And so it came to pass… I knew the day would come. I had spent countless hours practicing, fine tuning, strategizing, and mastering Diablo 2 – the greatest game of all time. My goal was simple: finish the game on the hardest level of difficulty, Hell, playing in Hardcore mode. If you die in Hardcore mode, that’s it. That’s all. There’s no reloading of your character. It’s over – permanently. Defeating Baal in hardcore mode while playing on Hell difficulty in single player is a remarkable achievement. Few dare to try it.
After dozens of failed attempts, I perfected an Amazon, and, with patience, could make my way though any crowd. I knew that there was one area in the game that posed the greatest threat – the Durance of Hate. Finally, I reached that point. It was the furthest in the game I had progressed, and after wasting through Travincal, I had confidence that by cautiously wading through Mephisto’s durance, I would soon be in Act 4, then Act 5, and finally, could put this game to rest. Why fear the durance? You see, the Durance of Hate has a fiend so quick, so vile, and so powerful, that all heroes fear it’s blade – the Stygian Doll.
I was almost there – I could sense victory, but I remained patient and played through the level slowly. And then, before I could even blink – death. A Stygian Doll – the very beast I was so careful to avoid – ran from the shadows and plunged its blade into my Amazon’s heart, killing her instantly. It was over in a heartbeat. And with that, Xerces, my Level 80 Hardcore character, would become a corpse.
The worst part? The race to completely finish Diablo 2 was part of a healthy competition between my friends. We had all made it far – but Xerces was the furthest. I had the lead and was going to win, after half a decade of playing the game. When she died, I put my keyboard to rest – never to play the game again. Weeks later, my friend called me to say that he had completed the game entirely – Hell, Hardcore.
And this was the worst day of my life. (Well, not really – there were worse days. But it really sucked.)
Will I play again? You bet. And it will be on first day Diablo 3 is released.