One life to live #30: Hardcore Barbarians

With a few weeks in the beta and Hardcore now enabled I thought for the next few weeks I’d look at the experience with each class and my trials and tribulations leveling them to 13. Up first the the Barbarian ( the title should have told you that)

third time's a charm

I started with the Barbarian because it was the class I was looking forward to the least. I loved the Monk but wasn’t sold on this throwback to Diablo 2. From previous playthroughs in October, the skills felt off and uninteresting, and when I did seem powerful I was at the level cap.

Starting off I chose the male Barbarian( I always choose male now that I have a choice) and named him of course HCXanth (shameless twitter plug). Since it was my first character since the patch 15 wipe I was truly starting fresh. No stash, no artisan, just an axe and the second best beard in the game.

The first six levels are easy, kill zombies, save cain, kill Haedrig’s wife and voila. In that time I noticed I was having fun smashing everything I saw, rushing in swinging frantically and cutting my foes down. With the increase to monster health I felt like a warrior fighting for survival and if I wasn’t careful I would be overwhelmed.I grew attached to my Barbarian and in the blink of an eye he was gone. My beta attitude is trying to figure out how far can I push each character to find their breaking point. How much is too much? What happens when my back is against the wall? All good things to know early on before you get going, and things that later on will come in handy, and some lessons already learned with this humble Barbarian.

My group wandered into the den of the fallen. We quickly cleared the first wing and I made it down to the second before everyone else. As the den began to sprawl I went left as they went right. I found myself smack in the middle of a pack of molten bats. In a second my screen was red, I quickly hit my potion and tried to get out of harm’s way. I mistimed my leap and found only more monsters and less health. Before my group reached me I was dead. That pack went on to slaughter two more characters who also couldn’t get out of the fray.

With the tougher monsters in group play I set out with my new barbarian to just play with myself..or by myself. Kill zombies, save cain, kill Haedrig’s wife and back in business. This time I was more familiar with my skills, had a small amount of gold to work with and quickly found myself in front of the Skeleton King. Having bested him many times I figured I was in for a walk in the park again. On entering into his domain my town portal was turned off, the exit was sealed and I was left to my fate. We fought back and forth, but in the end he got the better of me. Potions on cool down and being a little to low level to handle all that was before me lead to my down fall.

So I started again. Kill zombies, save Cain, kill Haedrigs wife. This time however, I went back joined public games and redid those quests a few times. I was level 10 and with a group before I took on the Skeleton king. Even then there were close calls and potions used, not just by me but by my group as well. Eventually I maxed out at 13 and was loving this class, so what changed?

With the enhanced monster life I was finally able to play the barbarian the way I believe the developers wanted. It was no longer one shooting everything but I had to be conscience of my surroundings, of my potions, and my cool downs. I needed to stomp and stun that pack that was swooping in, or leap as I was being swarmed because I wasn’t going to survive anymore.

Now as for the hardcore aspect I would be lying if I didn’t say I would be hesitant with a melee character right now. Since most of my skills with a barbarian involve standing next to the thing I want to kill I saw my health bar dropping frequently. In hardcore we are going to have to do a lot of backtracking, repeating a lot of the same quests to make sure we’re not walking in underprepared for what is ahead. We’ve lost spamming potions, and using town portal during tough situations and now are completely reliant on our skills and choices.

The barb skills I found myself using most

DiabloWikiLeap: Simple and effective. Gets you out of harms way or pushes you into combat ready to clobber your stunned foes.

DiabloWikiGround Stomp: Being able to stun and slow my enemies was literally a life saver when combined with leap. I was also able to stun the Skeleton king and wail on him a bit.

DiabloWikiCleave: Being able to hit multiple monsters seemed more helpful than just one. I found myself being swarmed often and this skill coupled with the rune that causes monsters to explode on death helps clear the way.

In the end I found myself wanting to do more with My Barbarian, I experienced death and the drive to not have that happen again with this class. It won’t be easy taking a Barbarian to 60 ( or any melee class for that matter) but it’s an appealing idea and one I might find myself embarking on on may 15th.

