bit-gamer.net

I played Diablo 2 and I hated it

Posted on 5th May 2009 at 10:14 by Joe Martin with 32 comments

Joe Martin
So, I played Diablo 2, just as you asked me to. True to my word I got bit-tech developer Jamie to lend me his copy and I gave it a good ol’ go - by which I mean I played it until I didn't want to play it any more, then tried to persevere for another hour before giving up.

I was utterly underwhelmed by Diablo 2. It appealed to me even less than the very similar Titan Quest – and that’s saying something, considering how I enjoyed that game about as much as I’d enjoy passing a cupful of kidney stones all at once. I hated Diablo 2 because there seemed to be absolutely no need for me to be there. I actually felt that the game would play itself better if I just wasn’t there, as the entire role of the player is to click-click-click-click their character along a pseudo-random, utterly linear path that offers no real chance for exploration or involvement.

Playing Diablo 2 I was left with the impression that it didn’t matter what I did in the game, as fundamentally everything I did only ever had one logical outcome, so I may as well not do anything. I was stifled by the utter lack of room for player expression. You could level the same complaint against almost any FPS where players are funnelled through linear levels too, but at least those games are usually fast paced and full of explosions and a sense of interaction and puzzle solving. Diablo 2 didn’t feel that way to me.

I played Diablo 2 and I hated it I Played Diablo 2 and I Hated It
Diablo 2 scores 4/10

What’s more, I felt that this lack of any real influence was something that the designers had purposefully built into the game as a kind of sick joke. Starting the adventure near the Den of Evil I was approached by some quest-givers and told of their plight, etc – but I was confused by the lack of context. It may be because I hadn’t played the first game either, but I honestly had no idea of who I was supposed to be, why I was helping these people or who these people were. There’s a minor outbreak of zombies or something, I gathered that much, but otherwise I was adrift in a sea of gibberish that prevented me from really connecting with my character.

For me, a large amount of appeal in an RPG comes from customising my character, but that too had become a joyless affair in Diablo 2. I universally hate skill trees like the one in Diablo 2 because they serve no purpose other than to highlight the fact that players can only progress in the way and pace that the designer determines – and if that’s true then why bother even giving me a chart? Just upgrade me automatically!

Enough ranting though, because that’s not really what I want to talk about. What I really want to talk about is the internal disconnect in my head and the way I’ve somehow developed a split personality. There’s one voice in my head that’s screaming all the above about how awfully pointless the game is and how redundant the design makes me feel as a player, but there’s also another voice which quietly admires the game.

I played Diablo 2 and I hated it I Played Diablo 2 and I Hated It
Diablo 2 scores 8/10

This second voice is that of the professional in me who recognises that the game probably isn’t as objectively bad as my personal opinion insists. In fact, the second voice actually admires Diablo 2 quite a bit. While the first voice says that the game renders player involvement redundant and unexciting through the over-simplified controls and mechanics, the other applauds it for being so streamlined. One voice says the game story is clichéd, weak and poorly told, the other says that a game doesn’t always have to have a great story.

I personally want to give Diablo 2 a four out of ten – it’s unintelligent, uninspired and unarguably limiting to play. Critically though, I recognise the strengths of the game and want to give it an eight out of ten because, while it’s certainly nothing new when judged by today’s standards, it still offers a sense of satisfaction for players who like to grind. If you’re into Diablo 2’s type of game then it’s good.

It’s hard for me to reconcile the two points - hard in a way that I’ve found few other games difficult to judge, though that may be because I consciously lend my second voice more authority when I’m working in the office. The more I turn it over in my mind, the more confused I get on the topic and the harder it becomes for me to decide whether I love or hate Diablo 2.

One thing I have decided though is that I’m certainly not going to play any more of it. I’d much rather use my private gaming time to continue working through Jade Empire – another RPG recommendation that came out of the forums, and one I'm much more at ease with.

