One life to live #27: Can we play for both teams?

After the vigorous debate over unlocking hardcore we got an interesting response from blizzard.

I’ve played hundreds of hours of Hardcore Diablo II, and hundreds of hours of normal Diablo II.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve gotten to know several other hardcore Hardcore players, if you know what I mean. Every single one of them plays a ton of normal in support of their Hardcore characters. So do I. I’m sure that it’s not a requirement, but I find it very important to spend 50% or more of my time learning all the tricks of the game in normal mode as a preparation for preserving my Hardcore character(s). Just learning about and knowing what near-death is like, and being very familiar with the bottom of the health globe is something that a serious Hardcore player will only do with normal characters.

Can we have a foot in both worlds or should we devote our time solely in one?

As someone who pours their time into hardcore I can’t imagine splitting it with soft core. I subscribe to a scorched earth policy, I plan on rushing through soft core at release and deleting the character immediately after creating my first hardcore one. Then I will pour my time into my Hardcore characters,building and rebuilding for years.

But what then of dipping a toe in softcore? Testing the waters and making decisions based off of it?

Why you should

  • If you want to get it right you need to test it out in a stress free environment. I imagine it might be easier to test out new areas and bosses in softcore, or try strange new rune and skill combinations with out the harshest penalties.
  • If you want to have risk free pvp
  • If you want to make some quick cash on the RMAH
  • if you want to support blizzard using the RMAH
  • if you like acronyms like RMAH
  • if you want to see your health bar go low without having a heart attack

Why you shouldn’t

Despite the blue quote I know very few people who play both modes. Most that I’ve encountered are stuck in their respected mode. To me it make sense. For me to spend half my time in soft core I will then be behind on enhancing my characters in Hardcore. I would rather excel in one mode than be mediocre in both. Will I die as a result? Sure, but that’s the hardcore game. I’ll learn from my mistakes and move forward.

The biggest thing I find wrong with the idea put forth by Kalvax in the reasoning behind it. Putting in 50% of my time playing a game so that I can play the game So…I need to play a mode I don’t like to be better at one I do?  Do I really need to experience dying to understand I want to avoid it? It almost reads like a primer for someone who doesn’t get the concept of permanent death.

I think one of the reasons I was able to stick with Hardcore for so long was in part due to the fact I had no soft core characters. That way starting over after a death was the same in either mode, because at some point I’d be tempted to not want to  start again. However, I’d find myself in Blood moor yet again and the process began anew.

This whole reasoning by Kalvax seems like a half assed explanation for unlocking Hardcore through softcore. Oh you guys don’t like this idea, well you should be spending half your time in soft core anyway. Are there advantages to testing thing out in the environment that doesn’t penalize death? Of course, but I’d rather learn the hard way.

What do you think? Will you straddle the great divide? Or will you stick to your own team?

One Life 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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65 thoughts on “One life to live #27: Can we play for both teams?

  1. Once I started playing hardcore I never played softcore again, not even once. In fact, I don’t know anyone who went back to softcore after playing hardcore, not even for “practice”. Is this really something that is done? Seems surreal to me and I can’t imagine it being common at all.

    EDIT: been re-reading the blue response while shaking my head in confusion, there is not a single thing in there that makes any sense at all. I guess this is why blizzard will never see things from a hardcore players point of view.

    • Yep, pretty much. I used to play diablo 2 in a fairly large gaming community, which had both a set of players in hardcore and a set of players in soft core. While there were a few that played both (mostly the casual players that never really got much past normal in hardcore) virtually everyone in the community of hundreds that played one mode, stuck with that one mode.

      There was probably all of 2 or 3 people that actually split time between the two at high levels.

      Honestly I think the Blizzard CM is fibbing about their D2 experiences. They just don’t match what I have Personally experienced. And, if they are actually telling the truth then I fear for d3 even more, because they are completely out of touch with how most serious hardcore players actually play their game. Scarily so.

      • I also call shenanigans on his claim. Over the 10+ years of D2 I’ve played thousands of hours of both, but never at the same time. People might dabble in both at this point in D2, but not in the early days. You have to play 100% one or the other to power up chars, build up gear, etc. And that’ll be truer than ever in early D3, as we all build up our artisans and stock our shared stash with high level gear, level up chars to PvP, etc. 

