One life to live: Diablo 3 PTR and Hardcore

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


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.

Tagged As: | Categories: *Featured, Diablo 3, Diabloii.Net Columns, Hardcore


You're not logged in. Register or login to post a comment.
  1. Played about 3 weeks of S3 before other things drew my interest, Witcher3 etc. Tho i’m finding myself seriously pumped for season4 after consuming the ptr notes.. how far away is s4 btw? soon™ ?

    As far as s4 build planning goes, i’m pretty keen to dust off a fresh DH and cube some hexingpants into a nats set along with a focus/restraint combo. *shrug* havent looked that closely at builds yet tbh 😛

  2. one of my first thoughts was furnace, countess julias cameo and ice climbers …
    but thats mostly for a bit of damage and more survival (?) i guess.
    but im not satisfied with that choice.

    i will have to do a lot more thinking when the patch goes live.

  3. it’s time for a vote on what we all feel about the status of the death penalty in HC.

    I for one completely disagree that their is little penalty. I lost 2 Barbs in Season 3 before throwing in the towel. My first and best barb was lost to a DC. The next was lost to overpowered monsters who one shot me. Losing the leveled up gems SUUUUCKED!!!. It is absolutely no joke getting those back. I had also gotten extremely lucky on my first barb who was in almost entirely Ancient gear. My 2nd barb was not near as good due to not having that many ancients and was why he died in a 42gr. Just didn’t have the same survival.

    After the 2nd death, I have no desire to re-find gear and redo the gems.

    In fact, I’m likely going softcore next season. The DC death is what really hurt. It wasn’t until the 2nd death that I got truly upset by the DC death. Was 100+ hrs of effort thrown away and it wasn’t my fault. Just the “risk” of playing a online game in hardcore. Well, I am having serious hesitation to take that risk again.

    I kind of wish there was a medium core mode that simply counted your deaths and calculated that into the ranking.

    As for cube build I’m thinking about for BARB…I think Schaefer’s hammer might be interesting on the barb since we whirlwind in lightning mode non stop. Going +lightning dmg with that could be interesting. Dunno if it would equal the furnace or not but it sounds like fun. Thinking about the lightning stun ring and the thunder belt as a compliment just for the synergy of all 3. sounds like a fun build even though it probably won’t touch some of the other items combos. My guess is Furnace/Rorg/Rend belt will be the combo to beat. (and wearing the unity ring)

  4. Hey Xanth, Deathpod here. Your clanmate in IncHCN. We’ve had the “lack of death penalty” discussion in clan chat before. Only a week or two ago actually. We all agree that D2 knew how to punish us much more than D3 does, and now that the cube is account wide by game type, it’s just another reason D3’s HC death doesn’t sting like it should.

    Charons, I don’t mean to disagree with and say that death doesn’t suck… cause it does. A set back is a set back. However, it needs to be more than a set back. If I have backup gear in my stash — which I do — then no big deal. If I have a leveled set of the backup LGems — which I do — then no big deal. Call me old fashioned but I actually miss how brutal D2 was about death in HC. I want to lose everything, because then I would genuinely fear the thought of death.

    I know, I know… Blizzard is making D3 accessible and enjoyable and fun for the casual player. Persistent stash, “share-agon”, and now the cube. They all fit well into a softcore world. Hardcore just seems like softcore with one extra monster added called “Your ISP – Crippler of Princes’ Broadband” and the minor inconvenience of re-leveling.

  5. How did this make no mention of the changes to Reflect Damage? Aside from the cube, the affix effectively locks nearly all HC characters out of the patch content. (T7-10) One little hit on that monster that has it up, and your deeds of valor will be remembered.

  6. I lean more towards Charons' side.  I recently lost an ancient Golden Flense, and now trying to push past GR46 is probably out of reach for me.  And there's no way to know when (or even if) I'll be able to find another one.  It does hurt.  Granted, the cube may mitigate this issue substantially, since I could keep the property and use it with another weapon.  But for right now…ouch.As far as losing a 48 legume,though…meh.  It doesn't bother me, as I had a 42 sitting in my stash and the difference isn't all that significant.  Yes, I'm leveling a backup to the 42, and that takes some time but since I would be running Grifts for XP anyway, it doesn't really seem like a chore.All that said, I understand where Xanth and Deathpod are coming from, as I talked a clanmate into power leveling me to 70, and it didn't even take an hour.  (And there was very little danger).  But since D3 doesn't offer much for the leveling process itself, I don't have a burning desire to play a non-70 character.  Except for the beginning of a season of course; that's enough as far as I'm concerned.

  7. Like it or not power leveling is here to stay.  Not only that, but its getting easier and easier.  After 2.3 you will be able to equip your level 1 with a full set of ancient T10 quality gear and PL yourself in a couple of minutes.  I don't personally crave a harder death penalty, but I do with there was a way to distinguish my current character from the rest.  A way to show that my accomplishments were made with this WD and this WD alone, as opposed to a whole slew of them.  That was one thing that the old paragon system did nicely; it made it very clear how much you had achieved with a specific character.  Here's to hoping that the expansion brings us some sort of system to achieve that end, and here's to hoping they fix the WD sets and 2.3 brings us either some actual skill synergy or at the very least some non-conditional buffs.

  8. Another great article, Xanth.  Thanks for your thoughts on 2.3.0.I totally agree with you, cubed items should be removed from use upon death in HC. I'm hoping this will be sorted during the PTR and won't appear on LIVE.  I'm a Barb and prepping a HotA/Frenzy lighting build for 2.3.Bane of the Stricken instead of cubed Furnace ftw.

Comments are closed.