My Diablo History
Hey, everyone! Melderon here. Stay a while an listen.
It’s 1996, I’m in seventh grade and my good friend, Anthony invites me over his house for the weekend to try out a new video game that he got recently. Excited, I head home to tell my mom that I will be sleeping over my friend’s for the weekend. I pack my bag and walk over to Anthony’s house, who only lived a block away. Nothing could have prepared for what my eyes and ears were about to experience.
But, before I explain what I mean, perhaps a bit of background first. Both myself and Anthony grew up in a traditional Italian-American neighborhood in South Philadelphia, and, because of that, we were brought up Roman Catholic and had a healthy fear of the devil, hell, and eternal punishment. Nice, light material for kids I might add.
Anyway, when I got to Anthony’s house he booted up his PC and double-clicked on the game icon. The CD-ROM drive started to whir and, soon enough, the Blizzard logo come into view. After that, I saw the title screen and the name: “Diablo”. Knowing some Italian from my family and Spanish from school, I quickly realized that the title meant “devil”. Three things immediately popped into my head: Can I get in trouble for this? is God going to punish me? and why the hell is the title in Spanish? Well, I guess calling it “devil” would be kind of weird. Anthony beckoned me to sit down in the chair. I started a new game, immediately noticing the spinning upside-down pentagrams, and decided on the Warrior. I zoned in and was immediately greeting with the most amazing song in Tristam. Yeah, you know it. As the 12-string guitar plucked away, I could not believe how lifelike and real things looked (yeah, I'm old). Everything from the Townsfolk to the rocks on the ground felt so raw, so dark, yet so polished. Anthony told me to head Northeast to the entrance of the cathedral. There I found a man on the floor, bleeding and motioning for help. When I clicked on him, I couldn’t believe my ears! Voice acting? Wow! You have to realize that in 1996, voice acting was far from the norm. The tale the wounded man told was a dark one: one of deceit, one of lost hope, and one of a monster known as the Butcher. Rattled, I entered the cathedral. After the loading screen I found my character at the base of stone stairs, grasping a shield in one hand and a sword in the other. Then my character spoke, saying, “The sanctity of this place has been fouled”. This warning turned my attention to the atmosphere around me. I immediately noticed the fast paced music. My heart began to race. I could hear moans of pain from off in the distance and the shrill cries of dying children. My senses were heightened. The hairs on my arms stood up. I was experiencing fear. From a game? I moved my character forward, the footsteps echoed into the darkness beyond. And then, all of a sudden, a flurry of skeletons came into view from the abyss. I clicked and slashed as fast as I could but it was to no avail. I was slain right there, near the bottom of the steps. My body writhed and fell. However, despite my state, the skeletons continued to attack, further desecrating my corpse. I was speechless - excited and scared all at the same time. My friend’s voice snapped me back into reality. “Awesome, isn’t it?” he said. My throat was dry but I managed to squeak out “y-yeah”. Needless to say I was hooked. I played the entire weekend and was finally able to make it to the Butcher on level 2. Man, he scared the hell out of me. I opened the door just to be greeted by a large red behemoth running for me from the dark with a giant meat cleaver in hand exclaiming, "Ah, Fresh Meat!" After many attempts, I finally felled him and got my first magical item, the Butcher’s Cleaver. As the dust settled, I entered his room to find tens of breathless, naked cadavers impaled on spikes, their blood covering the room like a tarp. I imagined by character’s boots and pant legs drenched and bloody as the coppery smell of death filled his nostrils. At this moment, even though the scene was nothing short of horrifying, I couldn’t hold back a smile. This was the game for me.
Just 4 short years later, I was in my junior year of high school and Diablo II was released. Needless to say, I picked it up as soon as I could. I couldn’t wait to see what Blizzard had in store for us this time. From the opening cinematic, I was hooked. I Watched as a man fell into madness and met the wanderer for, what I thought was, the first time. I chose Paladin and zoned in. Things were different but also the same. Those familiar feelings of dread and excitement rushed back. It was still Diablo, but better in so many ways, I was able to run, learn new abilities through the talent system, socket powerful gems into my gear and play with friends online. What is very interesting about Diablo II, from a WoW player’s perspective is just how many aspects of Diablo II make an appearance, one way or another, in World of Warcraft. Many Diablo II classes, talents, abilities, systems (like gem socketing), weapon types, weapon quality, and stats are used in WoW and were, in many cases, fundamental to the game’s design. Because of this, I think, personally, that World of Warcraft owes more to the Diablo franchise than the Warcraft RTS's. Due to the combination of an amazing story, a dark and medieval aesthetic, unique game systems, and online play, Diablo II is widely considered to be one of the best games ever made. I spent a lot of time in Diablo II during High School, especially after the sequel, Lord of Destruction, came out in 2001, my senior year. However, I would have to wait another 11 years for a new Diablo title.
