Flux’s Decahedron #13: D2 from D1: The Best Changes


Last week’s column was all about the ways Diablo I was better than Diablo II.  This week returns the favor by listing the ways Diablo II is better than Diablo I. With everything but the kitchen sink thrown in as an Honorable Mention, of course.

One thing to keep in mind is that you can agree with nearly every item on both lists.  Some are either/or, but quite a few mention the best thing about one game, or the best thing about the other, and they don’t necessarily contradict each other.  Also, just because you like something more in one game (like NPC chat, or monster death animations) than the other game doesn’t mean it sucks in one game. Lots of things in D1 and D2 are like pizza and sex… even when they are bad they are still pretty good.  I mean there is plain cheese pie, which is good, but when you compare it to extra cheese deep dish with mushrooms, black olives, onion, and pineapple, it seems a bit lacking.  Or you can give your old lady a Wednesday night quickie, but when you compare it to taking on the whole cheerleading squad with a nude hot oil wrestling match and… *cough*  Well, um… you see my point.

Anyway, look at this list as a bunch of ways D2 improves on D1, and remember that just because something is an improvement doesn’t mean the original sucked.  You can go from good to great, after all.

Also, this column and the last one were largely generated from player mails some weeks before, when I asked for ideas on the D1 vs. D2 topic, so thanks to everyone who mailed in back then and helped to jog my memory in advance.

If you want a memory jog about Diablo, you can check out our D1 strategy section, which has three very detailed guides.  I was looking through the old Mage guide by some guy, and didn’t remember 75% of the stuff in it.  One thing it helps you to remember is that Diablo was so much more about skill and technique, rather than the D2 strategy of just assembling overpowering equipment and endlessly using the 1 or 2 uberskills that are sufficient to kill virtually everything in very short order.

The Top Ways Diablo II Is Better Than Diablo I

There actually are just a ten top ones this time, and the 1-10 order is somewhat balanced.  Of course there are also like a baker’s dozen of Honorable Mentions, but you’ve probably come to expect that of me by now.

Honorable Mention: Charms
This one is debatable.  They are a great idea and fun to have something else to collect and use in your inventory.  The downside is that they take a lot of the skill and micromanagement of your equipment away.  You can so easily make up 50% lightning resistance or add 10 str/dex for item requirements and continue using whatever equipment you want with the charms making up the difference.  This is a great convenience and ease, but at the same time it makes things so much easier that it adds to the general feeling of bored immortality that most experienced D2X players suffer from.

Honorable Mention: Health Bars on Monsters
This is a nice addition; can you imagine fighting Izual in a big game without knowing how many hps he had lost?  Unfortunately we lost the cool monster counter from D1, which was discussed in the last column.  Why couldn’t D2 have both?

Honorable Mention: Mana/Life Leech
This was mentioned as a bad thing in the D1 column last time, but it’s also a good thing.  It’s just that, as was said last time, D2X makes it so easy to get tons of leech from so many different items that it’s too easy.  You don’t need to specialize your equipment to get leech; it’s just a default property that everyone has in some amount, and a lot of damage and life leech makes things so easy. It enables more play styles, especially more risky ones, but it takes a lot of the required skill away.

Honorable Mention: D2 is More Forgiving
This is another debatable one.  Lots of players liked the dangerous aspect of dying in D1 and having your corpse fountain every time.  Others like that it doesn’t happen in D2 and that you can just create a new game and get your loot back in the safety of town.

In D1 when an item got to 0 durability, it broke and vanished and was gone forever. You had to keep on your toes and when that item went to gold, or especially to red, you had to stop fighting that second and go repair it, or it was going to be gone forever.  Again, this is good or bad, depending on who you ask.

Honorable Mention: Mercenaries
From a diversion and amusement in Diablo 2 to a major part of the game in D2X, no column of this type would be complete without a mention of Mercenaries. And not just because Blizzard named some after various fansite people. *cough Iron Wolves cough*

Mercs add a huge element to the game strategy, provide a tank and an aura boost to all characters, and make many more things possible.  Plus they are fun to equip, though it would be nice if Bliz could have found the time to put in more than one graphic a piece, eh? They are also a ton of fun with MF’ing, easily allowing 300% more MF on the kill, when you add your weapon switch to the Merc’s MF gear.

The downside is that they make things too easy, in a lot of ways.  Try playing a Sorceress without a cold spell in D2C?  Hope you enjoy retreating a lot.  It can be done, but it requires much greater skill to maneuver the monsters with no tank of any kind.  Now in D2X you can just get a Holy Freeze Merc and not only is every monster slowed to a crawl before it’s anywhere near you, but they will stand still to battle your merc, making it very easy to target them with huge damage spells like Firewall and Meteor.

Honorable Mention: No Friendly Fire
This was a point of great contention when Blizzard North first announced that FF was out of D2 entirely.  Most players (none of whom had yet seen the game) thought it was going to make things too easy and idiot-proof.  Having seen the game, I think everyone has to agree that D2 would be pretty much impossible with FF in it.  How many area of effect skills would become totally or mostly unusable in a party?  Forget about playing a Sorceress: Hydra, Frozen Orb, Nova, Static Field, Meteor, Charged Bolt, Blizzard, and several others would kill or constantly damage all the other players on your screen.

