Diablo II Review on IGN AU

No, that title’s not a typo. It’s a review of Diablo 2. The author is a guy who had just somehow never played D2 before, and with D3 coming up he figured it was high time.

I have a confession to make. I never played Diablo II back when it was released. I always loved PC gaming, but this was one series that – despite the acclaim heaped upon it, I never got around to playing. This year – ahead of playing through the Diablo III beta at Blizzard – I decided to change all that.

I haven’t played much of anything else since.

Diablo II holds up incredibly well. Sure, many of its mechanics feel a little antiquated, and learning its systems and building cohesive characters is trickier than you might expect, but it’s that complexity, that variety and the fact that randomness is baked into the game at a fundamental level, that make it so rewarding and so ridiculously addictive.

…Mind you, the beauty of Diablo II is that your strategy – whatever it may be – won’t work in every situation. If you’re facing Diablo himself as a summoning necro, for instance, you’re in for a tough battle. He fires out waves of flames which can decimate all your supporting characters almost instantly. You need to find ways to slow him (cold damage and Decrepify) and pull focus (golem!) while you try and do damage, making sure you have a town portal open so you can get back to your corpse and the fight when you – inevitably – die.

That last quoted paragraph made me laugh. In agreement, since that’s one of the things I liked about D2; that you had to make choices and that building a character to do X well meant you’d be less good at Y or Z. That’s one reason I (and many others, including beta testers) worry about long term replayability in D3, thanks to the freespecs allowing constant changing to fit every situation.

However you project that issue to resolve itself (and we don’t know enough about how freespecs and rune attuning will work late game to project accurately), it’s interesting that something this reviewer praises in D2 is a feature the D3 team worked assiduously to remove.

More generally, do you guys know anyone who will be entirely new to the Diablo series in Diablo III? (Aside from all the WASDing WoW noobs in the F&F beta now, of course.) Should that be allowed? How did a computer gaming fan never get around to playing D2 at some point during the past 10 years?

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31 thoughts on “Diablo II Review on IGN AU

  1. My little bro turned 16 this summer. He never really played D2 save for a few hours I “made him” to lol… He just got a gaming PC and is eagerly awaiting D3 so there.

  2. He should attempt to describe that exact scenario against D except on nightmare hardcore. Then he really have an interesting article.

  3. D2 bored me to tears the first time I tried it.  It took a couple of years and an acquaintance to clue me in on the multiplayer aspects of the game for me to actually to appreciate the game.

  4. probably a paid review by blizzard, to point out diablo 2 flaws and glorify d3 changes.
    soon people will realize how fuckiing wrong the devs were in changin fundamental d2 features.
    expect plenty of forum threads pointing how incredibly bland d3 is compared to d2

  5. I could really care less about any speculation or comparisons at this point. I’m tired of it and just want to play the game. 🙁 Because when we get our hands on it, that’s when we’ll be able to say, “Yes, I do like it,” or, “No, I don’t,” with none of the Diablo 2 did things this way or that way explanations. I just about every gamer I personally know has played Diablo 2, for at least 10 minutes. That’s about how long it takes to realize you love it or hate it.

  6. worry about long term replayability in D3, thanks to the freespecs allowing constant changing to fit every situation.
    Isnt this going to be stopped late game by having to change runes every time?  Once you have your perfect rune in your skill doing exactly what you want, wont the rune be lost if you change the skill?
    Depending on how hard and expensive it is to get the skill back the way it was, i can see this stopping people constantly respecing

  7. More generally, do you guys know anyone who will be entirely new to the Diablo series in Diablo III? (Aside from all the WASDing WoW noobs in the F&F beta now, of course.)
    I only started playing D2 about a month ago so i am relatively new, but i have played pretty much every other Blizzard title that exists to the nth degree.  I was enjoying D2…. until i died.  I learnt the hard way whats happens when you die lol.  Its not that bad i guess, just a bit of a shock the first time.  I dont think i have played enough of it to fully appreciate it, but i do like it, and it certainly wetted my appetite for D3. 

     Should that be allowed?
    Do you mean should people who havent played D2 at all (or very much) be allowed to participate in the beta?  I think so.  Blizzard need the opinions of the full spread of various gamers with different interest levels in the game.  Not everyone who plays D3 will be a hardcore D2 fan, or even have played it.  That doesnt mean they wont become a big D3 fan.  I think i fit into the latter category.  I’m just as excited about D3 as any D2 fan, does that make me any less worthy than anyone else? 

