Diablo: It’s In The Details
Time flies when you’re having fun. Also, the world gets destroyed sometimes. Both of these are most definitely true in the game verse and directly relate to the bulk of principles that made Diablo 2 a complete blast. With D3 right around the corner and the excitement for such a massive release at a fever pitch, I take this time to commemorate my joy ride through Hell and remember all of those devilish good times.
Remembering even the first visage of D2 goes back to the 90’s. While I had fun with the first game, Diablo, it didn’t represent a new trend, a lifestyle changer. It was an isolated living experience that had a solid foundation of fun, even if the building materials were a bit low quality. The E3 trailer that was included as a promo in the Starcraft/Brood War set was a definite boon to my interest. Even then, with what was a contrived show of smoke and mirrors, the cinematic spoke volumes about the wicked that was coming. Despite having such little detail, the massive world of D2 on show was set to conquer what seemed like the minor prologue that represented the Tristam citadel. Diablo 2′s launch was full of potential as information poured out, making the grandeur more than certain. If I were a betting man, a million to one represented the persuasive odds that D2 was going to blow D1 out of the water, the fiddle of gold seemed well within my grasp.
Of course, how impreesive the game was didn’t really hit me until I received D2 as a late, and admittedly guilt tripped, birthday present from my folks. Far before the days of internet mass communication and technological advancement, I had a portable phone wedged between my head and shoulder, failing to contain my excitement as the game installed. I waited anxiously, while looking at a ridiculously goofy pre-rendered screen, that would make even a SuperMan 64 player knowingly uncomfortable.
From the first moment of enjoying the intensely graphic opening cinematic, oozing with atmosphere (something which Blizzard have become known for), I was hooked. Staying up till after sunrise never seemed so easy. Nor the regular bouts of forgoing sleep to gain just one more level, fighting heavy eye lids for the sake of progress. Diablo 2 may have represented, at least in the game realm, my first real foray into an unhinged mortality. A kind of fevered possession and insane embrace of insomnia that motivated my bouts of madness…
That first summer seemed to be completely overrun by Diablo 2, in an effortless haze of Mephisto runs and failed hardcore characters. My friends and I would always one up each other in PvP competitions, perfect builds reigning kind. This was earlier on in D2 patching and earlier in general for “user friendly” RPGS. Re-specing wasn’t possible, so keeping a mindful eye on where stat points landed and what direction your skills were headed in acted as a painful lesson, separating those who were educated and those who were schooled. The staggering number of scrapped characters due to inefficient builds only paled in comparison to the number of times i died in Act 3. No matter how fast you rush through Act 3, it’s never fast enough.
Diablo 2 had this raging simplicity to it. Most design ethics do, but I find myself easily restrained in explaining Blizzards brilliant banalities. Click, kill, click kill. So easy, so effortless, the effects of which would influence a nation of gamers. The idea is easy cause and effect, yet the environment of the in-game world added a sense of wonder. The places you’d go and the demons you’d kill…so far removed from every day life. Diablo 2 had that kind of confidence where it didn’t try to force feed you all of the numbers that made it so crunchy, but they existed for those with the curiosity of discovery. Instead, Blizzard made their intentions clear and their eccentricities were sound. All players were welcome and none were left behind…except the hardcore players. They knew what they were getting into.
Most games will just force an idea upon you, never contextualizing their existence. Diablo 2 did so flawlessly and always made sure to re-assure you why it all mattered. In the realm of delicious justice, throw the player a bone. If you want to introduce lycanthropy, remind the player why they should be a dog person. I mean this both literally, and figuratively, as the expansion pack tested the waters of dedication, and it did so with fluid ease.
Baal runs never ceasing to amaze, patches never ending and replay ability unmatched, I never could comprehend the day that D2 would finally fall to it’s successor. The other day for the first time ever, I went to join a quick match and to my surprise, not a single game popped up. Diablo 3’s presence is imminent and felt excitedly in so many ways.
While I appreciate the style and finesse that went into Diablo 2, and all the fond memories I have, I won’t stay anchored to unrealistic expectations. I’ll cherish all of the great times of course, from beginning to end. From my first instinct that the Cow Level was complete bullshit, to my end game stints of power leveling a new character to 80 for a two man take down of the Ubers in three days. I walk away a true patriarch of my time. I know some people will always swear by the way things use to be, but embracing change will lead you to a new way of thinking, a fresh experience. I can’t wait to spend any number of similar late nights laughing it up with friends in D3, and to eventually writing a retrospective of the entire thing in ten years time.
Not even delays will save you from Diablo.