Will Hardcore Still Be Fun in Path of Exile: Ascendancy?
One of the greatest sources of fun in playing Path of Exile is the Hardcore league, wherein you pit yourself against the whole of Wraeclast under the threat of being able to die only once. This is something that has thrilled players of action role-playing games for years, but it's made even more compelling in Path of Exile due to its unique gameplay system.
However, there have been some talks regarding the future of Hardcore upon the release of the new expansion Ascendancy. It's not that the new content doesn't cater to Hardcore play—on the contrary—but there are a few things about it that may dissuade Hardcore players from ever investing time into Ascendancy on Hardcore league. Take note that it's not because the new expansion is going to be bad, but there are some details - like the development of PoE items, that many players are a bit worried about.
Most of those who are concerned about this are players who have played in Hardcore for most of their tenure in Path of Exile, and they wish to continue doing so for the foreseeable future. However, with the new gameplay features in Ascendancy, particularly the Lord's Labyrinth, some of them are now considering playing in Standard league.
These concerns were raised when select community figures livestreamed their gameplay of Ascenancy Alpha, and it seems that there are fears that the Labyrinth may be a bit too overpowered to be a reasonable part of proper Hardcore play. It does seem like the monsters in the Labyrinth are so overtuned that players become prone to one-hit deaths. It's hard to pass the Labyrinth up entirely due to the rewards of completing it, including being able to put new powerful enchantments in your Path of Exile items and so on.
This is kind of different to how things were during the release of Sacrifice of the Vaal, wherein it did take multiple attempts to kill Queen Atziri. Fights with steep learning curves are pretty much what challenging gameplay in Path of Exile is all about, but the horrors of the Labyrinth may be a bit too unfair and can use a bit of dialing back since it's supposed to be a challenge, but not a total gamble.
Of course, most players loyal to the Hardcore league will just advise those who are concerned to suck it up and adapt to the changes, and be comfortable with starting over if they do get a character killed in Hardcore. However, some are indeed getting weary of playing Hardcore all the time due to the vast amount of time investment required for just one character.
Perhaps the the best way to placate these concerns is to understand that it's just like Invasion, wherein the Labyrinth is pretty much an optional one-shot that doesn't force you to take it if you wish not to. But as always, with the really "hardcore" players out there, they will want to complete every single challenge that the game has to offer. That should then be up to their judgment, whether they wish to put in the time and effort to conquer that challenge or just pass it up in favor of other things in the game.
Despite this little foible, there is still a good bit of excitement with the impending release of Ascendancy. Perhaps these concerns and pessimisms about how it can affect Hardcore play will be mostly unfounded as players find ways to solve or circumvent the stated problems and obstacles. As always, that's pretty much what Path of Exile is designed for anyway—problem solving in gameplay.