There is a myth that most/all HC players "play it safe" by staying in low torments and hiding under low Grift tiers.
Quote from ruksakThe truth is; HC is more of a challenge than Standard, this cannot be argued. It isn't up for debate.
The game isn't more of a challenge, it just has a lose condition. In fact, the way many people play HC the game ends up being significantly LESS of a challenge, because you avoid anything that could seriously threaten the life of your character. In Season 3, a Softcore group of 4 cleared grift 77. In Hardcore, the higher cleared grift was 68. I would wager that nobody in Hardcore ever even attempted a 77.
Simply put, some people enjoy the challenge of taking on content that pushes the limits of their gear more than the "challenge" of not disconnecting and not having a partner that gets you killed. Some people enjoy trying again when they fail to meet that challenge, rather than giving up and starting over. Which isn't to discount the challenge of keeping yourself alive, but just to say that it is a very different challenge, and not necessarily "more" of one.
To boil out the fat; We see the challenge of softcore grifting is to beat the timer....that's it. You're against a clock and that's it.
In HC, you're against that same clock with the added challenge of not making a serious mistake and dying. Permanent death, you have to re-roll that character before you try again.
This is what I mean by "more of a challenge". There is literally more of a challenge in HC. Softcore players didn't clear 77 because they can face more of a challenge than HC players. They did so because they could die and keep going.
I absolutely assure you that many HC players tried to get higher than 68. There is no leaderboard showing "good tries". Many tried and failed because they cannot play with the same reckless abandon that SC players do. As well, many tried and failed because they died....ya know....due to the extra challenges of HC play.