- Diablo II
Diablo II cover art
Developer(s) Blizzard North Publisher(s) HanbitSoft Designer(s) David Brevik
Composer(s) Matt Uelmen Series Diablo Version 1.13d (October 27th, 2011) Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Mac OS X Release date(s) Genre(s) Hack and Slash Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer Rating(s) Media/distribution 3 CD-ROMs (Play, Install, and Cinematics discs), Download System requirements
G3 processor or equivalent, System 8.1 or later, 64MB RAM plus Virtual Memory, 650MB drive space, 4X CD-ROM drive, 256 color display at 640x480 resolution (800x600 with expansion)
233 MHz Pentium or better, 32 MB RAM, 650 MB drive space, 4X CD-ROM drive, DirectX compatible video card
Diablo II is a dark fantasy/horror-themed hack and slash, with elements of the role playing game and dungeon crawl genres. It was released for Windows and Mac OS in 2000 by Blizzard Entertainment, and was developed by Blizzard North. It is a direct sequel to the 1996 hit PC game, Diablo.
Diablo II was one of the most popular games of 2000. Major factors that contributed to Diablo II's success include its continuation of popular fantasy themes from the previous game, and its access to the free online play service, Battle.net.
The game was conceptualized and designed by David Brevik and Erich Schaefer, who with Max Schaefer acted as Project Leads on the game. The main production roles were handled by Matthew Householder and Bill Roper.
The storyline of Diablo II progresses through four acts, with each act following a more or less predetermined path and list of quests. Some quests are optional. The player assumes the role of a hero from one of five different character classes. Players fight monsters through wilderness areas and dungeons in order to level-up their character and gain better items. Combat is in real-time, and shown from an isometric viewpoint. Players also have the option of hiring one of several computer-controlled mercenaries, or hirelings, that follow the player and attack nearby enemies. A powerful boss monster awaits the player at the end of each act. Item drops, monster attributes, and most dungeon layouts are randomly-generated by Diablo II.
In addition to the four acts, there are three sequential difficulty levels: Normal, Nightmare, and Hell. On higher difficulties, monsters are stronger and are resistant to an element, experience is penalized on dying, and the player's resistances are handicapped. A character retains all abilities and items between difficulties, and may return to a lower difficulty at any time.
Players can also create a hardcore character. In softcore, the player can resurrect their character if killed and resume playing, while a hardcore character has only one life. If killed, the character is permanently dead and unplayable, and all items and equipment on that character will be lost unless another friendly character has the "loot" icon checked.
Diablo II allows the player to choose between five different character classes: Amazon, Necromancer, Barbarian, Sorceress, and Paladin. Each character has different strengths and weaknesses and sets of skills to choose from, as well as varying beginning attributes. The maximum level that any character can obtain is level 99.
- The Amazon hails from the islands of the Twin Seas, near the border of the Great Ocean. The class is based on the Amazons of Greek mythology. She is akin to the Rogue of Diablo: both primarily use bows, and both make equal use of strength and magic. The Amazon can also use javelins and spears. Many of her defensive skills are passive in nature, especially Dodge, Avoid, and Evade. The Amazon is voiced by Jessica Straus.
- The Necromancer is a versatile death-themed spell caster. Necromancers are the priests of the Cult of Rathma from the Eastern jungles. His Summoning skills allow him to raise skeletons, create golems, and resurrect dead monsters to fight alongside him. The Necromancer possesses powerful poison spells, which rapidly drain life from afflicted monsters. He also has "Bone" skills, which directly damage enemies, while bypassing most resistances. His Curses also afflict the enemy with debilitating status ailments, sowing confusion and chaos in their ranks. The Necromancer is voiced by Michael McConnohie.
- The Barbarian is a powerful melee fighter from the steppes of Mount Arreat. He is an expert at frontline combat, able to absorb great punishment, and is the only class capable of dual-wielding weapons. His Combat Masteries allow him to specialize in different types of weapons, and also passively increase his resistance, speed, and defense. His Warcries dramatically increase the combat effectiveness of him and his party, as well as afflicting status ailments on enemies. He has a variety of Combat Skills at his command, most of which focus on delivering great force upon a single foe. The Barbarian is voiced by David Thomas.
- The Sorceress hails from a rebellious coven of female witches who have wrested the secrets of magic use from the male-dominated mage clans of the East. She can cast ice, lightning and fire spells. Nearly all of these skills are offensive in nature, besieging the enemy with elemental calamity. Her Cold Skills can freeze enemies solid and bypass resistances, but do less damage than lightning or fire. The Sorceress's Teleport spell allows her to instantly travel to a new destination, making her very difficult to hit. The strong point of the Sorceress is her damaging spells and casting speed; her weakness is her relatively low hit points and defense. The Sorceress is voiced by Liana Young.
