My First Experience with Hardcore in Path of Exile
I would like to tell you about my first experience with hardcore in Path of Exile. Path of Exile is a free to play action RPG heavily inspired by Diablo 2. Considered by many as the true successor to Diablo 2. In POE you choose a class, get in to the world, you click on things until they die, those things drop loot, you get the loot, level up and repeat the process. POE has three modes, standard, league, and hardcore league. Standard mode is the raw POE experience with no special additions. League mode is a rotating seasonal mode similar to Diablo’s ladder system. Hardcore league is the same as league mode except if you die once in hardcore you’re sent to standard mode.
The Temple of Atzoatl
With every season comes a twist to league mode, this time around its incursions and the temple of Atzoatl. While playing in league mode you will encounter a special NPC called Alva. Each time you encounter Alva you go into an incursion. Incursions are short entrances into a room inside your temple of Atzoatl. Through this incursions you try to build the best temple possible, inside each incursion you will encounter two architects and a bunch of normal and elite mobs.
Slaying an architect will have considerable effects on your temple, such as upgrading your temple with chests full of loot, adding traps throughout the temple, buffing the mobs with certain affixes etc. Other than that, there are also locked doors inside each incursion. Each door leads to different rooms in the temple. You can unlock these doors by killing mobs and getting a stone of passage. Each room is different and populated by different mobs, loot, and activities. For example the Vault is full of currency items, while the sacrificial chamber contains a table to sacrifice a unique item for another random unique.
After twelve of these incursions you get to enter your temple and reap the rewards. Inside the temple you will find all the rooms you have built throughout your incursions connected to other rooms you have managed to unlock. At the top of the temple there is a boss which is only available to access if you have managed to unlock a path to it. The quality and length of the temple is up to you and your performance in the incursions you completed. Overall the temple and incursions are very fun and require some thought and planning in order to maximise the rewards.
Shmendrick the Templar
My story into hardcore begins with Shmendrick the Templar. First of all I’d like to point out I’m by no means a POE pro, I played a Marauder years ago and if i recall correctly i was just getting into maps when i stopped playing. Secondly, this the 1st time I’m playing hardcore in any ARPG, the thought of losing my character to a simple mistake, lag or even a random crash, has prevented me from attempting to play hardcore.
The only reason I played on hardcore this time around was that my friends insisted on it. We are a group of friends that hop around from game to game and play together, this time we landed on POE. I won’t lie, i was very skittish to even attempt hardcore and tried to convince them to play softcore. However they didn’t agree, arguing that softcore is boring and pointless. and so i was “forced” into hardcore and created Shmendrick.
Shmendrick had a good short life. my adventure began as any other exile in tutorial area and i was already anxious. Thinking to myself how embracing it would be to die in the tutorial i killed every zombie carefully and methodically. After killing the tutorial boss you get to level up and choose a passive skill point. I had a difficult choice to make, do i follow a guide or do i wing it? I decided to improvise and simply choose passives on my own. For my first skill gem i picked molten strike and pretty much stuck with that, adding support gems as i found gear with appropriate links.
Me and my friend teamed up after the tutorial and began our journey. We quickly blazed through act 1 while building a temple. By the time we got to act 2 our temple was ready and we entered it. Venturing through the temple we encountered an elite mob with rapidly regenerating HP which almost killed us both. We could hardly make a dent on its HP and he was dealing massive damage to us rapidly depleting our health flasks and so we decided to run away and leave it.
We continued to make our way through the temple without too much trouble and reached the boss. That’s when disaster happened, I died to the boss’ flamethrower attack. I violated the 1st rule of gaming, don’t stand in the fire. My friend continued to solo the boss and had a good laugh. We decided to open fresh characters and my second one was Machshefufa the Witch.
Machshefufa the Witch
For my second character I decided to take a ranged class and stay out of harms way. Moreover I decided to focus on summoning skills so that my pets would tank all the damage and I can stay behind safely. For skills I picked raise zombie, summon skeleton and summon raging spirit. I have not learned from my mistake and was still not following a build. For my passives I leaned towards defensive options and minion HP and damage. We once again quickly blazed through act 1 completing our incursions and quests. This time around we planned our temple intentionally.
We entered our temple and the start of act 2 and quickly dispatched all the mobs while making our way to the boss. This time i was ready, playing carefully, dodging every attack, and attacking when i had a short window. Midway through the fight i was running low on flasks and all my zombies died. I thought to myself don’t panic, you can do this, just dodge and use your spirits. And that i did, slowly and carefully i dodged and attacked and the boss died! I got a shiny new unique for my efforts and we continued our journey in act 2. That’s the end of my story for now, Macshefufa still lives and is roughly halfway through act 2.