        Like the rest of you guys, I take the Blue post as a CM doing his tower defense PR thing and constructing arguments to support the current feature set.

        If Bliz had said that HC could be played right from the start and there was fan outcry from people who wanted to be forced to waste their first play through in SC (Obviously that would never happen since no one would ever request that system, but just pretend for the sake of the argument.) I’m sure we’d see the same CMs talking about how no one ever plays HC and SC at the same time and it’s all about specializing your time expenditure, etc.

    • Hello, I’m a Blizzard rep, and I’m trying to unsuccesfully convince you that many many people play both. Jk, different item pool.

  2. It can live in both worlds, but starting absolutely first character on hardcore is not repeatable experience, and that is what the debate is all about.

  3. being  a hardcore hardcorer in D2 and loving it, i must say that not having the rmah and possible death from arena pvp, i may go full softcore this time around… that being said i will definately test the waters in sc before playing hc….since i am basically required to just makes sense…and as for the original poster…i dont really understand the post…its all personal preference you can play both… i dont understand 

    • How can you not understand? The question is should you be able to play both? If your HC then by default it implies you only play HC same goes for SC. 
      The truly mind-boggling question is should you be able to play the two, and still designate yourself as one or the other?

  4. Did he really say ” I’ve gotten to know several other hardcore Hardcore players, if you know what I mean.”

    The Mr Bean Meme, makes me think he did naughty thing with other hardcore character O.o 

  5. “Can we have a foot in both worlds or should we devote our time solely in one?”

    Truly an ethical dilemma for the ages.
    I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist… 🙂

  6. I’d say I spent 50/50 in both modes. But NEVER at the same time!
    My first year or two with DII was spent in Normal, only joking to my friends about how crazy people were to play “Hardcore” mode.  But then after some time my friends and I got pretty good at DII and bored by it.  Naturally we tested out Hardcore and never ever looked back!  I foresee my time in DIII will be similar, except I bet the turn to Hardcore will be more like 3-6 months and not 2 years.

  7. As someone who pulled top 16 in 1.10 S1, not a single one of the other people I baaled with touched SC.  There wouldn’t be time for it.
    As one of the first HC people on the realm to kill the ubers after their introduction, and playing with a handful of other people who were also very fast to do the same, I don’t know a single person who practiced them on SC first; we read an SC encounter or two about how much res to stack, but we didn’t practice.
    I don’t know who these “hardcore Hardcore” players are that Kalvax knows, but they aren’t anyone I know.  PvP is about the only reason I’ve heard of “hardcore Hardcore” players splitting time (and that’s only for some), the PvM game just isn’t challenging enough for it to be a requirement.

    • we read an SC encounter or two about how much res to stack, but we didn’t practice.
      What’s the difference? You still, essentially, used “your” SC experience to help with HC. Which was his point.

      • No, Kalvax was defending the decision to force a play through of normal on SC.  He defended it by saying “hardcore HC” players split time.  Xanth’s post is also primarily about splitting time.  He mentions that he’d like to learn the hard way (which I agree would not include reading) but it’s primarily about splitting time.
        Reading takes several orders of magnitude less time than actually playing, and is sufficient for “hardcore HC” players.  There isn’t enough time to split between actually playing both.

  8. Hmm it sounds weird to me. I guess it might be possible that he talking about normal difficulty and not softcore?
    The other possibility is he means the hardcorers he knows had played a fair bit of softcore (the question is what a fair bit means) before switching, or he a non English blue (its possible as the wording seem odd.

  9. After all these years I will forever asociate the color blue with lying and lies. I know of no HC player who has ever played HC and SC at the same time, obviously softcore players who occasionaly roll a HC character now and again dont count.

