Diablo II - History and Gameplay

Diablo 2 CoverOn November 30th, 1996 the world was rocked by the release of what is quite possibly the start of the isometric hack’n’slash genre: Diablo. It was renowned for its remarkably dark atmosphere, creative character customization, easy control scheme and extremely in-depth storytelling.

Not only did it have all of this, it also had online multiplayer via a free service called Battle.net that is also host to virtually all of Blizzard's games.

After a few years of garnering international success, it was announced that a sequel was in the works. Diablo II was released on June 29th, 2000. For me, educationally, it was all downhill from there.

This is part one of a multi-part review and historical remembrance of Diablo II. We also played the first hour of Diablo II a few years ago.

This was the first game ever that I purchased the day it came out, I bought it from Wal-Mart for $50. I remember its enormous installation of 1.55GB and the use of multiple CDs to install the game. Compared to other games I had played (such as Rollercoaster Tycoon, which only used up 170 MB for a full installation.), this was a beast that had me more excited than any other game I had played.

After the install, I clicked play. I was so eager that I clicked through the opening credits and immediately created my first character: a barbarian. I watched the first cinematic in awe, and then the next thing I knew, I was in the Rogue Encampment, with no idea what I was in for because I had never played the original.

I started playing online two days later, as my brother Nathon had also purchased they game and we thought it would be fun to play together. That time, I created a paladin, and this was the first time I had ever been truly addicted to a game. It only got worse when the expansion, Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, was released.

Gameplay

Diablo 2 Barbarian Skill TreeThe game is what the creators at Blizzard deem “Kill/Reward.” This is a much more common in games now, and the reason why is because it is so addicting. It’s really simple; it’s the chance of discovering new, more powerful items that creates a sense of obligation to continuously kill things. This, on top of the fact that killing monsters garners experience makes it even worse.

The game also is what many of my friends called “click-click-die.” This game has actually taken the lives of two of my computer mice. You control yourself almost entirely with the mouse, hence “click-click-die.” My dad even noted, humorously, that he could tell when my brother and I were fighting in harder areas because there were fewer pauses between the clicks.

So, let’s get personal, how does the game actually play? Well, it works very well, honestly. It’s incredibly simplistic, but it’s so shallowly rewarding that you can find yourself playing for hours and hours. This game, even still, forces my body to make me feel like complete shit to get me into bed.

The game implements near endless amounts of weapons and armor to make the game interesting, but what makes the game so replayable is what makes the legendary, and that is what is quite possibly the first ever skill-tree.

In the previous installment of Diablo, you gained different spells and abilities by finding skill tomes that contained skills like “Bone Spirit” which is later found in Diablo II. Because of this, the Real-Time RPG world was changed forever. It’s not surprising when you think about it: this is the company that created World of Warcraft, a game whose skill-trees are legendary and allow you to make your class the exact way you want it. Ever wondered where that idea came from? Well, here it is.

Look forward to part two, where I describe the “Kill/Reward” system in depth, why it works, and why I (along with many others) still love it so much!

Comments

Talent Trees and Blizzard

Blizzard North created Diablo II, not the creators of World of Warcraft.

That is a serious insult, being that Blizzard North knew how to create its own original content, whereas the WoW creators ruined Diablo 3 by implementing too many WoW mechanisms to try to dumb the game down.

gameplay

very nice blog

The Best of Times and The Worst of Times

Great start to what will certainly be a great series.

My experience with Diablo is so bittersweet. I started with the first one, but a bit late to the party, probably around 98. I remember I had just gotten a pretty sweet Pentium 166 with a rad 16 meg video card. I was ready to go. I played the game for weeks loving every minute of it. I had even found some web forums dedicated to the game and learned how to "dupe" items. This seemed amazing at first. I was SO excited. I got online and tried to find people to help me dupe equipment. Once I figured out how to do it myself I proceeded to dupe all my spell books so I could max out all my spells. I spent DOZENs of hours duping. It got to be work and I started to get bored with the game. I was spending all my time duping and wasn't even playing anymore. I then started playing online. I was having fun again and met some great people to team up with. However, then it got really bad. I met someone who invited me to go fight in hell, (the hard part of the game). He was very high level and had great equipment so I wasn't worried about it. We proceeded to go down and start fighting and just when things started getting bad, he intentionally lead all the bad guys to attack me. I got killed so fast I couldn't escape. He just laughed and laughed and then quit out so I couldn't get my stuff. It was gone forever. I was so depressed. This was my very first experience with online asshattery. I think of it as my coming of age in online gaming, when I realized it wasn't all roses and rainbows. The worst part was that I was hotblooded. I was young and vowed revenge. I had read online that it was possible to edit your save file to make yourself indestructible. You could supposedly even edit your file such that you could PVP someone up in the town, which was normally forbidden.

Anyway, I proceeded to download the hex editors in a late night marathon of diablo hacking. At this time in history, the only place to download such editors was "warez" sites. If you're familiar with these sites, you'll understand that they're not nice places on the web. But I didnn't care, I wanted to get this guy bad. But I was new to the ways of the web and not as savvy then. I ended up getting a virus and had to format and reload my whole machine. It was like the worst thing that has ever happened to me in gaming. Well, perhaps second worst. The worst thing was when my gamecube save card got corrupted and I lost every save game I had on there and there were literally dozens and dozens of save files, all gone. Anyway, I was so sad, I never played Diablo again. Not even Diablo II until about 5 years later. Just thinking about it now is devastating.

CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK

That's how my dad knew I was having an especially intense duel in Jedi Outcast.

Looking forward to the next part. Even though I've never played Diablo, I enjoy learning about how developers implement baiting systems into their games. There was an article on the science behind Dragon Quest IX's grinding on Gama Sutra that I found particularly interesting.

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