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One Life to live #8: Hardcore beta Impressions

Posted 30 September 2011by Xanth

Don’t worry I’m not abandoning my class perspectives for hardcore. Next week we’ll be back to business with the Witch doctor. However, this week I was lucky enough to steal some time from TidusZ a beta tester and Diablo.incgamers forum regular. He was happy to answer any question  I had about Diablo 3. I stole about an hour of time he could have spent playing the game and I thank him for such a noble sacrifice. We cover a lot of topics from the ease of the game, character choices for hardcore, the gold auction house and grouping with friends and noobs alike.

Click below for the full interview!

Q:Okay, how did you get into the beta? friend or family?

A friend got in and couldn’t play at first due to a bug so I played his account, then afterwards he didn’t play a whole lot so I played around the times he played and then pretty much just played whenever as he didn’t play a whole lot.

Q:What was your Diablo experience prior to d3?

I played diablo 1 around release for a long time, playing as a “purist legit” on battle.net. I played in the d2 stress test and got the game as soon as it arrived in stores, eventually got to level 99 in softcore before getting bored and switching to hardcore where I stayed off and on until recently. I also played other ARPGs like titan quest and sacred, etc.  and of course I used JSP and all that in hardcore, since there weren’t any public games after TPPK came out. The hardcore community was basically JSP

Q:Okay so you have hc experience , which do you prefer and which will you find yourself in for d3?

I much preferred hardcore in diablo 2. It’s a rush doing the more difficult areas of the game and doing pvp/pking/pkk. Hardcore dueling is probably the biggest adrenaline rush I ever got playing a game before. With that said though I’m a bit hesitant to go straight into diablo 3 hardcore partially because of the possibility of instant death mechanics that aren’t fully known and partly because of no RMAH which is basically forum gold. I would really like to see that in hardcore since without it its inevitable that JSP will rise again and it was extremely problematic for me. In order for people to “trust you” in JSP required you to join a “clan” which basically meant paying a lot of forum gold to someone as a deposit which you would lose if you scammed someone. It wasn’t a good system for  trading in my opinion. I also am really going to miss hardcore dueling and pking/pkking which were the main excitement in hardcore for me.

Q: Are you seeing a lot of deaths in the beta?

More than in diablo 2 for sure, though that may be because I mostly played hardcore and people play more carelessly when its softcore. Most of the deaths I see in public games are either arcane enchanted champions or several of the “exploding monsters” (forget name) blowing up around someone at the same time. A seasoned hardcore player probably wouldn’t get into those situations but it does  happen, probably more than I saw act 1 deaths in diablo 2.

Q:So would you say that Diablo will be more difficult for hardcore than the previous installments?

From what I’ve seen the difficulty feels similar overall but the skeleton king and arcane enchanted mobs in particular feel harder than anything you would experience in act 1 normal in diablo 2. I can’t say what inferno will be like but I can hope that it will be at least as difficult as uber tristram in diablo 2.

The skeleton king can kill you very quickly when you first reach him and is difficult to avoid. Probably about as difficult as andarial or a bit more I would estimate.I should say similar to diablo 2, diablo 1 was certainly more difficult with the butcher especially.

Q:Any classes stand out as hardcore must haves?

The monk has some very interesting rune effects that allow you to cheat death if you plan ahead which may be very useful for completing the most difficult areas of the game. He can also use dashing strike to retreat quickly. The barbarian as you would expect seems like a very strong character as well and leap attack and stuns would be very nice. The monk generally moves quickly between enemies while the barbarians rune effects involve pulling enemies towards him from up to 45 yards away, so they are kind of opposite in that regard. The wizard can kill quickly enough that she doesn’t need to worry about dying, and frost nova and wave of force are amazing defensively and you get both by level 4. The zombie dogs are also surprisingly good tanks although poor damage dealers.

Q:So what classes would you be hesitant to take into hardcore?

The only character I’ve noticed having survivability issues comparatively is the demon hunter.. Very weak in the beta with little killing ability. I would be hesitant to take her into softcore either in her current state (I suppose blizzard is “fixing” her). I think the other 4 classes would be perfectly viable though as a first character with the gear you find on the ground

Q:What classes would you recommend for the novice hardcore player?

The barbarian and witch doctor may be the easiest hardcore characters to get into from my experience. The barbarian can do a lot of self healing through passives as early as level 10, has escape abilities, stuns, ignore pain, etc. The witchdoctor’s zombie dogs do a great job at taking damage for you, the mobs really like to attack your dogs instead of you and they are very fast to run in and intercept mobs But with careful playing I am certain a monk or wizard could do very well, no problem.

 

Q: You’ve mentioned that you’ve been burned out already by the beta, and I assume we’ll breeze through the soft core content. Do you think that will push people to try hardcore?Do you think you’d enjoy the beta more if you had hardcore in it?

I find that your character in diablo 3 grows in power more quickly than in diablo 2 so the difference between a level 13 in good gear and a level 8 with typical level 8 gear is so huge that once you get to a certain point you really can’t die anymore in the beta. While leveling you can die in seconds if you get in the middle of an arcane enchanted pack, but at 13 you can stand there for 10 seconds and lose maybe 10% of your health. Hardcore would be fun for the first hour or so while leveling up, but once you surpass the content it would be pointless at least in the beta. I think there will be a lot more people starting hardcore on release though; certainly a lot of anti-RMAH people have stated their intention to do so.