Next week: Demon Hunter

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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55 thoughts on “One life to live #30: Hardcore Barbarians

  1. Yikes, sounds crazy that it would be that hard during the first 10 levels. Oh well, I’m planning on going barbarian HC right from the start anyway 🙂 Fingers crossed I’ll get the beta before release so I can try out how things work in regards to skills/potions/tp etc before going for it come release.

    • I don’t think dying twice means the game is hard in the first 10 levels. From a softcore perspective, that means the player would have lost the brief amount of time it took to run back from the last saved check point.

      The difficulty should be tuned around a low number of deaths, not no deaths at all. If this article reflects the experience of an average player (translated into a softcore death penalty), then I would say that the difficulty is pretty much perfect.

      • No disrespect to Xanth, but he clearly wrote that he was playing recklessly both times he died. I think it is a) not that hard but b) well-tuned.

      • I assumed that Xanth was an experienced d2 HC player, considering he is writing articles on this site about it, and that he has played the beta quite a bit as well. Maybe that was a false assumption 🙂 Either way, it would be great if it proved more of a challenge than d2 so bring it on

        • Sentarius is right, It’s not difficult per se but finely tuned that if you are careless( like I was) you can die.

  2. Melee classes are usually my first choice.  I’ll probably start with Barbarian myself, even in Hardcore.  I think he’ll be a manageable class with all his defensive skills and a lot of health stealing passives and skills. Plus with the Hit Points to lend.

  3. I’ve been playing SC but have taken out the SK with each class without any deaths. That said, the game does feel a lot harder now and especially the skeleton king….none of my characters killed him quickly although I think only the monk actually needed a potion rather than just health globes. I think the play for every class feels strategic, certainly the melee characters but the ranged characters too – it’s not that easy to one-shot anything anymore, so you have to be aware of the position you’re engaging from and of where safe open space is.

  4. Great Article.  A friend and I did Hardcore Characters a week or 2 ago in Patch 14.  Wizard and Demon Hunter.  Got to level 7 before killing Haedrigs wife (we always clear EVERYTHING in our games) before I ran into some Teleporting Scavengers when we were separated by a far distance.  By the time he got to me the Dogs had killed me and we had to start over as Wizard and Witch Doctor.   The second time we had no problems and killed the Skeleton King at level 9.  Did they up his health in patch 15?  He feels stronger in this patch than last.
    Also, reading this article was highly frustrating.  The content was good, but the sight design is killing me.  You have something that is resizing constantly and it is moving the text of the article all over the place.  It makes me not want to read any more articles.  There may be something on my end to fix that, but there may be a lot of people that don’t know how to do that and I think you will lose readers if these ads continue to screw with the experience.  I’m using Mozilla 5.0 at the moment with no add-ons.

      • Yea, I figure not everyone would get the resizing issue I am having.  Hopefully the developers of the site can take my information with Mozilla 5.0 and figure out why I’m having this annoying experience.  They are free to email me for any more information I can possibly give.
        It’s killing me though, I can’t find what is making it resize constantly.

        • Same issue here.  I recently updated my browser to Firefox 11.0, and began noticing the resizing issue (only on this website).

    • something did happen to the design.   I visit this site on Safari on my laptop and Firefox on my desktop.  Both browsers have large horizontal scrolling.   On my magic mouse, when I swipe down to scroll it often goes left or right as well.  

      They need to fix whatever is breaking the layout causing the horizontal scroll.   

    • I come to this site daily and I’m having the same problem. It hasn’t happened before so I’m guessing this is a one-off thing. Also on Chrome (everyone on this site seems to prefer Chrome?)

    • i am also having the same issue. chrome with no add ons. 

      i also am a daily visitor. and i am experiencing this for the first time. i had thought that my scroll wheel was dying, before i saw these comments.

    • It’s not the ads; the problem is Incgamers Latest News at the top of the page (DIV with ID “inc_latest_news”). If one of the headlines there is too long it will cause a line-break. Since there’s a script cycling through the headlines, it will make the entire page move up and down periodically. 

      VERY annoying. 

      • Thanks for the bug reports, guys, and we’re looking into fixing the issue. It’s helpful to hear from people who get issues, since there are such a wide variety of systems, browsers, script-blockers, resolutions, etc that there’s no way to test everything for everyone. Plus the ads serve from different agencies depending on your location, and thus the admins don’t/can’t see the ads you’re seeing, and sometimes the ad agencies add ones to the rotation that are the wrong shape or size.

