penalty would work or not. SInce the Diablo 3 creators know there is a Hardcore following would it be to outrageous to allow it from the start? The audience is in place and no new ground is being broken.


Hardcore should be earned

Should it be? Nightmare should be earned, Hell and Inferno should be,why? Because your character will not be prepared for what is ahead of them. However Hardcore is a separate entity, with a new character and new rules. Earning it provides nothing, and for those not inclined for hardcore will not affect them.


You won’t know what’s coming and could die


Ultimately I’m not swayed. I still think that since they are separate modes of play they both should be present from the start. It is not something that needs to be earned, or something that will prepare us for Hardcore simply a hoop to be jumped through. Most importantly this decision doesn’t affect anyone outside of those who would choose the option. Want to play soft core before hardcore? Go right ahead. Want to play only soft core? Fine nobody is stopping you. The only people this will affect are those who want it. This isn’t a debate over color schemes, or not having X type of class but something that can only affect those who are willing to use it.

Discussion is a good thing, and I’m set in ways but I appreciate seeing reasons for and against it. If we had a definitive statement ( one way or the other) about this maybe the discussion would go away. Since we don’t feel free to keep your opinions coming here and on Blizzards forums.

Next Week: Going back to D2: Biding time and having fun

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.

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33 thoughts on “One life to live #20: We are the 10%

  1. I agree with Blizzard. Some people might think they are “hardcore”, start to play in hardcore mode, die, realize they didnt think of or understand the consequences (too late), become frustrated and stop playing.

    Personally I’ve never created a hardcore character in my years of playing diablo II. This time I think I’ll try it on my second playthrough. First, I’ll play my first character (probably WD, Wizard or Monk) through normal and afterwards start a hardcore character to get an idea of how different (more challenging? more depth? more athmosphere?) the game feels compared to carebear-pudding-mode (softcore).

    If I dont succeed in hardcore I’ll still have my nightmare character to continue playing. So it is a good fallback system to lessen the blow after loosing your hardcore character.

    • I may have to run a vote on this at some point. I honestly can’t believe anyone agrees with Blizzard. Why on Earth would you support them denying fans the ability to play as they want to?  It’s not like people are asking to start with a lvl 30 char so they can do nightmare and have a challenge, or start at lvl 60 if all they want to do is high level PvP.

      People who want to play HC want to play HC. They don’t want to play any SC at all (now that we don’t have to in order to use the Arena.)  Why make them waste their first play through?

      Do you really think anyone stupid enough to choose HC, click the various “accept terms” boxes, and not know what they’re doing is going to learn by playing through the game once?

      What if Blizzard decided that Wizards were too hard, and you had to play through as a Barbarian your first time, since any idiot can click melee attacks? What if they said you had to get a char to lvl 50 before you could PvP since people might not realize that the Arena isn’t the normal game mode and they would be surprised not to earn exp and items playing it?  Absurd examples, you say? My point exactly…


      • “Why on Earth would you support them denying fans the ability to play as they want to?”
        If you’re fan enough to want to play hardcore before release, then you’re fan enough to endure 4 acts of softcore. If you happen to try hardcore on your first time though, and you die, you might become frustrated and simply drop the game.
        Thanks Blizzard’s thinking.
        And it’s right. I, for one, am not a hardcore player, and every time I tried it, I always dropped the game for months when my character eventually died.
        At around level 30 or something…

        • No hardcore diablo fan is going to drop the game before they have completed it. BELIEVE ME. Yes you may have quit d2 after a frustrating random death (as have I)… but d2 is a little dull since we’ve all beaten the game dozens of times already.

          Yes, hardcore from the start may lead to frustrating deaths, but no one is “dropping the game”. They will give it another go eventually.

      • Flux that is a great analogy and one I wish I thought of. Arena is a separate mode from the main game but it doesn’t have to be earned. Hardcore also a separate entity but it does, the thread I started is only one of many that have cropped up. Which shows there are a lot of people out there looking for that answer. To be honest at this point I just want and confirmation one way or the other.