Q:Do you think the ease of leveling in normal will take some of the sting out of dying in hardcore?

Hmm.. I am inclined to say it may actually sting more than it did in diablo 2 because in diablo 2 once you had a solid framework of characters and gear on your account your ability to re-level a dead character became much greater. You would have a friend rush you (or do it yourself with two accounts!) and you could basically get powerleveled very quickly in any number of different ways. In diablo 3 you would actually have to go through the content again from act 1 normal as it seems they have put a stop to powerleveling. You can still rush characters, even easier than before, but the experience gain just isn’t there. On the bright side the shared stash means you won’t lose a bunch of stuff because you were too lazy to mule. Nor will you lose a full inventory of charms… :(

Q: In playing the beta what have you learned that you will take into release? play style, monsters etc that would help that hardcore community out?

It seems that defence is a very strong stat and armor is not. Not only is it only physical resistance (defence reduces ALL damage) but it just doesn’t scale as well either at any point from 1 – 13. Since a passive like glass cannon reduces armor and not defence I view that as a non issue, 10% defence would be something to consider though. You can’t back out of situtations by alt-f4ing like in diablo 2 so you really need to be prepared in advance. If you go down to skeleton king’s room you can’t even use your stone of recall. Items with adds +2-4 damage and such are extremely powerful early on for characters based on weapon damage, like in diablo 2.

Q: Do you think hardcore is at a disadvantage no longer being able to pump vitality points?

Not really because in Diablo 3 the other stats are actually useful. Defense is arguably better than vitality, attack is amazing for every character. In diablo 2 pumping vitality made sense because strength really was lacklustre even for the barbarian, dexterity was mostly only useful if you used a shield, energy was useless end-game, etc. In Diablo 3 I think you will want all the stats and the amount gained by leveling is PUNY compared to what you gain through gear upgrades as you level.
So you could still customize for defensive vs offensive through gear, skill, passives and runes. I think stacking defensive stats and abilities would make a bigger difference than having an extra 500 hp did in diablo 2 for survivability. It will come at a bigger price in kill speed too though.

Q:So have you had a chance to play with the auction house?

Yeah, I had the chance to bid on a 20k gold belt as soon as it came out only to lose my 20k, the belt, and all my blacksmith progression… GG betas. Since then it seems to work fine. There are some issues with searching for gear, it is more difficult to find what you want than it should be right now and blizzard is apparently working on that right now. There is also a fair bit of delay between buying an item and being able to put it in your stash (in the order of 5-10 seconds currently). It’s something that will change throughout beta I’m sure.

Q:About how much gold do you have? or average per hour?

I recently spent 50 000 for the third stash tab and have about 90 000 right now. I use a wizard with 198% gold find to gain gold and I get probably about 5-6k gold every 20 minutes on her give or take.

Q:You probably know where I’m going with this. With a large influx of gold do you think a pure gold RMAH will work?

Yes, because the cost of the major gold sink in the game, which is crafting, scales up very quickly. The first items cost around 200 gold to craft and by level 15-20 crafting a rare will set you back 10-15k gold each time. Keeping in mind that you will need to craft a few to get something decent and likely many to get something you’re happy with I believe that gold will always be sought after.Blizzard has said that hey want crafting to have some of the best items at 60 and judging by the quality of gear you can craft in the beta I would say they were serious.

Q:How is grouping in the game? do you find you rely on your teammates or can you still go off and do your own thing?

Monster health increases significantly, I think almost double with two people, triple with 3, etc. At level 13 you can still do fine on your own but I’m pretty sure if you were leveling regularly that wouldn’t be doable. I haven’t played from start to finish with a group of level 1′s so I can’t say for sure. I can say though that you would not really want to split up since you wont get the exp fromkills that are too far away, and items wont drop for you if your out of range. The only benefit to splitting up would be to find the stairs faster or something like that.
The damage also scales up although I’m not sure exactly how that is calculated, just that I noticed it when fighting skeleton king with 4 players. It certainly is not 4x more damage with 4 players. Likely it’s just enough to offset the fact that you’ve got some auras and stuff going on.

Q: Would you say hardcore players will need to stay close to one another?

While leveling up the first time I would say if you don’t want to have a very disappointing release night then yes. You can potentially die pretty quickly by yourself if you get stuck or something, with 4 players in the game… yea.

Q:Does that lead to better cooperation between the players or just yelling at one another for being noobs?

Hmm, hard to say right now – since it’s beta people are not that competitive right now and its pretty friendly. I could see when the full game is out that people who are forced to play public games to 60 could get pretty frustrated with people who are slow players though. Right now crushing everything with a level 13 while lower levels just watch feels good, but if that’s how things go when I’m racing to 60 I probably wont be too amused.

Thanks to TidusZ and the streams this site provides I can live vicariously through their experiences while helping shape my concept of Diablo 3. 2012 is long way off and ideally I’ll have some beta time of my own ( and you will as well) before then I can at least gorge myself with the glut of information we’ve seen and continue to see. I can only wonder what comes to light after this posts, last week it was Diablo’s push to 2012 this week my guess is a new class of panda men. I hope i’m wrong one that one.

Next week: The Witchdoctor,( I promise) send me you build ideas, or post them in the comments!
One Live to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. It is written by Xanth and published weekly. Post your comments below, Follow me on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly.


Tagged As: | Categories: Columns, Hardcore, One Life to Live

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