How To Stay Alive In Minecraft Hardcore Mode
Minecraft's new Hardcore mode is not like any mode you've played before. There are no save files – or rather, there are save files, but you only have access to them as long as you stay alive. If you die, even once, the entire game is over and the save file is gone – forever. You're also locked into 'Hard' difficulty, with no option to change it.
It might surprise you to know that I was always a Peaceful mode player. I hated coming across hostile mobs who could kill me and cause me to have to go and find the place I'd died if I wanted to retrieve my items – and yet hardcore mode called to me. There's something gloriously reckless about spending hours upon hours painstakingly collecting the resources needed for survival knowing that a single slip could ruin everything. It's rather analogous to life in a way, and the added challenge certainly adds much needed spice to Minecraft.
Let's face it, after you've played for several months you've built all the towers and roller coasters you can usefully build and you need a challenge. Hardcore mode is that challenge. You have a hunger bar, which steadily depletes as you go about your business and the usual hearts, though they look quite different from the normal game hearts.
Tips For Staying Alive In Minecraft Hardcore Mode
Burrow and Mine
You'll probably find yourself adopting a pretty conservative, mining based playstyle. At least, that's what I did. Collect as much wood and seeds as you can before the sun starts setting and then find yourself some rock to burrow into. An exisiting cave could be dangerous because it could be harboring aggressive mobs that you're not quite ready to defend against. In order to survive, you're going to need a full set of iron (ideally diamond) armor and weaponry. I found that iron was fairly plentiful undeground, as was coal, but diamond was very scarce indeed.
Don't Forget Fishing
A fishing rod can be made from three sticks placed diagonally across the crafting grid and two pieces of string placed below them. Fishing is a truly viable way to stock up on food without breaking the surface. It's more than possible to fish from the subterranean lakes you'll find on your travels.
Farms Are Your Friend
A wheat farm can easily be established a couple of layers underground, providing you with a safe and secure mode of proving yourself with ample food. Combined with fishing, you'll have a virtually risk free food source that means you don't have to break ground until you are ready.
Doors, Doors and More Doors
If you're doing a lot of tunneling (and you will be, because you'll need the iron to craft weapons and armor) make sure to use doors. Doors are an excellent way of sealing off unexplored areas so that you have time to civilize the part you're in without becoming the victim of a ranged skeleton attack. Remember, the new hunger system means that you can no longer eat just to regain health. It is possible to die without being able to regain health at all, so you have to be fairly conservative, at least until you have your first iron armor set.
Although these may be specific to my experiences, I noticed that there were very few sheep around in my main game. I saw a handful of cows and chickens and the odd pig, but no sheep at all. That meant any plans to build a bed on the first night and sleep before hostile mobs could spawn was torpedoed at the outset.
EDIT: Having started a few new worlds, I've noticed that the 'no sheep' thing was a peculiarity of my particular game. If you can manage to spawn in a world with sheep in front of you, sleeping before nightfall should stop nasty mobs spawning until you're ready for them.