Diablo 2 Hardcore vs. Softcore: Which should I play?

diablo 2 hardcore vs softcore
Fan Art by Mark Louie Superales

Diablo 2 hardcore ladder and softcore ladder are two modes you can play in the game. The two versions are very different, so it’s important to consider each ladder carefully before you decide which one to play on.

Diablo 2 Hardcore vs. Softcore: the differences

The players in hardcore (HC) and softcore (SC) are exactly the same, other than the fact that HC players are mortal. When you die on a hardcore ladder, you don’t respawn in a nearby town, your body is gone for good and you have to start from scratch. Because there’s much more at stake in a HC ladder you’d think that there would be perks to doing it. This isn’t the case. You get the same items, levels are the identical and there are no changes to each character’s skills. So why play Diablo II on hardcore? Because it’s a great challenge and it’s pretty different to softcore.

Storyline

In terms of the storyline, the game is identical on HC and SC. However, gamers will often play the two ladders differently as there’s much more of a focus on survival in hardcore. This means players tend to distribute points in favour of hit points and resistance. This is doubly important in hardcore because some players decide to become Player Killers, or PKs. A Diablo II PK is someone who ignores the game’s story and instead focuses on hunting down other players and killing their characters. This can add a real sense of excitement to playing HC, or it can be really annoying.

Gameplay

Because the hardcore and softcore ladders are so different, the gameplay is completely separated. Therefore, SC and HC Diablo II players cannot trade with one another or enter games together etc. As a result of the separation, players used to softcore may be surprised at how different Diablo II can be, due to the number of other gamers in the ladder. Softcore is much more popular than hardcore. This means that softcore players have much more choice when they’re looking to join a party. Meanwhile, parties on hardcore are less frequent and pickier when they consider new members and the impact they will have on the party’s survival. This can make it quite hard for a noob to find a party, especially if they’re a commonly chosen class.

When you die on a softcore Diablo II ladder, you leave behind a corpse at the location where you died. You can regain your corpse by walking back and collecting it or by simply re-joining a new game which forces your dead body to move to the current town you are spawning in. Meanwhile, when you die on Diablo 2 hardcore ladder, all of the items on your character are lost and in your stash are lost.

“Which should I play?” Well, it depends on whether you’re looking for a great thrill or to explore the game without worrying about death. The choice is yours!

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