In honor of the addition of hardcore mode to the Diablo 3 beta and the impending May 15th release date, here is a brief overview of hardcore plus tips and strategies to maximize your experience and enjoyment while playing the most challenging mode Diablo 3 has to offer.
Hardcore mode is a special mode distinct from the normal realms of Diablo. Unlike general population realms and their characters, hardcore realms and characters are distinct from one another and cannot share items, gold, or join normal games.
However, with the Battle.net chat function, a hardcore and softcore player will be able to communicate.
The difference between the two realms is that while softcore characters receive a gold and experience penalty after death, yet can still respawn in town with all their items and character intact, hardcore characters do not respawn after death. This means that if you kill your character (even to lag) you must rebuild them over and all of their items.
One other thing to keep in mind, the auction houses are also distinct. Hardcore and softcore items exist on independent realms and therefore auction houses are not shared nor does hardcore have a real money auction house (at this time). Blizzard has stated that they do not want to deal with the consequences of players paying real money for items and then losing them. It’s something that I and many other hardcore players disagree with and here is to hoping Blizzard will change their minds.
With that said, the constant danger and adrenaline-pumping action makes hardcore mode an exciting challenge for Diablo 3 players. Let us take a look at ways to make the most of the game mode and keep the nerd rage from losing your level 60 to a minimum.
1. Hardcore means hard, not fast
The most valuable asset a good hardcore player can have is patience. Hardcore isn’t anymore difficult than softcore, but the stakes are much higher and so a good player always tries to minimize their margin of error. The best way to do that is by playing slower.
While it may be fulfilling to rush through content (and it is in softcore where a death doesn’t mean anything), you need to make sure you’re slowly leveling and tackling new content at a much higher level than you think you need to be. For example, in Diablo 2 you could simply start a new game and walk through to the end on most characters, as long as you were willing to die. Not so in hardcore.
At every moment of the game you should ask yourself, “Is this getting dicey?” if the answer is yes, relog and redo areas to gain a few levels. The same goes for items. If you’re struggling, do a few low level area runs to improve equipment.
This advice is extremely important between jumping difficulties. Blizzard has already explained that the jump from normal to nightmare is huge, and that’s just the first jump. Take your time and use the most recent difficulty to find better items and to obtain a higher level. A little patience now is worth it in the long run.
2. Maximize Life Saving Stats
While on the lookout for items in Diablo it’s really easy to get a sense of damage lust. And again that’s not a bad thing when playing softcore where a death has no large consequence other then gold for repairs. In hardcore, it’s a different story.
Life/Vitality are stats that are extremely important. You need to make sure to give extra weight to stats that prolong the life of your character. Why? Death in hardcore never comes because you couldn’t kill something. It happens because you had too low of hit points for what you were facing and you couldn’t town portal or escape fast enough.
If you’re not killing something practice step 1. If you’re about to die, leave. Having more life and other related stats will make that cushion between the moment you realize “oh crap” and need to hit escape that much longer. While it is obviously too early to tell, gems are probably going to be a great way to increase that cushion.
3. Play with Others
Having friends that you play the game with will make challenges significantly easier. While the difficulty does increase some, it should never outpace the benefit of having another person available.
You will clear areas faster, have twice the drops and play safer because someone can tank damage while the other focuses strategic mobs or blasts from afar. This is easily evident from the Diablo 3 beta. Co-op play can clear the beta level twice as fast if not faster. The importance of playing with others rises exponentially when the difficulties get harder.
4. Build for Control
Honestly, again the game has yet to be released so it’s extremely early to tell but it’s obvious that some builds are safer than others. This doesn’t necessarily mean weaker but it does mean that you utilize skills that increase your cushion from death. The iconic example of this is the Skellymancer of Diablo 2. By being surrounded by his summoned minions, the Necromancer was an extremely conservative build to play through hardcore mode with.
Some championed that style of play to be less fun, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. The frozen orb Sorceress from Diablo 2 was an extremely aggressive character that utilized teleport and orb to lay waste to anything in her way. It was an extremely viable build for hardcore mode.
What did the passive summon Necro have in common with highly aggressive orb-it-all Sorceress? They both focused on control over raw fire power. The summons gave a sense of control in that they kept the enemies away from your caster.
The combination of teleport and frozen orb allowed the Sorceress to be highly mobile but freeze enemies with chill effect of frozen orb. In Diablo 3, always look at skills that give some element of control over mobs. Ask “how does this skill keep me from getting hit.”
5. Have a sense of humor
It’s going to happen. You will kill a character in hardcore mode (or Blizzard’s lag will). The number one way to ruin your hardcore experience is to take a loss too hard. If you can, make fun of the death of your character.
I once had a Sorceress die to a special effect on an item called the Oculus that when struck randomly teleported your character to a different location on screen. It teleported me 7 times in a row, finally sticking me dead in the middle of a horde of axe wielding bovines. It stung but I learned to laugh at it.
Always looks on the positive side of things and realize that a death allows you to build another champion and have quality time with your friends and strangers of Sanctuary.