Last week on Wayback Wednesday we strayed from the norm and played a game that most would not consider a true MMO. I did refer to it, however, as a MiniMO, because of the online and LAN based multiplayer. With the hype surrounding the current smash hit Diablo 3 I decided to go back and show where the roots of this game developed. Let’s take a look at Diablo 2.
Diablo 2 is an action based role playing game in which you view the playing field from a third person top down isometric view. You move your character by clicking on the play field with your mouse and attack enemy NPC’s by clicking on them. These features are still present in the Diablo franchise today. In Diablo 2 you have 5 character classes you can choose from, Amazons, Barbarians, Necromancers, Paladins, and Sorceresses. With the purchase of the sole expansion to the game, Lord of Destruction, you gain access to two additional character classes, the Druid, and Assassin. One of the most interesting features in Diablo 2 is the skill tree system. Each class has a choice of 3 different skill trees and there are multiple paths you can take through each one. In this episode I chose to play as a Barbarian and started to invest my skill points in blunt weapons since I had been fortunate enough early in the game to pick up an enchanted mace. This mace had a frost enchant that slowed enemies when I hit them and did bonus frost damage. With seven player classes, 3 skill trees for each class, and a level cap of 99 Diablo 2 had a lot of possibilities for replay throughout the 5 acts. The skill tree system is a feature that many consider missing from Diablo 3 (thought it did show up in World of Warcraft for many years).
Diablo 2 also has voice acted quest lines. Take that SW:TOR! Good job touting a feature as new when it is really at least 12 years old. Another key feature that made Diablo 2 so attractive and increased its replay value was random outdoor areas and random dungeons. While you can see patterns form in Diablo 2 they were never identical experiences. I can understand that Diablo 3 doesn’t have this feature because of the artwork and the increased complexity to create random 3D dungeon’s with it you think after 12 years they could have figured something out, and do not even get me started on the PvP.
But what about the loot? You can’t forget about the loot in any Diablo game. Half the fun is grinding out levels and collecting loot to try and finish a set. This did have its problems though, and that was hacking and duping. I remember it got to the point that you could not even purchase items with gold, you had to purchase them with Stones of Jordan (SoJ). This was a problem created from storing character information client side and one that Blizzard learned from.
There are still active ladder seasons going on for Diablo 2 on Battle.net. Blizzard resets the ladders once every few months. You can also find plenty of people on Battle.net to hack and slash some D2 with but I do caution you against making a public game and not password protecting it. The minions of hell will grow stronger and you will be spammed by gold farmers for Diablo 3 at a rate you would not believe. If you are interested in joining a fresh Diablo 2 group for a future episode of Wayback Wednesday send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find me on twitter @grakulen. On June 6th we will be playing Dark Age of Camelot in Cathal Valley the level 45-49 battleground. I will be joined by Kai Schober the Community Manager from Bioware/Mythic as well as a few surprise guests from the development team. I hope to see you there!