Perspective: I played original D2 and MMORPGs like EQ, and virtually all of them had some kind of meaningful Death Penalty.
It wasn’t like the current death penalty in games, that takes some gold or time to safely return to your place of death but is otherwise a nothing – you can die repeatedly today laughing about nothing and it doesn’t matter other than what you lose from efficiency in forward progress. Because of the harsh conditions on death, especially for veteran players versus new players (in the form of XP loss or de-leveling), there was a serious incentive to stay alive. Despite appreciating those harsher penalties, I could never appreciate the harshness of D2’s Hardcore scene. It was too costly, often on uncontrollable mishaps. While I understand that a lot of people think there’s value in that being the “end of a character’s adventure”, it’s pretty clear that most people are just mad when it inevitably happens and sets you out of hundreds of hours of playtime.
[sidesteps the perspective debate on “rewards” being the purpose of playtime versus “experiences”]
Fast forward to Diablo 3, I played softcore initially, mostly for the same reason. But the lack of any major death penalty caused a bit of numbness in playing. I quit for a while out of boredom, and returned after Paragon was introduced. And with that, I became a “new wave” HC player almost overnight.
But that journey really has me thinking about what it means to be a hardcore player–how I shouldn’t really be wearing the vest. The only reason I find HC D3 bearable is because of the relatively low pain of death versus the permanent setback. With GoEase, I can smash through levels extremely fast. With the heightened game difficulty level and faster and faster reward paths, I typically have 2-3 almost complete builds stashed away for when the ISP-based rubber banding eventually claims me. When I sit back and look at it, really analyze what it is… I realize D3 HC is just the normal SC Death Penalties of an older genre.
It makes me curious what Hardcore will even mean for the next game. Will it simply mean Death Penalty (which is my best case, goal-oriented scenario) or will it be True Hardcore (which those players who thirst for true gothic horror and gruesome hardcore death actually deserve)? I certainly wouldn’t be able to appreciate softcore the same way ever again, with minimal to no penalty for death. And if the pendulum is too far one way or the other, I could see myself not being interested in the game.
Truthfully, I feel softcore should have brutal death penalties and hardcore should be left for the truly hardcore. The game is rated M and there’s no real impetus for opening experiences for the E rated crowd. And it’s always a mystery what this company will spin out.
But I’m curious what members in this community think–what would you prefer to see? Do you think hardcore is too soft? Softcore isn’t hard enough? What’s your background and how did you happen to this place in your gaming journey? I’d really like to know.
Disclaimer: I did a pretty thorough search to see if I could find an exact topic like this, but I kept coming up with requests to move HC characters to Softcore or more general D2R v. D3 comparisons. I really only care about the D3 Hardcore experience, because again, I feel I’m a HC faker, wearing a badge I don’t truly deserve.