- Heart pounding moments of excitement.
- Feeling accomplished at reaching a goal
- Being rewarded for always having to play smart.
- Being a part of a supportive community with a uniquely positive mindset.
Then Hardcore might not be for you. If you prefer farming pointlessly trying to find a top 99.9th percentile (the only softcore items worth getting excited over) and MAYBE finding one someday, then hey, stick with what you’re doing. It’s your gaming life.
Still, maybe you want to try Hardcore, for whatever reason. Maybe you’re like how I was before I started. I was enthralled was with the prospect of the above bullet points being a part of my gaming experience, but didn’t know how to get started, so I just jumped in with a Witch Doctor. I chose WD because of Spirit Vessel, and although I had never played a WD, they seemed less risky then a Wizard or Demon Hunter.
Now I just got in there and started leveling, but I made a bunch of mistakes that made my life much harder than it needed to be. Maybe if I had read a primer, poor Kali wouldn’t have been butchered by, obviously, The Butcher (to my credit, it was on Hell).
Knowing Yourself and the Enemy
This is everything in hardcore. You never want to do anything where you are unsure of the outcome. This applies to everything from knowing how your class plays as it levels up to knowing just how hard the double blue pack with frozen, plagued, and fire chains hits BEFORE you engage them. There are enough exciting moments in hardcore where you could die; don’t add even more to the mix. You’ll feel sad for a day if you die to something unlucky; you’ll feel stupid for a month if you knowingly do something reckless( my dead paragon 14 Monk can substantiate this claim). Before you pick a class to play in HC, make sure you’ve leveled it in softcore so you have an understanding of not only how the classes’ skills progress and match up against various foes, but also what stats the class really wants and what levels have critical upgrades so you don’t waste money on items that are only useful for a few levels.
Trade for Some Gold
It’s as simple as it sounds. If you’re into the whole “self-found” thing, by all means go nuts, but if you’re sane, it’s a pretty good idea to either talk to a friend, use the official D3 forums or some other resources and get yourself some gold so you can make your life easier. Being able to ensure you have a socketed weapon waiting for you at the first opportunity will speed your leveling immensely.
The other way to ‘trade’ for gold is to buy it using either real or some other currency through either a store or private transaction. Personally, I think the best way to get HC gold without trading away your SC gold is to watch a Hardcore stream. That’s actually how I ended up finally taking the plunge into HC myself. Most streamers offer daily or even hourly drawings for gold or items you could turn into gold. More on streaming below.
It’s fine to level on MP10 pretty much all the way through the first act. Nothing there can really challenge you if you have spent even a meager amount of gold on a weapon. If you kinda suck or are just scared or something bad happening, then make sure to turn down your MP just before you fight anything you can’t just run away from. I know I’ve lost multiple characters to Belial when I forgot to lower the MP from 10 and got splattered by the Green Explosions of Death.
I mostly leveled on MP5 all the way to 60 on a Monk, but everyone has a different tolerance. If you just wanna GET to 60 and take risks from there (you get a gigantic boost from hitting 60 and gaining access to max level items), then just turn MP down to 1. I do not recommend turning MP all the way off because the items and xp you get without Monster Power are pretty bad overall.
You should expect to die eventually. It happens to the best of us, even those who read primers. To prepare for this eventuality, don’t sell off items you replace as you level up. Oddly, flat bonus experience from monsters is somewhat of a luxury stat and largely unneeded due to Monster Power being so efficient. If you’re rich, then forget about having an upgrade at each new item tier and just keep a few essentials. My personal ‘essentials’ collection has a unique spear called Scrimshaw. Mine has a socket, which combined with it’s natural +Movement Speed, makes it a keeper. Also in my essentials are two Rings and an Amulet, which tend to scale up slowly, are very expensive on the Auction House, and can have stats that almost any character wants. Mine have added damage and Vitality, which is all you need to make them worth keeping around. Rounding out my leveling stash are a pair of socketed pants and a socketed chest piece. Gems, especially Vitality gems, make socketed items far better than anything else you could hope to find for many levels, so once you can access them in the mid teens, get them, use them, then bank them. You’ll be happy you did.
Hardcore is hardcore. Don’t on let your guard down, even at early levels. I lost a Barbarian on Normal by entering Leoric’s Manor on MP10 and Leaping into a load of mobs to my death. Never play drunk or while you are tired, or you may end up waking up dead not even knowing how it happened.
Streams are your best learning tool. Many players livestream Diablo 3. Their channels can be a great source of learning and entertainment as you grow as a HC player. I won’t make any direct recommendations because everyone’s schedule and tastes are different, but I highly advise finding a regular stream you enjoy. The contests, commentary, and chat can break up long sessions, and keep you feeling engaged. Also, I won a ton of gold and items through one of them, and it didn’t seem that unlikely to just happen if I watched long enough.
The more hours you spend on your character, the more valuable they become. Once you hit 60 and start putting actual amounts of gold into them and gaining paragon levels, they become extremely precious. Do not throw all those hours away because you think you’re a fucking hero. It’s wimpy, but just run away if you aren’t sure you’re going to win.
That’s all the advice I can offer in a general sense, but if you have any questions about HC, just drop me a line here and I’ll be glad to answer them.
Good luck and don’t die,