Should you choose Softcore or Hardcore in Diablo 4?

Here’s how to figure out which mode works best for you.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

The game modes in Diablo 4, similar to other Diablo games in the series, are divided into two: Softcore and Hardcore. Each mode is different in one fundamental way, but many players new to the franchise may be wondering which they should choose.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Diablo 4 Hardcore and Softcore difficulty modes.

Diablo 4 Hardcore vs. Softcore: The biggest difference

I considered choosing Hardcore when creating my Sorceress in Diablo 4. Screenshot by Dot Esports

Softcore: Death is temporary. You will respawn once your character dies. Hardcore: Death is permanent. Once your character perishes, there is no coming back.

Hardcore mode in Diablo 4 is infamous for its perma-death mechanic. Even if you invest dozens of hours into one character, a single death can erase that character from the history books. Each mode has its own challenges and if you’re not sure which one suits your tastes better, here is a little breakdown of each mode to help you decide.

Diablo 4 Softcore mode explained

I chose Softcore for my first run in Diablo 4. Screenshot by Dot Esports

This is the standard Diablo 4 experience. When you create a character in Softcore (or simply Normal) mode, you get to play them to your heart’s content with no worries regarding death. Death definitely has its own penalties in Softcore mode and if older games are any indication, you might end up losing gold (Diablo 3) or gold and experience (Diablo 2). In Diablo 4, the penalties for dying in Softcore mode are minimal as you’ll only have to deal with some equipment damage and a run back to your corpse from the nearest respawn point.

Thankfully, your character will be fine all told. Your gear and inventory should be intact when you die, allowing you to pick up where you left off. If you are worried about the loss of gold upon death, your best option is to stash everything important before you go into a zone you are not confident about. Once you ensure your safety, try tackling those difficult challenges.

In my opinion, Softcore mode is best for players who are new to the game or the series as a whole. It is a good way to ease into the game without worrying about your life. Softcore also works best if you are a casual player just looking to enjoy the game without giving yourself more challenges than the game already throws at you. If you’re someone who wants to experience the game for all it’s worth, including the campaign, its dungeons, and side quests—without having the fear of permanent mortality lingering over you—Softcore mode is the way to go.

Related: Which class should you choose in Diablo 4?

Diablo 4 Hardcore mode explained

Hardcore mode is definitely the more difficult option of the two. Screenshot by Dot Esports

Hardcore mode is a classic mode that was introduced in the early days of Diablo 2. In this mode, death is permanent. Once your character takes a fatal blow, their life is over and you will not be able to access them again. This can be very frustrating for certain players, especially since it ends up undoing their entire progress up to this point.

A true test of your character’s mortality, Hardcore mode will force you to go for a more defensive build for your character. In most cases, you will end up sacrificing some damage output potential for a tankier character to increase your chances of survival. This can make completing some content a slow grind, especially against the tougher bosses of the franchise. Still, survivability is everything in Hardcore mode, so giving up a little damage to stay alive will certainly be worth it in the long run.

Related: Is the Diablo 4 Ultimate Edition worth it?

Even if you are an experienced Diablo player and know what to expect from the Hardcore modes of older games in the franchise, this is a great challenge. Always being ready for anything is how you survive in this mode, making sure you have enough regen and sustainability to power through some of the game’s hardest challenges.

Positioning your character appropriately becomes very important as well, making sure they aren’t in harm’s way and get swarmed by a bunch of enemies. Being caught out of position can be a very quick way to die and reset all of your progress. Constant vigilance is the key to thriving in Hardcore mode. Playing through the game once in Softcore can be a major advantage so that you know what to expect.

Diablo 4 Softcore vs. Hardcore: The final verdict

I recommend starting off your first character on Softcore. This will teach you the nuances of the game, its mechanics and challenges, and how to survive in the dark world of Sanctuary. Once you know enough about Lilith’s minions and feel like you want a tougher challenge, creating a Hardcore character is the way to go.

One final tip to ease the Hardcore difficulty curve is to play multiplayer. This will ensure that the party has a better survival rate in terms of numbers, with certain players playing the role of tank, support, healer, and damage dealers.

About the author

Anish Nair

Freelance gaming writer for Dot Esports.An avid gamer of 25 years with a soft spot for RPGs and strategy games.Esports writer for 2 years and a watcher for 12 years.Aspiring author.Dad to a host of animals.Usually found trying to climb ranks in Dota 2, plundering the seas in Sea of Thieves, or mining rare minerals in Deep Rock Galactic.

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