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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Diablo II Retrospective

   I n t r o d u c t i o n   

A lot of role-players like to look down their nose at Blizzard's juggernaut, snort in contempt, and dismiss it as a mindless hack n slash affair, but what they need to realize is that Diablo II is a multi-faceted game that can be played in a variety of ways; namely, single-player, hardcore, PvP, Low level dueling, player killing and coop. Plus, there are some amazing mods like Median XL: Ultimative. But this post is given over to treatment of two forms of online play that I got a kick out of in the past: LLD and PK. Note that the following relates to basic only, not the Sin War.

   L o w  L e v e l  D u e l i n g  ( L L D )   

Example of a godly lvl 9 'Sin LLD
This is where you go up against one or more other people. There is a degree of etiquette involved and communication is kept to a minimum or is completely absent. You walk out into the zone, announce your readiness, and either kill or be killed. Pretty simple.

Now, the problem with LLD is that you can't just jump in, face off and expect to have fun. You need to actually invest time learning how to build and twink out a decent LLD build, and invest time farming, trading, imbueing and gambling. Otherwise, you will be a joke.

You need extensive knowledge of the game's internal workings because you're dealing with items you want tailored to a restricted character level ("officially" lvls 9, 18, 30 and 49).

You have to know, for example, that to gamble a rare circlet for a lvl18 LLDer you must use a lvl25 character; to imbue an ethereal ornate plate for a lvl30 you must use a lvl64-65 character; to find rares for a lvl30 you're best off farming Nightmare tombz. You also need to know how re-rolling rares works, applying formulae so that each time you re-roll the item its level stays within your build range; otherwise it can't be worn and is all but useless to you. Just things like that.

All this pays off when you find, as a simple example, a sixth tier mod on an item, because that means you can simply equip the item to get the ability rather than "wasting" several pre-requisite skillpoints to earn it. And several skillpoints makes a massive difference in LLD. As does rushing an LLD through Hell to get all the +skill and +stat bonuses x3. All are Hell-rushed, so don't even bother if yours isn't.

When you have knowledge of these things, you begin to appreciate the godly builds out there. (Mine was never one of them. I got to the point of "not so laughable" and inspired a few other casuals to build LLDs to beat mine, but that's it.)

And actually, learning how to do all this ISN'T a problem as I said above: it's all very beneficial because the barrier to entry keeps the low-ballers out.

   P l a y e r  K i l l i n g  ( P K )   

A pker is someone an asshole who has learned how to twink out their build so that it can hold its own against parties of much higher lvl; in fact, kill 'em all pretty quickly. Basically the pker bit works like this...

(example of lvl9 PKer going for parties up to lvl30):

I twink out a lvl9 build to the max, stats and gear-wise, for this exact function (to kill several high lvl players quickly). To give an idea of power, my build eventually reached the point of being able to one-shot Andariel at lvl9.

Then, I enter a game with several lvl30 players, and instead of joining them I "hostile" them. In response, most of them laugh and hurl abuse. Why? Because I'm only lvl9; how impudent of me!

"R  U  FORREAL  I'M  GUNNA  F***IN  R**E  U  N****R!" (Typical language, right thar.)

Now, most of them keep playing because at this time they're farming XP or questing. But at this time I'm hunting them down (prey is located by scoping out Town Portals and following monster corpse trails).

Then they start getting killed, one by one with one-shots. TPK (total party kill) normally takes about 20 secs for a fullparty because many players try to run away, often causing a comedy of positional/situational errors. Some just freeze like a deer in headlights, while others tele back to base, and others still would rather quit out of the session entirely than be at your mercy.

After which, the buttmad flows and I'm accused of being a hacker and a cheat. Sometimes you get compliments from amazed people (yes, there are ppl playing Diablo II almost two decades after it was released that are newbies), but mostly it's just insult hurling and general disrespect (which is understandable).

Rinse repeat!

For a long time I was often up against hackers, some of whom I could still beatdown but some were invincible so there's nothing I can do except boast about how long it takes them to kill me (Dark Souls players can certainly empathize).

Anyway, that's two of the reasons I used to play Diablo II online (LLD and PK). But if you can find "no-rush" ppl you can have a lot of fun in coop, too. As regular readers of this blog would know, I'm 90% a single-player gamer. But I've learned lots about the depth of the game by LLDing and being a pker, and learned lots of insults and threats like you wouldn't believe. The game is as addictive as crack, in all its aspects.

   R e a l  P K  S c e n a r i o s   

My clvl9 assassin tracks down her prey in the monastery, descending to the jail.

Startled out of his mind by her sudden emergence from that shadowy stairwell, the hapless druid attempts to flee but is poisoned by a crystal sword socketed with six envy jewels.

Death is imminent but releasing the three-charge Tiger Strike hastens his demise.

Motionless on the ground, the victim expresses butthurt with his last breath.

Here's another brief scenario:

Merrily farming the tombs of Tal Rasha, a seasoned party of six suddenly find themselves hostiled by my 'Sin. (Note how they assume my gender to be male. Fatal mistake :P)

Following the trail of corpses the silent 'sin begins her hunt as they debate the threat posed by her presence, among themselves. 

Confident in their numbers, twinkage and level, the party is seduced into giving chase. It isn't like they're noobs (they have fullset Sigons); but by this stage I had evolved from Sigs/envenomed crystal sword and was ensconced in (comparatively) godly-bejeweled armor and wielding a jewel-encrusted ethereal/self-repairing blade talon with on-hit Amplification dmg and an array of other appropriate mods. So yeah, these guys are still scrubs to any half-srs LLDer/Pker out there (and I was a scrub compared to other LLDers/PKers, to be clear).

One of them cautions the others not to give chase but they pay him no heed as the first of them falls (that's his gold in mid-air).

One by one the rest of them fall (or quit-out). Four of the six were slain in short order, as was Cw-Crazy's prediction (clvls 23, 22, 21 & 19). Their spattered blood and ear tokens are the only evidence that they were once there, their gold pieces already scooped up and stuffed into my pockets; the haul about 300,000 GP - to be gambled away for godly rares, back in town (gambling is addictive/effective in D2).

The amplified Tiger Strikes are what makes multiple executions possible; it's a perfect element of surprise that the victim doesn't usually have time to evaluate, their healthy HP pool suddenly depleted, as can be seen here when I amp this 'Zon.

Yep, you can't really react to that. At first sight she should have flown, but how could she have known?

   C o n c l u s i o n   

Well, I hope this post was of interest to some of you out there! Maybe it brought back memories. Maybe you got a chuckle out of it. Maybe it disgusted you. But Diablo II is a great and deep game. It's arguably GOAT. Don't let the snooty role-players out there tell you any different. Most of them are capable of liking different genres but there are some that just write it off, having barely given it a good go. I've certainly seen my fair share of them; hence, the comment.

I might do a write-up in the future on the aesthetics of Diablo II, too. It's really a beautiful game that stills, gifs and even YouTube don't seem to do justice. I often wished Baldur's Gate and many other cRPGs could have employed such quality pixel art and animations, but it wasn't to be.

Next post: An Adorable Portrait.

   E o P   


  1. LOL

    This is an awesome read


    1. Glad you got a laugh out of this write-up, Des. I lol'd a fair bit typing it up, too.


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