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Diablo (video game)

Mac
PlayStation
|genre = Action role-playing game, hack and slash |modes = Single player, multiplayer |ratings = |platforms = Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, PlayStation |media = CD-ROM |requirements = Windows
Windows 95 or better, 60 MHz Pentium or better, 8 MB RAM (16 MB for multiplayer), SVGA-compatible graphics card, 2X CD-ROM drive
Mac OS
Power Macintosh or compatible, 8 MB RAM with virtual memory, System 7.5 or higher, 2X CD-ROM drive |input = Keyboard, mouse |series = Diablo }}

Diablo is a dark fantasy-themed action role-playing game developed by Blizzard North and released by Blizzard Entertainment on January 2, 1997.

Set in the fictional Kingdom of Khanduras (located in the Diablo series fantasy world of Sanctuary), Diablo has the player take control of a lone hero as he or she battles to rid the world of the eponymous Lord of Terror. Beneath the town of Tristram, the player journeys through sixteen dungeon levels to ultimately come face to face with Diablo and his demon minions.

An expansion pack, entitled Diablo: Hellfire, was released in , although it was not created by Blizzard Entertainment. This was followed by a true sequel, Diablo II, in , and a third game, Diablo III, was announced on June 28, 2008 at Blizzard's World Wide Invitational in Paris, France.

Story

The story of Diablo is based on the premise of a war between Heaven and Hell. The town of Tristram has come under attack by demons, and the player must save the town and, in effect, the world, by ridding it of the Lord of Terror. Also as quoted in a Warcraft 2 preview of Diablo, the hero is also there to avenge his family who died at the hand of Diablo. As the player delves into the underworld, some of the history behind the war between Heaven and Hell, as well as knowledge about Diablo himself, are revealed through large tomes that are found throughout the levels.

Diablo is the Lord of Terror and one of the Three Prime Evils of Hell, the most powerful lords of demonkind. Long before the events of the game, he was captured by a secretive order of mortal magi known as the Horadrim. The Horadrim imprisoned each of the Prime Evils in a Soulstone; Diablo's red stone was buried in caverns deep beneath the town of Tristram, and as the generations passed, was forgotten. Though his imprisonment was meant to be eternal, the power of the Soulstone weakened over centuries, eventually allowing Diablo to use limited power from within the stone. He telepathically turned an inhabitant of Tristram, the Archbishop Lazarus, into his pawn. In order for Diablo to actually leave the Soulstone, Diablo needed to possess a host. Through his minion Lazarus, he initially tried to gain control of King Leoric, the local ruler, but Diablo, in his weakened state, was unable to overpower Leoric. Abandoning the idea, he caused Lazarus to kidnap King Leoric's son, Prince Albrecht. He inspired such terror in the child that the boundaries between the realms were broken and parts of Hell appeared in the mortal world, taking root in the labyrinth beneath Tristram. Diablo then chose to bide his time and wait for the opportune moment to strike.

Soon afterwards King Leoric was driven to madness by the loss of his son. With Lazarus whispering in his ear, he ordered a foolhardy attack on a far stronger neighboring realm - a campaign to which Lazarus made sure to send all of the King's most loyal and good-hearted heroes. The campaign proved a suicide mission, and soon the King had only the lies of Lazarus for counsel. Leoric began brutally executing the subjects he once protected, suspecting everyone of the kidnapping of his son. Lazarus led groups of townsfolk into the labyrinth in supposed pursuit of the missing prince - but Lazarus's only purpose was to deliver the innocents up to death at the hands of the demons. At length, the few survivors of the army returned home, led by the noble Sir Lachdanan. Leoric immediately ordered their execution, and, seeing the King for the tortured soul he was, Lachdanan killed his King with a mercy stroke. Upon his dying breath, Leoric cursed those who were close to him that they should serve him in the underworld for all of eternity, creating the horrific undead knights of the labyrinth.

Shortly after, the time period of the game begins as the player's character arrives. He or she has to fight through sixteen levels to face Diablo, encountering various monsters and quests along the way. The labyrinth descends from a simple dungeon to dark caves and catacombs and finally the fiery pits of Hell. The player finds a portal to Archbishop Lazarus' lair, slays him, and fights through to Diablo. At the end of the game, the player character has killed Diablo's mortal form, and left Diablo once more with just a soulstone to inhabit. Now in hopes of retaining the Lord of Terror, the hero pierces his or her head with the soulstone, attempting to contain the Lord of Terror within his or herself. This was exactly what Diablo had planned all along, as the hero would be a much better host than the prince. Diablo II later confirms that Diablo indeed possessed the hero who slew him.