  2. Honestly, this is definitely a problem that has spawned out of the “I have too much free time” “issue”. It does not matter what you expect or what you not. If you want to play hardcore for months and years, really “having” to play the game normally first one time is not even an obstacle, just an introduction. And that is the end of the story, for me. Blizzard is the one setting the rules, so I do not expect them to get with the same settings as they went with the last expansion. I will play hardcore as well as normal.

  3. I think the option should be there from the start, but like the previous poster already said I doubt I will make use of it at the very start. I will casually play through Normal on my first playthrough to experience the story, but I will probably make at least a few hardcore characters just for nostalgias sake if nothing else. I hope the rumour that inferno difficulty will not be possible for hardcore characters is just a rumour. Otherwise I will not play hardcore.

  4. Hardcore should be available from start.

    I want to take the time to enjoy my first play through the whole game and really feel it. Since we know Normal will be “relax mode”, I fear it will detract the experience of the game, if you enjoy the secrets and plots yet to unfold in Sanctuary. Plus, hardcore mode adds a whole lot of thrill enhancing the experience a thousand times.

    That’s why I would play hardcore right from the start.

  5. First off, let me just say I have never played hardcore and most likely (what with the permanent connection and all) never will play hardcore. Maybe I will change my mind, I don’t know yet.
    But I am of the opinion that it should be available from the start for the people who want this challenge. It’s a risk they are willing to take, why does Blizzard have to force them to play safe at first ? Some people are challenged precisely by the fact that they don’t know what’s coming, why ruin it for them ? Of course, some will whine on the forums that they died in the second act because they didn’t know what hit them, but there would be no validity to their point, would it ?
    Now, I think Blizz is afraid there might be some glitches in the later acts/server issues after launch that might kill players without any fault of their own. That’s dicey, so they keep this Normal playthrough requirement to have a chance to remedy any such possible bugs. I think they will eliminate it somewhere down the line, but only after they’re sure it is viable.

  6. Although I probably won’t ever play Hardcore myself, I think it should be available from the start. Even if takes some warning message or disclaimer added in to make Blizzard feel ok with it, I think the choice should be left up to the player not Blizzard…

  7. I won’t be making a hardcore character until I’ve got at least one or two characters to Inferno but you should absolutely be able to start on HC straight out of the gate. I’m positive that there will be something that comes out of left field and hits you like a truck but is very easily avoidable if you know it’s going to happen (such as the Molten Skeletons that explode after they’re killed, I think they’re the biggest cause of death in the beta) but it should still up to the player if they want to risk that.

  8. It’s all the kitty care. New people might end playing if the die on their first HC character, Blizzard want to prevent this. Whilst they may enjoy the game more in SC. (Can’t really see why you play a game mode that is not suited for you though but people are not logical.)
    I want to play Hardcore from the first moment and I’m utterly disappointed that I can’t and need to grind through SC normal 🙁

  9. Wow… you know… this is the first thing where I’m considering not getting the game on release now (Still gonna get it but prob not as a priority now)
    My plan for release was to play through the game with my best mates on HC. We won’t know what is ahead of us and will have to keep on our toes for the entire game. (Our bet was to see who would last the longest or if we could get the entire team to the end).
    For me, SC is just a casual game where you can mindlessly run through the hordes. Not interested. I want to experience the world and be scared of every noise and every boss. To really have to be on my toes for every second of playing.

    I won’t get that much time to play the game and would like to experience the game in the way I think I will enjoy the most.
    So yeah, thanks Blizzard, RMAH, Online only, I can live with. Forcing me to play SC on Normal first? I can’t.