32 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Narishma 5th May 2009, 11:44 Quote
The game comes with a book that tells you what happened before in great detail. Or maybe that was the first Diablo, I don't remember exactly.
Bauul 5th May 2009, 12:13 Quote
How did it compare to Dungeon Siege, a game I know you had quite a bit of fun playing co-op back at Uni?
yakyb 5th May 2009, 12:26 Quote
the skill tree is fantastic there are infinate (almost) builds you can do a much discussion has gone into what and when you should upgrade to get your hammerdin/javazon/whatever to maximum output

i love the skill tree as it allows those with experience(those whom have taken some time to study the builds) to get an advantage over those without (true RPG style). do you prefer the oblivion method which
improves your jumping only if you jump around the entire map?

for example whats better LVL 5 hammers @ 1000 dps
or LVL 2 hammers @500dps but with LVL 3 speed boost which allows 3x speed over a period of 10 seconds with a one minute cooldown.


the example above is very crude but its desicions like these that allow the skill tree to grow into your character, and what eventually turned me off oblivion and has stopped me from playing fallout 3 (although i may start soon)

i agree that diablo is a click athon and the more clicks you do the better gear you get however if you delve into the forums that still lurk the web you will see a vast array of people still doing hardcore ladder runs
Aterius Gmork 5th May 2009, 12:42 Quote
Good old times. :D

Diablo 2 is just too old to get into nowadays imo. You got to remember, it's more than 10 years old. While the battle-net has been great fun back then games and gameplay have evolved too much in recent years.

To be honest I think it's good that D2 doesn't have a story at all. I could never really get into Titan Quest because the game follows an incomprehensible stoyline, and there are many sidequests you don't know about and stumble upon by chance.
In Diablo there're 6 quests each level and that's it. You know that from the very beginning. But that's a personal opinion anyway.

Hey, you were expected to play Diablo 2, not to like it. :p

Edit: Oops. :o Well 9 years is something, isn't it?
knuck 5th May 2009, 12:47 Quote
You're mistaking with Diablo. Diablo 2 is turning 9 year old this summer
CardJoe 5th May 2009, 12:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by yakyb

i love the skill tree as it allows those with experience(those whom have taken some time to study the builds) to get an advantage over those without (true RPG style). do you prefer the oblivion method which
improves your jumping only if you jump around the entire map?

No. Oblivion was good in that it fitted in with the whole 'this is a virtual life, not a real RPG' thing they designed it to be, but it's not what I prefer. I prefer having a real choice. I prefer systems like in D&D, or at least where the whole thing isn't explained to you in advance or when I can adapt my tactics.

Diablo 2 using your example above limits players greatly. I have a choice on how I can level up exactly, but it's limited and essentially I'm still going to be doing the same thing. Hammers at LV3 or LV2 with speed? That's not a choice because it still drags me back to the same clickathon mechanic. I'm still just going to be clicking like crazy and my main tactic will be set until I level up again, at which point still nothing really changes.

I prefer a more openly tactical approach. Take Baldur's Gate 2 for example - still isometric, still clicking like crazy, but I can change my spells and abilities massively between levels and encounters are structured and unique, not random and samey. It's a known risk that by allowing randomly generated content you create repetitive content. In Baldur's Gate 2 I know that I'm still going to level up along a set path and that I'll use certain abilities, but it isn't layed out for me in a boring diagram that essentially says "This is your game. This is the experience you are going to have." Instead, I have tools at my disposal which allow me to create the experience I want to have.

This isn't the only thing wrong with Diablo 2 in my eyes - god knows some of my favourite games use a similar system of laying out skills, like Vampire: Bloodlines - but there's really nothing else in there that gripped me.

And it was very similar to Dungeon Siege, yes - but I enjoyed that only to a point as that too got very competitive and I was playing it co-op. I didn't play Diablo 2 multiplayer and I'm fully willing to admit that my experience is massively limited because of that, but since it's an old game and for a utterly unofficial blog post I was more than willing to judge the game on what I wanted to get out of it and I wanted a singleplayer RPG, not a game that only really excels when you play with friends.
Ninja_182 5th May 2009, 12:53 Quote
Diablo 2 is all about playing on hardcore, optimizing builds and the comedy of the cow map all done online. All of which you have to invest a large portion of time. Saying that, every time I have tried to force my way through the game, I get sick of it on Act II.

Possibly I just love it for the Nostalgia
UrbanMarine 5th May 2009, 12:56 Quote
D2 isn't for everyone. I thought Oblivion was pure garbage along with Fallout 3 (FO2 is still the best) but those two got grand reviews.
azrael- 5th May 2009, 13:13 Quote
If you don't like Titan Quest (which has a pretty easy-to-follow story line IMHO) it's pretty darn certain that you won't like Diablo 2.