Gameplay

Diablo is one of the most well-known examples of the action-RPG subgenre. Although players level up, choose character classes, and manage a variety of spells and equipment as in a typical RPG, all actions are done in real time, as in an action game. Diablo in many ways resembles roguelike games, the main differences being more realistic graphics and the fact the game is in real time, rather than turn-based. Diablo was influenced by Moria and Angband.

The majority of commands in Diablo are executed by the mouse. Players click on an area of the screen to direct the character, and click on enemies to attack. However, learned spells can be assigned hot keys using the function keys on mouse-over, as well as several text exclamations (e.g. "Help me!") that could be edited in a configuration file.

Diablo is highly replayable thanks to its randomly generated levels, with every map that the player encounters being unique compared to the last. This randomness extends to the monster population as well, though they are generated from a group appropriate for that level. In addition, in single player mode there are only three core quests as the rest of them are drawn from several pools, making it impossible to complete every quest in one playthrough of the game. Either way, only the last two quests are compulsory (although it is necessary to complete the voluntary missions to gain experience and items, and to learn more of the backstory). Given this arrangement, no two playthroughs of the game are ever exactly alike.

Levels

There are sixteen levels of the dungeon, divided into four areas. Each area has a different appearance, architecture, light level, monster mix, and musical soundtrack. The first level of each of these areas (levels 1, 5, 9, and 13) each have an additional exit leading back up to the town of Tristram. In single player, these entrances are blocked until the character opens them from the dungeon side. For example, the entrance from level 13 to town is not visible at first. When the character reaches level 13 from level 12, and then finds the stairs to town, they may go up, and the entrance (a glowing crevice) opens and is available for two-way travel from then on. In multiplayer, the entrances to town all start in their "open" position, but with a level requirement to access them from town. A character that does not meet this level requirement will have to either gain more levels, or reach that area by completing the preceding area.

Character classes

The three character classes of Diablo are the warrior, rogue, and sorcerer. Each character, following typical role-playing conventions, has his or her own particular traits. The warrior possesses physical strength, the rogue has high dexterity, and the sorcerer is oriented towards magic.

  • Warrior: The warrior is a powerful melee fighter, master of weapons of war and capable of enduring more damage than any of the other classes. This character also gains a slight increase in the rate of strike with a melee weapon. The background of the character states that they range from barbarians from the northern highlands to noble paladins.
  • Rogue: The rogues who appear in Diablo are master archers. They can have a higher level of magic than warriors and thus are able to make better use of magic in their battles, although not nearly as well as sorcerers. This character also gains a slight increase in the rate of fire from bows. The rogues belong to a group called the Sisterhood of the Sightless Eye, and are the best archers in the world of Sanctuary.
  • Sorcerer: A powerful master of the arcane arts, the sorcerer is the hero that is able to achieve the greatest heights of magic, so that he doesn't have need of physical weapons. This character also gains a slight increase in speed of casting a spell. In the game story, sorcerers belong to Vizjerei mage clan, and have come to Tristram seeking to discover long lost tomes of magic knowledge under the cathedral.

Unlike other games that strictly differentiate between classes, a character's abilities are not unique; a warrior can use the same spells as a sorcerer, while a sorcerer can use weapons such as axes. All three classes require the same amount of experience to level up, and there are no class-based requirements for equipping items or using spells. However, different classes have different starting attributes.

In terms of game mechanics, the different characters also each have different maximum possible levels for their attributes, and gain different amounts of life and mana per level. As a result, some classes may have difficulty attaining the attribute levels required to equip or use high level items/spells. Also, the characters have hidden differences in their in-game performance, including chance to hit and block, different rates of fire and slower or swifter cast rate.

Character information

Attributes

The four numerical character attributes in Diablo affect the characters' combat statistics which in turn determine how powerful the character is. With each level up, five points may be distributed among the "Base" attributes to permanently increase them at the player's choice. They may also be modified by elixirs and magical shrines encountered in the game. Various magical items acquired in game increase the effective character attributes while these items are being used.