Things are little better for other characters. With bows and swords just hitting one thing each time in D1, it was possible to play in a party with Rogues or Warriors, and even Sorcs if they were careful with the Chain and Fireball.  It just would not be possible in D2. Imagine a Multishot or Strafe Bowazon?  Or a Lightning Fury Javazon, for the gods’ sake?  Even the various multi-target melee attacks such as Zeal or Fury or WW would be party-killers in normal, and would make any group play in HC entirely impossible.

Honorable Mention: The Party System and Experience Sharing
While this was criticized last column for allowing leeching and other weasel play tactics, it is a great improvement over D1.  You can party up, you know where your friends are, you share in the experience for the kills, you get more experience and the monsters are harder in a bigger game, etc.  Just because players have found ways to abuse and cheese this system doesn’t mean the concept behind the system is bad.  And v1.10 will be making adjustments to improve this system.

Another aspect of this is that you don’t worry about a PK bagging you every second when playing with others.  D1 parties were so hard to do since the other person could go hostile at any second, and if they had spells or a bow they didn’t even need to go hostile, they could just kill you at any time with Friendly Fire.  Or try to wound you so badly that a monster got the kill, causing you to item fountain. Yes, most players would prefer a yes/no hostile switch in D2, or at least some sort of timer when someone else went hostile, but it’s certainly better than the way things worked in D1.

Honorable Mention: Loading Times
Everyone bitches about the load time on Lister and friends, but remember that every single level in D1 had a 30 or 60 second load time, depending on your computer’s power. And since this was back in 1996 and 1997, most were happy with a P100 or 133 and 32MB RAM.  You could just about run to 7/11 for some Cool Ranch Doritos and a Slurpee in the time it took to go from one level to another in D1.  So try to hold this memory and suffer the 3-5 seconds between acts in D2 in gracious silence.  And if you can’t stand it, you can always go get another 512MB RAM for about what a new mouse used to cost, and cut that time by 75%.

Honorable Mention: D2’s Cinematics
While the D1 cinematic was probably better, just for being spookier and more atmospheric (like the game itself) in D2 they are much more tied in to the plot, and look so much better with the improving technology. And there is so much more cinematic to watch.  True, we all skip them with a click at this point, but initially they were amazing to see.

Honorable Mention: Waypoints vs. Game Saving
The full game save feature was an Honorable Mention for D1 last column, so this is a direct contradiction, since some players just prefer it this way.  Many critics complained about the lack of a proper game save in D2, but once you know how the game works and where the waypoints are, you see the benefit and wisdom of the D2 system.  When you are trying to work your way through an area and get lost, it’s annoying to have to kill monsters in an area you cleared last game. But once you know where you are going and can stop just as you find a waypoint, you don’t notice it.  Plus with the enormous size of the game waypoints are a brilliant innovation for speedy travel and convenience.

Would single player D2 be improved by having a full game save option, as well as waypoints? Of course.  But the ability to restart in town after a death, the fact that you don’t lose hours of play time if you forget to “save early, save often”, and the ability to replay a good area without having to restart the entire game and work you way back down to it are all nice things in D2, at least once you know how to take advantage of them.

Honorable Mention: Improved Graphics
A number of readers commented that Diablo II didn’t improve at all in graphics, and in last week’s column I said that a lot of the D1 monsters were more fun and had better death animations.  That being said, D2 has such better graphics than D1.  The resolution and detail and color is far better, Characters look much more realistic with their ability to run in more than 8 directions, and the equipment you see in your inventory matches up so much better with what you see in the game.  D1 had just three looks for each character, and made no allowances for you wearing a hat or not, had no graphic for a two-handed sword, showed every type of sword or maul (even two-handed ones) as the same base graphic, etc.

The fact that Bliz didn’t have time or interest to make at least two or three looks for the mercs in D2 is a big minus point.  Yes, rogues had three looks in D1, but they redid all of the graphics from scratch and recreated her look in D2, it wasn’t as if they just imported 1/3 of the Rogue graphics and left off the medium and heavy armor looks to annoy us.

Some players have a 3d bias and only like the look of games in 3d, so bitch about D2 for not having that, but I personally prefer sprites by a mile. And yeah, it took them until D2X to figure that 800×600 would be an improvement, but they did at last make it. I think that 3d graphics look cold and lifeless with their smooth surfaces and polygon edges, and I would take Warcraft 2 over Warcraft 3 every time just on looks.  Maybe I’m alone, but I’ll miss the detailed little pixels of D2 when D3 comes out (probably just in time for my grandchildren to play it) and there are flat little polygony skeletons marching about.

Honorable Mention: Uniques and Item Sets
Uniques are a lot more fun in D2, simply because there are so many more of them, and they go up to exceptional and elite (though it took Bliz until D2X to think of that).  The argument against Uniques in D2X is that they are too good and ruin the diversity of the game, which is true, but if they were all junk then everyone would just bitch about finding another bunch of useless gold-letter items.  You can’t have it both ways.

