One Life to Live: Rebirth

Well that took longer than I thought. Apparently having a second child is more demanding than having the first. We have thankfully begun to hit our stride and I now can comfortably type and sooth an infant again. Which is ironic as that would have been my Job at blizzard had I taken it…queue drum.

I won’t lie… I haven’t been gaming as much as I’d like to. I also haven’t been sleeping as much as I’d like to. That being said, the time I have had has been invested in reading and keeping abreast of what’s happening. Which sadly has been not much.

blizzcon 2015 floorplan

Blizzcon Anticlimax

However, the theme is that of rebirth. A rebirth not just in print but in the game itself. A rebirth in speculation, and a rebirth in passion. I came on to the site in the midst of speculation, and while we always want answers it’s always fun to kick around ideas about what is on the horizon. Let’s embrace that.

With speculation comes the connecting of dots and the lowering of expectations. It’s hard not to be disappointed with what we see coming up at Blizzcon. Like a child expecting a Transformer for their birthday only to see a Go-Bot, we feel let down. It’s too early to allow that to alter our perspective. Diablo fandom isn’t easy, we had a long drought from D2 to D3; a long beta, and now the wait for the next reveal. That time can be draining but the biggest danger with speculation is allowing it to erode your passion.

The passion comes from the game itself. Right before my daughter was born I threw myself heavily into Season Four, playing as much as I could. Not out of desperation to soak up every last ounce of playtime, but out of pure enjoyment. That passion is still there, the fun is still there. Something as simple as the new zone added the last patch has me more excited for what is to come. Think of all the missteps Diablo has taken in the past few years, and how many strides it has made since that bad beginning.

That isn’t to say everything is peachy. We still have bots, and a paragon creep, and issues with sets being the endgame. All legitimate issues, all worthy of fixes. All worthy of the time to fix them right.

Finally the ultimate reason I’ll never leave is the same reason I write this column: because Hardcore is my favorite experience in a game. Every death has a story, and a lesson learned for the next time. I’ll leave you with a nice post by Jaemeson I found on the HC forums (warning a little long):

Gear is arousing again

That’s right. In hardcore mode, every piece of gear is the difference between life and perma-death. In SC mode, every bit of gear simply means “yay I can turn the difficulty up, and now I do more damage to get more lewtz”. In hardcore mode, those new yellow shoulders can be all that save you from dying to the next elite you run into. On another note, not losing health in SC mode means you’re not being challenged enough, and you should raise the difficulty so you can get better rewards and xp. SC mode gets boring if you don’t lose health and aren’t being challenged. In HC mode however, not losing health means you’re doing what you need to do- which is surviving, and what makes you the Nephalem. Gear has more meaning, which makes…

Exploring far more worth the time

In SC, I may see a cave that has nothing to do with the objective and I’ll think “eh, I’m dealing enough damage and the difficulty is high enough, anything I might find in there will be paltry at best” and avoid it. In hardcore mode, going into that cave and finding chests gives you a higher chance to have a leg up on your enemies, which as we all know, is yet another blade’s edge between life and death. You always want to be one step ahead of the mobs, and caves only give you more opportunity to get that leg up. Going into these caves also gives a…

Renewed sense of adventure

Every time I log back in, I think “another day alive, let’s see if today will be the day that I’m sent to my shallow grave”. Going into a cave to get those extra chests is dangerous and feels like a real cave dive. Why? Because as we all know, elite mechanics are far more volatile in closed spaces. So you have to ask yourself survival questions; “is it worth going deeper past that elite pack in the distance to get those chests? Will I be able to leave an escape route in these narrow halls?” Then you, and only you, have to deal with the consequences of your decision as if it were real life, as if YOU are the nephalem. Which brings me to..

Unparalleled sense of immersion

You are the Nephalem. Your fate is their fate. You are the demi god that walks amongst the living. But are you really the champion of Sanctuary if you died ~3 times fighting Diablo? “Oh sorry Diablo, hold up! Gotta respawn outside the Golden Arch!” and Diablo rolls his eyes and asks “Why can’t I do this?!” What about that time you got jumped by fast/molten quillfiend bosses in the highlands and died because you weren’t paying attention. Does that really make you that cool? No, you know what makes you the nephalem? When you charged across the battlefields in act III and made it to Rakkis crossing after taking down Azmodan’s catapults without dying, having hordes of demons thrown at you knowing that if you died, it was truly the end for you. And it’s fear of that end that gives you…

The Rush

Yes, the Rush. You all know what I’m talking about. The Rush that you rarely feel in any other game. The Rush when your health drops below 70%. The Rush that spikes your heart rate, dries out your mouth, widens your eyes, shuts your ears, and makes you focus on doing what you need to do. And if all goes well, the Rush lets go of you, and you sit back in your chair, and the dopamine rushes through your head as you think “that’s effin’ right.” On the other hand, it could end badly, and the Rush still let’s go of you, you think “why did I every swap out steed charge? I could’ve lived.” and accept the fact that you will never see that hero again outside of your hall of fallen champions. Which leads me to the final point..

A new way to challenge yourself on a personal level

Leaderboards are cool, but they’re for the few who give countless hours to this game while others are working or in class most of the day. Personally tracking your own grift is fun to, but after a while, it just gets grindy. Tracking how far into the story or rifts you can get to without dying even once? Now that’s a personal challenge. “Ok, the last monk I had died to the Butcher. This one will make fresh mean out of him. I’ll do it right this time.” Personally being able to challenge yourself on a smaller scale on every different class gives almost limitless replay value.

I guess all of these reasons in different shapes and levels of importance are why we enjoy hardcore mode. I personally think that hardcore mode is the way this game was meant to be played. I just wish everyone who played this game would see that the frustration in dying in HC mode is a good thing. It’s what keeps you going outside of grinding grifts. It’s what gives you that extra challenge that you need in a video game, in a world of otherwise simplistic games that have little challenge (part of the reason WoW and other MMOs started to bore me).

Admit it you kinda want to play now, it’s okay I do too.

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, Diabloii.Net Columns, Hardcore


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  1. Welcome back Xanth. I agree, the game is as fun as ever…

  2. “Unparalleled sense of immersion”
    “Exploring far more worth the time”
    “Renewed sense of adventure”


    “A new way to challenge yourself on a personal level

    Leaderboards are cool, but they’re for the few who give countless hours to this game while others are working or in class most of the day. Personally tracking your own grift is fun to, but after a while, it just gets grindy. Tracking how far into the story or rifts you can get to without dying even once? Now that’s a personal challenge.”

    finally something I can agree with

  3. Agreed. I only play HC (D2 and D3). SC gets boring for me…very fast. And pretty much becasue of the “personal level” of challenge point you make very well. If you don’t play enough in SC to be in the hunt for the leaderboards, there’s very little challenge in the game. In HC, at any level of difficulty and available gametime, its possible to find a real challenge.

    Next patch should be really fun, when 4 sets will be tuned for every class, so picking which one gives you the best combination of survivabilty and progression will be interesting.

  4. Good column and almost enough to make me want to play some. I had zero gaming time for about 2 months due to extreme RL work, and now that my schedule is down from 90 hours a week to just 7 days a week x 8h a day, I've technically got some time to play. 

    The last 2 podcasts tended to mostly focus on the negative, but so much of the negative — botting, party EXP mandatory, cookie cutterism, Monks only S4, etc — is only really an issue if you're trying to chase the leaderboard heights.

    For most players who don't have that kind of time, who cares if others need to bot or stick to strict roles in MP games to get P1200. The rest of us can just play when we have the time and have fun… more fun the more we ignore the travails and complaints of the top 1%?

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