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    So many new toys, so many new choices, so much waiting! While the queue may have been a bit long, the rush for 2000% drop rates has subsided and testing seems to not be as much of an arduous task. Which makes it a lot easier to speculate how this this will all shake up our mode for HC.

    The elephant in the room

    Level-up2

    First and foremost the thing I expected to be taken out was the ease of power leveling in the game currently. This however remains as it is in live, and really at this point it’s not worth arguing about. We can rejoice that death will be a little less painful even in 2.3

    The cube and bounty game

     

    I can’t recall the last time I actually wanted to do bounties, yet I found myself traversing the many maps in search of all those materials. Blizzard has struck a nice balance between bounties and rifts, with each having their respected place. Need materials-bounties, need a better chance at the item you’re hunting-rifts, need to test your build against others-grifts, need to pvp- well maybe in 2.4.

    cube-recipe-amethystThe cube also poses a nice problem for Hardcore, we can think about maybe being a bit defensive in our choices! Nah, who am I kidding? We want to kill faster, Furnace it is! Aside from going straight from he jugular, it does open up some more diversity which can help us stay alive. After all they can’t kill you if they’re dead.

    One thing that does surprise me is the permeant of your choices, if I have unlocked an item on one character it is open for all, and thusly when I die it remains open. One of the larger arguments about death being a penalty in HC was the sting of loss that stems from items. However this is another bypass to that system as we’ll still have a cadre of items at our disposal. I don’t know what the solution is here, we already share levels, stash, and artisans. That makes it hard to separate this system from the rest but it would be nice to lose something with death.

    On the flip side I think it would be fun to level with all those cubed bonuses. That is of course if you want to level up the hard way.

    The builds

    While I haven’t played every class on the PTR (or on live for that matter*cough* Demon Hunter *cough*) some trends are emerging. Barb, DH, Monk and Crusader are all relatively strong. The Monk and Crusader saw some love this patch with new sets and thus new tools to help climb the ladder of grifts. On the other hand, Wizards and Witch doctors are on the short end of the stick.  I can’t speak to the woe of the Wizards; I can speak for the Witch Doctors. With one new set, a revamp of a previous guaranteed forgotten soul (hell tooth), and a revamp of Manajuma’s ,I was hoping at least one to stick out as a replacement for the Dagger of darts build. Sadly that wasn’t the case. Both sets rely heavily on DOT damage or setting up skills to work other skills, as opposed to them working in harmony as opposed to dependency. I’m still committed to the WD(because i’m a glutton for punishment) but with both builds being even more squishy than the DoD build it’s hard to choose otherwise. I don’t suspect what we see on the PTR will change much on live but there is still time for tweaks.

     

    The verdict

    Overall the patch is exciting and and revitalizing. Not everything can/will be perfect but to be able to log in and do something different is always exciting. To introduce a new mechanic that shift the way we will continue to do that can’t be a bad thing. This is shaping up to be not just a great patch for Hardcore but the game itself.

    How are you planning for HC with patch 2.3?

    One Life to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. It is written by Xanth and published (semi)weekly. Post your comments below, Follow me on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly.

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