Recent datamining that indicates Dragonflight patch 10.1 might well have some form of hardcore mode on select servers. While the datamined info doesn’t specify exactly what that means, typically in hardcore modes death means death — when your character dies, it’s gone for good. Some players already play this way — particularly on WoW Classic era servers — by deleting characters when they die, and the Diablo franchise has had a “hardcore” option in character creation going back to Diablo 2. It’s not for everyone, but a hardcore mode has been requested for years, and some players would certainly welcome it.
The idea of deleting my character after they die the first time has me break out in hives, but one of the things that I’ve learned in my time playing World of Warcraft is that there are always players out there who want to play the game in an entirely different way than I do. There are players who spend most of their time engaging in pet battles. There are hardcore raiders. There are dedicated PVP players. I’m more of a generalist. I like to raid a couple of nights a week and PVP every few days or so, but I never, ever touch pet battles. In my mind, it is the sheer optionality of pet battles that makes it so great. And a hardcore mode in WoW could be much the same: a type of gameplay that some people would enjoy, while everyone else could keep playing just like normal.
Giving players choices is a great way to add features
I feel it’s always good when WoW introduces a new feature, as long as it doesn’t feel compulsory. If I must do it, or feel so compelled by its potential benefits that not engaging in it feels like a willful act of self sabotage, then I resent it. A good example is the Mission Table in Shadowlands, which finally got to the point where I ignored it even knowing I was losing out on the resources I needed to progress my Kyrian base of operations.
Making the hardcore feature in Diablo 2 and Diablo 3 optional means its existence hasn’t affected me or my enjoyment of the game in the slightest. I have never once rolled a hardcore character — or if I did, I forgot about them fairly quickly. It doesn’t feel like it’s something I have to do or be left behind in any way. It’s there for players that want it but easily ignored for those who don’t. And that’s the key to making this possible new feature work for everyone.
So long as it’s purely up to the players to choose to roll on a “hardcore” server with this kind of permadeath — as the datamining suggests — and not something all players have to do, then I absolutely support it. More diversity in terms of game play modes in WoW means more people getting to play the way they want to play it, and that’s a net positive for us all.
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