  10. I am totally with You here, Xanth and frankly, I did not buy the blue every single one of them plays normal in support of their hardcore. My first thought was: Never heard of that. I hail from the old days, from Hack, Rogue, Sword of Fargoal. The Dungeon Crawl Genre was in those days defined by it´s uncompromisingness. How deep could You get before almost inevitable death got You ? Death meant something. And yes at – very – few times I even succeeded. I brought the Amulet of Yendor back to the light of day about 5 times or so. That means something to me. I play Rogue to this day. In Diablo II I only play hardcore. Thats just because I want a challenge and to see how far can I come. With Diablo III however I will go both ways. Why ? I will play Softcore to make some coin. I find the Idea intriguing to make extra cash just doing my hobby. Thats awesome. I will play Hardcore like I always did, too however because I want to see how far I can come. If the RMAH wasn´t in the game, I would only play Hardcore. I can´t see how simply restarting after dying in Softcore would support my Hardcore experience. A Hardcore player doesn´t need support because he experiences and learns through the death of his characters and tries to make it better next time. But Death is necessary and priceless in it´s uncompromisingness.  

  11. I’ll play softcore sometimes with friends who have softcore characters and are not interested in hardcore, but the idea of doing softcore as some sort of ‘practice’ mode for hardcore makes zero sense to me. If you want to practice for hardcore, hardcore is the best place to do that. Softcore teaches you bad habits like only stacking up your dps and rolling your eyes at skills/runes that sacrifice damage for more survivability.

  12. Setting your foot in HC as your first character and playing the game for the first time would be probably closest to real feeling you could get. Experiencing the story while being afraid of death would be awesome, and im sad Blizzard is getting rid of this idea. The story is only a one-time thing in diablo(and millions re-runs of it), and some players just dont want to “waste” this one time in SC. I cant really get this to my head they are defending it.

  13. *Blue Poster waves arms in your general direction with spirit fingers working overtime* “Playyyy softcorrrrre, uuuuuse the RMAHHHHHH!”

  14. I consider myself to be a hardcore vet, and I play softcore alongside it. Every hardcore player I’ve ever known does, too.

    For some of the reasons you’ve outlined, you can’t be a truly effective HC player without playing at least some SC.

    As someone above stated, the bitching revolves around the fact that you can only play the game for the first time once, and they want that to be HC (which I can sympathise with).

    • You must not know many HC “vets” if every single one that you know splits time. After all, we already have a number of testimonials on this very page that contradicts your personal experience.

      Here’s another personal testimony you can add to the pile of contradicting evidence: After I made the HC switch (about 3 months after picking up the game) I played for years without playing a single softcore character, minus the occasional rush to activate a new account for hardcore. Played perhaps 30 characters to guardian status. Never used the cheats and cheated items and bot-led Baal runs that became rampant in d2s later years, most of my playing experience was prior to 2004, with a few month-long comebacks. Over the thousand hours I put into hardcore, I only killed 6 characters. Meanwhile, I had 3×99 and several 90s in 1.09, several 90s in 1.10 and beyond…dozens of characters 80+…

      So much for your theory that you need to practice in SC to be effective at HC.

  15. Hardcore and ONLY hardcore, even a single playthrough in softcore will take a huge chunk of the fun for me, spoiling the funny deaths…
    Imagine the satisfaction, if you manage to not die on first playthrough in hardcore…., but nooooo you gotta play like a softie at least once.
    What a waste of time and fun…:(

    To the point, never gonna touch softcore, or well, i guess at least once;(

  16. Lets make it clear: it is not about HC vs SC preference but less freedom of choice.
    We have 3 groups of players:
    1) SC only
    2) SC to test waters, then HC
    3) HC from the start (which are forced to join group 2)
    Now, why do you want to lower the player’s number of choices? It is his game and it is his decision how he wants to play. Why game-designer ever should care about it? There are no single argument to support forced sc over hc. Display the warning message, make player aware of possible consequences and let him go.

  17. I think it is logical to play softcore first but i can also understand why some people may want to start in hardcore. They should really leave it to the player to decide.

    On another note, could you just join a game and sit in town while the rest of the party beats normal and get the quests? That way the story isnt completely ruined your first playthrough, it would be very boring though lol.

    • I’m actually very tempted to not start playing right away.  Wait until a month in or so, once ppl know how to rush, maybe even possible without ruining the story. Or better yet, maybe ppl will have figured out how to flag an account for the SC playthrough.
      Then start playing D3 the way i wanted to.