  • Strength affects the amount of damage the character may deal in melee combat. Advanced armor and weapons have minimum Strength requirements.
  • Magic affects the amount of mana the character has (see Character Statistics). Magic affects the chance of a spell striking its target. Also, many spells are affected in some way (such as damage dealt or duration) by the Magic attribute. Spellbooks, staves, and many scrolls have minimum Magic requirements.
  • Dexterity affects the chance of hitting enemies in combat, the character's armor class, and the chance of being hit by enemies. It also increases the amount of damage dealt by ranged attacks (for the Rogue only). Some swords and most bows have minimum Dexterity requirements.
  • Vitality affects the Life statistic of the character (see Character Statistics). It also determines how much damage a monster needs to deal in order to stun the character ("stun" refers to a momentary delay in character action after suffering a heavy blow; being repetitively stunned in combat can be extremely hazardous).

Statistics

  • Life represents how much damage the character can take before dying, also informally called "hit points". The amount of Life remaining is constantly displayed as a red orb on the left of the screen.
  • Mana represents the character's spiritual essences. Casting spells requires mana. Therefore the more mana is available, the more spells can be cast. The amount of Mana remaining is constantly displayed as a blue orb on the right of the screen.
  • Chance to Hit represents the likelihood that physical attacks will inflict damage on their targets. This is assuming that the character is actually attacking a square that is occupied by an enemy. If the square is empty, then the chance to hit is zero. There are many hidden effects governing chance to hit, such as maximum and minimum restrictions imposed by the game engine and innate class bonuses. Therefore, displayed chance to hit may not accurately indicate the true likelihood of striking a given enemy.
  • Armor Class (sometimes abbreviated AC) represents the amount and quality of armor worn as a whole, modeling this as a reduction in chance of being hit. The body location, type of armor (fabric, chain, plate), and type of attack (bow, sword, etc.) are not considered by the game. Armor does not protect a character against magical attacks, but a shield can occasionally block spells.
  • Damage represents the reduction in Life a physical attack will cause if it hits, represented as a numerical range.
  • Resist Fire, Resist Lightning, and Resist Magic represent the character's ability to resist damage from the respective categories of magical attacks. "Magic" attacks are all those that are not fire or lightning, which include magical acid. These statistics can only be non-zero as a result of the use of magical items, as characters can never innately possess resistance. None of the resistances can exceed 75% under any conditions for any character, though some enemies in the game have complete immunities to Fire, Lightning, or Magic.

Spells and skills

Characters can learn spells from tomes found in the game, and add them to their spellbooks. Spells can later be cast an infinite number of times, if the character has enough mana to do it. Spells can also be improved by learning higher levels of the same spell. Different spells, and different levels of the same spell, require varying amounts of mana to be cast.

Each class also has a special "skill" which is unique to specific character class. Warriors have the ability to repair items, Rogues can disarm traps and Sorcerers can recharge staves that have a certain amount of spell charges on them. However there is a drawback that is associated with repairing or recharging an item. In both cases both the original durability and maximum staff charge is reduced. Therefore each time such an ability is used, the item loses power and worth.

Monsters

The monsters of Diablo are undead monstrosities, vicious nocturnals, and demons spawned from Hell. Each of the sixteen levels contains monsters that are tougher and stronger than ones from the level before it. When the player kills a monster, it may randomly drop an item or gold. Upon killing more enemies of the same type, the player may find out more details about the monsters, such as hit points and resistances or immunities.

In the world of Diablo, monsters are divided according to their masters:

  • The followers of Mephisto, the Lord of Hatred, are the undead (skeletons and zombies), demonically corrupted animals whose unshapely forms and twisted limbs leave them in eternal agony and rage (overlords), and lava demons spawned by the spilling of Mephisto's blood in Hell.
  • The followers of Baal, the Lord of Destruction, are creatures that seek the undoing of the material Universe and the manifestation of chaos. Some of them include the Fallen Ones, Goat Men, and Poison Spitters.
  • The minions of Diablo, the Lord of Terror, are the fears of man in a corporeal form, figuratively-speaking. They prefer to attack their victims from the shadows, especially after their prey demonstrates weakness. Some of those demons are The Hidden and Scavengers.

In Diablo, enemies are also divided in 3 groups:

  • Animals: Take greater damage from swords/blades and less damage from blunt/clubbing weapons.
  • Demons: Take equal damage from all kinds of weapons. Diablo himself is considered a Demon.
  • Undead: Take greater damage from blunt/clubbing weapons and less damage from swords/blades. Undead are the only monster type (aside from Diablo himself) vulnerable to the Holy Bolt spell.

Items

Items are sold by the vendors, randomly dropped by slain monsters, and can be discovered within the labyrinth inside of chests or barrels or sometimes lying on the floor. There are several types of items.

