If You're Not Playing Diablo III Hardcore, You're Doing It Wrong

Nothing is beautiful and everything hurts; why you should embrace death in the Diablo universe.

531 Comments

Let me put this as simply as I can: If you're playing Diablo III and not playing Hardcore, you're doing it wrong. Playing Hardcore means different things in different games, but the most important difference in Diablo III and almost all cases is permanent death. Once your character is dead, that's it. No coming back.

It's more challenging, it's more exciting, and, above all, it's just more fun. You have no idea how attached you can get to a character until you've gone through 90 levels of Hardcore Diablo II with them, battling bosses, fleeing from lightning-charged cow kings, and having more than half an eye out for sneaky hydra-sorcs.

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Whichever class you choose, choose Hardcore.

Diablo III is gloomy and atmospheric, but the tension only becomes real when death carries a penalty. Actual jeopardy is nearly non-existent in games these days; we've been coddled with auto-saves, checkpointing, and infinite lives, and gaming is the poorer for it.

What once were cheats have now become necessities and common features, and we seem to have forgotten the damage they do. Without jeopardy, where is the challenge? Without real risk there can be no real reward. We've been suckered in en masse with ever-bigger explosions--but they're a poor substitute for actual jeopardy.

The reasons you should play Hardcore run deeper than that, though. It's not just about making the game more of an experience, it's about experiencing the genre in the way it's meant to be played.

You can draw a direct line of descent from 1980s Rogue to Diablo III. This line passes through all manner of roguelikes, Nethack foremost among them. Nethack has persisted for 25 years as generations of players throw themselves at its mercy in an attempt to achieve ascension. While Diablo and its sequels are a mere shadow of true roguelikes thanks to their linearity, action gameplay, and lack of difficulty, they do have one thing in common: permadeath.

It's the economy, stupid

It's not just a short-term selfish benefit, either. In softcore, where there is a real-money auction house, the economy will soon become flooded with exceptionally high-level characters doing endless (probably botted) boss runs that will flood it with high-level items. These items will naturally lose their value, and there will be little to actually strive for. In Hardcore, this process will take much longer and the higher-level uniques will still be something to really fight over--and that's all ignoring the most obvious benefit of Hardcore.

I have no interest in paying real money for my Diablo items, and don't want to be in the same world as those who do.

In Hardcore, there will be no real-money auction house. If you were looking for a clear sign from Blizzard's game designers (rather than Activision's beancounters) that Hardcore was the way to go, this has to be it. In Diablo II, the online economy in normal mode swiftly went to the dogs--but in Hardcore, it kept going in a sensible way for much much longer. This will be the case in Hardcore as the real-money auction house is too big of a draw for those looking to exploit the system, and the risks of losing a high-level character too great to allow for botting of inferno boss runs.

It also keeps the playing field level. I have no interest in paying real money for my Diablo items, and don't want to be in the same world as the vast majority of those who do. Of course there will still be a black market--though I suspect IRC and dodgy Usenet groups might not be as much of a tool for the black marketeers this time around--but it'll be marginalised, as it should be.

Hardcore may seem like a fool's errand or a hiding to nothing, but it really is the best way of playing the game. It will show you what gaming is meant to be like--you will feel terror like you never have before, and satisfaction unlike anything else you've felt in gaming for a decade.

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Vaiyo A-O, A Home Va Ya Ray, Vaiyo A-Rah, Jerhume Brunnen G…

It would be remiss of me not to warn you about the lows, too. You will beat your keyboard in rage, smother your expensive monitor in your beverage of choice, and swear more creatively than you ever thought possible, but it'll be worth it. Make sure you bring friends with you to share the good times, loot your corpse when you pop--and raise a glass with you when your favourite character finally bites the dust. You really haven't experienced the full gamut of gaming emotion until you've attended a wake for a level 94 barbarian--and I assure you, Kai was toasted well.

It's all totally worth it though. And remember: if you're playing Diablo III and not playing Hardcore, you're doing it wrong.

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Spinner198

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Hardcore? Sorry, no. Blizzard's servers aren't consistently good enough to never allow my Demon Hunter to double vault right back into an arcane sentry I just vaulted away from because of lag.

