Is “Hardcore” actually casual?

DreXxiN 2024-01-04 02:20:10
  With the release of Season of Discovery sunsetting a lot of would-be Hardcore adventures for the Classic World of WarCraft community at large, I’ve put a lot of thought into the game mode. What once seemed to be daunting and not for the faint of heart, ended up ironically instilling more relaxing pacing than many prior expeditions into the gaming world. On a random bored weekday, out of the blue, I began my foray into Hardcore World of WarCraft What I expected to happen would be my experience mimicking the nature of my character’s life in “hardcore (DEATH = DELETE.) So this meant if I were to lose my character, I would have concluded my experiment with the realms of Hardcore, and deleted the game and ceased my experiences thereafter.  

Enjoy me getting ravaged at 2:22 in the video...and being the thumbnail.

But after my first “run?” I was hooked. The world felt alive again - dangerous in ways I haven’t felt since playing video games in early childhood. What could I do better next time? Would a random human mob drop a bag? Would I find a better questing route? Can I avoid that patrol next time? What if I get some additional greens? Perhaps the excitement of my adventures were amplified by the fact that I had actually never played Vanilla WoW before, but I couldn’t help but bask in how refreshing this type of gameplay was to your typical min-max, number crunch, chore-heavy loop that the modern RPG demands of us. Coming back to the title, though - How in the heck could a game mode called “hardcore” be casual? Isn’t that oxymoronic? You’d think, but this was stress relieving. On one hand, a lot of the ways we become stressed isn't so much about the circumstance itself, but the expectations of outcomes we feel entitled to receive with any given activity or subject. This isn’t to say dying in this kind of game mode doesn’t come with some level of stress. But when you go in expecting to die, you intrinsically adopt a learning mindset. Everything’s dangerous, so you can’t just “cruise your way through the boring part.” And honestly, I know a big part of this is just the design of Classic World of WarCraft in general, but I think the Hardcore mode incentivizes play that typically gets the blitzkrieg treatment by the community. It has a way of making those leveling dungeons and zones evergreen. And perhaps the best thing about the game mode that ties everything together in terms of casual pacing is, there is no FOMO. There’s not a real concern you’re going to miss a round of loot lockouts, or “fall behind your friends.” Because the very nature of characters getting deleted means there’ll always be new ̶v̶i̶c̶t̶i̶m̶s̶ players wherever you’re at. You suddenly are more concerned with proceeding cautiously rather than blasting through quickly and “optimally” - consequences be damned. As we age, sometimes gaming becomes less enticing. We've seen it all, the thrill is gone, and so on so forth. I genuinely believe this game mode, something I never once considered built for a player like myself, brings some much renewed vitality if you find yourself in this situation like I did. Don’t get me wrong — Season of Discovery is flippin’ awesome and I think Blizzard has done a great job on it. However, I admit to reminiscing about that glorious month of Hardcore’s peak, especially (and paradoxically) as life has gotten busier. So I say, give it a shot. You have nothing to lose and everything to lose at the same time.  There’s the thrill of the stakes at hand, but you’ll never run out of things to do. You won’t fall behind, and all of your gameplay won’t be solved by spreadsheets and mundane tasks. It's worth noting at the time of publishing this article, SSF (Solo Self Found) is around the corner as a cool way to enjoy the WoW Hardcore experience. Try it out if you were at all discouraged by how the player economy and bots may have dampened your enjoyment!
Michale 'Drexxin' Lalor is the Editor-in-Chief of Esports Heaven. You can follow him on X at @ESHDrexxin. Check out our MMO section for more coverage and content.  

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