Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is (And How I Made Diablo 3 Fun Again)

Hardcore Barbarian

So hardcore I don't even need to cover my nipples

I went through a spate of not logging into Diablo 3 for a few days and was going to write some ranty post about how I was utterly bored of it due to it’s exceedingly trivial easiness. I mean, playing with my level 28 Wizard is quite alike the good old days of activating god mode in Doom (iddqd) and walking around blasting everything without a care in the world. Quite literally I cannot die. Even boss fights are a breeze as all I do is wonder up to chaps like Belial, stand right in front of their drooling chops, activate Diamond Skin, and spew forth Disintegrate right into their ugly gobs. Hardly tactical.

And then I remember something Tobold mentions a lot – he usually points out how people who complain about games (or feel nostalgic for old ones), never do anything about it. So I thought I would. So I rolled a hardcore character.

Now whilst I could’ve just kept playing my Wizard and eventually got onto Hell difficulty or whatever, the idea of having to complete the game several times in a row doesn’t appeal to me but starting afresh with a new character (I picked a Barbarian this time round) on a more challenging setting does. And hardcore is certainly challenging. Not because the monsters are any tougher than on normal difficulty but because suddenly I’m filled with a sense of risk and fear. Now I have something to lose if I die and it’s changed the game for me completely.

It’s not that I’m a masochist who likes the sense of fear, quite the contrary in fact, I like the sense of reward. Suddenly boss fights make me think, suddenly I have to be careful about what result my actions might have, suddenly I have to be tactical in my gameplay. It’s incredible and an absolutely tremendous amount of fun.

What’s particularly nice as well is how your hardcore characters are separate from you normal ones and don’t share either access to the same stash or gold repositories but have a completely separate Auction House as well. Yup, you won’t be able to find that abundance of cheap rare and legendary items on the AH like you did with your other characters and you certainly won’t be able to just give yourself 50,000 gold to spend on gear from one of your other characters either. Now you actually have to earn items. On hardcore, gold and gear matter.

The result is that I find myself playing an entirely new game, a game that is far more reminiscent of the original Diablo. My choices have a far greater impact on my sense of fun and adventure, items and gold actually have value, and catching a glimpse of a rare and power opponent fills me with trepidation. Winning battles against foes now also gives me a true sense of accomplishment and reward, emotions that I never felt before when playing the game on normal difficulty with my Wizard.

I’ll give kudos where it’s due and give credit to Blizzard for having both the foresight and courage to include a hardcore mode when so many other games have never bothered. Of course, why they gave us access to that choice so early on makes that the fact we can’t select our own gaming difficulty right from the get-go is even more mind boggling. The simple option to start the game on nightmare difficulty would’ve addressed a lot of people’s issues with the game.

Still, I can’t recommend hardcore mode enough and I finally feel like I’m playing a proper game. It’s astonishing (yet not surprising, really) how risk (or lack therefore) can affect your gameplay so much and it makes me more certain than ever that the concept of challenge matters quite dramatically.

And if I die because of lag, I’m going to fucking kill Blizzard.

-Gordon

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22 Comments

  1. Scott M. says:

    “And if I die because of lag, I’m going to fucking kill Blizzard.”

    Yep, this is the only reason in my mind *not* to do it, otherwise it’s a blast. I just try to keep an eye on the latency meter and if it gets into yellow or red I take extra care and/or log out.

    • smakendahed says:

      Agreed. Lag will get you eventually.

      Also, you only hit level 28? You haven’t completed Normal difficulty yet? Nightmare becomes harder, especially with champion mobs and rares getting more abilities while also being around longer to use them.

      It’s really too bad Blizzard didn’t open up some of the harder difficulties at the lower levels. A bit of a design issue because they expect it to be linear progression; Normal until 30-35, Nightmare until 50ish, then into Hell difficulty until 60… gear grind for Inferno.

      A better system would have been allowing people to have Nightmare champions and bosses. Really, this could have been an addition of extra abilities without the extra HPs; instead of just “teleporter” or “jailor” or “waller” types, it’s a combination – some of the combos are nastier. Also, you don’t see some abilities until Nightmare like ‘fire chains’ and ‘arcane spinners’ (I think it’s called).

      Those newer abilities make it more challenging… so easy without that.

      • Reliquary says:

        This was the same time the game became fun for me. Nightmare was a definite gear check. I also heard that if you are playing the game solo then going into group play makes a huge difference.

        I felt my first pain on Diablo when I had less than 2k hp. If you get caught you die. Second was middle of Act I on Nightmare, me and a buddy hit a pack of blues or a singly yellow and would get smacked because we didn’t have the gear + the increased difficulty with a party. Another friend joined us and was complaining saying he was going back to solo because it was ridiculous how much harder Nightmare + the group buff.