Plus, no, 'infinite lives' in D3 is not like a 'cheat code'. Old games had limited lives because they were very SHORT. Oh, lost all my lives in Super Mario Bros? Darn, that hour or two is down the drain. Oops, died in Contra AGAIN. Whelp, time to go back to the starting point that I was at 12 minutes ago. Permanent death in D3 would be more like permanent death in Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy, Pokemon or Earthbound. The super massive majority of large scale RPGs have NEVER had permanent death, even the really old ones. No, I don't want to have to RESTART my Pokemon game just for losing to the Elite Four once. People do Nuzlocke challenges for that, but no Pokemon fan would think that Nuzlocke challenges are 'the real game', and that people playing normally are 'doing it wrong'.

That said, this article is OLD, and the auction house doesn't exist anymore. Still though, I will stick to the version of D3 where I can't spend 100 hours on a character only for them to die because of lag.

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hypgnosis

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I support this article. Started playing hardcore seriously a while ago. My first character is a barbarian. I started dozing while playing because I was tired. I went to sleep and when I woke up I thought that my barbarian was killed. So I resumed my xbox and was relieved that my barbarian was still alive. I actually dreamed that my barbarian died and thought it happened for real.

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BiggerInside

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I know this article is old but just wanted to say that some of us just can't commit tons of time to playing uninterrupted. There is no way I could play HC, my character would be just as likely to die from my daughter having a nightmare and me running upstairs to see what is wrong as from me making a mistake in-game(that i could deal with and just re-roll).


There are lots of people who enjoy this game but have busy lives with jobs, kids, wives, etc... that will ALWAYS take priority over a game. Softcore is for the gamers just cant, no matter how much they want to (oh god for one uninterrupted night of gaming.....what I wouldn't give....) play the kind of game that you literally can't leave your PC without properly logging out.


I wish I had that kind of free time....maybe when the kids are all out of the house in say 16 years?!

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LordMatsu23

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@biggerinside If you play solo on HC with no friends, hitting ESC pauses the game. Obviously playing with people won't pause if you hit ESC.

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Codra9

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Edited By Codra9

he's right though. i still have been doing softcore d3 on my ps3. only because i really wanna try a zero dogs build. but for the year leading up to sept 3rd i was a purely hardcore diablo 2 player. and may sometime soon start my hardcore d3 career. but man finding the gear to go zero dog on ps3 is like pulling teeth

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yummifullz

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Edited By yummifullz

He's obviously biased against non-hardcore modes. Although I'm now going to be playing hardcore lol, after reading that there is no going back.

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mumrahh1

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Edited By mumrahh1

I wonder if anyone knows If hardcore chars have a higher chance of getting rare drops? Do they level at same speed, do they get more gold per kill? Or is it just the same exact thing with perma death?

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Alf

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Edited By Alf

@mumrahh1 same thing, same game but with perma death and no RMAH

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MaetrixX

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Edited By MaetrixX

This reminds me of Chain World. A minecraft game was placed onto a flash drive with a special script. The player plays the game for exactly one life changing the world how they see fit. Once they have died, they allow the game to save to the drive while the hard drive save is wiped. Once that is done, you pass it to another person never to see it again...and never to talk about what you did in the world.

You have one shot. One shot to see how far you can get....to see how far you really can go. If you go down you start over. I have already had to st art over once and overcame that obstacle along with all others to get through the game once on normal. It's time to go to Nightmare now and keep it going. How fair did you get in normal? Who cares! A monkey would eventually get through softcore Inferno mode and he throws poop! Try the hardcore mode. It's rewarding and if you aren't because you are afraid to die or start all over again...all I can say is you have nothing to lose. It's just a game.

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bobbo888

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Edited By bobbo888

I like how everyone takes what he says seriously... It just goes to show you how lame gamers can be sometimes. He's stressing that if you haven't tried hardcore, why not give it a whirl? Calm down people.

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yummifullz

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Edited By yummifullz

@bobbo888 He's stressing that hardcore is the superior way to play, how the game is meant to be played. He's obviously biased against non-hardcore modes.