Item sets were much looked forward to in D2, until we realized that they were all pretty much crap.  They are much improved in D2X with the partial set bonuses, but since everyone compares them to the very best possible Uniques, they are still looked down upon by experienced (rich) players.  Whatever, Set Items are a cool concept and exciting to find if you aren’t jaded by months of 750% MF Meph runs.  Bliz has to design the game to be fun for beginners and part time players as well as the 12 hour a day fanatics, so everything can’t be the best item ever.

Honorable Mention: Ambience
Diablo II seems much more alive and real.  The NPCs wander around and have a variety of greetings, chickens and rats and bugs skitter underfoot, birds fly around, it rains and snows at times, and everyone is in motion all the time while standing still.  The jungle looks jungle-y, the grasslands look like grass, and you get more of a feeling of a whole world, rather than just a big dungeon stocked solely for your convenience.

Honorable Mention: Day/Night and Weather
One thing we tend to forget is that in Diablo there was no night, or day.  It was always about 9am in town, and cloudy.  There was no rain or snow, and all combat took place in the hermetic dungeons where no rain or sunshine or darkness or water existed.  True, the weather and light don’t have anything but a cosmetic effect in D2, and it would be cool if your character and the monsters slipped on ice, or ran slower in mud, but that’s why this gets an honorable mention as eye candy, rather than a top 10 ranking as a real feature change.

The Top Ten

#10: Shopping and Gambling

You could file most of the shopping improvements under the “greater convenience” heading, but they deserve their own mention. Just the ability to repair all, to sell by clicking and dragging rather than scrolling through some text list.  And however you feel about the shopping, you have to admit that gambling is a brilliant innovation.  In D1 there was nothing to do with gold in the late game, other than maybe stocking up and visiting Wirt for an hour, hoping for something decent.

And if you played D1 and did Wirt runs, you can not help but love how much better shopping is in D2. (As well as love the sight of his corpse in Tristram.) Shopping in D2 is faster, easier, there are more items on display, and it’s just far more convenient.

As for gambling, it’s a great idea, and gives some use to gold, even in the late game. True, it was more fun in D2C, since you were looking for a top Rare item in many areas of your equipment, and in D2X there are Excep/Elite Uniques that you want for most equipment slots.  And in D2C you had some hope of gambling a Unique or a Set.  I guess you have that hope in D2X, but it’s a bit like your hope of scoring with a Supermodel; unlikely and extremely expensive and time consuming.

D2X loses points for making Uniques a pipe dream of gamblers, but at least you don’t have to run out of goddamned town every time anymore. And think about it, if you got something great every other time you gambled, we’d all just be bitching about how Gambling was too good and too easy and unbalanced.

#9: The Horadric Cube

The strange evolution of Reagents and Converting and then the Horadric Cube is a subject for another column, but Blizzard’s introducing the cube to keep some aspect of Transmuting in the game was inspired.  It’s great for the extra storage space, but the real fun is the recipes and item upgrading.  Chippie 3s Cruel Swords, re-rolling Rares and magical items, upgrading gems and runes, and more.  Not all are executed as well as we’d like them to be, and just about every D2 mod makes far better use of the cube than the actual game does, but the cube is a great idea, even if it isn’t executed all that well.

#8: The Stash

Not a lot to say about it. Yes it’s far too small and it’s annoying when some Furball Druid blocks the entire thing off, but the added permanent storage is helpful, and the added gold capacity is great.  If you remember D1 and having to walk around with your inventory 60% full of items and 40% full of potions, or leaving things just lying on the ground in town, including carpets of 5000 gold stacks, you certainly appreciate the stash.

It’s better than D1, it’s just that, like so many things in D2, it could be better still…

#7: More Equipment Fun

D1 had very limited equipment.  Everyone wanted a KSoH or a Royal Circlet or a godly/ages tower shield, and there was very little variety.

D2X has a lot of overpowered uniques, which leads to everyone trying to use the same stuff, but there is far more variety than in D1.  D2C is probably a better example for this topic, since there Rares were the best item for most types, and those took a ton of gambling or finding or Imbuing to get lucky on, and everyone had different stuff.  Of course this would still be the case in D2X if it weren’t for duped Iths and Elite Uniques, but it would still be a lot less varied than the Rare world of D2C.

D2X added tons of equipment options with Runes, Charms, Jewels, Runewords, and socketing.  These are all great innovations in theory.  Whether or not they are balanced properly is open to debate.

The whole issue of equipment is murky in D2X due to the rampant hacking and duping, but we’re mostly basing our evaluation on the merits of the actual game, not on the mutilated form of it that exists on the B.net realms.

Like a lot of things about D2, this was one we all loved and dreamed of in advance and early on, but have gradually grown cynical and critical about.

#6: Improved Quest Rewards

There were a lot of comments in the last column’s feedback from people who much preferred the D1 quests, since they were more fun and felt more integral to the game.  And they were, and the rewards from there were great, if you didn’t play it that much.  Most players went through Single Player once or twice and were happy with that.  Imagine if you’d played it 5000 times, like so many have in D2?  The little item rewards would grow pretty damn old in a hurry then.

D2 has random item rewards that are scoffed at since they are so seldom useful, but hey, that’s luck for you.  The other rewards are great, the stat points and skill points and hit points and experience bonuses are mandatory for every character, and then you even get useful Runes from the Hellforge on Nightmare and Hell.  And you can always use another socket reward from Larzuk.

