Diablo II, sequel to the game Diablo, is a dark fantasy-themed action role-playing game in a hack and slash and "dungeon roaming" style. It was released for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS in by Blizzard Entertainment, and was developed by Blizzard North.
Diablo II was one of the most popular games in 2000. Major factors that contributed to Diablo II's success include what fans found to be addictive hack and slash gameplay and free access to Battle.net. Diablo II may be played as a single player game, multi-player via a LAN, or multi-player via Battle.net.
The game was conceptualized and designed by Stieg Hedlund, with Blizzard North founders David Brevik, Max and Erich Shaefer acting as Project Leads for the other disciplines (Engineering, Character Art and Environment Art, respectively). The main production roles were handled by Matthew Householder and Bill Roper.
The player assumes the role of a hero, fighting monsters while traversing over land and through dungeons. The storyline of Diablo II is played through four acts. Each act follows a predetermined path with preselected quests, although some quests are optional. Each act culminates with the destruction of a boss monster, upon which the player proceeds to the next act. Battle is conducted in real-time from an isometric viewpoint. Players fight monsters to level their character up and gain better items.
Diablo II emphasizes combat, and randomly generates many monster properties, level lay-outs and item drops. Most of the maps themselves are randomly generated. In single player mode, the map is randomly generated but locks the setting thereafter; in multiplayer mode, it resets every time the game is restarted.
Diablo II allows the player to choose between five different character classes: Necromancer, Amazon, Barbarian, Sorceress, and Paladin. Each character has different strengths and weaknesses and sets of skills to choose from, as well as varying beginning attributes.
In addition to the four acts there are also three difficulty levels: Normal, Nightmare, and Hell. A character must complete these difficulty levels in order; only once a character completes Normal difficulty can that character play at Nightmare difficulty, and similarly for Hell difficulty. Each difficulty is a greater challenge than the last, with such features as increased creature difficulty, experience penalties upon death, and other challenges. A character retains all abilities, equipment, etc, between difficulties, and may return to earlier difficulties at any time. Upon completion of the game in normal difficulty, a player may create a hardcore character. While for normal players the game doesn't end when they die (as they are resurrected into that act's home town), the game ends when a hardcore character is killed.
Diablo II also has a number of other features that enhance gameplay. The player has the option of hiring one of several computer-controlled mercenaries, that follow the player and attack nearby enemies. On occasion, the player might find a rare, valuable item, or one that is part of a set that becomes more powerful when the entire set is collected. Items can be customized using sockets and gems, or transmuted into different items using the Horadric Cube.
The Amazon is most similar to the Rogue of Diablo: both are primarily associated with bows, and both make equal use of strength and magic. The Amazon is different in that she can also use javelins and spears adeptly. The class is loosely based on the Amazons of mythology.
The Amazon is voiced by Jessica Straus.
The Barbarians, in Diablo 2, originated from the Northern Highlands, which is where Act 5 of the expansion takes place, and can also be hired as mercenaries in that act.
The Barbarian was originally conceptualized for Hellfire, the original Diablo "expansion" made by Sierra. The character was not implemented in the final version but was included as a hidden class in the 1.01 patch for Hellfire. The character had the same appearance and speech as the Warrior but had altered statistics and a different ability.
In both nightmare and hell modes, the natural resistance for all characters drop. The Barbarian is the only class that can passively increase his resistance through a skill.
The Barbarian is voiced by David Thomas.
The spell "Teleport" essentially defines the Sorceress, allowing much faster mobility than any other character. The strong point of the Sorceress is powerful damaging spells and casting speed; her weakness is her relatively low hit points and defense, demanding that the player pay close attention to keep her out of the fray.
Sorceresses are, according to the storyline, a rebellious coven of female witches who have wrested the secrets of magic use from the male-dominated mage clans of the East.
The Sorceress is voiced by Liana Young.
The Necromancer is a versatile death-themed spell caster. His Summoning skills allow him to form skeletal minions from corpses, to create various types of golems, and to temporarily revive deceased monsters to fight alongside him. Poison and Bone skills include the Necromancer's direct-damage spells as well as some defensive abilities, and while his bone projectiles generally cause less raw damage than the Sorceress's spells, they are rarely resisted and therefore effective against most enemies. Curse skills serve a supportive role by inflicting a status ailment upon enemies in their area of effect, allowing for very powerful strategies when used with skills from other trees. All classes can take advantage of curse effects in multiplayer.