  18. When I get new game I don’t start playing from very easy to learn it, and then replay it on hard. I start from hard from the very beggining. I don’t see point in facerolling through game on easy just to learn everything about it to make hard easier. There is no fun in it for me.

    Yes, I will be dying a lot. Heck, I expect it will take me months to reach Inferno (IF the game will be as hard as Blizz claims it to be). But I’m fine with it, that’s what I choose to do, and thats what gives me most fun.

    There is game called Dungoens of Dredmor. It’s really good dungoen crawler, where you can choose to play hardcore from the very begging. You did not have to play through whole game to unlock it. This mode is called Permadeath (maybe Blizzard should just change to this name for “casuals” to understand it easier ?). And it’s awesome. I started with Permadeath from start, and I died after 10minutes. Did I waste this time ? Of course not, I had fun that time. Next time I knew not to disarm traps when low on health (should know it for very beggining, but well… yeah). Hell, dying is part of this game, developers wanted people to die and start over and over again. And damn, this game can be hard.

    If you haven’t played it yet and you like dungeon crawlers with permadeath from the very start, then go and buy it. It’s worth every cent. And it cost only 4Euro (plus 2Euro for DLC with addional levels).

    I don’t understand why Blizzard can’t put hardcore form the very start. And I don’t buy this “I play softcore to know how to avoid death in hardcore”. Where’s the fun then ? If I can avoid dying because I know everything already, then it’s becoming boring for me. Yes, after some time I will learn everything. But thats the point. I want to explore it, learn from my mistakes on hard. That’s what I enjoy. Hell, why they can’t just put disclaimer for people who did not finish game on normal standing: “If you ever blaim Blizzard for loosing your character and you will demand from us to resurect that character, your account shall be permanently banned.”. I would gladly sign it up.

    Yes, I am aware that Diablo games are design in a way, where you play from easy to hard on same character. But at least give me option to make even easy mode a bit more challenging.

    Oh well. If they don’t then I’ll just ask my younger brother to rush through normal for me. I’ve been waiting for this game for years, and if everything goes well I’ll be playing it for years also. If I start playing it week later then I should because of it, I won’t care at all.

    /end of rant.

  19. I am with You here Yodo but there is ONE reason I can think of that mattered to Blizzard: Every player playing HC is one less player in the RMAH. Could tht be Blizzards reason not to allow HC from the start ?

  20. I hate how Blizzard removes our choice time and time again.

    But its looks like this is finalized for launch, so for the truly Hardcore, we’ll need to find a way around this. These are the options I can think of:
    1) I’m hoping there will be an option in a config file on the client that we can switch to allow hardcore immediately.
    2) If that doesn’t work, perhaps high level players can rush the character through Normal (may not be an option on the week of release though).
    3) Maybe friends or people on the internet will be willing to sell an account that has been run through Normal, preventing the story from being spoiled on the first playthrough.

    • I also hope the config file option exists. I used it a few times on my many returns back to hardcore before they patched in hardcore from the start.

    • They didn’t remove anything. They kept the same rule from Diablo 2. Beat the game and then you get your hardcore. Although this is probably one of the few times that people will complain about something remaining the same from D2.
      I played mostly soft, but I had a couple of hardcore characters that I put maybe 1/3 of my time into. It’s hard to say that there are people that don’t play both though even if a majority of HCers on this site only stuck to HC, since the entire world > this blog/forum/board. I feel for the people that want their first experience to be hardcore though. It’s kinda like booting up any other game out there and seeing Easy, Normal, and Hard options, but Nightmare/Insane/LOLZDIFFICULTY are grayed out until you beat the game.
      My guess is that the best option would be to have someone rush you through. Turn off your sound so you don’t get any audio spoilers, and you can skip cinematics and cutscenes (at least in the beta) so you should be good to go.

      • D2 had an official patch (version 1.13a, maybe) that gave you the ability to start with HC 
        so, yes, they are taking something away 

  21. Everyone needs to stop making sweeping generalizations. Just because you never encountered a lot of people who played both modes, isnt indicative of what the community as a whole does. On a relate note, who cares? It’s a game, let people play how they want. Unless a scientific study is released showing that pure hardcore players are more effective than thise who split their time, i’m not buying any of this bs.