Then, in 2012, my dark prayers were answered while I was working on my master's degree. Diablo III looked very promising from its inception with a lightning fast battle system, new and interesting classes, insane abilities, and many difficulty levels for replayability. Everything seemed right as rain. However, due to a horrible launch experience, issues with the real money auction house, and an almost cutesy feel to many of the zones and NPCs, Diablo III was a far cry from its revered predecessors. It felt like a cheap mobile game in many ways and didn’t leave me breathless in the same way Diablo I and II did. I played my fair amount of it, don’t get me wrong. It just didn’t “do it for me” in a sense. The dark Gothic and medieval themes from past games just weren't there. And, due to how abilities scaled with powerful items, even the hardest difficulty levels just didn’t feel dangerous. With the addition of Reaper of Souls in 2014 and the Necromancer class in 2017, my interest was again piqued but this didn’t last long. I was hungry for more Diablo.
Diablo IV and Blizzcon 2019
Everything changed this year at Blizzcon 2019. During the opening ceremony, J. Allen Brack started off the weekend with one of the most amazing pieces of cinema, not just game cinematics, I have ever seen. An almost reverent quiet came of the audience as a battered landscape came into view. We all quickly put 2 and 2 together, however, to realize that this could only be Sanctuary itself. The crowd erupted briefly and then fell quiet. We were treated to a scene of treasure hunters, stealing into what seemed to be an ancient tomb. One of them, likely some kind of monk or wizard was wounded. The others, clearly tomb raiders, forced the monk to open seals to a lost tomb in hopes of gold and riches. It was just then that the cinematic went blank and the Windows command prompt came up on the screen. Clearly, we were all pretty annoyed. Finally, after what seemed like days, the cinematic returned. We watched in awe as the band of thieves were sacrificed on a blood altar. They were suspended in air as their life’s blood was extracted from them to create an unholy portal. Suddenly, a female figure passed through the red membrane and into the mortal plane. This figure was none other than Lillith herself, the mother of all humanity and co-creator of the world of Sanctuary.
After this scene, light once again filled the room. Defcamp, myself, Taladril, and Ayle all looked at each other in amazement as the crowd erupted. Our waits were finally over. Diablo has come once again steal our hearts... and our souls.
Immediately, it was clear to see that a ton of work was put into this cinematic. The atmosphere was set so well that you felt like you were in the room with the band of tomb raiders. But, perhaps most importantly, a familiar feeling entered my mind - the fear I had once felt as a boy, sitting in my good friend’s room, playing Diablo I. I was instantly transported back over 2 decades to when I was 12 years old in an instant.
Once the audience calmed down, Luis Barriga, Game Director for Diablo IV, come onto the stage and began explaining what the core philosophies of Diablo IV are all about. The three words Barriga used to describe Diablo IV were darkness, world, and legacy. The word "darkness" signifies that Diablo IV will be going back to the franchise's darker routes in terms of story, art, and atmosphere. For “world”, Barriga stated that previously we have only seen parts of Sanctuary over the course of the last 3 titles. However, in Diablo IV, there will be an open-world element where we can explore vasts parts of the world while on our journey to thwart evil. We will even be able to find other players exploring the world to team up with and trade or to even battle to the death with in PvP skirmishes if we wish. Finally, Barriga got the word, “legacy.” Whether it be the sense of dread that we all felt so many years ago in Diablo 1, our favorite classes and the talent system from Diablo II, or the fluid and dynamic combat system from Diablo III, Diablo IV will take inspiration from all previous titles to make Diablo IV truly special.
Diablo IV Features
In addition to what we learned from the opening cinematic and dialogue from Luid Barriga, there was also information to glean from the Diablo IV panel later in the day on Friday. From this panel we learned the following updates and features:
- Currently, there are three playable classes announced: The Barbarian (melee, physical damage dealer), the Druid, (a shapeshifting hybrid with wolf companions. How bad-ass is that?), and the Sorceress, (a ranged magical damage dealer). However, there will be 5 classes available at launch, so 2 have not been released yet.
- An interesting note about the Barbarian is that he/she can wield a total of 4 weapons! Two 2-handed weapons and 2-one handed weapons. The Barbarian will switch between weapon types depending on the ability used. This loadout allows for the most legendaries equipped by any class in the game.
- Diablo IV itself occurs decades after Reaper of Souls expansion to Diablo III. With Malthael’s genocidal crusade over, the world of Sanctuary is left shattered and broken in many places. This has left power vacuums throughout the world for evil forces to fill.
- Lillith, daughter of Mephisto, will be the lead antagonist, at least until the game is expanded.
