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