    • The point isn’t whether or not anybody plays both. It’s a denial of the CM’s claim that all “hardcore HC” players do play both, and annoyance that said claim is being used as a reason to *force* us all to play that way.

  22. Reading some of these posts makes me realize why i get frustrated with games like CoD and Battlefield, while loving Final Fantasy and Diablo.

  23. This is just my opinion as i see things from both points of view. I have never played hardcore personally (i’m not a good enough player to risk losing everything on a stupid move) but i fully support the idea of having hardcore as an option at launch. i mean, why not? just as long as it is very clear what hardcore will mean when you choose it, that should at least let people know what they are in for when they select it.
    on the other hand if blizzard insists on having this as an unlockable only after a softcore playthrough and you are that desperate to have that hardcore experience, what is stopping someone from playing it like it is hardcore and erasing your chr when you die? sure you dont get the “hall of fallen heros” stuff but you can still recreate that hardcore experience as long as you are honest with yourself about it. 
    I feel your pain HC players but i think a calm rational explanation will benefit your cause far more than the nerd rage i usually see in forums on this topic.

    • I would still be spending my first play through levelling a SC char that I never intend to play again. 

  24. I was actually one of those people that played both hardcore and softcore… Sometimes I just wanted to jump in and NOT worry about death for a while – for me I think it was about 60/40.

    I really wanted to jump straight into hardcore though… Myself and a couple friends wanted to do a contest on launch day in hardcore – highest level on the first day before death wins (prize undetermined). Now with their changes, it looks like we’ll have to hold a LAN party to keep everyone honest (but maybe pick up a few more players). 

  25. The ultimate hardcore experience is facing new content where you have no idea what to expect imo, it doesn’t get better than that. I don’t know any HC player who would want to practice an encounter before doing it on HC.
    If people want to split time between HC an SC then that’s fine, my experience is that hardly any HC players do that unless they play with some SC friends or to train some PvP perhaps. It’s definitely a bad excuse for forcing everyone to start on softcore.

  26. My best guess for the first mandatory playthru in sc is that blizzard hopes that a lot of the hc players get hooked on the RMAH.  This has nothing to do with protecting of the players as they say. Just money related.  👿

    Edit: typo

    • Agreed. A warning in big bold red letters to scare away those, ‘casuals who dont know how/arn’t willing to read’ would suffice. This is just about the greenbacks.


  27. I understand why Blizzard wants people to try it on SC – first it will let them see how the diff is lategame /nightmare and introduce them to RMAH. Also they want to prevent the whole race of being first lv 60HC and discourage new players that think might think that HC is just like another diff level. I never played HC myself – losing character due to lag/ISP fail (not so uncommon) is just unacceptable for me – i could try it if they would make it like in PoE – give option to convert to SC after death.
    Also i do like PvP – and thats some bizzare thing for me that happens in D3 – i cant die in PvE but can in PvP – eee what?

  28. As many people have echoed, I’ve not known many HCs who spend a great deal in SC.

    I’m very much in the HC camp, and while I did learn a lot of the game in SC, I certainly didn’t spend much time there once my HC characters got rolling. I’d really like it to be open from the start, but have resigned to the fact that this probably isn’t going to happen.

    Possible correction for other people: I don’t think stash/money will be shared between HC and SC, it would kind of negate the point of making the RMAH SC only.  

  29. Actually, the worst thing i find about whole HC after SC debacle is, that Blizzard expects people to waste a quite big chunk of time playing a character they won’t touch again. They could at least let players turn their SC character into a HC character after finishing normal. That way the time you spent on playing the game mode you don’t want to play, won’t be completely wasted. I’m sure there are many reasons against such solution, but it’s way better then playing 1-30, then deleting that character.
    Or better yet, just let people play HC from start.

  30. I actually think the blue post makes a lot of sense. Although, the forced normal play through makes it less likely you’ll feel cheated dying in HC to a quirky/unexpected mechanic, as the difficulty ramps up and new things come into play, I can see it would be useful to know a bit about what to expect. They’re not saying that you have to play both SC and HC – but that it can be useful. 