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MagnusXilorius

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Edited By MagnusXilorius

I think people who say someone's doing it wrong because they don't play the way you do is doing wrong. Alex, you fail. Let go of your ridiculous pride, it's just a game, troll.

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MaetrixX

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Edited By MaetrixX

@MagnusXilorius Go on back to playing softcore, Nancy.

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foxglove1313

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Edited By foxglove1313

I don't buy into the idea that having my character deleted because my mouse batteries died is going to make me enjoy the game more.

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yummifullz

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Edited By yummifullz

mouse having batteries = fail gamer

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lordnestor79

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Edited By lordnestor79

@foxglove1313

Why do ppl think dying is is what hc gamers like about playing OMG my 4 yr old girl is smarter than that. Its not dying its the SURVIVNG! the EDGE OF THE SEAT! wow that was close ! the heart beating 50 times faster than the sc gamers who can play almost asleep or go afk in a boss fight. Thats the enjoyment geez Louise some ppl are so inane. HC is a massive rush compared to ZZZzzzZZZZzzZZz sc. HC gamers dont give a flying fvck at a rolling dounut about dying when it happens cause the excitment of playing it outweighs the lows.

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lordnestor79

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Edited By lordnestor79

2 x chrs dead over 45 Re Rolling new HC barb today. Annoying but fun.

I looked at time played for both over a 2 week stretch 11 hours and 17

None due to sever lag 1 a stress test on barb in nm mode using semi decent gear other straight out OMG why did i stand in the cavern and grab a coffee.

God Love Blizzard for HC game modes more enjoyment than any / video / movie / radio / song or softcore game out there.

May Blizz live forever Amen

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EvilShabazz

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Edited By EvilShabazz

@treedcoon First, if my screen froze for a full 6 seconds, I'd get a new computer or ISP. I've never had more than a hiccup in about 150hrs played. That said, I'd react by rolling up again. HC != QQ

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jinseinoseikou

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Edited By jinseinoseikou

The hardest core I'll ever get is Demons Souls or Dark Souls. At least I just go back a little bit (to some degree) to start over, not the whole game. Nor did I ever enjoy all those endless hours as a kid playing Mario Brothers 3 (I think it was 3), getting to Bowser, and then dying a horrible death and losing that last life...I went through many controllers to say the least.

Keep your hardcore. I learn enough from my mistakes from dying enough as it is. I don't need endless hours being nullified because of a mistake. I die once in real life. I want my games to be unlimited.

Though, if I ever gave it a shot, it would be after I initially play through the game once or twice. Then dying won't be AS bad...just a little bit.

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deactivated-5abc14ca5e8cc

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I love being told that I play a game wrong. Makes me really open minded to other opinions.

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starfox15

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Edited By starfox15

I'd be more for this if you could leave the game instantly. A lot of people forget that the hardcore challenge in diablo 2 was massively diminished by the damn chicken hack. It saved you from death regardless of how you played it. Playing diablo 3 on a shaky server in hardcore and not being able to instantly get out of a game when you need to creates a broken system. If there was an option to leave the game instantly it would be more tempting. As it stands, hardcore is made specifically for certain people and it's not for everyone.

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EvilShabazz

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Edited By EvilShabazz

If you get mad when your hardcore character dies, you're doing it wrong. You have to expect the end, and in expecting it, be prepared to relish in those feelings of loss. Blizzard has even given you a little memorial to the HC character to help with that. If you expect to only have one HC character, you're doing it wrong.

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skydancerofchao

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Edited By skydancerofchao

Oh gag me. This is typical nerdrage, elitest crap. I'm 29 and remember well the days of Mega Man and Asteroids, games that defined tough. I, likewise, love Demon's Souls and Dark Souls, but those two games weren't as needlessly unforgiving as DIII hardcore.I'm sorry I have a life and a job and a wife that saps most of my time, but I'm not playing games 25 years after I first plugged in my NES to experience S&M and then feel like I "accomplished" something or like I'm a toughguy because I did. People like this guy are the elitests who give us old schoolers a bad name. Games have adpated to simpler methods of play because it's a wider form of entertainment now. Almost no girls/women or adults played games before the PS1 gen because it was just annoying to them. I play games for fun, enjoyment, and a good story a lot of the time. I want to be enveloped by the world, not bent over by it.