If the D1 quests were more fun and felt like less of a scavenger hunt, the D2 quests have far better rewards.

#5: Diablo II is Bigger

Size matters. Diablo was loved for the claustrophobic nervousness of many levels, where your character felt trapped (and often was trapped).  You had to creep along narrow hallways, and fight the monsters one at a time in doorways to have a chance. But all the same, you could play through the entire game in just a few hours, and then it was a matter of doing the same four small areas of hell over and over again, at higher character levels. There are only 16 levels in the whole game, and just four tile sets.

D2 is far bigger and more varied than in just Act One than D1 was through the entire game. And there are three large acts in D2, and even Act Four isn’t exactly tiny.

The freedom of running out into the wilderness or the desert in D2 and just heading any way you want, killing or running or whatever, was such a thrill early on.  Players dreamed of the wide open spaces of the Act 2 desert, and the concept of having monsters coming from every direction was just amazing to our limited little D1 minds.

#4: Greater Character Variety

In D2 people complain about the “cookie cutter” builds, but there are still a lot of options and endlessly more variety than in D1.  Just the fact that there are seven character classes (well six… *insert Necromancer joke here*) and all of them have at least 3 or 4 top notch viable builds is a huge improvement and change from D1.  Not to mention 30 potential skills each, allowing for infinite variety.  And yes, some skills are better than others and are all that most players use.  You can quibble with the balancing Blizzard did, but there is no way that there aren’t far more options than there were in D1.

The freedom from no max stat caps is a huge change also, and allows for far more variety.  Want to pump dex to make your Sorceress a blocking fiend?  Go for it.  Want to go huge vitality on your Pal and get all of your strength from equipment? Have fun.  All higher level characters in D1 had identical stats, nearly identical equipment, and used the exact same spells.

#3: Magic Find

While many players list this as something they don’t like in D2, that’s mostly because of what it does to the game play, turning nearly everyone on B.net into an exp leecher who does solo Meph/Pindle runs for equipment.

When properly used, playing all the time with say 300% MF is a beautiful thing.  If you want to find items, you can optimize your gear for MF and you will find more items. If you want to just kill stuff and gain experience, you can optimize for that.

For players like myself, the only thing keeping the game at all interesting for the past year has been trying to find new items, hard-to-find items, and enjoying the game within a game of trying to find a perfect equipment set to maximize Magic Find while seeing how much you can survive without in exchange.  Can you drop 500 hit points and 25% lightning resistance and still survive, and is that worth 100% more MF?  And of course if you are doing it in HC, as I do, it’s just that much more fun.

If not for Magic Find the game would be so much easier and more boring, with everyone wearing defensive stuff like Shaftstop, Lionheart, Rockstopper, Harlequin, etc, and filling their inventory with resistance and hit points charms, socketing perfect rubies and Ums, etc.  If you think it’s too easy now with 400% MF cow runs, imagine if you had 1500 more hps, max to all resistances, 50% life leech, and never dropped below 85% hps, while playing for hours and finding nothing but a bunch of blues and an occasional yellow or green item?  *yawn*

#2: Speed and Freedom of Movement

The biggest thing most players notice if they try to go back to D1 after playing D2 for a while is how slow everything is in D1.  The inability to run is probably the biggest shock. One of the best things any D1 mod did was enable teleporting in town, and the best thing Hellfire did was enable the goofy-looking fast walk in town.  Trips to Wirt or Adria felt like your grandparents going to school (10 miles, through the snow, uphill both ways).  And not just the speed, but the way you were walking on a giant checkerboard in D1—only able to stand in certain spots, only able to turn at right angles.

Besides running, spell casting seems so slow in D1, and there are no faster cast items.  Combat is very slow with no multi-target or spell attacks, and there’s no IAS other than on weapons. D1 seems almost turn-based compared to the much more fluid style of play in D2. Monsters moving at different speeds, even running is a great change also, after virtually every regular monster moved at just the same speed in D1.  One odd aspect of this is that the ones who were faster in D1 felt so much faster and scarier since they were so uncommon.  The Butcher was a nightmare with his dogged pursuit, and the Minotaur demons and the howl they made as they charged was always a thrill.  The fun of dodging one and seeing it vanish as it missed you and went a screen or two before hitting a wall was always worth a laugh.

The speed of your movement in D2 has a downside though, since the speed of running and hitting and escaping and almost total lack of block-lock or stun-lock makes D2 much easier and removes a lot of the tactics and strategy that D1 required. But it’s almost impossible to go back to the plodding pace of D1 after you get used to the freedom of movement and speed of D2.

#1: Convenience

This is another multi-item entry, but if I did each one their own entry this would be a top 50 list.  One of the best improvements from D1 to D2 was how many little things were streamlined or improved.  This manifests itself in dozens of minor ways, at least half of which I’m sure to forget to mention here.  At least it’s something to put into the feedback, eh?