    Also, I think the HC veterans might be forgetting what it was like when they first played D2. We’ve all been playing for so many years now, that nothing surprises us any more. There is no combination of abilities on a unique we haven’t seen – and we know all the bosses and their mechanics. Starting fresh in D3 will be completely different… 

    • None of the blue defences on this thread make any sense at all.

      If they really wanted us to see all the boss ability combinations and all unexpected new stuff they should make Hardcore available after beating Inferno.

  31. Why can’t you be true to your roots on your own and delete a character when you die your first time through I know it sucks but if it’s really what you want it gives you bactheat feeling of dread


    *serious* HC player will only do it in normal ? UIm, serious HC player will play HC for it, for the thrill, that’s the whole  purpose of HC! Why have HC char if you playtest all the stuff with normal char??!

  33. Delete your character when you die. Problem solved. Your so HARDCORE. Delete your character. Your so, strong willed and hardcore, take your death like a man and delete your character.

    • I would have no problem with that idea if after I successfully complete normal without dying I am given the option to convert the character and all its equipment and found items to hardcore. (of course, that isn’t possible because it would be ripe for abuse)

      The main problem with a softcore run through, even if I delete my characters if they die, is that once successful I am forced to abandon the character and everything I have collected so far and start again from scratch.

      How happy do you think most soft core people would be if the game forced you to delete your first soft core character and all his items after clearing Normal for the first time? Not very happy, I guarantee it.

    • “Then (don’t) do it” is a logical fallacy you brainless tard.

      Point of the matter is this:
      Nobody is going to make the ridiculous demand from a hardcore player to never touch softcore. Everyone agrees on that right? Then why are there idiots that support the equally ridiculous demand from a hardcore player to first play softcore? What objection could any sane person possibly have  with someone wanting to experience the game only in hardcore mode?

  34. The only split time I know of is playing softcore 100% of the time, then after getting bored, playing hardcore 100% of the time.  Then if frustrated with the state of, going back and playing softcore 100% of the time.  No one I know, willy, nilly switches between the modes.

  35. I wish Blizzard would just come out and say that they want to force people through the RMAH before unlocking hardcore.

    • Because that would be honesty, and blues forgot how to do that around the time Blizzard North folded.

  36. I don’t know why people get so defensive when discussing HC and SC.  Just play the way you want to.  I played both and I prefer SC because my friends all play SC and I like to play with them. 

    As long as Blizz supports both modes, why is this an issue?  Just play the mode that you think it is fun and that should be the end of discussion. 

    • It’s an issue because HC players are forced through normal on SC once, so we can’t ‘play the way we want’.

  37. It would be really cool for those HC players to have an achievement that states you have yet to create a SC character.
    SC is like training wheels no disrespect to SC players as i am one myself but i would still find it entertaining to see those few who simply play HC right out of the gates. 😯

  38. Hardcore vs. lag spike. Lag spike wins and all of the softcore practice in the world can’t save you.

  39. Try to imagine this blue at home writing down notes in SC, and saying Huzzaah!, I found a new build! Then switching to his HC toon. I think he should be forced to play it that way.

  40. While playing HC D2 gives you a lot more emotional investment into the game and makes your achievement far more meaningful, being successful at HC requires a far more cautious (and slower) game play, it forces you to skip a lot of the harder groups of monsters, reduces the number of viable builds you can play and can be quite stressful. This is why I never fully embraced HC and why I still play SC. Sometimes I’m in the mood for SC, sometimes I crave a greater challenge and play HC. As a bonus, while I’m playing SC I do try to go over the top and try risky stuff and see how much I can get away with, and perhaps some of this experience carries over to HC. However, I’m not doing this to get better at HC, I’m doing it because I find it fun. I predict I’ll play D3 exclusively SC until I find that I’m up for a greater challenge and then go 50/50.

  41. What a load of crap. Noooo freakin way that is true. The ONLY time regular HC’ers choose to play SC in D2 was to duell.

  42. It’s not like allowing hardcore immedietly stops people from playing both? I want to play nothing but hardcore and yes it would be awesome to have my first playthrough be hardcore.

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