Reflections on Hardcore: ideas for an alternative

comfy

the comfortable
TLDR: Hardcore was starting to feel a bit stale. This is an idea for an alternative game mode with a similar spirit, thought-provoking twist, and not as much permanent death. See my first list halfway down, then give me laugh reacts to boost my score. 🤣

My first experience with hardcore was in Season 5. Seeing a packed snowy Korthos Village glowing with ember longswords sparked that same incredible feeling I had back in 2009 when I first started playing DDO. The game felt alive.

I've never felt suspense and fear from playing a video game like I felt while facing the beholders in VON 3 or trying to keep up with someone running Cult of the Six. I never even knew CO6 existed, so who knew what kinds of traps were waiting around every corner, ready to kill me and extinguish my week-long effort. I went on to get the level 20 and max favor rewards in that season and every season after, up until Hardcore Season 9, where I concluded my journey after 1750 favor.

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As the seasons went on, I stopped having as much fun. I had learned all the quests by now, even the obscure ones. I knew I could just pull up DDOwiki if I needed to avoid traps. I got better at building characters that didn't die. It started feeling less like a fresh new adventure and a little more like my bi-annual chore to farm favor to prove I can.

Hardcore Season 8 was a really nice change of pace and I switched things up myself by doing a mostly solo melee attempt (thanks for the idea, @Strimtom :) )... but then we were back to a regular redux again with Season 9. I was actually a little relieved when it was announced there would be no Hardcore this year, but still, I will really miss it.

In my opinion, the best aspect of Hardcore is the coordinated fresh start. Everyone on a first life character, no past lives, no reaper points, no gear, no gold. Suddenly I'm actually reading effects on random gen loot. If I find an exceptionally good combo, I'll ask in party chat or guild chat if anyone needs it, or maybe I'll throw it on the auction house for peanuts if I'm feeling especially benevolent... at least, from levels 1-5. Once I'm at the appropriate level, I can just farm a Feywild set and wear it comfortably up until level 20.

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Oh right, why do I only go up to level 20? Why not go to level 32, gear out, then run R4s to farm reaper XP and get the last two rewards of the season? Well, I just don't find it fun. Farming out gear at cap with the ever-present risk of death is physically and emotionally (my opinion), the rewards aren't really enticing (my opinion), and if you aren't at cap in the first few weeks, finding groups to level through Epics or farm Legendary gear is challenging. Being at the endgame and stuck waiting around for other players to have aligned interests on where they want to farm or what they want to run isn't fun. For the first few weeks, though, there are tons of people happily risking death to help someone pull an item in a quest that offers them nothing in return. It speaks volumes about how great the DDO community is, but still, I tend to drop out at 20. I'm sure SSG has the data to see how many others do the same, get their cloak and call it done.

Nowadays, my typical season of Hardcore feels like a solved game. There is a formula I can apply to it and have success: build well, gear well, know where traps are, and group up. The only input variable is time. The elements of risk present in my first Hardcore like lack of knowledge and habitual agressive play aren't factors anymore... BUT I still love that sense of community and teamwork that you get on the Hardcore server versus live servers. Another one of the best aspects of Hardcore is getting to group up with other players in the community that you don't share a main server with. People who you recognize from the forums, Discord, Twitch, and YouTube. It is a great feeling to find new friends who you play well with. It is also a great excuse to run Tangleroot Gorge. I wish that there was a way to get that same experience that isn't Hardcore the way we know it today.

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After thinking through all of this, I have a suggestion. Here is my idea for a limited duration fresh start server alternative to Hardcore:
  • 3 month duration
  • +2 level lockout on quests
  • No level lockout on raids
  • No permadeath
  • No Reaper mode
  • Monsters on Elite difficulty have 2x health
  • Completing a raid on Elite grants you an exclusive HC-style reward
  • Completing all Heroic raids on Elite gives you the mega prize
  • Raid completion timer reduced to 8 hours
  • All gear from chests is random loot gen - no named items (excluding raid chests)
  • Raid chests have increased drop rate and are rerollable with Astral Shards
  • Quality of gear in a non-raid chests is affected inversely based on the run rate popularity of that quest on live servers
  • Level cap restricted to 20

Here are some things I believe this will accomplish:
  • Make the server more casual-friendly and encourage more players to experience the joys of the cross-server community fresh start experience
  • Continue to encourage players to experience less-popular content (in lieu of the favor reward) by making them drop the best loot
  • Incentivize inter-player commerce by removing named item farming (and encouraging crafting!)
  • Condense endgame population and provide a fresh, new, challenging collaborative goal with heroic raid completions
  • Expedite time spent leveling while increasing the amount of engaging playtime in endgame
  • Present players with a brand new meta to explore and enjoy
  • Balance spellcasters a bit, since Elite mode will challenge SP sustain
  • Encourage group play on Elite
  • Present the opportunity to play wacky and fun builds for a new unexplored meta without death being a buzzkill

