Here are some following tips for your consideration in order to thrive and survive your hardcore experience.:
Levels 1-15 (NORMAL ACT 1)
If this is your first hardcore character you are going to be poor. Each blue drop is going to seem like a godsend especially if it has a vitality stat on it. Vitality is prized above all other stats in hardcore especially at this level. You are going to need help surviving so it is best to pick up every single blue drop you can and either sell it or salvage it at the blacksmith. You can craft some pretty decent blue gear focusing primarily on vitality during this phase.
Never solo in hardcore. Many experienced veterans have died to overconfidence, lag spikes, and disconnects. There is safety in numbers. If you stray too far from the group, immediately port to town and rejoin them by clicking on a safe flag. NEVER click on any player's flag that is red because this means they are fighting an elite. Porting in at such a moment in the higher difficulties can and will get you killed. The key to success in hardcore is forming alliances and friendships with others. Being polite goes a long way! Don’t be afraid to tell people that you are scared, or new. Swallow your pride and ask for help. Some people will hook you up with spare items they don’t need or even small sums of gold. Be careful not to abuse the charity of other good players though. As a whole you will find people to be very friendly and helpful during these lower levels because everyone remembers their first time they had less than 1,000 gold.
1/3 life rule:
As a general precaution, if a non-elite monster hits you for 1/3rd of your life, you are way overextending yourself and should retreat to town as soon as safely possible. Get out of that game immediately no matter how good the group is.
You may think I am way overly cautious, but it is always best to err on the side of caution. I generally will quest up to and kill the skeleton king from levels 1-15 in various public games before ever stepping into the Fields of Misery. There are terrible creatures in Fields of Misery, and the Highlands which players call “Bulls” which charge you. If you get hit by a bull, it can easily take half our life off! This is the reason to buff up in levels and at the same time equipping any vitality gear you can find or craft. Once you hit level 15, you should be buffed enough to survive being jumped by an elite bull pack, but be warned, the pack in southern highlands can and will still kill you if you are jumped alone by them! I cannot stress this enough, staying in a close clustered group greatly increases the group’s overall survival rate.
Levels 15-19 (NORMAL ACT 1)
By now you have a few rare yellow items equipped along with almost every other item that should be blue stacked with vitality hopefully. If you have been blessed with an abundance of gold from generous players, you can at this point search the auction house for purple gems and socketed gear. Purple gems grant extra vitality when placed in armor or offhand items. You are going to need a butt load of vitality before you face the last boss of act 1, The Butcher. Grind your gold, craft your vitality gear, and unless you are rich, don’t try to face tank the Butcher.
Gameplay and Progression also a note on powerleveling:
By this time you should be sick and tired of act 1, DON’T be impatient! The most important lesson of hardcore is not to hurry up and rush for 60, but to develop a steady and disciplined mindset. Your confidence will develop as you conquer your foes slowly and surely. It is ill advised by many seasoned Hardcore veterans to receive what is known as a power level. Power leveling is inherently dangerous as it involves a level 60 character killing monsters for you in places that are incredibly dangerous and far exceed the 1/3rd life rule. Players frequently get killed in one blow while receiving a power level, the risk is just too great…this is hardcore after all. I personally will call on level 60 players to help kill bosses for me versus receiving a power level. Other extremely hardline self-found hardcore players will insist that you solo the whole content of the game up to level 60 in order to experience the full range of performance your character can pump out. I leave this decision up to you brave soul. When you feel ready, Kill the Butcher in a group and progress to Act 2. Again, I advise for the first time hardcore player to wait till level 19 before advancing to Act 2. One small note on the Butcher, avoid his charge, and stay out of the fire!