It was a year ago I started writing for IncGamers and it’s been quite fun publishing content and adhering to a self imposed deadline. When I started The beta wasn’t out, and information was gleaned from Bashiok and random interviews. However, I was determined to discuss the hardcore community (and still am) In D3. Looking back I thought I would rehash my first article ” When did Hardcore become less Hardcore?” and see how it holds up with the game in our hands now.

    When Did Hardcore Become Less Hardcore?
    The deluge of information from Blizzard as of late has helped the community get a glimpse at what hardcore is shaping up to be. As an avid D2 hardcore player I know my first Diablo III character will be hardcore right out the gates (if that’s possible). What surprised me is how now I may have a few more people to play with, due to a simple decision to “ save us from ourselves”

    Back then the question was whether or not the lack of an RMAH would help or hurt Hardcore. I honestly think it’s had no effect. You can get by in SC without it and most people don’t like losing time on dead characters. With DiabloWikiParagon levels now I can only imagine how frustrated your average player would be with Hardcore. What I was happy was how they handled unlocking Hardcore. I pushed for a while to have it from the start but who can argue with simply making it to level 10?

    What is Hardcore?
    Hardcore characters are mortal, there is only one death. Each decision you make can lead to the demise of your character, and by association loss of items and time. It’s with that knowledge that we create Hardcore characters. We seek that thrill of danger challenging ourselves to not mess up. If we choose to play in the middle of a thunderstorm on a 14-year-old 56k modem, we know the risks; we know what we might lose.

    The greatest thing about Hardcore is the close calls and the deaths. I remember more vividly the first time I lost a hardcore character than any boss run, or loot drop I ever had. I also remember that feeling of hesitation going into Duriel’s lair, waiting for someone to go in first so I wasn’t stranded and killed. Duriel is a joke on softcore, but when you know that one death is all you get he becomes more menacing. Even a Nightmare magic find run with my barbarian could turn deadly, DiabloWikiBremm Sparkfist with a Lightning enchant stopped quite a few of my runs dead in their tracks. Suddenly, the mundane choices have ramifications and we go into hardcore with that knowledge.

    We still go in with the understanding of what we may lose. Granted we’ve seen many waves of server side destruction in the Hardcore community. Hardcore does still feel exciting, and Boss battles still can keep you on edge. I’ve lost four characters since launch, and each has inspired me to do better, and each has engrained a memory in my mind. I hesitate now on DiabloWikiBelial, and am wary of waller/Arcane monsters. Your death can come around any corner, and I for one find that exciting.

    How is D3 taking away from Hardcore?
    It comes down to taking away our choices. I’m not a huge fan of the Real money auction house, however its absence differentiates us more from softcore. It says that we can’t handle what they can. Do we need saving from ourselves? We are aware going into Hardcore the risks it implies, that being said if I buy an item I know I might lose it. There is nothing worse than losing a character right after you’ve upgraded them, and that feeling might sting a bit more if you bought the item with real cash. It also opens us up to third party sites that may try to fill the void Blizzard left. Anyone who has played D2 recently knows how bad it is with bots and spam, and while I don’t see D3 getting to that point if we leave this window open, I’m not sure.

    The lack of a RMAH could be a good thing as well. We might see more people try out Hardcore because of their hatred for the monetization of the game. It also may allow for a stable economy. Now our items won’t be split between gold and cash but all centered around one stable currency. Which then goes back to my original point. How would you feel if you just found a Windforce in hardcore and your friend in softcore just sold his for $50? He is now playing Diablo for free while your only option (aside from stashing it) is to place it up for gold, gold you may or may not need. This exposes the separate but not equal concept behind the lack of a RMAH. While your softcore friends are making bank, you’re struggling to survive and can’t see pay dirt for your strife.

    Again with the RMAH. Well I’d be lying if I didn’t wonder how much cash I could have made in those early weeks. At the same time I wonder how much I’d be tempted to spend. I still see Hardcore getting a RMAH sometime but I don’t think I’d embrace it as much as I thought I would have.

