Unfortunately, I wasn’t thoroughly interested in Diablo’s story, and whilst I’m sure it was a worthy ending to the saga, I was far more interested in the dynamic loot system and hack n’ slash combat.
Surprisingly (at least it was to me), the loot system in Diablo is radically different than those found in traditional MMOs (Diablo is not an MMO).
For example, when I killed the Lich King (in World of Warcraft, for those less informed), I had X chance of getting the drop that I wanted (let’s just say some one handed sword).
That sword would have set stats on it, so I’d know exactly what I was getting if the weapon dropped. In Diablo, things are quite a bit more chaotic–you never really know what you’re going to get.
First of all, there’s a way smaller chance of you actually getting a 1 handed sword from any given encounter–instead of each boss having a pool of 7 or 8 potential drops, they can drop any piece of loot in the game.
Now, let’s say that a rare one handed sword does drop. You’ll now have to “identify” (right click) the weapon, which is essentially analogous to unwrapping a present. After opening the item, you can finally see what phat (or fat) loot you received.
What’s crazy is how useless (or amazing) the stats / damage on the weapon can be–the disparity between two of the same item after identifying is staggering.
I could get two of the same weapons (same name, etc.), and after identifying the loot, one does double the damage of the other! While this sounds irritating and unpredictable, it makes the search for loot thrilling.
It’s like opening up a pack of Pokemon cards when you’re 12–getting that holographic Charizard was simply amazing.
How far games have come! Sadly, fire still looks like crap
The loot isn’t the only thing that drives this game forward though. The combat is blissfully brutal, making the process of mowing down your foes all that much more satisfying. The way in which you do this can also vary greatly depending on your chosen character build. Each class has 22 abilities, with each ability having 5 runes.
These runes can drastically change each move, adding a slow effect, fire damage, etc. You can only have 6 abilities active at any given time (using one rune per ability), so you must consider the synergy between moves when you make your choices.
It’s also really nice that you can switch these abilities easily, encouraging players to find out what works. Experimentation is crucial on harder difficulties, namely Hell and Inferno, where the wrong build will get you killed almost immediately.
This replaces the traditional “talent system,” where the player makes mundane decisions that gradually affect the stats of your player, certain abilities, etc.
Sure, that means there’s less customization, but who honestly cares? Instead of making menial decisions throughout leveling, you’re provided with abilities / runes that actually change the way you play–I like this a helluva lot more than simply choosing to add 3 percent to your damage with swords.
There are countless aspects of this game that I have yet to mention, like the randomized dungeons, incredibly varied enemy types, fantastic art direction, and much more. I have only scratched the surface, but I definitely feel that Diablo has been carefully crafted to perfection–it’s no surprise that the game took over a decade to surface.