  5. Very interesting read. I too was planning on rolling a Barb from the start. It will be interesting to see how much gear has an effect on the game difficulty. Like Haccubus said, with Life steal and high defense will we swing more towards invincible? or stay fragile and have to always stay on our toes more like monk gameplay?

    I guess we will find out on the 15th!!

  6. Considering how the author is an experienced Diablo player, I’m surprised he died two times in this minor intro portion of the game. Either the game is subtantially harder at this early stage than DII was, or it’s just a lack of experience with the game on his part. Not having played the beta myself, it’s hard to say.

    • There are 2 potentially hard things in the beta now.

      The Den of the Fallen, since bosses with some dangerous mods can still spawn there. Ala Molten. Bosses all over the beta had those earlier, but the devs have nerfed which mods appear in the early going. Players in the “Beyond the Fence” bonus content found it much harder since bosses had molten and other nasty mods, and I’m sure a lot of beta players will get a frightening surprise in the full game, as the difficulty ramps up rapidly after the beta content.

      The Skeleton King, in the new patch, is quite a challenge if you’re not well-geared. He’s got 2500 hps now, and with the much lower quality char equipment early on, players have much lower DPS so the battle takes a lot longer.  Also, the player hps have been turned back down from the “sumo suit” version a couple of patches ago. Now you might have 300 hps at lvl 9. Previously you’d have had 800+ with identical quality equipment.

      Far as I can tell from playthroughs with all 5 classes in the new patch, Leoric isn’t actually any harder; he just has more hps, while your character has fewer hps and lower dmg. Hence the fight takes longer.  The Barb is actually the worst at Leoric too, since until lvl 11 and Frenzy, you do not have any good single target skills. So you’ve just got to bash or Cleave him over and over again, moving in and out as he goes into his hitting mode, or summons skeletons.

      • The Barb rocks the Skeleton King 🙂 Try Bash with Clobber on and Hammer of the Ancients with Rolling Thunder. He died pretty fast, and I would’t say the fight was very hard.

        My next character the WD, did not have an easy time with him tho. The fight was waaaaaaaaay longer, I had a tough time bringing him down. 

  7. Nice article Xanth, it mirrors my experiences with the Barb. A suggestion for new Barb players against Leoric:
    1) Equip two weapons, the faster the better.
    2) Use Bash with the Clobber rune.
    3) ???
    4) Profit.

  8. I played a lot of barb in the Beta, and have a few HC barbs as well (not my fav class, but am stuck with it because non of my friends wanted to use barb).  To be honest with you, I am very careless with my barb as I run all over the map in a full game without regards to my HP.  There are a few times that my HP globe went to 50%, but never came close to dying.  Even at SK at first killing, I managed to kill him after 5 min.  With the help of a few potions and hp drops, SK posed not really a threat. 

    In a full game with others doing DMG, it is even easier.  I really don’t understand how people can die in Beta.  You really have to not try at all in order to die.  In fact I was playing last night with a fresh new Wiz, at lvl 8 i was fighting SK with 2 others in a pub.  It was late and I was tired.  Since SK has so much HP now, it literally takes a few minutes to finish him.  Long story short, I dosed off at my keyboard and woke up with my wiz standing alone in the game with the dead SK on the ground. 

    Literally, I beat SK in my sleep without dying.  I do admit the beta is harder than it was, but I realy hope it scales up quickly in retail.

  9. After the monsters got their buff in beta I actually had to use potions a couple times. Never died, but until then I’d never even needed them, even without running away from monsters.

    With the wizard now, I had to run away constantly and still had to pop a few. With the monk though, I never really had to retreat, so I don’t think a melee character will necessarily have the hardest time. They are meant to take more damage. A barb with a shield and health traits chosen will probably be one of the most resilient.

  10. Looks like the game is too difficult now, what will happen in Inferno if everyone is dieing that much in the first levels…

    • They learn to get better? If people are not dropping like flies when they enter inferno, then it will be a disappointment.