     How did a computer gaming fan never get around to playing D2 at some point during the past 10 years?
    For me, it was the fact the game was so old and looked pretty crappy visually in comparison to today’s graphics standards of new games.  But then again i love many of those old games.  If you were exposed to D2 when it was still relatively ‘modern’ then it would be easy to get into it.  But its harder to get into it the older it gets.  I mean if you knew nothing about D2, and were comparing it to a game from 5 years ago, what would you choose?

  8. I know quite a few people who will be playing Diablo for the first time. Most of them come from other games (not all of them WoW, believe it or not), so it should be interesting. My wife even wants to play. She’s going to play a female witch doctor. 🙂

    I got her to play D2, all the way up to Diablo with me over LAN, but she gave up on big red himself. Never got past it on normal with her. She liked to fiddle around in Act I, though.

    You see people doing these retroactive reviews a lot. I saw a few for Deus Ex shortly before Human Revolution was released.

    • My wife’s never played any of the Diablo series.  She’s watched me play, and actively dismissed DII.

      When I mentioned that you could summon a Giant Frog to eat your enemies, and flaming bats to torch them to death, she immediately jumped on board DIII.  We’ll probably be buying two copies, and playing together.

      And, you know what?  I can’t wait.  😀

      • My wife thinks that skeletons are the cutest thing in the world, so when I showed her that really old wizard clip where she walks into the room, and the skeletons were laughing? Sold.
        I got her into WoW by showing her the emotes. Some people are just weird. She was taken in by emotes, stayed for the pets. Maybe a nice scroll of companion will keep her playing.

  9. The way the reviewer describes the battle against D sounds terrible, and terribly un-fun. When it comes down to it, the majority of players, in both D2 and D3, just want to have fun and to win, given enough time and and given as much skill as a play-through on normal will grant you. I know it’s a stretch, but imagine being a ‘casual’ gamer who’s invested 20-odd hours into D2, only to find that because they invested points into skills that sounded cool and assigned stat points randomly, rather than making a cohesive build, you couldn’t use the gear you wanted and couldn’t even finish the game. Best case scenario the majority of people who hit that kind of roadblock download a hack to max out their states and create the best gear so they can finish the game. Worst case scenario they delete the game and tell everyone they know it’s a bad game and only nerds obsessed with numbers would enjoy it.

    Tough luck to those people? Well, they’re the ones buying the million-plus copies of the game, not the hardcore players, or the min-maxers or the ones who enjoy poring over spreadsheets. Experimenting with playstyles should be encouraged, but not if it punishes players who mess up. You shouldn’t have to start the game over again just because you put points in the wrong skills. It’s the equivalent of the old text adventures that killed you if you went left instead of right at an arbitrary point. It’s just not fun.

    What is fun is exploring the randomly generated world, killing bad guys in a variety of ways and finding loot. Surprise surprise, that’s what the D3 devs are focussing on. A lot of the systems in the game may have changed, but they’re being changed to place greater emphasis on what worked in D2, and what was the most fun.

    • The “killing enemies in a variety of ways” is what really clinches it for me, and why I like the D3 systems better than D2.  They want me to have access to a few skills at a time and care about those skills? Fine.  They want me to start over because I’m bored with the skills that I’m using? No.  Never again. All that did in D2 was make me hate the early game (and my worry over every little decision) with a passion, and yes, download programs that let me change my skill selection.
      If I want to start a new character playing through mainly with a different type of build, I will. *Make* me start over and I’ll just give up instead.

    • This a million times.  Blizz is making excellent decisions for getting the most fans, as well as keep people hooked wityh fun and unique playstyles.  I remember 11 years ago when I first rolled a SP character that beat Diablo… and then I could only play on open bnet with cheaters and hackers.  How lame, I thought!  I grudgingly rerolled.  I rerolled many times when I found out 6 points in holy fire was useless, too, as was holy bolt.

      When the expansion came out, I joined people clamoring for free rerolls of our high level characters that would be altered/unplayable by new patches and content.  Blizz looked down, said no. I grudgingly rerolled.

      I only kept playing because I liked the random aspects of the game and how it was fun to experiment and try new things…. Now they are making it so you can ALWAYS experiment and always have fun with that and play in a (hopefully) hack-free environment, and PLAY ONLINE with you first character.  People that are noobs like I was 11 years ago (remember, not the last decade, but the decade before that… literally last century!) care about things like that.  And they are going to be among the millions that buy your game… now the people who complain that the system doesn’t punish or stress you enough.  The point of diablo is loot, randomness, and variation in builds… and minimizing the time to experience all of those things in a fun way.