A signature Necromancer ability is Corpse Explosion, which violently creates a burst of gore and flame by destroying the body of a fallen enemy.
According to the story line, Necromancers are the priests of the cult of Rathma from the far Eastern jungles.
The Necromancer is voiced by Michael McConnohie.
The knights of Zakarum are highly proficient in the use of a shield, both as a weapon and with greatly enhanced defensive capabilities. The Paladin is the best with defensive skills and is also the best if the player wishes to passively weaken enemies. Some of the Paladin's skills are extremely efficient at eliminating the undead.
The Paladin is voiced by Larry B. Scott.
Multiplayer is achieved through Blizzard's Battle.net free online service, or via a LAN. Battle.net is divided into "Open" and "Closed" realms. Players may play their single-player characters on open realms; characters in closed realms are stored on Blizzard's servers, as a measure against cheating, where they must be played every 90 days to avoid expiration. Online play is otherwise nearly identical to single-player play. The most notable difference is that online maps are generated randomly, with a new map for every game a player enters -- but offline, single player maps are retained in computer memory, though only for a single difficulty setting at a time. For instance, if you play on normal, complete it, and start playing nightmare, your previous normal maps will be reset and your new nightmare maps will be saved in their place. Any switching between the three difficulty levels results in the saved maps being reset.
As the game can be played cooperatively (Players vs. Monsters, PvM), groups of players with specific sets of complementary skills can finish some of the game's climactic battles in a matter of seconds, providing strong incentives for party-oriented character builds. Up to eight players can be in one game; they can either unite as a single party, play as individuals, or form multiple opposing parties. Experience gained, monsters' hit points and damage, and the number of items dropped are all increased as more players join a game, though not in a strictly proportional manner.
Players are allowed to duel each other with all damage being reduced in player vs player (PvP). The bounty for a successful kill in PvP is a portion of the gold and the "ear" of the defeated player (with the previous owner's name and level at the time of the kill).
Patch 1.10 included the option of playing with a ladder character. The ladder system can be reset at various intervals to allow for all players to start fresh with new characters on an equal footing. Ladder seasons have lasted from as short as nine months to over a year. When a ladder season ends the ladder population is transferred to the non-ladder population with all items that player is holding. Certain rare items and rune words are available only within ladder games, although they can be traded for and exchanged on non-ladder after the season has ended.
There have been at least 22 patches; the latest major patch was released on Jun 17, 2008. Through the patch history, several exploits and issues have been addressed (such as illegal item duplication), as well as major revamps to the game's balance. Not all patches have affected Diablo II directly, as several were designed to address issues in the expansion to the game and had minimal effects on Diablo II. The game is currently in version 1.12. The precise number of patches is impossible to determine as Battle.net has the capability of making minor server-side patches to address immediate issues.
An unnamed adventurer who arrives at a rogue encampment in the aftermath of Diablo's movement to free his brothers. The adventurer gradually becomes stronger while searching for the cause of the destruction. He/she travels throughout the land of Sanctuary, eventually ending in the depths of hell and facing off against the Lord of Terror himself.
The last surviving member of the Horadrim clan, Cain is an old man who supported the adventurers in Diablo with information regarding anything, from tips to demons. He is also the only survivor when Diablo destroys Tristram, the city where Diablo originally resided before he was killed, and is saved by the adventurer. In Diablo II, he travels with the adventurer and offers hints on how to proceed with quests and can identify items, as well as information of the history of Sanctuary. He has been comfirmed to appear in Diablo 3.
Tyrael is an Archangel who rebelled against heaven in order to teach the Horadrim how to seal the Prime Evils's souls into soulstones, thereby trapping them for eternity. He is captured by Baal after he fails to stop Diablo from releasing Baal and eventually freed by the adventurer. He comes back when the adventurer reaches the Pandemonium Fortress, the last bastion before Hell, to offer his protection.
Blood Raven is the rogue who helped fight against Diablo in Tristram, who has been corrupted by Andariel to guard the Burial Grounds in Act 1. The head of the Rogues requests that the Adventurer kill her.
The Summoner is a sorcerer who helped fight against Diablo in Tristram but who has now taken over the Arcane Sanctuary in Act 2. He must be killed to gain access to the Canyon of the Magi.
Featured in the movies accompanying the game, the Dark Wanderer acts behind the scenes, setting the events in the story in motion. Described by NPCs the Adventurer meets, he is briefly encountered in Act 3 the first time the Adventurer exits Kurast. He wears a hooded brown version of the Horadrim cloak that Deckard Cain wears, and is seen dragging a sword in the movies. It is rightfully assumed that he is the Warrior who helped fight against Diablo in Tristram from the first game.