  • Repair all
  • Exiting NPC conversation boxes by just clicking on the screen next to them or hitting Esc or spacebar.
  • Click and drag selling, one right click buying.
  • Multi potion purchases with one shift+right click.
  • Auto belt-stocking from your inventory (shift+left click).
  • Alt button showing all items on the ground. (This was probably the most popular suggestion in reader emails.)
  • More hotkeys.
  • Customizable keyboard layout.
  • Gold not taking up inventory space.
  • NPCs auto-healing you.
  • Cain IDing everything at once, for free.
  • Holding down the mouse button to keep up an attack instead of having to click every .2 seconds for three hours.
  • Weapon switch hotkey.
  • Trading interface vs the “drop and hope”.

In these and a dozen other ways, D2 is just so much more user friendly and easier to play.  The interface is easier and more efficient and puts you more directly into the game, since you don’t have to learn fast ways to buy potions or stop playing to restock your belt or repair items one at a time, or sell items one at a time with multiple clicks through a text interface.  D1 feels extremely cumbersome if you try to go back and play it after getting accustomed to D2.

Feedback

A few people complained about there being too many honorable mentions, and they have a point.  It wasn’t that there were so many, it was that I had comments about every single one of them. I should have just listed them all in bullet points, as evidence that I didn’t forget about them, but it shouldn’t have taken five pages to get to #10 on the list.

I decided back around the 3rd or 4th column to be more one-sided, and argue all out for whatever the topic was.  To be intentionally biased, I mean, and then to present a more balanced and objective view in the feedback.  And I didn’t forget that, but by throwing in everything and the kitchen sink in the Honorable Mentions, I diluted the interest in the actual top 10. I shall try to learn from this lesson.

One odd thing was that I got half a dozen emails in the first half hour after posting the column from people wondering why I’d forgotten to mention the Alt key “show item tag” feature in D2, on the big #1 list of conveniences.

Under the convenience section, I think you should include the fact that we can press ‘Alt’ to see all the items on the ground. This is a great convenience compared to D1 where you could easily miss a Godly Plate of the Whale, (even though they rarely drop) just because you didn’t drag the mouse right over it. Just my thoughts,
-Chris

I found this weird since I had mentioned it, as about the 6th item in the bullet point list.  However I didn’t actually have “Alt” in the mention, probably since I don’t use that key for it, but have set it to the “Ctrl” key ever since the beta.  I find that one easier to reach and hold down with my pinkie while still being able to manipulate the hotkeys with my other fingers.  I changed the item after the first few emails, adding in “Alt” but leaving the rest of it the same, and didn’t get any more mails on it.

Also, a few people mailed to say that this feature was possible in D1, so they wondered why I made a big deal about it in D2.  Well it was possible in Hellfire, with a spell called Search, but not in D1.  And I wasn’t including Hellfire much in my comparison in the last two columns, for reasons elaborated on in the feedback to the last one.

One thing I did make a mistake on was the shift key.

Great column, as usual. But you were wrong on one thing. In #1 Convenience you say that a thing that makes D2 great is the fact that holding shift makes you stand still while attacking. You’ll have to put that original diablo cd back in the drive i think because it was one of the actual functions of the first game. I remember because it’s what made fighting so easy in the earlier levels (along with a doorway). Stand in front of the door and take the monsters 1 on 1 while swinging. Heh good times. Neways, great column!
-Chart

I had forgotten that it made you hold still and swing in D1, but several mails quickly reminded me, and I corrected it in the column.

There are two giant things that I totally forgot to mention, and both of them would probably have been in the top 10.  I blame the heroin.

First off, how did I not mention the B.net Realms? My forgetting them and only a couple of emailers pointing them out are a sign how far they’ve fallen, entirely due to Blizzard’s lax enforcement of hacks and cheats, to the point that it’s debatable whether D1 or D2 was more ruined by cheaters.

You missed something extremely good about diablo2 that diablo1 lacked… REALMS! Let me list just a few advantages of realms…

  1. Updates without patches (fix hacks, add cube recipes, etc)
  2. Relatively hack-proof, hacks are detectable
  3. You can’t dupe by copy-pasting the character file
  4. Incentive to trade, mule, and collect items
  5. Games are hosted by Blizzard

-Rangsk

The funny/sad part is that the realms were just about the most anticipated new feature of Diablo II, since Blizzard said many times that they would be hack proof, or at least very difficult to hack and any problems would be fixed quickly.  Oops.

I went into the whole “were hacks worse in D1 or D2” argument last week, since it was #10 on the list, so I won’t repeat it all here again, but in theory the Realms should have been a great feature, and even fouled as they are by hacked items, they are still an improvement over the total anarchy of D1.

The other oversight was Hardcore characters.  Since I have not played any non-HC Realm character since about the first month of D2C (aside from the D2X Beta) and they are probably my favorite single feature of the game (besides Magic Find?) how could I forget to mention them at all?  I dunno, but I need to start making notes in advance, or something.  I would probably have put HC in the top 5 D2 changes.

Another misstatement was where I said there wasn’t any IAS in D1.  Being as this was immediately after mentioning that KSoH (King’s Sword of Haste) was the best weapon, you can probably spot the contradiction. What I meant, of course, was that the fun of IAS in D2 is that you can get it on weapons, and also add it from other stuff.  Gloves, sockets, uniques and sets galore, etc.  IAS, MF, physical damage reduction, and other such things are nifty since they give you more to do and play with and worry about in setting up your gear. And that wasn’t an option in D1, other than comparing one sword to another.