      More people playing also means a better economy and more lively multiplayer.  Everything is great, people shouldn’t complain.

    • “imagine being a ‘casual’ gamer”  <- This, is my exact problem with Diablo 3 and games in general today. I can't stand the casual gamer of today. The casual gamer of today ruins every game for me because the developers has to cater to him as he's the main audience. The casual gamer of today wouldn't even be able to install the games of yesterday, and if he was able to he would get stuck, or cry, or whine or give up. Just like a bitch, honestly.

      Some of my best memories were games like Eye of the Beholder, the Ultima series, Might & Magic etc. Games that were so unforgiving that if you forgot to write down a password given to you in the early hours of the game, 30 hours later you would not be able to progress any further. I'm not saying I want that in todays games, but I hate the linear paths, the glowing arrows, the exclamation marks, the automatic quest logs. Everything that is just there to make the experience as (un)rewarding as possible.

      I know I sound like a whiny old bitch, but I don't care. I hate the Michael Bay / Call of Duty generation with a passion.

  10. I don’t understand how there can still be customization complaints after the infodump on rune effects. Runes change the skills entirely.

    • But we’ve known that every rune would make a big difference since at least last year’s blizzcon. The only thing that’s changed in the past week is the details.

      It’s funny to reflect that the D3 devs removed the weapon switch hotkey since they thought it was an exploit (that and noobs didn’t understand it, but that’s their probably-true excuse for every dumbed down feature) . And yet they’ve allowed constant skill switching, which is infinitely more exploitative than the weapon switch ever was. It’s also sad that I’m hoping that skill and rune switching will be inconvenient enough to dissuade people from doing it constantly late game, just so there’s some semblance of builds and skill and permanence to decisions in D3.

      • Now you’re just complaining about very specific mechanics of the System. I will make a prediction here that I base on the track record of Blizzard: You will not be able to switch around skills midcombat once the game hits a meaningful difficulty. I find it extremely ignorant to assume that they would allow skill switching as a method of using more skills than you’d normally have access to “damn he’s cold resistent, just let me equip my disintegrate…” – no way. It’s not fun to click around the UI mid combat and it ruins game balance, the only reason to allow it is to give players extreme freedom while playing around with their builds and that seems mostly appropriate for normal difficulty.
        And about “it’s interesting that something this reviewer praises in D2 is a feature the D3 team worked assiduously to remove.”: I don’t know about you, but I’ve already gotten headaches trying to decide on builds just using the site skill calculator and that seems to be exactly what that guy is talking about.

  11. the way he says hes a big PC gamer implies to me that he played 3D consoles in the 90’s and high end 3D pc games in 00’s and probably ended up in WoW and is now into any thing blizzard.

    Alot of people only got into PC gaming when it started to DO 3d properly around Quake3 times.. could have easly missed D2.

    I played D1 demo on a demo compliation in 96 i beleave .. then played D2 for the first time in 2002 when a friend thought it would make a good lan game. I then played it another 3 times at lans never getting past first act i then played Titain quest with a friend.. then picked up D1 PS1 port on PSP and finished that (most fun ive had with diablo so far) then Titain quest expasion then finished D2 non LOD quite recently.. I think D1 is better than D2 as a single player game by a huge margin.. found it very hard to get into D2 … and expect it was mostly multiplayer fun? … glad that the D3 beta is very D1 ish.

    obviously ive been spoilt by other games and passage of time.. but i dont think D2 holds up at all.. and i hope blizzard dont use it as a reference too much..

    Also i really hope they patch in the 360/game pad suport to the PC version when they make the console ports… some of the most fun ive had with a blizzard game so far was making a UI for Wow to play it on 360 pad .. and of course playing D1 on PSP..

    I really dont like tactical mouse and keyboard/dota/diablo style … cant wait for windows 8… cant wait to get rid of my mouse for good.. cant wait for gamers to get over this old school vibe.. i think D3 might be the last fue games to suport this setup depending on how well the console ports do… SC2 whent so classic that i think War4 is going to be probably some thing radicaly new like Endwar or some thing crazie hybrid thing.. i sound like a troll but im compleatly serious and prob 80% of the people who are excited for D3 feel the same way.

    If D3 sells 3-4million on PC and 7-8million on consoles you better be prepaired for change..