Izual is an angel corrupted by the Prime Evils to destroy the Hellforge. He taught the Prime Evils how to corrupt the soulstones, allowing them to harness them for additional power. Tyrael requests that the Adventurer kill him. He is encountered in the Plains of Despair in Act 4.
The Greater Evils
The namesake of the series, antagonist of the first game, and youngest of the three Prime Evils (three brothers). Diablo is a powerful demon lord who is not only strong in close combat, but can use fire, lightning, and bone to decimate his enemies. Diablo is considered to have an affinity for fire. Diablo was slain in the first game, and the warrior who killed him plunged the shard of Soulstone formerly in Prince Albrecht into his own head. The Adventurer searches for and finds him in Act 4, in the Chaos Sanctuary.
Baal is a powerful demon who is strong in both magic and muscle. While he prefers to use his own minions to fight, he can use curses, ice magic, and arcane energy. Baal is considered to have an affinity for ice. Baal was trapped in the body of a Horadrim sorcerer named Tal Rasha and imprisoned in a tomb in the Canyon of the Magi. The Adventurer searches for him in Act 2, but does not find him until Diablo II: Lord of Destruction.
Mephisto was able to break free from his own soulstone after being the first of the three to have been sealed by the Horadrim, and began his campaign to corrupt the jungles of Kurast. Mephisto influenced the Zakarum, high priests of Kurast, and using shards of his soulstone, corrupted the high priests, taking the strongest of the priests, Sankekur, for his own body, essentially resurrecting himself. He uses the Zakarum to gather information and to spread his influence throughout Sanctuary. The demon is also in control of the gates to hell. Mephisto is the eldest of the brothers, and while he is not a fighter, has a wide array of lightning, ice, and poison magic. Mephisto is considered to have an affinity for lightning. The Adventurer searches for and finds him in Act 3, in the Durance of Hate.
The Lesser Evils All command large forces of demons, undead, and monsters. Each one of the Lesser Evils was given an objective to further Hell's presence in Sanctuary.
Encountered in Act 1's Catacomb. Corrupted the Rogues. Uses poison attacks.
Encountered in Act 2. Uses ice attacks and strong physical attacks.
In Diablo: Hellfire, an add-on for Diablo created by third-party developer Synergistic Software, it was possible to change a parameter in a specific text file (Command.txt), so that the farmer who gives out the "rune bomb" quest was dressed in a cow suit, with appropriate new dialogue ("Moo." "I said Moo!"). This added fuel to the fire. To kill the rumor, Blizzard included a cheat (that automatically won the game) in StarCraft that read "There is no cow level", this being Blizzard's way of officially confirming that there was, in fact, no Cow Level. Among online game enthusiasts, this phrase has become an Internet joke similar to the phrase There Is No Cabal.
On April 1, 1999, a Diablo II Screenshot of the Week featured cows fighting. People wondered if the screenshot was an April Fool's joke or if there really was a Secret Cow Level planned for Diablo II. It turned out that there was a cow level. To access the level, one must kill Diablo (or, in Lord of Destruction, kill Baal), return to Rogue Encampment in Act I within the same difficulty level, and then transmute Wirt's Leg with a Tome of Town Portal in the Horadric Cube. This will open a portal to the secret level. There is an item set named "The Cow King's Leathers" (in Lord of Destruction only) which may only be collected in this secret level. When the level creator kills the cow king, the player who opened the cow level becomes unable to reopen the portal in that difficulty. This also goes for all players in the killer's party.
Diablo II was a runaway success for Blizzard. The game has achieved an overall score of 88 on Metacritic. Gamespy awarded the game an 86 out of 100, IGN awarded the game an 8.3 out of 10, and Gamespot awarded the game an 8.5 out of 10 along with earning the 2000 runner-up Reader's Choice Award for role-playing game of the year. It was awarded a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records 2000 edition for being the fastest selling computer game ever sold, with more than 1 million units sold in the first two weeks of availability; according to the 2008 Guinness Gamer's Edition, the title still holds the record. Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade has since surpassed Diablo II's record to become fastest-selling computer game ever at the time of its release, according to Blizzard. As of August 292001, Diablo II has sold 4 million copies worldwide. The game has received the "Computer Game of the Year", "Computer Role Playing Game of the Year", and "Game of the Year" awards from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences at the 2001 Interactive Achievement Awards.