Diablo II continues to inspire Blizzard 20 years later

por Rui Silva 22 Aug 20

Diablo team talking about Diablo II



When we set out to create Diablo® II over twenty years ago, the goals were seemingly simple: fix the biggest issues in Diablo® and expand upon the original game’s formula. And while its developers didn’t set out specifically to turn the action RPG genre on its head or influence game design for an entire generation after it, Diablo II ended up doing just that anyway.

The development team wanted Diablo II to be bigger, better, faster, and stronger than its predecessor. A story divided in distinct acts with massive, explorable outdoor zones replaced the claustrophobic Tristram cathedral. Five new character classes like the whirling Barbarian and pious Paladin (with two more added in the Lord of Destruction® expansion, the Assassin and the Druid) expanded far beyond the basic Warrior, Rogue and Sorcerer archetypes from the first game. These new classes, in addition to featuring greater gender and ethnical diversity, each feature 30 unique skills to choose from instead of the single shared spellbook from Diablo. Certain abilities like the spin-to-win Whirlwind, the Paladin’s beneficial auras, and the Necromancer’s summoned minions would become staples in many of our games after. Finally, more powerful items, with bigger stat variety than ever, allowed everyone to truly express themselves through their choices in character class, gear, stats, and skills.

Many of us here at Blizzard have fond memories of playing Diablo II. To us it represents childhood memories, friendships created, endless entertainment, and it inspired many of us to join the video game industry as we grew up.

Diabolical influence

Over the years, elements of Diablo II’s design would find their way into several other Blizzard games, whether because they solved a specific need for that game, or simply because they were just fun to bring over. Warcraft® III included random item drops selected from specific loot tables, and hero units who had experience levels and skill points to be distributed, allowing those heroes to be built to suit the player’s strategy.

Later in World of Warcraft®, Diablo II’s iconic skill tree system would influence the talent system from the original release all the way through the Cataclysm™ expansion. Diablo II’s influence is palpable in everything from the three different skill trees per character class to the point distribution system, which allowed players to customize their characters and rewarded them for investing points in certain skills by unlocking more powerful abilities.

Some of Diablo II’s most powerful enemies—Champions and Elites—terrorize the battlefield by challenging the heroes with an unpredictable array of randomized powers. The notion of adding random enemy power increases as a way to further challenge and reward players lives on today in World of Warcraft’s Mythic Keystone Dungeon affixes, Starcraft® II Co-op Commanders, and of course in Diablo® III.

The secret to immortality

Today, Diablo II remains popular, and the very dedicated players enjoying it in 2020 continue to find new ways to make it their own. While some prefer the dramatic changes that only the modding scene can provide, others simply choose to creatively engage in Diablo II with self-imposed restrictions. Some variants include:

Naked Fury:

No gear is allowed in a naked run. No one can pick up any items other than potions. Players agree to rely only on their class skills and teamwork to prevail. Each class brings unique utility that helps the group succeed where a single player would fail. Naked runs usually go up to the completion of the Pandemonium event and the conquering of the “Uber” bosses—all while wearing no items at all!

Ironman tournament:

Ironman is simple in concept. Eight players start new Hardcore characters. Everyone plays together until level 9 while only using items they find—no previously found gear allowed. At that point, the team goes back to town, goes hostile on each other, and then duels to the death. Last one standing is the winner.

Speedruns:

Different classes and modes (Hardcore or not) in addition to the randomly generated maps and items make Diablo II very exciting to speedrun. World records for fastest completions are broken frequently, as emergent strategies (and a little luck) keep firm records from going unchallenged for long.

The Holy Grail:

The goal of the Holy Grail quest is to single-handedly collect every set and unique item in the game (meaning you must see the item drop, no trading allowed!). Since this is mostly a single-player challenge, some players like to use spreadsheets or apps to keep track of already dropped items, while others use mods that add infinite stash capabilities to the game in order to keep every item in their impressive collections.

Evil lives on

As we look back on twenty years of Diablo II, we see how the lessons we learned from the game have shaped the last two decades at Blizzard, and we expect it to continue to shape how we make new games (especially Diablo games) in the future.

No matter where you were when it all started, or when you decided it was time to play Diablo II—we’re glad to be able to share these memories with you. Here’s to twenty more years in Sanctuary, where brave souls continue to fight to rid the world of Terror, Hatred, and Destruction—while traversing eerie, dark places, and collecting the shiniest loot. Cheers!

Source: Diablo 2 Blizzard

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