Diablo II is a dark fantasy/horror-themed action role-playing game, with elements of the hack and slash and "dungeon roaming" 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 1997 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.
An expansion to Diablo II, Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, was released in 2001, and is currently at version 1.13c.A sequel, Diablo III, was announced in 2008.
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 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 similar 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 passive skills are defensive 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.
- he 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.
MultiplayerDiablo 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 dungeons, although they still exist, 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. Online play is otherwise nearly identical to single-player play. The most notable difference is that online maps are generated randomly, with a new map for every game a player enters, while offline, single player maps are retained in computer memory, though only for a single difficulty setting at a time.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 is here that Diablo, the Lord of Terror, is defeated by an unnamed warrior after many previous battles are also won.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" in place 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 minor 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.