    Another large thing we lose from Hardcore is player killing. While I wasn’t a huge PK, and definitely wasn’t a fan of my character being mowed down by someone 30 levels ahead of me, I did somehow enjoy the fact I had the option. There is a rush hearing that hostility noise and knowing that you have to choose between killing monsters and hiding, or running back to town to be safe.

    Ironically you still can Pk in D3. Granted there is nothing in it for you other than ruining someone else’s night, yet it became such a problem that they needed to patch in a new entrance to Act 1. Which shows where there is a will there is a way.

    Hostility is now gone, and while I hated it at times, I hate to see our ability to duel and hunt each other down leave the game. What we have instead is the Arena. The Arena is no replacement for hostility. If I want to duel and change my mind I could run back to town, I can’t escape the arena. While I count myself as Hardcore I am not hardcore enough for that. Duelling and Arena are fundamentally different, for the most part duelling was solo, Arena is team based. Which lead two problems, how can you develop team chemistry is you die after one loss? How can you trust your teammate not to lag out?

    Thankfully we are hearing that the Arena may not be as hardcore as we thought. While nothing has been confirmed we did hear from Jay Wilson at the recent press event say:

    Hardcore, you had mentioned that you changed it to a death match where you respawn and do total kills. Is this still when you die that first time you are dead forever?

    Jay Wilson: That’s what I want to do. There is a lot of pushback on the team. I announced that at Blizzcon and the community were all for it. We have gotten a bit of mixed results outside of Blizzcon. It’s easy for me to get a crowd worked up so… The PvP strike team that focuses on that area, they are pretty nervous about it. Their basic feeling is that if that is what happens, then hardcore characters just won’t PvP. But then there was hardcore dueling in D2 so we may change that. We may allow hardcore PvP players to play without dying.

    That being said, I still want a way for hardcore players to duel even if not at ship. I am going to push for a way. Even if its basically just a place where you can go in the world where you are flagged for PvP. Even if it is that simple, there is a community, even if it’s a small community that I want to support. Those fuckers are crazy. Part of me is like aww you crazy bastards.

    I for one like these ideas, a place for dueling and the chance to hone those skills in the arena. It also means more people will be alive to play with making our community stronger. While I don’t think I’ll take advantage of risking my character who knows the confidence I may gain in the arena?

    Now the lack of hostility also allows for us to run with a group out people for a decent amount of time with out the errant level 19 coming in hostelling the group and causing panic. It also eliminates your fear of any TP that wasn’t your own. If I had a dollar for every character I lost to hydras greeting me on the other side of a portal, well I’d have like ten bucks.

    Still no idea about PVP…Maybe next year?

    We have to accept the Hardcore game in D3 will be different than what we saw in D2. However the fact I don’t have to fear my party members makes me uneasy. Suddenly Hardcore is feeling less so. As I stated earlier I won’t use the RMAH but some will, and how sweet would it be to see a D3 fetish mow down the guy who dropped $100 and has been bragging about his gear? That in essence is hardcore, taking a risk, in D2 I had to worry not only about the monsters but also the people around me, the portals I took, and even how close I was to waypoints. Now in D3 I’m protected from my fellow players and even from myself (hmm.. mortgage or shako?). All that’s left are the monsters, which ironically feel safe.

    Strangely I never mentioned the stash or artisans. Both of which have changed hardcore a bit but nothing drastic. As I look at Hardcore now, I’ve found a game that has me logging in constantly, searching for treasure,progressing inch by inch to the next level, and trying to stay alive. That’s what I loved about D2, and that’s why I’ve stayed with D3. Hardcore is just as Hardcore( if not more so) than in D2. Big thanks to anyone who’s been sticking with this column for the past year; I appreciate the kind words here and there, and even the unkind ones.

    With that being said, how has hardcore lived up to your expectations from pre-launch?

    One Life to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. It is written by Xanth (a paragon of objectivity) and published weekly. Post your comments below, Follow me on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly. For all the archived news about Diablo 3 hardcore check our Archives!

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