Gold is the currency used to buy goods and services from the vendors. When gold is picked up from the ground or received from selling an item, the amount is added to the smallest pile of gold in the player's inventory. A maximum of five thousand gold pieces can be in one pile (which occupies one square of inventory space). In the Hellfire expansion, an item gained as a quest reward is a unique amulet that allows each inventory space to hold ten thousand gold instead.

Quest items come in many varieties in the single-player mode of Diablo and within the Hellfire expansion. Some of them activate a quest when picked up or found, while others must be carried along or used to interact with the environment, and yet others are given as special rewards for completing quests. Some of these quest-related items are automatically "destroyed" (or otherwise taken from the player) when the related quest is completed.

Consumables

These are items that are destroyed when used, and include potions, elixirs, scrolls and spellbooks. Between the red and blue orbs of life and mana, at the bottom of the screen, the player has eight slots representing a belt which can contain consumables (except spellbooks). These slots are numbered, and pressing the corresponding key (one through eight) will use the associated consumable. No other items can be placed in the belt.

  • Potions: Healing Potions (red) refill life, Mana Potions (blue) refill mana, and Rejuvenation Potions (yellow) refill both. All varieties come in normal (partial refill) and full (complete refill) types. Each class has a hidden bonus value for Healing and Mana potions; Warriors recover more Life from a Healing Potion, while Sorcerers recover more Mana from a Mana potion, with Rogues regaining an average amount from each. Potions of Rejuvenation function as one potion of Healing and one potion of Mana. All potions take their effect instantaneously.
  • Scrolls: When used, the scroll simply casts the named spell. The benefits are that the spell costs no mana to use, and the user doesn't need to actually know that spell in order to use the scroll (though they must meet the scroll's Magic requirement, if it has one). Some scrolls bear spells which the player cannot learn, such as Apocalypse. When casting a spell from a scroll, it is cast at whatever level the character knows the spell; if the character does not know the spell at all, it is cast at level one.
  • Elixirs: Using an Elixir increases the named base attribute by one (but not over the base attribute's natural limit). They can be found in the dungeons, and most of them can be bought from some vendors after reaching certain levels.
  • Spellbooks: Using one grants the player the named spell, or increases the spell's level by one if the player already knows it. Minimum magic requirements have to be met in order to read a book; but in order to cast the spell the player only needs enough mana to pay its casting cost. Spellbooks can be found in the dungeon (either dropped by monsters or found on bookshelves and scroll racks), or can be bought from a vendor. Some spells cannot be learned from books; those spells must be cast using staves and scrolls.

Equipment

Weapons, shields, helmets, armor, amulets, and rings are the basic types of equipment. Any character can use any piece of equipment so long as they meet its statistical requirements: Strength, Dexterity, and Magic. The only other restrictions are that characters may not equip two weapons simultaneously unless they are a Bard, nor use a two-handed weapon in conjunction with a shield unless they are a Barbarian. These two classes are only available with the Hellfire expansion and a modified command.txt file.

Weapons and protective gear have durability values that decrease with use. The durability of weapons has a chance of being reduced when striking an enemy; the durability of armor has a chance of being reduced when the character is struck. When the durability of a piece of gear gets low, an icon appears in the corner of the screen to warn the player. If the durability reaches zero, the item breaks and is utterly destroyed. An item's durability can be restored by paying vendors to repair it, visiting a Religious Shrine, or using the Warrior's repair skill on it (though the latter is at the cost of reduced maximum durability). Overall, the more powerfully enchanted the item is, the more expensive the repairs will be.

Staves are two-handed weapons used primarily for the spell charges they contain; each charge allows one casting of the spell contained within the staff. A Sorcerer can recharge a staff using his Recharge skill, but at the cost of permanently reducing its maximum charge level. It is also possible to pay to recharge a staff. With respect to level of the spell produced, staves function identically to scrolls: the spell is cast at the level known to the caster, unless it is unknown, in which case it is cast at level one. Aside from spell charges, staves can have enchanted properties and be repaired like other weapons.