Even though D2 came out some 6 years earlier or so, I personally find TQ to be the better game of the two. Especially with the Immortal Throne add-on.
Yemerich 5th May 2009, 13:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanMarine
D2 isn't for everyone. I thought Oblivion was pure garbage along with Fallout 3 (FO2 is still the best) but those two got grand reviews.

Ditto.

I don't have time now, but i will come back later to discuss someone that didn't played the game in the right time.
Mister_X 5th May 2009, 14:47 Quote
DIfferent strokes for different folks...
If we all liked the same things it would be a boring world.
Glad you had a go at least.
I liked both Diablo's and I'm looking forward to D3
Bungle 5th May 2009, 16:12 Quote
It's a bit harsh trashing a game that had a maximum res of 800x600. Diablo was a pure hack n slash set in a shallow rpg environment. What Diablo did right was to embrace the materialist in everyone and provide an insane amount of (at the time) cool armours and weapons.
Diablo was more about the co-op and shopping than the fighting
sear 5th May 2009, 16:23 Quote
Diablo II isn't a role-playing game, it's an action/hack-and-slash game that is basically centred around making your character the most powerful thing in the universe through optimisation of skills and stats, and collection of more and more powerful weapons and items. It is not open-ended, there is no real exploration (nor is there much motivation for it), and it is not a highly intelligent game overall. For what it does set out to do, though, it excels at it, even almost ten years later.
adam_bagpuss 5th May 2009, 16:35 Quote
diablo II plus the LOD was awesome.

so much customizing and skill tree builds made it playable over and over again.

on multiplayer it was the business. played it recently with 2 other friends over privte game and was alot of fun even now.
Otto69 5th May 2009, 17:41 Quote
Go play Rogue or Nethack. It's more of a game than Diablo II could ever be, though I do like Diablo and DII.
CardJoe 5th May 2009, 17:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Otto69
Go play Rogue or Nethack. It's more of a game than Diablo II could ever be, though I do like Diablo and DII.

And I love both. If you're going to go for random generation then you may as well go the whole hog and make the game hard as nails.
thehippoz 5th May 2009, 17:43 Quote
what do you think about nox? it was around the same time.. liked the ending to that- the batchick and she could fly through walls.. I never got into diablo 2 either- played a bit, the cow level and stuff with some buds.. but the rampant cheating lol I was like yeah one hit me (and I was cheating on stats myself- so yeah right!)
Jamie 5th May 2009, 21:11 Quote
I don't think you gave it a fair chance Joe. I shall never speak to you again! The boss encounters are great.
Yemerich 5th May 2009, 21:12 Quote
First you can't play Diablo thinking of a RPG. And as a RPG Diablo is weak. Let's face it. BUT, Diablo isn't a RPG. It's an ACTION RPG, that makes a HUGE difference. I don't want to measure it's merits by saying it sold more than 18,5 million copies over the world (the series). Thats not a gauge. Diablo was the first ever game to mix action AND RPG in a game successfuly.

Diablo also helped popularize RPG. There are essencially two types of players, those who love RPG and those who hate them. Diablo was able to bring them together. Why i say so? Because some of my friends that played diablo on a lan with me weren't even able to read in english! Still they loved diablo!

Random levels, group of unique monsters with a leader, tons of armor and weapons, and with the socketed item the possibilities were hugely widened.

Diablo generated tons of clones, darkstone, dungeon siege, sacred, spellforce, etc, etc etc... And other games that were influenced by diablo wich include BG: dark alliance

I doubt anyone here can name a game in the same linethat was so inovative as Diablo was back them. Don't talk about Baldurs Gate (wich i love), because it is purely RPG. Want a true RPG? Go for Ultima VII!

As for FO3... hmmm I better not start my rants over that $%%^$ of game...
FO3 is just another shallow RPG, that will be forgot in ten years from now
Dreaming 5th May 2009, 22:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Narishma
The game comes with a book that tells you what happened before in great detail. Or maybe that was the first Diablo, I don't remember exactly.

