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Three Online Games That Are Frightfully Hardcore

Updated on October 14, 2012

What comes to mind when you hear that a game is “brutal,” “unforgiving” and “for elites only”? If you answered “Heck yeah, bring it on!” then you’re probably a hardcore gamer who decries the lack of challenge in today’s online games.

But don’t despair. There are still grueling games around – and these three in particular will push you to the limit.


Darkfall tugs away your security blanket with full loot PvP. If in other online games, you can put on a false bravado and duel players left and right with no risk of punishment, doing so in Darkfall will quickly leave you gearless and penniless. Dying in battle leaves your corpse open for full looting, because in the merciless lands of Darkfall, to the victor goes the spoils.

New players weaned in relatively carebear games like World of Warcraft will have to quickly let go of their obsession with gear. That precious shiny item? It can be quickly lost in one unfortunate defeat. By making possessions “impermanent” so to speak, Darkfall puts the emphasis back on the proper development of skills and teaming up with dependable allies for survival. Without these latter two, you cannot hope to get far in the game.

Being a class-less and level-less MMORPG, Darkfall also require players to think a lot more about actively shaping their character instead of mindlessly gaining levels and spending points on a predetermined class tree.

Path of Exile
Path of Exile

Path of Exile

Familiarity breeds contempt, they say, but not when it comes to online games. It’s usually the opposite. Repetitiveness and predictability allow non-hardcore gamers to develop a routine, to build momentum and make fast progress into the endgame. Path of Exile would rather keep you on your toes. The online action rpg uses randomly generated indoors and outdoors areas that will make AFK coasting all but impossible.

Path of Exile also forces players to become competitive by design. Each new character will need to choose a league in which to belong, and each league maintains a set of ladder rankings. Your skill and performance will constantly be compared with other players. Casual players who like to work at their own pace will dislike this constant one-upmanship, but hardcore players live for this kind of pressure.

For the extra tough, Path of Exile developers are also developing even more punishing specialty leagues like Ironman that forbid refilling of flasks or even mana regeneration and Cut-throat that removes all the safe zones and opens them up to PvP with death resulting to complete loss of items.

Wizardry Online
Wizardry Online

Wizardry Online

Hardcore role-playing makes a comeback with Wizardry Online. Coming out this December 10, this newest iteration of the pedigreed Wizardry classic will have permadeath – or the complete erasure of your character if you fail to reclaim it as a ghost. That translates to what could be hundreds of wasted hours because of an especially treacherous enemy. Even the simplest act of opening a treasure chest, when improperly done, can imperil a player. These exacting traditions have been carried over from the original Japanese game in an attempt to impress even the most hardened hardcore gamers.

Due to the inherent difficulty of Wizardry Online, soloing is a herculean task that even developers themselves discourage. Grouping up to 100 players is allowed to tackle the most difficulty parts of the game. But here’s the bitter caveat – treachery can quickly turn a solid group into backstabbing mayhem. This is because player killing in dungeons will not result in criminal consequences as opposed to murder committed in towns. So pick your poison: Risk fighting alone or gamble with a potentially ganking group.

About Michael

Michael lives for MMOs. You can catch him spamming alts in every online game imaginable from the standard-bearers like World of Warcraft to Kickstarter-funded upstarts and everything in between. He is a contributing writer at MMO Play.


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