Diablo helped popularize a system used in other CRPGs such as the Might and Magic Series, to handle the many combinations of random items imbued with random magical properties. The only items which are relatively constant are Unique items, which have the same types of bonuses, though sometimes of varying amounts, every time they are found. Magical items in Diablo have an idiosyncratic naming system; a particular enchantment will be either a suffix or prefix. For example, the "Godly" prefix, appearing only on armor, adds greatly to armor class. An item with this ability would appear as "Godly (itemname)". The "of the Zodiac" suffix adds 16-20 to all of a character's stats. An item with this ability would appear as "(itemname) of the Zodiac". Magical items can have both a prefix and a suffix; however, certain systemic limitations within the game mechanism prevent some prefixes and suffixes from appearing together on the same item. Also, different equipment types draw from different pools of affixes (enchantment prefixes and suffixes); some affixes are never available on certain types of equipment.

Equippable items can have various modifiers, and break down into three major classes as a result:

  • Normal (white text) : Common mundane items without any special attributes. Most abundant in the game. These can be bought or found in the dungeon. Rings and Amulets never appear as Normal items.
  • Magic (blue text) : Enchanted items that can have up to one modifier prefix and/or one modifier suffix. Unless buying one from a vendor, magic items must be identified using a Scroll of Identify, or a visit to Deckard Cain or a Glimmering Shrine in order to reveal and enable their modifications. Most modifiers are beneficial to the player, but especially early in the game it is possible to get items with negative modifiers that make them less powerful and less valuable. These are sometimes referred to as "Cursed" items. Later in the game, while it is still possible to find cursed items, they become extremely rare.
  • Unique (gold text) : Very rare and powerful items that may have up to six magic bonuses. Unique items can never be bought from vendors, and all quest items are treated as unique items. Some unique items have a unique item graphic within the inventory screen, but their appearance on the field of play when equipped does not differ from others of their type as in Diablo II. Unique items typically grant great bonuses but can also possess negative modifiers, such as the "Gotterdammerung", a unique full helm which adds the greatest amount of Armor Class of any helm in the game (60), but sets all of the character's Resistances to zero and greatly darkens the dungeon, making it difficult to see. Like magic items, uniques must be identified before their modifications become known; but unlike magic items, uniques have predetermined stats that are largely the same each time the item is found. An interesting difference from many games that require item "identification" is that nonidentified items can be equipped in Diablo. Their base attributes (damage and armor class) will take effect, but no magical abilities will activate.

In addition, Hacked and "Duped" (duplicated) items were extremely common on Battle.net. The best unique items, were usually "dupes", and the best magical items were almost guaranteed to be hacked.

Shrines

Shrines create effects upon one's character and sometimes others when activated. The normal Shrines found in the Dungeon and Catacombs (first eight levels) are labeled when the mouse cursor is placed over them. However, the Goat Shrines found in the Catacombs and the Cauldrons in Hell cause a random effect, leaving the player only with the result and the same cryptic clue that would be displayed in the center of the screen by a normal Shrine.

Multiplayer

The game supports several types of multiplayer connections. It can be played over a local area network using the IPX protocol, a telephone line with the use of a modem, or by means of a serial cable in a direct connection. One can also play Diablo over the Internet via Battle.net.

Unfortunately, the game lacks the stronger anti-cheating methods of Blizzard's later games and as a result, many characters online have been altered in various ways by common third-party programs known as "trainers". It is difficult to play a fair online game of Diablo in public games, as hacks and duplicated items are common. The use of trainers (which modify memory locations while the game is running in order to cheat) is fairly common and character editors are often used to give incredible statistics to even newly made characters. Additionally, buggy game code allows any player to infinitely duplicate items and avoid being stunned in combat using the Mana Shield spell. However, a number of legitimate players exist and may be found primarily on forums related to Diablo, as well as on Battle Net.

Versions and expansion pack

Diablo was released by Blizzard on January 2, 1997, with an official announcement on the release by Blizzard Entertainment on January 3, 1997. An oft stated release date of November 30, 1996 is incorrect as Diablo only went gold and into full production on December 27, 1996.

Diablo normally requires the original CD to play, however also included on the disk is a shareware version of the software that could be played without the CD called "Diablo Spawn". This version of the game could be used to join multiplayer games hosted by someone with the "Full" install, but was not playable in single-player mode.

In 1998, a PlayStation version of Diablo was published by Electronic Arts. The game lacked online play, but featured a two-player cooperative mode. It also featured an option to learn the story through a narrator without having to find the books in the game. This feature can be found on the main menu under the title 'history'. This version was infamous because of its need for 10 blocks free on a PlayStation memory card; the standard size of memory cards for the platform was 15 blocks.