    • First, only two deaths and both because of carelessness. Second, only a small percentage of players will be playing on hardcore, hardcore players know what happens if they get careless. I have yet to die in the beta btw, even after the monster buff. Not because I’m super 1337, but because I know to stutterstep shots, move away from packs, not wander off alone in group games, ect.

      • Ok but if skilled players like him die now at level 5-10, it will be impossible in Inferno.

        Not even talking about newbies…

        • My SC female Barbarian died to exactly the same pack of molten bats in Den of the Fallen – ‘if’ I had looked before charging into a narrow corridor, I’m fairly sure it would have ended differently.
          As the beta stands now, if you’re too greedy or too confident, there’s a good chance you’ll get smacked in the face – which is so cool 🙂 

          • As others have pointed out, the easiness makes it hard. Wut?  Since 99% of things are not dangerous, you get used to racing around and leaping into packs without a care. So then the 1 time in 100 that something turns serious, it’s a surprise.

            This should be less of an issue in the full game, since even with normal diff fairly easy, HC players will at least be aware of potentially nasty random boss mods, and keep some attention on their surroundings. (Until we’re all twinked out and godlike until NM or Hell, anyway.)

    • No.  In fact, even post-patch 15, the game is still incredibly easy.  People have been rendered sloppy thanks to mind-numbing “difficulty” before this point, and the fact that there was virtually zero use of potions (get used to using that hotkey people, and before you’re below 50% health,) and positioning for the sake of damage input/output was pointless.  These are simple concepts that span many genres of gaming.  If you point and click mindlessly you’re going to die, and that’s the point of these types of games – even in early gameplay/easy difficulty. No offence to article’s author intended.

  11. I suspect of this testimony when I read it, but considering that I didnt play through the patch 15 decently yet, I’ll keep my “trollness” for after I reach to 13 myself

    Before patch 15, was practically impossible to die, even if you were naked =)

  12. It kind of depresses me, as someone not in the beta, how much of a kick I get out of just staring at screenshots of the character select screen. Once the game is in my hands, this stuff will be meaningless to me, but right now it’s like, if I stare at the picture hard enough maybe it’ll feel like I’m already playing. Someone give this young man a beta key…

  13. Good article. I will also start with Barbarian. At the moment I am running one as a Tank. I found one of those nice big tower shields (not the round Targe), just white, but 100 Armor ! I have come to value the worth of Armor. My Main will use a Two-Hander but for HC I will definitely go Tank with shield and Axe or Sword.
    The difference with good armor can immediately be felt, especially when fighting big mobs. I like it so far.

  14. Good read, im not the hardcore type but admire you guys who do it, especially with a melee char.

  15. I’ll tell you how you can die in the Beta. Get into the den of the fallen on level two, by yourself in a four player game, cause you’re feeling froggy…..
    Then run into molten bats with an elite molten boss who you run from ……thereby chasing them to the entrace of level 2. You die. As you resurrect at level one and the second you reappear on level two you’re getting hammered before you can say boo, because they are instantly on top of you.

    I was playing SC but I was thinking about going HC. I died 4 times in a row before I got past that pack. 4 times!!!! It was a real blow to my inflated ego after all this easy Beta these past few months lol.

  16. Yeah, that must mean the problem doesn’t exist! IQ Bathduck.. I too had the same problem on my computer at home. The random nature of ad’s might make it.. yes you guessed it, quite random. 🙄

    Edit: Hehe, nice site bug. Replied to a post above and typed the wrong captcha, then retyped it and my post was added here instead.

  17. I played a barb straight to SK, pretty full clear but no backtracking and was level 9 when I got to him.  Fight about 3-4 mins and I didn’t have any issues.  Didn’t have exceptional gear but I had some decent weapons which doesn’t always happen.  But quite right, its the random mods on champs that will catch you off guard when playing HC.  If you’re going to be playing HC on launch day there isn’t any need to slow down or be “extra carefull.”  You do need to watch for mods and understand what they might mean.  Its first encounters that would be most dangerous.  Given its a first play through I still hope I’ll beat normal on one go.

  18. Not quite understanding the “the beta is still easy comments”… nobody is saying the beta is hard…everyone is in agreement its slightly harder.

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