Name: Mike "Savant" Ferry
Location: Bethlehem, PA
Zodiac Sign: Virgo
I am a former Associate Editor of Destructoid who became INTERNET FAMOUS (er, not really...) for my weekly column entitled "Miniboss Monday." You might've heard of it. It was kind of a big deal. Anyway, I've since moved on to becoming a lurker and playing my fair share of games in the meantime. Oh, and I wear a kilt, love retro video games, and drink a lot of beer. That pretty much sums me up.
It has been a very, very long time since I've last had a chance to write a blog on Destructoid, so I find it only fitting that I reemerge writing about something that I haven't had a chance to play in many years and have recently rediscovered; Diablo II Hardcore.
What is "Hardcore?"
For the uninitiated, Hardcore (HC) is an optional mode of play in which the player's character is given a single life. If you die, your character becomes a ghost. You lose everything and are no longer allowed to use that character. This is also referred to as "permadeath."
So, what makes HC so great in Diablo II?
Diablo II, by itself, is actually a pretty mindless game that you can play fairly care-free. Point, click, kill, loot, repeat. If you should happen to die, you lose half your gold, respawn in town, and can reclaim your corpse. (Experience penalties are incurred in later levels/difficulties, as well.) No big deal, though, right? Just a minor inconvenience.
Hardcore, however, completely changes Diablo II and your mindset when approaching the game. Suddenly, every choice you make on the battlefield has purpose, and every single stat & skill point is placed with careful planning for the future, because, hell, your life depends on it. In Softcore (non-HC), you probably wouldn't think twice about charging balls-first into the face of a Lightning Enchanted unique monster. "GONNA GET 'DAT LOOT!", you say with reckless abandon. In Hardcore, however, a Lightning Enchanted monster will evoke great hesitation, caution, and even a subtle feeling of fear when you realize that this fight could very well kill you, and it's only a single encounter.
Kinda makes you think, doesn't it?
But, I'm too young to die! Hardcore sounds scary!
"Man up, Nancy! It'll put hair on your chest!" Truth be told, Hardcore really isn't for everybody. If you can't get over the fact that you will die at some point, you should probably stick with Softcore. However, if you're feeling a little adventurous, saucy, or kinky and want to take a sip of the Hardcore Kool-Aidô, I can't recommend it enough. Like drinking a perfectly poured pint of Guinness, it's something that everyone should try once.
After playing Hardcore for awhile, you really begin to feel a genuine sense of accomplishment for not getting your ass handed to you (yet) by the endless hordes of Hell and their tomfoolery. Every level up, every boss kill, and every set/unique item found becomes that much more satisfying and addictive.
Why are you playing this, anyway? There's plenty of other great games out right now!
Destructoid community member and Outer Heaven compatriot DrunkPunk and I were discussing how great it would be to get a group of people together to play Diablo II Hardcore as a team. Fast-foward to present day, and we've got close to eight people on board, many of which are virgins to HC. This is also a great way to shake off the rust and kill time until Diablo III's launch (whenever that is.)
Oh, and that reminds me, if you're planning on getting into Hardcore yourself, try to round up a group of trusted friends to play with on a regular basis in private rooms. The public HC community has its fair share of griefing douchebags who just love collecting people's ears. This will also keep you and your friends alive a lot longer, as there is strength in numbers.
Summary. Closing. STFUAJPG.
So, class, what've you learned today? You've learned that Hardcore fundamentally changes Diablo II and that it's challenge can be both soul-crushing and rewarding at the same time. You've also learned that a game that's 10+ years old still has a few tricks up its sleeve and can still kick all kinds of ass.
That said, If you own a copy of Diablo II that's been collecting dust or is buried in the bottom of a box in your closet somewhere, I greatly suggest digging it out, booting it up, and getting some friends together for some fun-filled evenings of Hardcore.
Good luck, have fun, and, most importantly, don't die.