  10. I am not a HC fan myself, but I appreciate the allure.  I liken HC to the nba draft forcing player to play to year in college.  its a stupid rule.  if you’re ready for the league, then you’re ready.  If not, it will spit you out accordingly.  however, most of the pros here should get through normal the first night. so if you have to, chill with us wussies for a bit, have some fun, and then you can be on your way! think of us as one year at kentucky.

    • You don’t HAVE to go to college you just have to be 19 before you are eligible for NBA draft.  Garnett and Bryant never went to college.  But realistically, a year in college could only help improve your game so its not really that big a deal to wait one year to become a multimillionaire.

    • I agree, Normal Softcore should be a walk in the park for the HC gamers. So after 1 day\night they should be able to play HC.
      However I can relate to Dorjan’s point aswell to start of a HC posse with your friends. Only do the bare minimum quests to progress and try to see it as a ‘warming up’.
      Then you can do a full exploit in HC doing all quests, at least that’s my plan with my friends :mrgreen:

  11. Don’t care. Doesn’t matter. Blizz is setting the rules not you, so drop it. The discussion is old and beaten to the ground. Everyone is so delusional about their self-importance, company makes game, you buy game, you play game, you don’t tell company how to make game.

    • Blizzard does like our input though.  I think hardcore should be available from the start.  Xanth’s post has many valid reasons behind it.  If hardcore is not available from the start, it will just be a mad rush to whatever point of the game needed to unlock HC, then start over immediately.  
      I want to play HC from the start, and it will be nice not having to mule every time you find a new item.  🙂

    • With regards to D2, “the requirement to complete it on soft core mode was dropped”.
      Blizzard already changed the rules for the series so far. Why should they go backwards and re-enable the requirement for the next game in the series?

    • Hmm, I guess I must have been hallucinating when I thought I saw the “Closed Beta Feedback” forum on the D3 forums after getting access to the closed beta. Silly me. Of course Blizzard isn’t interested in feedback from their beta testers, I must have been delusional about my self-importance to think that they were.

  12. I’m going to have a friend of mine play through to unlock HC for me and then I’ll start a HC char from the beginning not knowing what lies ahead.  Although it will be rough waiting for him to finish especially since he was no good at D2 it may take awhile…

  13. I see no reason to really disallow players from creating hardcore characters from the start of the game besides to try to protect new players to hardcore from suffering a first big loss before they even reach the first milestone of nightmare.

    As a long time player of Hardcore I personally am not looking forward to playing through normal softcore asap just to start over again in HC, but honestly it’s not going to be the end of the world if I must. (would probably only take a few hours anyways as you could low level rush it) 

    I just really wish I could hear “ahhhh fresh meat” or something similar the first time and feeling that pang of fear knowing its victory or death!

  14. Blizzard doesn’t want to enable HC off the bat because some people will be foolish/dumb enough to think they can handle it, then die and ragequit the game forever.  It’s a legitimate concern.
    But there is a pretty simple compromise that should avoid that problem while keeping their most rabid hardcore fans satisfied: just ship with a cheat code to enable hardcore immediately.  Leak that code to fansites on release.  Then, the casual player will not be able to access the mode until after clearing normal, while the dedicated hardcore folks will have the ability to skip clearing the game in snoozemode.

  15. Torchlight you can play hardcore right off the bat.  Not relevant?  That’s the only other game I know of that provides an option for hardcore gameplay.  Their “warning” amounts to a line of text that says “death is permanent”.  That’s it, that’s all that’s seen as required.  Are there people who may have not understood the concept of death being permanent, who were surprised the first time they died?  Are their people who may have not read that one line of text, and been surprised the first time they died?  Perhaps.  But I’ll bet you anything they weren’t surprised the second time they died.
    If you’re only going to impact a small segment of the population, and only one time, why would you choose to avoid *potentially* giving a negative experience one time to someone who doesn’t understand death being permanent, or who can’t be bothered to read one line of text next to the checkbox they enabled, and instead choose to *certainly* give a bad experience one time to the people who are passionate about your game, and who know what they’re doing, meaning the vast majority of people who would choose to play hardcore for their first run?  Do we think the people who are in the first group are more numerous?  (They’re not).  Do we think it’s not a bad experience for the people in the second group, or that by making this decision they won’t complain?  (It is, and they ARE complaining).
    But, I guess it fits the overall concepts driving those two games:  Torchlight is designed with the philosophy that they’ll let you play your game however you want, and let you live (or die) with the consequences of your choices.  Diablo III is designed with the philosophy that they’ll let you play Their game how They want you to, and you can accept it or find a different game.  This is just one example of how those philosophies play out.