  12. As far as the “freespecs” go, I agree that having too much freedom is not the best approach in terms of gameplay or immersion.  However, everyone still has the option of playing how they want to play.  If you want to switch skills around on a whim, do it.  If you want to stick with the same 6 skills the whole game, then do that.  Heck, if you want to limit yourself to 3 skills and play hardcore with no pants on, then go for it (good luck with that, btw).  If you want to experiment until level 30 and then lock it down, then do it!  If however, you are determined on principle to stick with 6 skills but just can’t help yourself from mixing it up, well that makes me sad.  Is a little self-discipline too much to ask?  Then again, I guess that we fat, lazy Americans have no self-discipline, right?.

  13. I got a friend who never played D2, and will play D3 when it comes. He was not a fan of this genre , and a follower of the Final Fantasy series.

  14. So they are reviewing a 10 year old game just to make D3 look better. Seriously, if that is all you got then you’re in trouble.

  15. only new person 2 diablo will be my girlfriend who wants to play a witch doctor and i agree with the wow players wow is god damn terrible i played it for 3 years only to accomplish nothing and getting my gear constantly outdated every month or 2 and having 2 rely on people to raid i prefer playing solo or with 1-2 other people diablo 3 will have great replayability also just wait and see

    • this is so true…basically when a new major patch comes out you are immediately reduced to second tier and when an expansion comes out then you are worthless in no time.

  16. I would say that Bliz hopes that DIII will do to ARPGs what WoW did to MMORPGs. If that hope pans out, there will be a ton of people playing DIII who never played a Diablo game before.

  17. Im glad to see a radical new skill system it keeps with the Diablo tradition of novelty, skill trees were a completely different take from Diablo 1… finding tomes of magic randomly and bumping up your skill level only by finding another of the same tome.  One could argue that D2 took away the random fun of finding different spells at different times as D1 or the idea that your fighter or Rogue could dabble a bit or even a lot in magic spells its just that they weren’t as suited as the Mage.  Sometimes when I play D2 and see a bookshelf for a split second I get excited only to remember that its only going to be a tome of town portal and not blood-star!  🙂

  18. *In response to all this new fanbase discussion*
    As long as the game doesn’t go the WoW route (i.e. gets nerfed into the ground so soccer moms can see all the  content) i couldn’t care less if the playerbase expands.

  19. I just want to point out that WASD can make combat more difficult/interesting than simple click to move. Unless they give us SC2 controls of queuing paths. Food for thought, we have shift-hold to stand in place; wouldn’t you like the opposite? Say, ctrl-hold, and now you are forced to run when you left-click. I know I’d like it for when I try out a trap-hunter.

  20. D2 skill is outdated. It used to be fun but when I play it again it just doesn’t feel right having only 1-2 skill that you use often.

    Am I the only one who find raiding hm in WoW far more harder then hell in Diablo -_-“?  I have played almost all Blizzard games, I remember Diablo as pure fun game that you customize your character and go smash some monster.

  21. The reviewer really got at the heart of what makes Diablo and its sequel so fun. Almost all games are about problem solving in one way or another. That is, overcoming obstacles with the limited tools available. But usually one of either the obstacles or tools are fixed. In Diablo games, the obstacles are largely random and the tools are partly chosen by the player, partly random as well because of gear drops. So Diablo is about emergent problem solving. Every playthrough is going to have its own unique challenges, and tell its own unique story. By providing the player with such a powerful tool and by taking the uniqueness away from his character, I fear that respecs could be detrimental to this aspect.

  22. I do worry about free respecs severely reducing the replayability of D3.
    I played Guild Wars for a while, and the ability to freely switch between skills on my warrior caused me to never build another.  What is the point spending all that time building a new character when in 5 minutes you can change your existing char to have the new build?
    Ditto for Monster Hunter Tri.  I really love that game, but I don’t think I’ll build more than one character.  That game is essentially 100% equipment progression and no skill points.  There is a big difference between the equipment for a ranged fighter vs. a sword/shield fighter vs. giant hammer fighter.  It takes quite a while to find all the components necessary to craft new equipment.  But much more time required to start over with a new character with no resources.
    One of the things I love about DII is trying new builds.  It is a bit of a pain to have to start over with each new character/build, but it is also very rewarding.  You get to re-discover the joy in finding a new magic sword or decent bit of armor.  DII makes the lower levels pretty fun and fast to speed past.  And you learn how to survive using the lower level skills within the build.  I will really miss this in D3.

  23. Why is this funny? There are people who haven’t played specific games, especially when they’re 10 years old. I know guys who never played Fallout 2 or Half-Life 1. Have you?
    Getting back on topic, that’s a good review. I still play Diablo II, while waiting for the Diablo III, you know? 🙂

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