The only official expansion pack made for Diablo was Diablo: Hellfire in 1997. The expansion was produced by Sierra Entertainment rather than an in-house Blizzard North development team. The multi-player feature of the expansion pack was disabled with version 1.01. The added content included two additional dungeon segments located within a new side storyline, several new unique items and magical item properties, new spells, and a fourth class, the Monk. There were also two possibly unfinished "test" classes (the Bard and Barbarian) and two quests which could be accessed only through a configuration file modification.

Hellfire never achieved the fame of the original, and is variably hard to obtain today. Some complaints include the fact that much of its content seems less "polished" than that of the original game, and that the new content does not mesh with the atmosphere of the original perfectly. Hellfire is also relatively buggy since Hellfire installations can not be patched using Blizzard's Diablo patches, and Sierra themselves only released one patch for Hellfire, which retains some bugs that the original Diablo did not. The expansion also has some small design problems wherein some of the new unique items can never be found in the game.

However, despite these problems Hellfire generally received quite favorable reviews from the game magazines at the time. Blizzard North also later implemented their own versions of the insect caves and the crypt levels introduced in the expansion in Diablo II.

Re-releases

The original game was later re-released alongside Hellfire in a 1998 bundle, called Diablo + Hellfire. 1998's Blizzard's Game of the Year Collection contained copies of Diablo, StarCraft and WarCraft II. The Blizzard Anthology (2000) contained Diablo, StarCraft, StarCraft: Brood War and WarCraft II: Battle.net Edition. The Diablo Gift Pack (2000) contained Diablo and Diablo II, but no expansions. The Diablo: Battle Chest (2001) contained Diablo, Diablo II and Diablo II's expansion, Diablo II: Lord of Destruction.

Reception and influence

Reception

The large majority of reviews Diablo received were very positive. It received an average rating of 94 on Metacritic, with many awarding the game near-perfect or perfect scores on their respective grading systems. Most praised the game's addictive gameplay, immense replayability, dark atmosphere, superior graphics (for the time), moody musical score, and its great variety of possible magic items, enemies, levels, and quests. This last aspect was praised by GameSpot editor Trent Ward in his review of Diablo, which he gave a "9.6": "Similarly, although a set number of monsters is included, only a few will be seen during each full game. This means that players going back for their second or third shot at the game will very likely fight opponents they haven't seen before. Talk about replay value.

Diablo was awarded GameSpot's Game of the Year Award for 1996.

Diablo's online multiplayer aspect was also cited as one of the strongest points of the game, with it described as greatly extending its replay value.

The most common complaint about the game was the length of its single-player aspect, which many felt was too short. Others criticized what was seen as the simplicity of the story, with RPGFan stating: "It's been said already, but I'll say it again - if you consider plot to be a highly important part of your RPGs, and can't play any RPGs without a solid plot, stay away.

As of August 292001, Diablo has sold 2.5 million copies worldwide.

Influence

Diablo has been credited with creating a sub-genre of point-and-click action RPGs. Since 1999 many games have used the concepts introduced in Diablo and some have imitated the game. These games include Dungeon Siege, Mu Online, Sacred, Nox, RF Online, Titan Quest, Mythos, Spellforce, Champions of Norrath, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, Drakengard, Dungeon Lords, Fate, Divine Divinity, Conquer Online, Darkstone, Throne of Darkness, and Dungeon Runners.

References to Diablo are scattered throughout the various Blizzard products that followed; see the 'References in other Blizzard games' section for examples.

The Legendary Cow Level

One of the more well known aspects of Diablo was something that didn't actually exist. Rumors started of a "cow level" with varying instructions or ideas on how to enter such a place and what existed in this level.

Blizzard put a cheat code in StarCraft: 'there is no cow level.' Typing cheat results in an instant victory of the game.

The Hellfire expansion gives a tongue-in-cheek nod to this rumor: if cowquest is added to command.txt, the Farmer's Orchard quest is replaced by a Cow Quest. Lester the Farmer is replaced by a Complete Nut who is dressed in a cow suit and wants his Brown Suit back. The quest is accomplished when the player returns the Brown Suit, and the quest reward is a unique armor, the Bovine Plate. The player might also find a Gray Suit, though its sole purpose is to enhance the humor-oriented nature of the quest.

Blizzard actually did put a "secret" cow level in Diablo II, although they made no secret of it. It was merely a very large area full of monsters called 'Hell Bovines' who were cows walking upright and carrying halberds. All of their sound files were of humans saying the word 'moo'. Net lore has it that the ridiculously bad voices of the cows were those of various Blizzard employees. "The Cow King" makes an appearance as a unique Hell Bovine. However, defeating "The Cow King" will prevent that player from ever opening another portal to the Cow Level on that difficulty level.