  16. I just assumed it would be enabled from the start, I will be very annoyed if it is not since (unlike last time) I’ve got a full time job and girlfriend etc, and my time to play is limited. Don’t want to waste many precious (and rare) gaming days just to finish softcore since I have no interest in it and will have to start over right away.. as an avid hardcore player I’m also looking forward to seeing the game for the first time in hardcore and all the surprises and adrenalin it will cause by simply not knowing exactly what comes next 🙂 Why give us hardcore and take away the best part of it..

  17. Requiring a softcore playthrough cheapens the game for me.  I want to be able to jump in, with ever detail being fresh and new.  I want to be legitimately terrified when I come across a new batch of monsters.  I want that anxious adrenaline feeling.  I want to bask in the glory of beating the game, or that feeling of worthlessness when I get slaughtered.  And *if* I happen to die, I want to have to strategize on how I can overcome the obstacle next time.
    I don’t want someone giving me the beta before hand.  I don’t want to have to watch a movie on mute before I am able to watch it with full features.
    And thats just my intrinsic feeling behind this.  Another reason would be that in softcore, your stash doesn’t carry into hardcore.  I lose all that farm.  All the gems, all the gear.  I become attached to the first character I made and then get it ripped away from me.  It makes me feel worse that it wasn’t because of any mistakes I made.
    I hope they correct this.  But If not, I am going to give my friend my account key and tell him to beat the game for me before I play.  And it pisses me off that I won’t get the opportunity to play this game on the opening day like everyone else.

  18. Hardcore all the way and from the go, baby!

    Given the sheer amount of official D3 manuals that will be accompany each D3 game, in-store or direct download, all Blizzard has to do is explain the difference between softcore and hardcore mode in the included guide section entitled “Game Mode Selection”…. Blizzard’s argument/position made mute.

  19. I am one of the people who will play it slow at first so I too don’t have a problem with this. After my first character I will definitely go for hardcore though.
    On a side note: Flux, recently on podcast and posts you seem to give only negative thoughts about D3. Do you actually like the game, or are you largely disappointed? I know that nostalgia can be a powerful thing. In the Starcraft community there are now allot of SC:BW elitists because of this and a large group that play SC2 but want their SC1 mechanics back. The nostalgic feeling is so powerful sometimes, with myself included, that I wander if it is actually clouding my judgement of things.

  20. I wan’t to PLAY the game from the very start. Starting with softcore first is not playing for me, i don’t need the items, they’re all worthless to me and so is the character.
    If they do decide that you should go through normal softcore to enable HC I hope that you can bypass that with a registry key as was with D2 before they allowed HC to be created at the start.

  21. On the “New players will be confused” item: In the large thread on the Blizzard forum I read (which was full of pointless bickering), one idea which was suggested by a number of people was that allowing Hardcore right from the start would be confusing. That new players wouldn’t read the warning (because, lets face it, lots of players don’t read anything in a game) and cry when they died and stayed dead.

    But I thought, isn’t the current design more confusing? If the aforementioned don’t-read-stuff player completes softcore normal mode, and now has both softcore nightmare and hardcore normal unlocked, isn’t it even more likely that they will now get confused about which of them is the “next step” after softcore normal? (given, as we said, that they’re a don’t-read-stuff sort of player).

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