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Scelous1

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Edited By Scelous1

@skydancerofchao Yes, I'm 31, I also remember Mega Man and Metroid and the Commodore 64 with Spy vs. Spy, Blood & Guts, and other classics. I "have a job," as softcorers love to say.

I only play hardcore, and I generally despise people who play softcore. However, your last two sentences really won me over, or at least caused me to take the whole thing more lightly. The last one in particular gave me a good laugh.

I don't know. I just have a hard time respecting people who take the easy way out, who like the feeling of a (false) accomplishment without actually striving for it or earning it. It makes them seem weak-willed, lazy, lacking any sort of skill, and unable to cope with real consequences to their actions, and looking for an easy ego-stroking rather than an interesting challenge. I wanted to explain myself, after hearing your explanation.

Either way, like I said, I do like your last two sentences; it gives me a sense of perspective to softcorers that I feel like I didn't have before.

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AceMarine45

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Edited By AceMarine45

@Scelous1

I think the difference between a "softcore" gamer and a "hardcore" gamer is the fact only one understands there isnt anything impessive about sitting on ass...

I never feel like i accomplish something from a video game. Hell, i get more of a sense of worth for taking out the trash.

To me i have it backwards. Unlike hardcore gamers, im tolerant of other gameplay styles. I also see arrogant gamers as someone whose developed a false sense of accomplishment by believeing gameing takes a great deal of talent, which is used to justify their wasted time. No, singing, playing the guitar, and taking part in any physical sports competitively takes skill. "Skilled gameing" (i use that term very lightly) takes nothing more then lots of free-time...

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lordnestor79

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Edited By lordnestor79

@AceMarine45

which is why you will always fail at hardcore you seem to think sc gamers dont sit on their buts but hc gamers do. you also seem to think its a waste of time and you get more out of doing house hold chores.Im sorry you are a Moron. 99% of the people on this planet dream of Utopia no work all play. My goodness grow up stop crying deffinately stop posting on this site cause with trash talk like what you have just sprouted... is just that trash.. which you seem to enjoy doing.

" I never feel like i accomplish something from a video game. Hell, i get more of a sense of worth for taking out the trash" And dont bother reposting to me unless you take a reality pill with each meal you have for a 2 week period. It will just open you up for more ridicule

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Scelous1

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Edited By Scelous1

@AceMarine45 That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.

Yes "skilled gaming" takes skill, just like playing the guitar or taking part in physical sports. And guess what? Those other skills? They also take time, too. Because you're sitting on your ass doing one of them doesn't somehow negate talent.

I could link you to articles about skill in gaming, about hand-eye coordination, about reflex speed and the ability to multi-task. I could also link you to articles I really enjoyed about how for most people, gaming provides a sense of (false) accomplishment.

But I don't think that would change anything, would it? Because even if you read it all and accepted it, it seems more like you're trying to justify having no talent than actually applying yourself, so it's pointless.

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jinseinoseikou

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Edited By jinseinoseikou

@skydancerofchao You could not be more right. We get enough challenge as it is. We don't need permadeath. But to whomever want's it kudos to you. Have a blast. When you clench your fist (in your hand if your an active person and in your mind if you suppress the rage), I'll be shrugging my shoulders and getting back to the point lost in no time.

Permadeath would basically mean a mistake would more than triple your game time. If you want Diablo III to be the only game in your gaming list for a long time to come, or you are in fact a "pro" beta tester/gamer of sorts, then have it. I've got better things to do, such as saving my file and continuing my life when I'm not playing,

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MaetrixX

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Edited By MaetrixX

Well done. In a subtle manner you manage to insult any that like this mode of play. In a nutshell, you insinuate that hardcore players have no life and can't take the pressure to losing a character in an imaginary world. At the same time you attempt to accent the merits of your preferred mode of gameplay by saying you will be back to where you lost out in no time.

