Ultimate D2R Hardcore Guide
Ultimate D2R Hardcore Guide
Playing Hardcore is a completely different experience from softcore, as you only have one life, and death is permanent. Many players prefer to play it due to the higher risk and also higher reward, as hardcore items are much more expensive than softcore ones. Survivability is the #1 priority in any situation, and this guide covers every type of defensive resource to mitigate the risk of dying.
Probably the most important factor in survivability is being prepared and playing cautiously. This is especially true if you play a caster build, as they tend to be much more fragile than melee ones. Different classes also have different survivability bonuses, for example Barbarians receive 4 life per vitality point, while Sorceresses or Necromancers only receive 2.
Defensive breakpoints, like Faster Block Rate and Faster Hit Recovery also vary between classes, as Paladins with Holy shield can easily reach a 2 frame FBR breakpoint and a 5 frame FHR breakpoint, while a Necromancer will struggle to reach a 6 frame FBR and a 9 frame FHR, resulting in a huge difference in their survivability.
You should also be prepared for the worst case scenario when playing Hardcore. Dangerous situations rarely arise, but if you put in many hours of gameplay, you will certainly face them once in a while. You might feel immortal and barely receive any damage, then suddenly get insta-killed.
For example, you might face multiple unique monsters at once with damage and speed boosts, or auras like Fanaticism, making them deliver 2-3 times more damage. You can also get cursed, as another example Amplify damage curse will double the damage dealt to you. Due to the higher delivered damage and attack frequency of the surrounding monsters, they might hit you frequently enough to not be able to recover from their attacks. In such a difficult situation, you might receive 10 times more damage than over hours of gameplay, and while you survived previous attacks with 90% life remaining, in this scenario you might get killed very fast.
Another highly dangerous situation is if you forget to cast your survivability buffing skills, or if their duration is over. Pay attention to skill durations, and if needed, use a timer to alarm yourself.
You should always be ready to escape a dangerous situation, either by retreating, or by “chickening” out of the game, meaning quitting the game before being killed. An important mention is that while you run, your defense is 0, so whenever you run you should avoid melee attacks.
Hardcore games are usually played in parties to boost each other’s survivability by skills like Battle Orders, Oak Sage, Salvation, etc. A very important aspect of party gameplay is communicating danger and safety. This is especially important when someone opens a town portal, as they might come back to town to avoid a dangerous situation/restore potions, or just open a portal for others to enter. The game chat code for a safe situation is “1”, while the code for danger is “2”.
Having high life
Life is the ultimate survivability booster, as it protects against all damage types. You should do your best to increase your life by wearing gear and charms that add to life, and putting as many points on vitality as you can. Whenever you play in a party, you should aim to receive Battle Orders casted on you, either by a Barbarian or another party member with Call to Arms runeword, as it can double your life. Another great life booster is Oak Sage summon from Druids, however it’s much less reliable as the summon can be killed anytime, or you might get out of its life boosting radius.
Defending against physical damage
The most basic defense against physical damage is % physical damage reduction. You can either boost your % physical damage reduction by a skill, or by wearing items that have this stat.
Having high defense is another very important aspect of protecting you against melee and missile attacks. The higher your defense, the higher the chance that attacks will miss you, up to 95%. Having high def on your gear, upgrading your items to higher quality in order to gain defense, wearing ethereal zoded items, and using skills that boost defense will all help with survivability against physical damage.
Block is another aspect of defending against melee and missile attacks. It’s only available if you wear a shield, and a high block chance requires heavy investment in Dexterity. The maximum achievable block chance is 75%. As putting points on Dexterity means less points on Vitality, you should carefully consider if the stat investment is worth it with your specific shield.
Increasing Faster Hit Recovery and Faster Block Rate are also great survivability boosters. Check out your character’s FHR and FBR breakpoint tables, and aim for a breakpoint that you can comfortably achieve with your preferred gear.
Defending against elemental damage
There are four types of elemental damage, Fire, Cold, Lightning and Poison. At Hell difficulty you start out with -100% resistances, and your resists are capped at 75%. In rare situations you might be cursed with Lower resist, or if you farm Uber Tristram you will be under the effect of Uber Mephisto’s Conviction aura, both of which reduces your resistances. If you want to get prepared for such a situation, invest further into resistances after reaching the 75% breakpoint.
Maximum resistances can further be increased by specific items or runes. The best example for that is Guardian Angel body armor, which grants +15% to every maximum resistance, while also boosting your FHR and FBR which is really nice. The highest resistance you can achieve is 95% with maximum resistance adding items.
Elemental damage absorption is another great way to protect yourself. For example Wisp Projector can provide 20% Lightning Absorption, which means the lightning damage dealt to you is lowered by 20%, and it also heals you by 20%, so overall you receive 40% less damage. There are some items with flat absorption numbers like the Rising Sun, which lowers fire damage dealt to you by an exact number, and also heals you, meaning fire damage dealing attacks can even be healing.
Using Auras and Curses
Multiple paladin auras and necromancer curses can help with your character’s survivability. The most notable auras are Salvation, which boosts your resistances by a great amount, Defiance, which increases your defense, and Cleansing, which reduces Curse durations on you.
The most notable necromancer curses are Decrepify, which decreases target speed, damage, and physical resistance by 50%, Weaken, which decreases target damage by 33%, and crowd control curses like Terror, Confuse, Attract or Dim Vision, all of which distracts the cursed monsters from attacking you.
The most obvious and generic solution for life sustenance is by using potions. It’s highly suggested to use at least 2 tabs of Full Rejuvenation potions in your belt when playing hardcore, so you can instantly heal yourself in any dangerous situation. Full rejuv potions can be crafted from other potions, and taking the time to craft them can mean the difference of life and death. Life potions also come handy, especially if you receive damage over longer time durations.
Another popular way of sustaining life is by having % life stolen per hit on your items, or using a skill that steals life. This way anytime you deal physical damage, a portion of that damage will heal you. With high enough % life stolen per hit, melee characters can get away without using any healing potions at all.
Finally, the most effective life stealing option is casting the Life Tap necromancer curse on targeted monsters. Multiple items have the ability to cast Life Tap, including Dracul’s Grasp gloves, Exile runeword shields and Last Wish weapons. Having life tap on targeted monsters heals you for 50% of the damage you deal, so it’s far more efficient than life steal on any item. It might take several attacks or hits for the Life Tap curse to proc, so you should still be cautious even when having Life Tap casting chance on your items.
If you decide not to farm for hundreds of hours, you can quickly buy runes from our D2R Store.