These changes do present come challenges. Why does SSG run Hardcore in the first place? While it is nice to think they do it just because they want us all to have fun, the reality is they need it to be profitable. If I had to guess, the main cash generators for Hardcore players are:
  • Guild ships: this should be unaffected in relation to population
  • Chest rerolls: will diminish without named loot, though I think rerolling raid chests will significantly help and, who knows... with the above changes, Soul Survivor might be dropping some absolutely sick random gen loot worth rerolling for 😲
  • VIP: should be unaffected in relation to population
  • Tomes: may increase sales by removing the threat of death nullifying a large purchase

In addition, there are new opportunities to sell items that weren't as popular on Hardcore:
  • Raid Bypass Timers
  • Siberys Spirit Cakes
  • XP potions
  • Cosmetic outfits and mirrors to cover up ugly but powerful random loot gen armors 😜

Other things that I thought about but didn't really have much to say:
  • Need solution for Runearms
  • Need solution for OP random gen loot transferring to live servers
  • Should raids not have level lockout so people aren't stuck waiting for a Titan group? I was originally thinking +4 lockout on raids but perhaps no lockout would be best
  • I wonder if Epic and Legendary quests should remain open anyways so people can try completing them while at level 20... 🤔

Well, that's all. I'm curious what you think and would love to know what your "Hardcore Alternative" idea is.
 

Marshal_Lannes

Well-known member
Won't your suggestion only amplify the problems you pointed out after the initial 3-week surge? If you think getting an R4 group is hard later on (it wasn't this year btw) imagine trying to get an elite raid. People would run the raid once, get their completion, and never run it again. If you weren't in one of those groups that a raid leader put together early in the season cycle you'd have no chance of getting the rewards. While not easy, you can solo your way to 20 reaper points. You can't solo your way through Elite raids (or very, very few people can with a first-life character).
 

comfy

the comfortable
Won't your suggestion only amplify the problems you pointed out after the initial 3-week surge? If you think getting an R4 group is hard later on (it wasn't this year btw) imagine trying to get an elite raid. People would run the raid once, get their completion, and never run it again. If you weren't in one of those groups that a raid leader put together early in the season cycle you'd have no chance of getting the rewards. While not easy, you can solo your way to 20 reaper points. You can't solo your way through Elite raids (or very, very few people can with a first-life character).
I'd hope that presenting a fresh new challenge, being accessible by a more casual demographic, lowering the barrier to entry for endgame play, and creating a new (temporary) meta to explore would not only create a larger player base for the endgame content but also encourage people to stick around for the fun of it instead of getting rewards and logging out.
 

Sheikra

Well-known member
It is unclear to me why we are capping at 20. Some of the most fun (and challenging) aspects of a raid-focused 'hardcore' would be running endgame raids without appropriate gear.

Sorry, but at level 20, no heroic raid will be hard for a group of 12. Sure they will be less geared, but I know I can solo almost all of the heroic raids by level 22~ and surely 12 characters has to be stronger than my 1 lol.
 

Ying

Well-respected member
  • All gear from chests is random loot gen - no named items (excluding raid chests)
  • Raid chests have increased drop rate and are rerollable with Astral Shards
I'm all for alternative rule servers since eight servers all using the same ruleset is a braindead decision in 2024. But those two things don't go together. Some of us still remember paying max plat bids for Shroud boss beaters. All that does is artificially reduce the people who can raid, which is already small due to self-selection.

If you want the nostalgia of a new server experience, then take a chapter out of EverQuest which has been hugely successful deploying time-locked progression servers for years to recapture that experience. Translating to DDO: Level cap would start at 10, with VON being the end-game raid. After a period of 2-3 months, raise the level cap to Gianthold for Reaver's Fate. Rinse and repeat for Shroud, Tower of Despair, etc. No xfers to/from the server. Introduce reincarnation after ToD.
 