- The Paladin is a crusader from the Church of Zakarum, fighting for the glory of the Light. To reflect this, the zealous Paladin's combat skills range from fanatical attacks to heavenly thunderbolts. His skills are split into Combat Skills, Defensive Auras, and Offensive Auras. His auras have a range of abilities, such as increasing damage, or resisting magic attacks, or boosting defense. The Paladin's auras affect all party members. The Paladin is highly proficient in the use of a shield, and is the only character that can use it as a weapon. The Paladin also has specialized skills for eliminating the undead. The Paladin is voiced by Larry B. Scott.
- In the expansion, the Druid and Assassin classes were released.
Diablo II can be played multiplayer on a LAN or Battle.net. Unlike the original Diablo, Diablo II was made specifically with online gaming in mind. Several spells (such as auras or war cries) multiply their effectiveness if they are cast within a party, and although dungeons still exist, they were largely replaced by open spaces.
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. Originally these closed realms served their purpose of preventing cheating, as open games were subject to many abuses as the characters were stored on players' own hard drives. Within the last few years, however, many cheats are (and continue to be) used on these closed realms. Hacks, bots, and programs which allow the player to run multiple instances of the game at the same time are not allowed by Blizzard but are very commonly used. Spambots, (programs which advertise sites selling Diablo II's virtual items for real-world currency) run rampant on the service and a player hosting a public game can expect a visit from one every few minutes. Due to the surplus of virtual items provided by the automated bots, which repeatedly kill bosses to obtain items, supply is well in excess of demand, and items which used to trade well are now often given away for nothing. Single player play bears none of these problems, due to only one player being in the game and in control.
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 six months to over a year. When a ladder season ends all ladder characters are transferred to the non-ladder population. Certain rare items are available only within ladder games, although they can be traded for and exchanged on non-ladder after the season has ended.
On March 3, 2009, Blizzard announced a new Diablo 2 content patch, 9 years after the game's release. From the forums: "We’re in the process of working on Diablo II content patch 1.13, and we want to try to include the Diablo community’s most important changes in our production schedule. To achieve this we’re asking for your input on what you’d like to see in this patch." The community can leave their input on the Battle.net forums.
The game has been patched extensively; 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. The game is currently in version 1.13c. The latest major patch was released on March 23, 2010. Through the patch history, several exploits and issues have been addressed (such as illegal item duplication, though it still exists), as well as major revamps to the game's balance (such as the ability to redo your skills and attributes). 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 story of Diablo II takes place some time after the end of the previous game, Diablo, in the lands of Sanctuary. In Diablo the main body of the story takes place beneath the floors of a cathedral in a small town known as Tristram. It was there that Diablo, the Lord of Terror, was defeated by an unnamed warrior.
The unnamed warrior that vanquished Diablo drove the demon's soulstone into his forehead, in an attempt to contain the monster's essence within his own body. Later in the canon it is suggested that this is what Diablo intended so that, should he be defeated, he had an "escape plan" instead of dying.
The unnamed warrior is ill fated from the moment he does this and is gradually corrupted over the course of the next few days by the demon's spirit. Deckard Cain recounts the story to the next band of adventurers that pass through the Rogue Encampment in Diablo II. It is one of these adventurers that appears in the wake of the destruction caused by the now possessed unnamed warrior, and attempts to find out the cause of the evil, starting with the corrupted warrior (known as the Dark Wanderer throughout Diablo II).
As the player continues through each of the four acts, he faces off against two of the Prime Evils (Mephisto – Act III and Diablo – Act IV, with Baal, the last prime evil, being the main boss in the expansion pack i.e. Act V), and two lesser evils (Andariel – Act I and Duriel – Act II), who act as the bosses for the first two acts. The player learns of the truth behind the corruption and the story of the soulstones. Diablo released Mephisto (Lord of Hatred) and Baal (Lord of Destruction) from their soulstones, as they were taught long ago how to corrupt them by the fallen angel Izual (also a minor boss in Act IV).
In the end, the player eventually reaches and slays Mephisto and Diablo, in their respective Acts. The story continues in the expansion to the game, where the player chases the last of the Prime Evils: Baal, who is going after the mythical Worldstone in an attempt to corrupt it. See the main article on the expansion for more information.