You, Sir, are missing the point of hardcore mode.

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Benifited

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Edited By Benifited

@skydancerofchao wow in one paragraph you destroyed this whole article. good job, hardcore mode is for those that like a challenge as such. to say that if your not playing the game right if your not in this mode alone is just your personal bias and nothing more. sure there are benefits to playing in this mode, but you cant just go around telling everyone else their wrong cuz they dont do things the way u like them

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Antatious

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Edited By Antatious

I do not agree with this article, even slightly.

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KaSeRoR

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Edited By KaSeRoR

Server lag = No TRUE Hardcore character like DII... NOT WORTH THE RISK!

>=)

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Dark_Muse

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Edited By Dark_Muse

@KaSeRoR You are talking bullshit sorry. Diablo 2 had A LOT of lag, not to mention people who hacked and pk without seeing where they came from.

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KaSeRoR

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Edited By KaSeRoR

I understand your frustration, but you have to be prepared for that stuff on DII; not just complain about it. Gatta adapt to it. The same thing happened in UO (Ultima Online) for years before they changed it. I have faith in DIII, but as of now, not so much until the servers get stable. I believe that has happened more than ever so I'm ganna try a Hardcore!

>=)

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KaSeRoR

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Edited By KaSeRoR

@Dark_Muse That is your opinion. Take the "nerd-against-the-world-attitude" to a different post. GameSpot is too mature for you... Go cussing at people somewhere else dude! ITS A VIDEO GAME not REAL LIFE. I know its hard for people like you sometimes to separate the two... Now GO AWAY please!

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Dark_Muse

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Edited By Dark_Muse

@KaSeRoR lol you are really stupid aren't you? never mind then.

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KaSeRoR

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Edited By KaSeRoR

@Dark_Muse

I post to give my opinion, not be harrassed by the GameSpot paparazzi following my posts. I give my opinion. Don't go off on me about your NERD frustration that you seem to have and take it out on someone. Your the one who starting commenting on my post in a negative light (saying I'm talking bullshit). Calm down, put on your Justin Beiber record, and mind your own business or say something positive. No need to start stuff because you have nothing better to do at the moment. Its just a game dude...

>=)

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Dark_Muse

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Edited By Dark_Muse

@KaSeRoR My frustration? it seems you are the one who whine in your posts. I have no frustration.

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SCGhost2424

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Edited By SCGhost2424

hardcore is just stupid imo. specially since i die a ton of times mostly due to server lag. now in the last act in hell mode, i die from the mean look of an elite group of mobs.... play hardcore all you like and cry a river when your level 40ish char dies when an elite mob box you in with that silly wall they put up and u are on a cooldown. but i wouldnt say its the way to play and have fun in D3.

and yes i played Dark Souls, but in that game there is actually a set of skills u can deploy to stay alive. in D3 there is nothing to do but range with a melee character or run like a pansy with a WD or DH until u have the gear and then some.

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MaetrixX

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Edited By MaetrixX

@SCGhost2424 "but i wouldnt say its the way to play and have fun in D3"

Yes you are! You are saying that playing one way is better than another. You just did it! It doesn't matter that you said it for hardcore or softcore. You basically rambled on how softcore is the way to go and have fun (i.e. no crying of tears when you die) then nullify it all in the last sentence.

Fact is you do have skills to deploy to stay alive. If you are on cool down you may just have miscalculated and not used the skill efficiently. This is a player call. It's about survival!

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Getesh

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Edited By Getesh

Yeah, you could clearly get away with hardcore mode on D2 because you didn't have the problems that D3 has. As it's been stated before, on hardcore you would have to stop at points where you checkpoint in town or a safe area, not only that but you have to hope out of the slim chance that you will never come across server lag or you could kiss your hardcore ass goodbye.

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Edited By Iron_aufschlag

That game looks bad and the writer of this article needs to realize I don't play games to get annoyed by losing, that is what real life is for nerd.

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MaetrixX

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Edited By MaetrixX

@Iron_aufschlag So losing is your style in real life?