comfy

the comfortable
It is unclear to me why we are capping at 20.
The idea is to create an alternative game mode that allows for participation across wider skill band and presents a new twist that will make players rethink how they gear and play.
Some of the most fun (and challenging) aspects of a raid-focused 'hardcore' would be running endgame raids without appropriate gear.
Yes, I agree! That is why I'm suggesting a similar experience that I think players will find fun, but with a significantly lower barrier to entry where players don't need to get all the way to level 32 without dying just to have a chance to participate.
Sorry, but at level 20, no heroic raid will be hard for a group of 12. Sure they will be less geared, but I know I can solo almost all of the heroic raids by level 22~ and surely 12 characters has to be stronger than my 1 lol.
1. I'm proposing doubling the HP of monsters on Elite to make this challenging
2. Show me a video of you soloing any level 17+ Elite raid on a first life level 20 toon using only random gen loot and I will give you an Otto's Box

lost me at no reaper mode.
I'm for only reaper mode.
I'm curious, why? Don't get the wrong idea, I love reaper mode and hardly do anything besides solo R1-R4s while levelling and R10s at cap, but wouldn't it be refreshing to have a different flavor of challenge (doubled enemy health on Elite as I suggest above or something along those lines) rather than doing the same thing you do on live, just with permadeath? I honestly think Elite Heroic raids with doubled enemy health and no named loot would be more challenging than Reaper, therefore engaging with the players who run Reaper for the challenge.
 

Ying

Well-respected member
I'm curious, why? Don't get the wrong idea, I love reaper mode
Can't speak for Archest, but I quit the game in 2014 because elite was trivial to me. I only came back in 2017 after I had heard about reaper.
 

Eoin

Well-known member
Seasons with different rule sets could be fun to change things up a bit. I would prefer that to a progression server, but a progression could also be fun. Wonder if they actually kept the patches and we can go back to pre tree times?
 

Sheikra

Well-known member
2. Show me a video of you soloing any level 17+ Elite raid on a first life level 20 toon using only random gen loot and I will give you an Otto's Box
Does this include crafted gear? I believe you said that would be promoted by using this rule set. Otherwise, I dont know where I would even find a full set of lootgen gear 🤣🤣
 

comfy

the comfortable
Does this include crafted gear? I believe you said that would be promoted by using this rule set. Otherwise, I dont know where I would even find a full set of lootgen gear 🤣🤣
Haha you're right, absolutely. If you're up for it, the offer stands! 😁
 

Sheikra

Well-known member
Haha you're right, absolutely. If you're up for it, the offer stands! 😁
Ok, one more clarification. Are non-chest named items (ES comm turn ins, eVOM, etc.) hypothetically disabled as well? Or only named items from chests?

This actually sounds like a super fun challenge, I won't have my PC until this weekend but I'm definitely interested in trying.
 

comfy

the comfortable
Ok, one more clarification. Are non-chest named items (ES comm turn ins, eVOM, etc.) hypothetically disabled as well? Or only named items from chests?

This actually sounds like a super fun challenge, I won't have my PC until this weekend but I'm definitely interested in trying.
Hmmm good point, I'd say sure those are allowed, same as something like Lightning Rod from VON 4 or Barovian Weapons where the items don't come from a chest. If anyone else wants to give it a shot as well, I think I have an additional box (might have to be an Epic one) I can offer.

Haha don't want to derail my own thread completely, though 😅 . I'm very interested in if people like the idea of an "alternative rules temporary server" other than Hardcore and what ideas they would have to make it fun.
 

Sheikra

Well-known member
Apologies for the derailing. I would be interested in no-named gear (similar to how you listed above), but with a heavier focus on endgame raids and reaper play.

Really, on hardcore, soloing elite/R1 heroics can be pretty easy, which reduces the need for groups. It would be fun to almost 'have' to group up in order to complete tough dungeons.

R10 on a bunch of first lives (with deaths being allowed) sounds like a riot.
 

Archest

Well-known member
I'm curious, why? Don't get the wrong idea, I love reaper mode and hardly do anything besides solo R1-R4s while levelling and R10s at cap, but wouldn't it be refreshing to have a different flavor of challenge (doubled enemy health on Elite as I suggest above or something along those lines) rather than doing the same thing you do on live, just with permadeath? I honestly think Elite Heroic raids with doubled enemy health and no named loot would be more challenging than Reaper, therefore engaging with the players who run Reaper for the challenge.
I would think R1 1st life would be an ultimate challenge and as an introduction to reaper mode.
also added elite open +2 with a vip any server to server transfer for 1 character for VIP perk in addition to HC transfers
 

Fizban

Well-known member
/not signed

The fact is that Hardcore is probably one of the biggest successes DDO (SSG) has. A very large percentage of the player base enjoy it like it is and I see no reason to really modify it except to offer the occasional theme (flavor) change that they aready do from time to time. I am a proponent of only holding it ONCE per year though for a 3-month period.
 
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Striga

Well-known member
"no reaper mode"
you immediately lose a significant portion of players

"all gear from chests is random loot gen"
what about end rewards? turn-ins?
heroic raid gear mostly sucks. everyone will run 5-piece abishai; those who like grind will run to 20 and farm VoN

THAT SAID
If this were an excuse for SSG to rework heroic raid loot, LET'S DO IT.
 
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