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    My recent foray back into D2 had me chasing my ladder dreams of yesteryear and making a startling discovery on my chase there.

    In D2 classic I never was involved in the leveling race. Everything was fresh and new and I wanted to wind down each avenue and try each class as much as possible. As a result I was far behind most in the leveling race. It wasn’t until the Xpac that I found myself running against the other druids to be top dog on the ladder. At one point I was #3 in the quest to the top but died in the late sixties never to crack the charts again.Until recently.

    Diablo 2 is a shell of its former glory, and despite the problems of it ( and since  I look and my battle net account page I see):

     

    How many times a day do you see this?

    I continue on playing because it still has some of its magic, and I like to click to kill things. I now find myself closer to cracking on the ladder boards than I ever was ten years ago and that chase has invigorated my play (I’m actually taking a break right now to write this) and it had me wondering about how the lack of a ladder would affect D3.

    What makes a hardcore ladder exciting?

    Competition: In a normal ladder it’s all about speed and time invested. Whoever plays the most, and most  effectively will end up on top. That’s the way it always works those who play the most will get the best gear first, kill monsters first and natural crack the boards to never be unseated. Hardcore however works against that. Running on to little sleep? While your nodding off your character is being ushered to his doom. Move too quickly? Looks like that pack of stygian dolls caught up to you.

    Death makes the race so much more exciting. You don’t know who will succumb to it and push you past them, and which monster hides your expulsion from the ladder as well. No one in softcore had to worry that the guy next to him would not be there the next game, or that lazy play would lead to nothing but a bad investment of time. Death was a great equalizer in the race and the person who got their first was both skilled and lucky.

    The downsides of the ladder

    Non-ladder characters. Eventually people want to have another crack at the race, and to do that the ladder has to be reset and those characters still living get shifted  off the ladder. Now whether you want in on the race if you want to play with the majority of battle.net you have to restart. Only now you are starting fresh with no gear carrying over. However if you get rid of the realm restart then new characters could never hope to catch up with characters who have gone before them. It seems to be a problem with no answer.

     

    Blizz on Ladders

     As far as the e-peen meter goes for showing off a higher level character, we think a proper achievement system is much better at this. There’s more variety, they’re more interesting and compelling for people to work toward. One important point of note is that our achievements are cross-character, meaning we can give achievements for things like leveling 5, 10… hell, 20 characters to 60. Certainly a bigger feat than a level 99, and we can give tangible rewards for it too.

    It seems as if D3 won’t have our race to 60 which makes sense. 60 is supposed to be easy to achieve and not the war of attrition that getting to 99 was.  Will an achievement style ladder provide the rush that the race once had? I’m not sure. Account wide achievements won’t fade on the death of each character( or will they?), which means those who play more, and quickly will find themselves at the top and then there difference between soft core and Hardcore ladders is nullified.

    However, it’s a wide array of comparisons and it may do something that the 99 race never could. By giving you smaller more reachable goals there will always be something to shoot for aside from another useless level. I would still like to see some recognition for the longest surviving Hardcore characters but for the time being I’m not too worried.

    What is your opinion on ladders? Did you race to the top in D2 ? Do you like them or hate them for D3?

    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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