The cow level is rarely brought up other than as a joke but is still referenced in other products. The later Blizzard game Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos introduced the Tauren, a race of anthropomorphic bulls and cows, whether intentionally spoofing the joke or not. World of Warcraft features them as a playable race, and their capital city, Thunder Bluff, is sometimes jokingly referred to by players as "the Cow Level." An item even exists named "The Cow King's Hide" (this is also the name of a set item in Diablo II, along with the Cow King's Horns and the Cow King's Hooves). On the game's loading screens, one of the tips displayed is "TIP: There is no cow level.", although this was added long after the game was released.

In addition, as an April Fool's joke in 2008, Blizzard announced a new unit for the under-development Starcraft II; the "Tauren Marine," (a play on "Terran Marine") which was a Tauren suited up as a marine, carrying an "88mm Impala Gauss Rifle" and smoking a cigar. As a caption for one of the new unit's screenshots, it is said that "There is a cow level."

Cut content

As with many games, Diablo was originally intended to be much more expansive than the final product, with a large number of monsters, characters, items, and quests never making it into the retail release. A large portion of this content is still contained on dormant files hidden on the CD of the game.

  • Some spells never made it into the final game. The original game was supposed to have six spell-book pages (this can be checked in Diablo's manual, page eighteen, in a screenshot where the spell-book has six pages), unlike the four in the final, and the spells left on the CD are Invisibility (whose icon graphic was reused for the Teleport spell in Diablo II), Blood Boil, Blood Ritual, Doom Serpents, Etherealize, and Sentinel. Most of these spells are disabled, but some, like Etherealize, can be enabled with the help of hacks, and Doom Serpents' graphics can still be extracted from the game's main data file.
  • Some enemies don't appear in the final game, such as the Unraveler (which is now a monster found in Act 2 of Diablo II), Goat Lord, Incinerator, Bone Demon, Invisible Lord, The Arch Lich Malignus, and Devil Kin Brute. Their images can still be viewed in sprite form (.cl2) in the game's main data file. Several of these monsters later appeared in the expansion, Hellfire.
  • A character named Tremain the Priest does not appear in the final game, but there are sound files of his speech in the game's main data file.
  • Many hints for quests that never made it into the final game can still be viewed on the game's main data file. These include "Izual, the Fallen Angel", in which the player talks to Gillian the barmaid and receives a quest to find and destroy Izual to release his tormented soul. Another quest involved hunting down the demon queen Andariel. Both characters appeared later as unique monsters in Diablo II, Andariel as the boss of the first act and Izual in a quest in the fourth.
  • Two cutscenes appear on the CD but not in the game. One of them is a video the player is supposed to see upon entering The Butcher's lair, and the other one is of Diablo gaining power if the player fails the (never implemented) Map of Stars quest.
  • Many item graphics were never used in the final game, including the Map of the Stars, which was hacked many times into the game and spread over Battle.net.
  • One of the extra sub-quests from Diablo supposedly involved Gillian. Gillian was involved in two quests, the first one she would issue early in the game. Rumor has it that Gillian requested that a cellar is cleaned in one of the town houses as "Giant Worms" had invaded the cellar. To complete this quest, the player needed to enter a town house. There is an abandoned house inside Tristram with an opened door which could possibly be the house the player was meant to clean up.
  • It's believed that Blizzard originally only planned to have one character skin. This is backed up by early screenshots, which not only showed only the warrior skin, but also depicted the warrior skin using magic and ranged weapons. The early names for the classes were the Fighter, Archer and Mage.

Easter Eggs

  • A sound file of the game's namesake, apparently speaking in tongues, is played when entering level 16. It can be extracted from the game's main data file and, when played backwards, produces "Eat your vegetables and brush after every meal." This is a play on the claim that satanic subliminal messages perceived to be included in songs through backmasking effectively lead teenagers towards sex, drugs and violence.
  • When the Diablo game launcher is opened, the game plays a deep, evil laugh (often assumed to be that of Diablo). When this laugh is recorded and sped up several times, it becomes the sound that Scavengers emit upon death.
  • The backdrop of Diablo's installer is a 256 color picture, and it contains a steganographical message with the text "Natalie Portman Rocks" between the horns of the demon character. The message is not present in the demo, but was added to the retail version.