Some tracks were created by reusing the tracks from the original game, while others by rearranging tracks that were out-takes. Other scores are combinations of parts that were created more than a year after the first game's release. A single track usually integrates recorded samples from sound libraries, live recorded instrument interpretation samples specially meant for the game (guitar, flute, oriental percussion), and electronic instruments also, making difficult the tracks for later live interpretations.
While the player visits the town, the game recreates the peaceful atmosphere from the first Diablo game, so for that the theme from Act I called Rogue comes back with the same chords of the original piece, reproducing only a part of the original Diablo 1 town theme. The hometown of Diablo 2 is not the same with the hometown of the previous game. The original Diablo track, called then Tristram and now also under the same name, greets you first in Diablo 2 when you return to the hometown of the strange evil which swept through Khanduras.
For Act II Mustafa Waiz, a percussionist, and Scott Petersen, the game's sound designer, worked on the drum samples. Mustafa played on the dumbek, djembe, and finger cymbals which gave Matt Uelmen a base upon which to build tracks around.
The town theme from Act II, called Toru makes strong statement of departure from the world of Act I while also maintaining a thematic connection to what had come before. It is the first time in the series to be used some radically different elements than the guitars and choral sounds that dominate both the original Diablo and the opening quarter of Diablo II.
The foundation of the Toru piece is found in exciting dynamics of a Chinese wind gong. The instrument radically changes color from a steady mysterious drone to a harsh, fearsome noise, that gives exotic feeling and at the same time the pacing of the second town.
In all sequences of Act II with deserts and valleys, Arabic percussion sounds dominate.
The composer was impressed by two of the Spectrasonics music libraries, Symphony of Voices and Heart of Asia. He uses samples from Heart of Asia in the Harem piece from Act II. The Crypt track uses a sample from Symphony of Voices; the choral phrase Miserere.
- Drums – Scott Petersen
- Guitar – Bernie Wilkens
- Oboe – Roger Weismeyer
- Percussion – Mustafa Waiz
- Producer, Performer, Composed By – Matt Uelmen
- Recorded By – Matt Uelmen, Scott Petersen
Voice samples from Heart of Asia, Heart of Africa, and Symphony of Voices by Spectrasonics. The Harem track samples from 'Heart of Asia' the Sanskrit Female 1 samples.
Recorded in Redwood City, Oakland, and San Mateo, California, April 1997 – March 2000.
Secret Cow Level
The "Secret Cow Level" is the result of a running joke from the original Diablo that spawned from an Internet rumor about a cow that appears in the game, seemingly without purpose. Supposedly, if the cow was clicked a certain number of times, a portal to a secret level would open. The rumor turned out to be a hoax, but the legend was born, and player after player asked Blizzard about how to access the level.
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, so that the farmer was dressed in a cow suit, with appropriate new dialogue ("Moo." "I said Moo!"). To stop the rumors, Blizzard included a cheat in StarCraft that read "There is no cow level", adding to the official denial of the cow level.
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 in Diablo II.
The "Secret Cow Level" is considered one of gaming's top ten Easter eggs according to IGN.
Versions and re-releases
The game was also released in Collector's Edition format, containing bonus collector's material, a copy of the Diablo Dungeons & Dragons pen-and-paper campaign setting, and promotional movies for other Blizzard games. The Diablo II: Exclusive Gift Set (2000) similarly contained exclusive collector's material and promotional videos, as well as a copy of the official strategy guide. The Diablo Gift Pack (2000) contained copies of Diablo and Diablo II, but no expansions. The Diablo: Battle Chest (2001) contained copies of Diablo II, Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, the official strategy guide, and the original Diablo. Recently however the Battle Chest no longer contains the original "Diablo".
The announcement of Diablo III has renewed the interest in its predecessor and brought more attention to the many mods available for the game.
Reception Aggregate scores Aggregator Score GameRankings 88.58% (PC)
Metacritic 88 (PC) Review scores Publication Score GameSpot 8.5/10.0 GameSpy 86/100 IGN 8.3/10.0
Diablo II had a positive reception. The PC versions of the game achieved an overall score of 88 on Metacritic and 88.58% at Game Rankings. The Mac version achieved 83.00% on Game Rankings. 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. Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, and World of Warcraft: Cataclysm have since surpassed Diablo II's record to become fastest-selling computer games ever at their times of release, according to Blizzard. As of August 29, 2001, 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.
Copies of the Diablo: Battle Chest continue to be sold in retail stores, appearing on the NPD Group's top 10 PC games sales list as recently as 2010. Even more remarkably, the Diablo: Battle Chest was the 19th best selling PC game of 2008 – a full seven years after the game's initial release – and 11 million users still play Diablo II and StarCraft over Battle.net.
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