Video Game Thoughts: Diablo II

Diablo II was a 2000 action role-playing game by Blizzard Entertainment for the PC. Some of my first PC games were from Blizzard, but I never tried the first Diablo game. When I saw the pictures of the game, it looked like a horror game. I wasn’t really interested in that. I had no idea that the game had fun mechanics. Then in 2000, my friend was saying all kinds of great things about Diablo II. He brought it over while spending the night once. We installed it on my dad’s old work laptop, the only Windows PC we had in our house. Our Mac PC was just too old to run the game. The old laptop was below the minimum requirements, but somehow the game still ran (at a very low frame rate).

The gameplay was fun, but the game was still fairly dark and still had horror stuff. I liked the graphics and all the unique skills each class got. Although I had enough money to buy it, I wasn’t sold on the game. I thought I would just play it when I visited my friend’s house. This changed a few weeks later. For some reason this year my mom didn’t want me just relaxing during the summer. She made me sign up for a summer class at a local college. I was not happy, of course. Summer was the one time of year where I had could play games all day. It may have been a good thing though.

At the end of the class we had to do a group project. One of my partners in the group happened to be playing Diablo II. Somehow it came up that he had burned a copy for a friend. That caught my attention. Back then I didn’t care about copyright laws. I wasn’t ready to spend my money on the game. This was a chance to get Diablo II for free. I pleaded with him to burn me a copy of all the discs, which he did about week later.

When I got home I ran into a problem. Blizzard had done their homework and put copy protection onto the discs. I was able to install the game, but during execution, the CD-key check always failed. I had gone too far to not play the game. I got my mom to take me to the store over the weekend to buy the game legally.

Now that I had the game, my friend and I were able to play online together. The slow laptop caused me to always be behind everyone else, but I still had a lot of fun. I wanted to try out all kinds of skill combinations, to get every class to the maximum level, and to get the best items in the game. This game was unique because items were random drops. Sometimes the player got unlucky, other times unlucky. It was the lucky times that kept me playing. I read strategies about which monsters to fight to get the best items. Then I’d play and play and play. Some of the items were so rare I was only able to get them by trading with other players.

My friend and I both lost interest after a few months, but I still came back to the game for a month or two at a time for several years. It was like a yearly tradition to come back to Diablo II, see what updates Blizzard had made, and try my hand at getting the best items again. I was never able to get the best items, but the game kept me occupied for a hundreds of hours combined over the years.

Lord of Destruction expansion

By the time the expansion came out, I had become a big fan of Diablo II. Besides the gameplay described above, I really found the story to be interesting even though it was dark. The base game left me hanging with the story not totally finished, so I just had to get the expansion and see how it ended. The expansion also added two more classes and new item types to keep the gameplay interesting. This was one of those expansions that I just bought automatically. There was no need to think about it. Diablo II was so much fun, I was going to get Lord of Destruction, no question.

A few years after I got Lord of Destruction, our family got a new computer and high-speed internet. This was like playing a whole new game. Before that I mostly had to stick to single player. Now I played online exclusively. I could now keep up with other players and have a chance to get rare items that dropped. The game didn’t make sure that all the players got items in a group. Whoever could click the fastest, got the items. With a fast computer and good internet connection, I could now compete. I got heavily into trading items with others. I still didn’t get the best items, but much, much closer. Compared to perfect items, I probably got around 80% of the way to perfection.

Diablo II with the Lord of Destruction expansion was really my first online game. I had played many games before with online functionality but had either completely ignored online mode or only tried out a few dozen games on it before going back to single player. It wasn’t just because my computer was bad or being stuck with dial-up internet access. The previous games I had that could be played online were all ultra competitive. Diablo II was the first game I played online that was mostly cooperative. This made a huge difference. I am not a very competitive person. I game that let me help out others was perfect. That’s still what I look for in online games today. I generally avoid competitive games.

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