A couple of people asked what “auto belt stocking from your inventory” meant.  And it’s not exactly “automatic”, but I meant the shift+left click, which puts potions in your inventory into your belt with one click.

I got a lot more “Yeah!” emails after the previous column than this one.  It really does seem that more people have a fond spot in their hearts for Diablo 1 rather than Diablo 2.  It’s hard to compare, since there are hundreds of thousands still playing D2 every day, while hardly anyone is still playing D1.  Most of us liked D1 and got sick of it and moved on to D2. And by now we haven’t played D1 for years, but like an old girlfriend you can’t quite remember why you broke up with, we tend to just remember the good things now.

Even after this pro-D2 column there were a few mails singing the praises of D1.  Here’s Neon weighing in.

I loved your article on why Diablo 1 is better than 2, I probably would of loved the follow up article if it weren’t for the fact that I hate 2 lol. Also i appreciate you arguing on the side of diablo 1 graphics

I have to argue though that the slow pace of diablo 1 isn’t unbearable at all, even if your used to the gameplay of diablo 2. I switched back and forth all the time, of course recently i just gave up d2x and started playing the Abysmal mod for diablo 1 (which is really really hard by the way you, you should give it a try).

Finnally, the diablo 1 expansion hellfire really sucked lol. I think the only reason its good at all is because its a little more space in which to kill things. A lot of times ill be mad at blizzard simply because they never made a decent diablo 1 expansion, i wish diablo 3 wouldnt even be diablo 3, and would just be an insanely huge expansion to diablo one.

Alexander with his thoughts on why D1 was better.  It was the quests.

I agree almost wholeheartedly on what you had to say in both articles 12 and 13 (although I favor Diablo Classic more than Diablo 2). I am pleased to see Gharbard get the recognition he deserves, you never mentioned Zhar the Mad. I mean he was essentially to free books and insane man dialogue (“I’m sorry, did I break your concentration?” Said with the closest thing to a medieval Samuel L. Jackson). And the Black Mushroom; why for the very notion of hunting down a freakin Mushroom (Now THAT is a big Mushroom), not to mention a Demon’s brain. And of course who could forget the first time you accidentally gave Ogden’s Sign to that little bastard Snotspill? Well hopefully Diabloe Three will be able to fuse the cool and difficulty of Diablo 1 with the freedom and mass of Diablo 2.

Gregor was one of several people who mentioned the music.  A couple commented on it last week saying that they preferred the D1 music, especially the town tune.  Now we hear a different tune.  So to speak.

I really wonder why you did not mention the music of D2!

IMHO, D2-music by Matt Uelmen is high class background entertainment and contributes significantly to the fun of the game. Sure, the “Tristram-theme” still is my all-time favorite, but hearing it 1000x or more? No, the variety of D2 music, as well as it perfectly fitting the ambience of the surroundings in every act, makes it a little treasure compared to other game soundtracks. Sad you did not mention it.

Other players like both. Hooyserdaddy, for one.

  I want to thank you for the refresher on d1. Having given up my 3 hour (+) per night d2 habit for Lent I was interested in pursuing new games but your essay prompted me to look up my old flame. I still had a few single players on my old computer and fired it up and went to hell looking for the original d. The pace is glacial but the mood is menacing and the danger much more palpable. The apocalypse that bites you when d comes forth is stunning but 3 or 4 fireballs sent him into a beautiful death spew and then that great exit cinematic with the soulstone to the forehead. Awesome. So then i got another old character out to go after the butcher, what a visceral rush that is too after all these years. But d2 is more vivid and engagingly paced if less a challenge so i won’t be going back to d1.

And PsychoSexyDaddy as well.

Great article once again. Man you’ve got me going back and forth, I started on D1 all those years again, and forgot most of the interesting things about it. After #12 I was ready to rush home and re-install it, but then you hit us #13, and I remember why I haven’t. I couldn’t agree with you more on all points on both articles. There were great points about D1, especially the atmosphere (screaming child sound), but the improvements of D2X just seem to outweigh the loss of style. I think I’ll just hold off on that re-install, can’t stand the thought of no running, and wait for 1.10, hopefully that will provide us some excitement.

Eric chimes in with a bit of trivia, and a D1 advantage I had somehow forgotten to factor in.

You do realize that back when Blizzard North was still Condor, D1 was *going* to be turn based? If not for a “what the heck” decision (and everyone immediately liking the result,) Diablo would be a click-wait-other items happen-click…

Also, you really miss one big point in the D1 side. Nobody’s made a great fan-song using JUST the sounds in D2. D1? Gharbad at the Roxbury! Nothing like it for d2!

Bruce with some comments on 2D vs. 3D graphics.

You say that you prefer the graphics the way they are over 3D graphics… I do understand what you mean by this, and no doubt you are thinking heavily about Warcraft III when you mention that. Personally I don’t like how War3 did 3D graphics either, but I do think that with Diablo they could do a good job with it. The thing is, they can always find a mix. If they don’t have time to make everything nice, at least put a lot of detail and effort into the playable characters. It’s silly watching the way some of the characters run in D2, with a very small number of their body parts actually moving You mention things like smooth surfaces and polygon edges… those are basically things of the past. Any graphics cards released in the last couple of years have bump mapping that can add character to any surface. Basically, yeah, you can draw a really nice visualization of something and it might look better than a 3D rendering of the same… but what do you sacrifice when the object interacts with it’s environment?