References in other Blizzard games

Diablo II and Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

  • The canon hero who defeated Diablo in Tristram was a Warrior: this can be found in Cain's diary in Diablo II's instruction manual and on Diablo III website.
  • Blood Raven (the corrupted Rogue from the first act of Diablo II) was evidently the Rogue in the first Diablo game. Akara and Charsi say that Blood Raven was a rogue captain at Tristram, battling Diablo. They say she returned unlike before, bringing an evil influence. Shortly thereafter, Andariel's uprising in the west began and Blood Raven began raising the dead.
  • The Summoner, the corrupted Mage from the Second Act that was impersonating Horazon, was supposedly the Sorcerer in the first Diablo game. Jerhyn and Drognan speak of a near-insane Vizjerei mage who arrived in Lut Gholein (presumably seeking Horazon's sanctuary) claiming to have fought against Diablo in Tristram, suggesting that mage became the Summoner. The Summoner is also dark skinned, like the dark-skinned Sorcerer in the original Diablo.
  • Both the Diablo manual and the Arreat Summit battle.net strategy guide gives an account of the Sin War between Horazon and his brother Bartuc. Bartuc, who was known as the Warlord of Blood supposedly meets his end in the first Diablo self-titled quest Warlord of Blood though this is disputed (see below). Horazon presumably meets his fate in Act II, although this is disputed as others say that Horazon was being impersonated by the Sorcerer (in this case, Horazon's end is unknown).
  • Bartuc the Bloody makes an appearance in the Lord of Destruction expansion Act V, as the leader of Baal's Council Members during the battle in the Throne Room of the Worldstone fortress. This however may conflict with the Warlord of Blood quest from the first Diablo.
  • Act I continues the story of the town of Tristram and Act IV revisits Hell, making these acts the most similar to the first Diablo game. In Tristram, the player rescues Deckard Cain and learns the fate of both Griswold the Blacksmith (who is now a corrupt Smith) and Wirt (who is now deceased), though there is nothing told of the whereabouts of the other town characters (Pepin, Adria, Ogden, Farnham and Gillian). In Tristram, corpses can be seen on the ground where the original town members once stood. (The lone exception to this is Adria, but only because the general location of her hut is inaccessible.) Whether or not the nameless corpses are the unaccounted-for townsfolk is unknown. However, since the unveiling of Diablo III and the subsequent creation of the website, you can find in Cain's journal on page 16 that all of the townsfolk were reanimated into undead, except for Griswold who, "had so faithfully armored the one I called friend during his battles, suffered perhaps the worst fate of all, being corrupted into a slavering demonic beast thirsting after human flesh."
  • Although Act II and Act III present an entirely new theme, they expand upon what happens to Tal-Rasha's tomb and the Zakarum religion, respectively, stories which were presented in the first Diablo manual.
  • The expansion Act V pays little homage to the first Diablo, but it does bring back Succubi, enemies that were not found in the original Diablo II. Although it is thought that all of the Succubi were killed in the battle beneath Tristram, Baal unleashed his personal harem on Arreat.
  • After the player beats Diablo II or the expansion, an item called "Wirt's Leg" (which is obtained from Wirt's body in Tristram) can be used to open the Secret Cow Level. This item is a reference to the character Wirt from the original Diablo, a teenager who lost his leg to demons and wears a peg leg, and the level it opens is a homage to the well-spread "cow level" rumor from the earlier game.

Other Blizzard games

  • In StarCraft, the Protoss Observer units are heard to repeat Adria's greeting line, 'I sense a soul in search of answers.'.
  • In StarCraft: Brood War, in the 7th Terran level, the password for one of the computer terminals is "Farnham" (the drunk).
  • Also in StarCraft, the Observer will play a line of Griswold's, namely the line he speaks as he gets overenthusiastic about the large mushroom.
  • In Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, if players click on Illidan enough times, he will eventually say, "Wings, horns, hooves... what are we saying, is this Diablo?"
  • In the last Alliance campaign level of Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, one of the hostile units is the Butcher. As he attacks the player's units, he even greets them the same way he greets the player in Diablo: "Ahhh, fresh meat!" If this creature is killed, he drops an item called "Wirt's Other Leg". In the World Editor both of Wirt's legs may be found. The descriptions hint at the demons from both games being the same. Wirt's leg also mentions that it was used to get to the cow level.
  • One of the items that can be found in Blizzard's MMORPG, World of Warcraft, is called Wirt's Third Leg.

See also

References

External links

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