Hardcore after the Hype

I'm in a bit of a funny place with WoW at the moment - a lot of things are happening and many of them good (in my opinion) but I'm still somewhat undecided on what I want out of Classic in specific right now. On a whim, I decided to pay the hardcore servers a visit again. It's been about six months since the death of Lossy the mage, so I was ready to give it another go.

I'm also slowly coming around to some of the arguments that people used to make to me about why they love hardcore - that it's not so much about the permadeath and more about how it changes levelling. I used to say that nothing stops you from taking your time levelling in "normal" Classic either and that I have indeed generally played that way, but I can't deny that the older Classic gets, the more it feels like a certain min-max culture starts to permeate every aspect of it, which can make slower and more casual play styles feel unwelcome. Sure, there were people like that in 2019 as well, but at the time I still felt that I could get away from their influence myself, while it seems harder now somehow.

Anyway, both hardcore realms in Europe at least are low population nowadays. Since I played Alliance on Stitches last time, I decided to create a troll priest on Nek'rosh this time around. The low population meant that my census addon no longer struggled to complete scans, though the numbers are still somewhat larger than those of the era PvE cluster. It also feels busier than era because characters are more spread out across the levels. On era, about 40% of all characters are at max-level, with many of them presumably raid-loggers, while the nature of hardcore means that people are constantly forced to roll up and level new characters, and less than ten percent of all characters my addon registered were level 60.

The addition of self-found mode at the end of February doesn't seem to have made much of a splash, though I did see a fair few characters with the buff in the starting area. I was surprised to find out though that Blizzard cut out the "solo" part of the challenge, so these characters can still group up too. Either way, this is something I'm definitely not interested in, as trade is an important part of earning money for me and I bought a wand from the auction house as soon as I could afford it.

When Blizzard released that video about the top ten causes of death in hardcore, it was noteworthy to me that most of them happened in Alliance starter zones. Looking at things from the Horde side, it definitely stood out to me how much less dangerous questing in Durotar seemed to be, with no caves full of kobolds or lakes guarded by murlocs. There are basically only two really deadly places: Skull Rock (which I've avoided so far) and Fizzle Darkstorm's camp. I was lucky and ran into a druid when I approached the latter, because even though I knew it was dangerous, I was still taken aback by Fizzle's almost instant respawn and how easy it was to aggro more and more adds... needless to say, if we hadn't grouped up, the druid and I most likely would've both been toast, but as it was we were fine.

In general all my interactions with other players have felt very positive. Drive-by buffing is alive and well, and someone randomly traded me some low-level herbs after they saw me making potions in the alchemy shop. A level 42 randomly whispered me to ask if I was French - not sure what that was about.

When I got a polite and unobtrusive invite to what's supposedly the server's biggest levelling guild, I took it. I was kind of missing the death announcements to be honest (and I didn't want to install the addon for that). Weirdly though, I still didn't see any even after joining the guild, even as I could see others responding to death announcements seemingly happening somewhere. Eventually I figured out that Blizzard apparently moved all death announcements to its own dedicated global channel called HardcoreDeaths, and for some reason it's not turned on by default. It was good to see that random deaths were still a thing after I joined it, though with a lower (and presumably more experienced) population they were few and far between compared to the craziness of hardcore's launch.

I'm not sure where this is going to go, if anywhere. Maybe I'll just die again in a few levels (which seems like a likely scenario, to be honest), but for the time being it's a nice distraction.

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