Diablo 2 Retrospective

One of Diablo 2′s peculiarities is the absence of a traditional Save & Load feature. Your options are Save & Exit, and that’s the extent of it. If you’ve made a catastrophic mistake — like accidentally spending a skill point someplace you hadn’t intended — the only way to roll back would be to bring up the task manager and kill the process.

Of course, this only works in singleplayer, and while I can understand that no traditional Save & Load feature was included in order to standardize singleplayer and multiplayer, the occasional situation does arise in which a “Load game” option is missed.

As for multiplayer, I’ll admit that I’m unfamiliar with the current state of the Diablo 2 online battle.net community, but I recall a time when it was flooded with bots, spammers, maphackers, and all manner of cheaters. Not to mention the high-level griefers who derived joy from joining a lower-level player’s game, then hunting him down and killing him. Some say that this is part of the Diablo experience — that one must simply accept the fact that by playing online, you make yourself a target for bullies and scammers.

Gold coins, due to their overabundance, are useless as a currency in inter-player trades. The item market is entirely community-controlled, with no form of in-game auction house feature. Letting the community support its own sustainable economy allows for great freedom, but results in newcomers who don’t know the value of items being exploited by con artists.

All that said, you haven’t played D2 until you’ve played with others, because every additional player multiplies the fun — quite literally. Monsters have more health, drops are more frequent, and XP is more abundant.

Diablo 2′s end-game consists mostly of high-level duels, as well as eight-player “boss runs” and events that can today be described as “raids” to acquire rare item drops and XP. These runs suffer from the lag induced by a boss monster death; when the piñata pops, a bounty of items drop to the floor and all eight players pounce like a pack of rabid hyenas. Because of the first-come, first-served nature of loot drops, those with the best internet connections and computers get first grab, and those on the lower end of the spectrum are lucky to pick up anything at all.

Ultimately, the recipe for Diablo 2′s tremendous success and longevity is something developers of similar games have been trying to pin down for years, and while I won’t pretend to know the precise ingredients, I’m sure the combination of high replay value coupled with a strong addiction factor was a major contributor. Whether it’s gaining a level, unlocking a new ability, or finding a rare item, there’s always a siren calling out to you, urging you to keep playing for five more minutes. D2 is not without its faults,

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1 Comment on Diablo 2 Retrospective

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On May 14, 2012 at 12:18 pm

“Ultimately, the recipe for Diablo 2′s tremendous success and longevity is …”

Blizzard North.

I miss them … :( .