The other issue here is that when a modern game does not have much in the way of 3D graphics, it gives up a very large source of processing power. I hear people complain constantly about how much certain spells lag their game… those players might have decent video cards that would prevent that were the game to make use of it. Since computers are shipping with such high-power GPUs nowadays, I don’t think a game manufacturer can afford to give that up. Plus you get the benefit of being able to use the main processor for better physics, etc. I’m by no means saying that a Diablo game should look like a Doom III type game… they should obviously take more time and pay more attention to the details that make an RPG great.

I actually think the War3 graphics are pretty good, especially given the size of the figures.  It’s most 3D games that I don’t much like the look of, since the big polygons just look too computer-y to me.  I think that old style sprites look more like actual figures, viewed from above, and I feel more involved or able to suspend my disbelief.  3D graphics they always look like computer graphics, and I feel less involved.  I never said it made any sense.

And since Blizzard North is working on D3 using a modified version of the Warcraft III engine, I’d say War3 is a fair approximation of what D3 will look like.  (And yes, this is hypothetical.  I don’t know for a fact that D3 is more than a bunch of early planning ideas, but I think it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s well underway by now.)

I didn’t make any Necromancer jokes for a while, and people complained that they missed them.  So I worked in a small one, and predictably enough…

What is up with all the necromancer jokes. me and my freinds have ben playing diablo for a long time me being the longest, since 2 months after d2 classice came out. and yes the necromancer sucked back then. But now its one of the most powerful character types. i personally made a legitimate necromancer specifically for pvp that other LEGIT characters either couldnt beat or had a very tough time save the speed-wf-piercazon which i found great pleasure in taking down. on the flip side its very possible to make a monster killing machine, though I never personally made one since i far prefered pvp. mabey you can tell me just why necromancers are viewed like a palidin or an assassin. because ill tell you this neither a palidin nor an assassin has a chance vs a well made necromancer. why cant we just go back to the druid jokes they were much more fun.

Keith

Others welcomed the return of such humor. Phrog9:

Btw I made a Necromancer curse bitch a while ago. Loads of fun. Most people just ignored me though, totally not knowing I even existed. Then when someone else came, like an cookie cutter amazon, the person I’m with immdeiately acknowledges them and casts a TP. Its like they don’t even SEE necromancers! The word “Necromancer” just sort of fades off into the background.

It sure was fun using my cookie cutter sorceress, running through the game, slaughtering stuff. All the time my necromancer companion was lagging behind, who had to actually WALK the distance. Bad enough he lacked teleport, but he couldn’t even run because his stamina sucked. I’m not surprised. He was trying to raise the dead and summon blobs of fire to aid him, but all they did was sort of poke at the enemy… not doing any real damage. He fired off these large skull-shaped objects at the monsters… their health didn’t budge. I insulted his power, and he turned hostile on me. He came at me with his blob of fire and some dead monsters. He hurled the little skulls at me. My health dropped a few points at first, but quickly was reset to max. I tossed a frozen orb at him and he died, almost instantly.

Blizzard really needs to fix those necromancers.

And Brett has some comments on D2 falling short of its potential, and he’s a Necro joke fan also.

One last note. It’s very unfortunate that most of the entries on the D2 list are just potentials, in that they had the potential to make D2 great. Heck, I bought D2 based on these potentials! More weapon types, more skills, more item types, socketing, horadric cube. All of them are -potentially- fantastic, but that’s it. The unfortunate truth is that they were utterly screwed up by incompetant balancing. Did I ever expect all of D2 to be great? No. But a respectable benefits & disadvantages system would’ve been nice in at least ONE part of D2! Well alright, so there are some disadvantages… Like playing a Necro. Hehe, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of Necro jokes I bet he gets nerfed in the mythical 1.10 patch when it’s released next year!

Durf points out something I should have mentioned as a D2 advantage (yes, another honorable mention), replayability and randomization.

Diablo in single player (yes we exist, people whose gaming comps aren’t online, hellooooo) was atmospheric and dark and scary and cool. And in the end it was good for about three or four games, because once you killed a monster that monster was dead forever. There was no such thing as running through an area over and over again to get more experience or more gold (I don’t think I could ever afford a single thing Wirt had for sale). You kill each monster precisely once, and you try to make it through to Diablo with the bare minimum or experience and loot that afforded you.

I love being able to repeat areas in D2. I also love being able to go on to nightmare and hell difficulties, which if I remember right was not possible in D1 (at least not the version I had on my comp). Maybe I missed out on some cool feature that gave the game longer playability in SP; but I looked pretty hard.

By the way, you can play in D1 SP chars in Nightmare and Hell.  You just have to have an MP character who can create a game on that difficulty, and you do that, then exit the game and switch to your SP character, and the first game they create will be the same difficulty as your MP char’s game was.

There were several comments on Magic Find.  A detailed one from Tarr.