- Diablo IV will sport a dark, nonlinear, shared open-world with 5 contiguous regions.
- Activities like public events that are PvE focused will randomly generate throughout the world. The number of people that can join these events will be dynamically changed depending on the difficulty and size of the event.
- There will be unique talent trees for each class that will focus on player choice. As you level up you will get one or more skill points.
- Customizable mounts will be introduced in Diablo IV that will aid you on your journeys throughout Sanctuary.
- There will be many unique, randomly generated indoor and outdoor dungeons for players to explore.
- Diablo IV will use a seamless exploration system which means no loading screens and more random events.
- Dungeons are designed with their objectives in mind meaning that each dungeon will have unique and specific goals to achieve.
- Dungeon keys will drop for specific dungeons which will upgrade them to endgame dungeons. These dungeons can roll specific dungeons affixes, increasing their difficulties much like Mythic dungeons in WoW and endgame dungeons in Diablo III.
- Diablo IV will have a number of World bosses that will require multiple players to defeat. These bosses can be interactive in that certain abilities and actions can change their behavior. i.e. adaptive mechanics
- Legendaries that drop from monsters and loot chests will open up customizable builds for each class. Therefore, there will be a ton of theorycrafting that can be done focusing on certain gear combinations.
- There will be two types of runes that can drop in the world: condition and effect. These can be combined to form a runeword to make changes to items and armor.
That is a ton of good information. I am especially intrigued by how the open, non-linear progression works. To me, open-world type games really shine and, to be honest, the fact that Diablo IV is flirting with open world ideas makes me think that one day, just maybe, a World of Diablo will happen down the road! Hey, a guy can hope.
The Diablo IV Demo
My Diablo IV experience did not end there. Defcamp, Taladril, Ayle, and I were all able to try out the Diablo IV demo. I chose Barbarian while Defcamp tried his hand at the Druid. For both classes, the abilities felt fluid and responsive, much like Diablo III. The atmosphere, however, was much different. The game felt much more dark compared to its most recent predecessor. Perhaps most importantly, although we couldn’t make changes to them directly, we were able to pull up the talent trees to view them. It was amazing seeing talent trees back in a Diablo title. As far as the Barbarian was concerned, the leap and smash type abilities just felt right. Defcamp said that the Druid was capable of shifting back and forth out of werewolf and werebear forms fluidly over the course of combat. As far as multiplayer is concerned, it was common to run into other players that were also playing the demo. It was really fun to team up and take down some large enemies with them. However, despite all this, it is clear to see that game is far from done. We weren’t even able to switch out abilities let alone mess with talents and level up. I am just grateful that I got to experience a very early version of what I think will be an excellent title. One more thing that I found very interesting was that there are different visual loadouts for each class. Take Barbarian for example. You have the choice of picking a male Barbarian with light colored hair and skin, another male Barbarian with a darker complexion and black hair, and a female Barbarian. Defcamp said there were also multiple loadouts for Druid and I also heard the same for the Sorceress. However, these classes do not yet, or may never have, different sex options. This is great because I personally did not like that in Diablo III, I had to be a certain sex for a class I was playing.
In my opinion, we are likely approximately 2 years out from a release. There is still a ton to get right and clean up. The world, I am sure, is also not done yet as are the other two unknown classes that have yet to be released. Personally, I am hoping for the Paladin and a ranged physical damage dealer like the Amazon. Honestly, it doesn’t matter what they chose - I can hardly wait to play! In the future, stay tuned to both Defcamp and Melderon TV and classicwow.live for any updates concerning Diablo IV's release or news updates!
Well, that about does it for me. I would like to let you, our fans, know that Defcamp and I, in addition to covering Classic WoW, will also start to cover Diablo IV content on the YouTube channel due to my belief that this is a title the both of us can get behind. I feel like we can make significant contributions to the game using the passion and approaches we have adopted for Classic WoW So, be on the lookout for news updates and early theorycrafting and guides when more data becomes available. Let me know below if you are also looking forward to Diablo IV and why you are. Also, please let me know why you may not be looking forward to it. I am honestly intrigued as to why. If you will be playing, tell me what features from earlier titles you are excited to experience in Diablo IV. Finally, if you are interested in my thoughts and impressions on the World of Warcraft updates we got from Blizzcon, a link to my recent video can be found here.
Keep on key-bindin’ and grindin’, everyone! I will see you soon on the next Defcamp and Melderon TV video or post. Peace!
“By three they come. By three thy way opens. By the blood of the willing. We call thee home.”
About the Authors
Defcamp and Melderon are two brothers that love Classic WoW and are dedicated to providing high quality guides, podcasts, and other content for the Classic WoW community.
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