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kkgoh

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Edited By kkgoh

@Iron_aufschlag you clearly haven't played Dark Souls.

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Janpieterzun

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Edited By Janpieterzun

Playing hardcore as we speak with a ballgag and leather mask screaming for more pain. Also a point some gamers play to relieve stress, not to add to it. Some of us have jobs, intensive jobs that make us seek relaxation, not a pain & frustration fetish to prove how manly one can be.

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MaetrixX

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Edited By MaetrixX

@Janpieterzun I work in the medical device industry. We are scrutinized daily and a mistake can cast thousands of dollars. I have, by every definition, an intense job. I also play hardcore mode. I play to see how far I can get based on my skill of play. I play when I have time to play...not every night. It's actually relaxing in itself.

You can take your "I have an intensive job" and "it's stressful enough" somewhere else. Perhaps you are having trouble handling stress.

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Janpieterzun

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Edited By Janpieterzun

@MaetrixX Medical devices? Be more specific. By definition what you are describing is a unionized complacent 9-5 job. I am a day-trader, I risk, lose, and make your entire yearly salary in a span of seconds based on my decisions. Have to understand market strategies in an adversely volatile environment. With the pressure of a wife and family to support knowing I could lose everything I've accumulated within the past 10 years. I've lost before, hand friends co-workers, sitting next to me commit suicide because of catastrophic losses. Have you been a million dollars in debt? This is the most volitile business you can possibly be in, we don't have handouts. Turnover burnout rate is at around 90% not everyone has the mentality for it. Some sit there and are overwhelmed with fear of making a wrong decision that leads to their families ruin. And I've been at it for 13 years. Saying all that I could not feed my son lose house, boat, car from being on the wrong side of the trade tomorrow. And you want to talk to me about f**kn playing diablo 3 hardcore? Lol. There's a reason they call people in this field the playfull subtitle of masters of the universe, because if you can survive it you're godly. I won't be so arrogant. I will just say I'm still in it, when the average span in it is 2 years I'm in it for 13.

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Janpieterzun

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Edited By Janpieterzun

@MaetrixX Please where did you see me say I am better than anyone? Look at the amount of post you put up. For what reason? To prove you have a lot of free time. I'm answering you on an IPhone, don't flatter yourself you don't frustrate anyone. This is the limit of you, you don't speak for everyone don't talk about what everyone wants to hear. I didn't broadcast what I did, just said I didn't value game difficulty as an achievement. Sorry I don't, 10-15 years ago I'd be right up there with you. Please no more site-pop-psychology too muh time on your hands.

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MaetrixX

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Edited By MaetrixX

@Janpieterzun @MaetrixX Wow way to be condescending. You see my job, or any others in the medical device field, is not unionized. By that I know you don't know much about the medical device industry. I chose my profession as I imagine you chose yours. Being the slightest bit off in this industry means losing lives. Bravo to you for doing a job and, presumably, doing it well. But...your response tells me you don't handle stress well. Your sentences are not well formed. You rushed a response. You cussed. If a random person on a game site can frustrate you then I doubt you can handle stress efficiently.

Your posts scream of "I'm better than all of you" which no one wants to hear. You do what you want with your time while others do what they want with theirs. Believe it or not, most gamers do have jobs....intensive jobs. Just because it doesn't fit the mold of what you perceive as "intensive" doesn't mean it's not.

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SpinalDog

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Edited By SpinalDog

I would agree about this except their new system has turned even single player into half multiplayer. Yesterday I loaded my barbarian and they appeared at their checkpoint in the first act. Under attack by 20 or so mobs as it loaded and lag spike hit me bad. Tried to run but no luck. Dead just like that. No way you should be playing hardcore in Diablo 3 with all this server lag in single player and multiplayer.

It worked in Diablo 2 but not here. Games are getting way too easy (Fable series is pathetically easy) though. I think even the second Diablo was way too easy compared to the original. I remember having to use hit and run tactics all the time in Cave and Hell levels in Diablo 1 because monsters were so dangerous in groups. I'd like to see a return to that but playing Diablo 3 as hardcore is just a good way to drive you mad.

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