      • Gordon says:

        I know but I just got really bored in Act 3 running around as an immortal who couldn’t die. Didn’t really fancy having to complete the game 3 times just to face a challenge.

    • Gordon says:

      Funnily enough my latency on hardcore mode is a lot lower than on normal mode. Whether this is just an oddity or because the HC servers (or whatever) are less popular or because Blizzard is intentionality doing it, I have no idea. Definitely helps though.

  2. Darraxus says:

    No wonder you are bored with the difficulty level…you havent even finished normal mode. Nightmare and Hell are harder, and Inferno is pretty brutal.You need to play a more tactical style later on or else you get you ass kicked.

    I will pass on Hardcore mode as I suspect losing a high level character would cause me to not want to play the game anymore.

  3. Comptess says:

    I will definitely start a hardcore character at some stage just to change the ‘experience’ as well.

    Was interested to know, is Diablo 3 Hardcore like the Hardcore in Path of Exile where, if you die, you don’t lose the character but you revert to a non-Hardcore character (losing access to the Hardcore stash, chat, server etc) or is it curtains…finito…over for that character?

    • Galaji says:

      In Diablo, when your Hardcore character dies, that is it.
      Your character will show up as a ghost on the character select list, but you cannot play it.

      Diablo also does NOT share the stash / gold between Hardcore and normal characters like Path of Exile does. (this is mentioned in the article but I wanted to make it clear)

      • Comptess says:

        Thanks Galaji
        REAL hardcore then.
        BTW, I don’t think you can share stash between Hardcore and Normal characters but an ex-Hardcore character can start to use Normal stash once they have fallen from grace. They just can’t go back to the Hardcore stash.

      • Gordon says:

        “Diablo also does NOT share the stash / gold between Hardcore and normal characters like Path of Exile does”

        Indeed and it actually makes it even more of a challenge as there isn’t the same abundance of cheap rare items on the AH to twink yourself with.

    • Gordon says:

      If you die, you die. It’s quite scary!

  4. Jomu says:

    I’ll use that my main reason for not playing Hardcore mode; its usually laggy in my household to pretend that i can try it :P

  5. Steve says:

    I’ve been getting bored even on Nightmare and Hell difficulty so thanks for this writeup, i’ll be trying Hardcore tomorrow!

  6. I rolled a female Barbarian for Hardcore with a bad bra ( it got better) I had no access to blacksmithing skills or gold I earnt on my main, and at first I was annoyed, She died at level 13., stuck in a corner by 2 trees that drop poison bulb things in the camp. But your right, it is a completely different game, I explored more, was more careful, and when I was told that barb was such a bad class to play for hardcore, more determined to do ok. She has been archived, now, but I want to do try again. ( good news is her left over gold & smithing at least was available to the 2nd hardcore I rolled ) and I assume stash, so in hindsight you could gear/pot your hardcore up a little more if you use another hardcore.

  7. Naithin says:

    While I would also echo some of the comments that Nightmare and above is really where much of the game’s challenge comes in, I mostly want to say Yay for another HC player!

    I’ve got my Witch Doctor (HC) up to Act 3 just past Siegebreaker at level 28 or so so far. Normal mode hasn’t been too scary til this point even in HC, but I recall from Normal that Act 3 beyond this point and Act 4 does have some pretty brutal mobs in it, so we’ll see.

    Main reason my progress has been so slow has been because one of my usual trio has had super bad luck. xD He AFK’d in a dungeon thinking he’d hit T to Teleport, but either hadn’t or had been whacked and had it cancelled before getting out because he came back dead. This was in one of the ruin dungeons in Act 2.

    Then, he left his acct logged in (but not ingame this time) and a friend came over and wanted a go. When he came home from work, a note from his friend was on the KB saying, ‘I wanted a go with your wizard, I sucked at it but for some reason I couldn’t res.’

    So he’s catching up again now, on a Barbarian as well incidentally. xD

    Biggest piece of advice I can give for anyone considering HC!

    Don’t play just one character.

    Sure, feel free to have a main and push it ahead, but do spend some time on a second character as well, someone you can pass gear down to from the main.

    The main reason for doing this is that there is a huuuge psychological difference between dieing and having this back-up character already established, and dieing and having to start right from level 1 again.

    If your main does die, second character often rolls into the main spot, then should roll another character to act as the new back up. :)

  8. [...] Blizzard touted has being insanely difficult, all without dying a single time. Not once, not ever. Having played the game on Hardcore myself (I’m still on Act I), I have a little appreciation for just how difficult this feat [...]

  9. Daniel says:

    Hi gordon. I like you post very much and very interesting to read one also. Upcoming days I will try hardcore. Thanks for sharing with us.

  10. Edwin says:

    This is the first time am visiting your blog gordon. Your points are very useful and surely i will try to do hardcore. Thanks for sharing this information.

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