D1 was fun since I could play any of my characters, enter the game, go play for exp, and possibly find some awesome item in the process. Those days are gone with magic find. Now, do I feel like running Pindle or Meph a billion times with ridiculous MF to maybe find something good, or do I play to clear out some places and gain some EXP? Sure, lots of people did Laz runs in D1 for items. But they were smoking crack. The way the game seeded maps (like, they were seeded the instant the game was made) made it more rewarding for being thorough. Since in D2 the game rolls drops when a monster dies or a chest is opened, which of course factors in lame MF, instead of being thorough, players are rewarded for being cheesy and killing the same one or two things over and over and over and over again, all with eq that mostly serves little purpose in the actual killing (stuff like Harlequin and Stealskull excepted) but that gives you a better chance at ITAMZ.

I think with the exception of a Royal Circlet I got once from Laz or one of his chicks, don’t remember for sure which, all of my best D1 stuff came from random enemies or even searchable background stuff. I got Eaglehorn from a barrel, I got a drake’s ring of the zodiac (49/20) from a mage in normal diff, level 16, stormshield came from some red hellsapwn on level 14…the list is longer than I’m going to write here. And most uniques were crap anyway. But the point is being thorough, you know, actually PLAYING, was the best way to be successful in D1. And play whichever of the 3 classes you like, cause none of them are better at finding items than the others. (Though for a while I would have argued this too as my rogue seemed to get better drops for a long time.) My bottom line here, is that the game being too easy is a problem with just that, the game being too easy. Kill the stupid MF and make the whole game harder and I think it would be a lot more enjoyable.

He gets bonus points for actually remembering where he found stuff in D1 at this point.  I only remember one item find in D1, and that was the only ob/zod I ever found, an amulet, from a barrel. I had a lvl 50 rogue, 49 mage, 46 mage, and a couple of 42 warriors, and then played another year or more with various mods once I got sick of the plain D1 and HF games.  I’d say I’ve played more D2, but not by much.  However I have not played any D1 since D2, other than a quick game about a year ago just to see if D1 really was as slow as I remembered. (It was.)

SirPsychoSexy comments on something else I should have included.

I play entirely single player and TCP/IP with my brother, I’ve sworn off the realms because of all the garbage. I did have one question, was ‘players x’ introduced as a new feature in D2, I thought it was. If it was I think that ‘players x’ should get at least an honorable mention, seeing as how if gives characters that big game experience boost without having to deal with the cheaters and PKers that ruin the game, as least for me.

Players X was added in v1.09, so well after the expansion was out.  But it deserves a mention, since it vastly improves the single player experience, and with so many people giving up on the realms and playing mods and such *cough* this feature makes that doable.

Is the NPC shopping interface actually better in D2?  I said it as though that’s accepted fact, and it’s clearly more convenient to sell with the click and drag, but there was some disagreement.  A couple of players said that they preferred the D1 method, since you just got a list of names of items, and could more quickly scan it to see if the mod and item type you wanted was there.  In D2 you have to move the mouse all over the items, and since all the normal/excep/elite items look the same, unless you’ve got the red background from insufficient strength, you can’t even tell if the item is the type you want.

On the other hand, Paul points out the annoying part of D1 NPC’ing, for a new character.

The biggest pain in the neck from my perspective? In D1, you examine the inventory of the merchant and go “Hmmm…is that armour better for me? What about that weapon?” Then you drop out of the menu, look at your inventory, look at your character stats, go back to the merchants inventory, and make your decision. With D2, you get the items and your inventory side by side – instant decision on which piece of gear is better.

A couple of other readers share their Diablo memories.

From Alex.

Excellent columns. Thanks for reminding me of the good old days of Diablo. I remember downloading the demo of some BBS on a 14.4k modem back in the old days. Meeting the Butcher for the first time was truly memorable.

From The Bortmeister.

Just finished reading your article on what Diablo I had over Diablo II and while initial upon my reading the title I thought, “Is this blasphemy?”, as I read through I realized how true it is. In fact the article got me thinking about those late nights, up til 2am or 3am, kicking it through Hell of The Caves, whomping and getting whomped. Lets just say I blew the dust of the CD cover and reinstalled this work of art pretty quick. Props to you on a most excellent article, and double props to you for schooling that 12-year old flaming punk in the art of insults. I killed myself laughing at that.

And last of all, Dave9mm shares some gustatory advice Re: something I mentioned in the column introduction.

If your ever in New York, don’t order a pizza with pineapples on it. You’ll get laughed out of the store.

Yes, pineapple on pizza is pretty much a California exclusive, I’d suspect.  Well, that and Hawaii.  And it doesn’t sound good, but give it a try sometime, it’s amazingly tasty.  Tangy and sweet is a great contrast to the Italian seasonings and red pepper flakes.


Flux?s Decahedron was written by Flux during 2002-2004, and hosted by Diabloii.net. These irreverent, often rude ?Top 10? columns tweaked every aspect of the game and community, pioneered the humorous ?Top 10? listing of game features during the eternal v1.09 patch era, were excessively long, and incorporated extensive reader feedback. They may or may not return for Diablo III. The opinions expressed in these columns are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Diii.net.

Tagged As: | Categories: Diablo 1, Diablo 2, Other Games, Retired Columns

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