Yea the story is really good from the first one to the second one. In the first one basically there is evil eminating out from a town and you as a hero go there cliché cliché cliché (but the art direction was really good to give it a strong sense of atmosphere) and you talk to people and hear about the horrors and then it's a basic dungeon crawl.

Get to the end, kill the bad guy (with a twist which is very relevent to the second game). Second one comes about and you are chasing a traveller across the world from Tristram ultimately to hell itself because he has lots of evil and is a generally nasty guy. Follow him to hell turns out the traveller is diablo and then you kill him.

The beauty is in the details though, it is a wonderfully crafted game, even if a little outdated now. You have to enjoy the genre, mind you. But I think if you are saying the story is rubbish but maybe it doesn't need a good story then you missed a large chunk of what makes diablo, diablo - it's atmosphere and setting and everything.
thehippoz 5th May 2009, 23:25 Quote
rubbish! I love that word.. raaaabbisshhhh! I thought the game was well done, not bad for 2d at least.. I don't think any of us really played it serious though, more ball pump cheats offline then when we went online with each other- pretending we had actually grinded all that stuff/stats pretty fun.. I can see where he's comming from though- by yourself it probably wouldn't be any good.. but he didn't like titan quest either, and that was all about multiplayer

I mean the ending to titan quest was so disappointing.. but it was fun playing with people, some of the things like the turtle key gave you something to look forward to in the next playthrough
Elton 6th May 2009, 00:08 Quote
I can agree and disagree to some of your points.

Yes, Diablo 2 was a grindfest, and a great one at that, and yes it was very samey, but the thing that got me into it was open BN, just because you could use the potentially cheap yet hilarious hero-editor.

And the last good Bethdesa game will be Morrowind, FO3 and Oblivion didn't have that awesome shine to it.
Vimesey 6th May 2009, 01:36 Quote
I don't think he's saying the game is rubbish at what it did, to all those people saying he's being too harsh.

He jsut doesn't like what its doing, regardless of how good it is, obviously not his sort of game.
davidfield375 6th May 2009, 16:13 Quote
Diablo was the first game which showed me how great an RPG can be...oblivion blew me away when I played it.
Skiddywinks 6th May 2009, 20:34 Quote
I have to say Joe, I was hoping you would love it as much as I do. I can not wait for Diablo 3. I'm literally shaking.

Anyway, I appreciate you seeing two sides to the review, as it shows a level of respect for a game when a reviewer can appreciate that the game's mechanics are still very good, just not to their style, as reflected by your 4 and 8 scores.

Personally, I would have said 4 and 9, as I love the game, and also found it to be one of the few games around that is still loved because it is still a good game, rather tham just an aging novelty. This is demonstrated by the fact I am twenty and only recently played it for the first time, and still loved it. If it was merely a "good dame for its time", I would not have loved it, as is typical of old games i play.
willyolio 8th May 2009, 18:50 Quote
Quote:
I universally hate skill trees like the one in Diablo 2 because they serve no purpose other than to highlight the fact that players can only progress in the way and pace that the designer determines
actually, that's completely untrue, and probably the core of your problems with gameplay. each and every character class has at least 3-4 different builds you can progress through if you plan ahead. it seems like what you did was just follow the lines, not aim for particular skills to concentrate on.
docodine 10th May 2009, 04:29 Quote
Joe, where did you get that second screenshot? It's not from standard D2.

If you didn't like regular D2, give the Median mod a try, it's pretty much a total conversion of the game, adds a lot of content and changes the maps and such.. Did you even play online? Closed Bnet is the bread and butter of the game, single player is boring and stale compared to online play.

Even character hacking is a good part of the game, dueling with other hacked characters, taking advantage of badly coded bits of the game, etc etc. (I haven't kept up, but is a sorc turned amazon fighting only with a shield still the standard duel setup?)
r0z|3o0n 11th May 2009, 00:34 Quote
I first played Diablo 2 on a AMD 233mhz with (I think?) 64mb of RAM. It was slow as hell but for the time it was awesome.

For its time it was huge, admittedly it's very linear compared to todays offerings like Oblivion or Fallout 3 but if you were coming forwards from Diablo rather than backwards from todays offerings it was staggeringly good.
I have tried to play it again recently and sure, it doesn't quite feel the same.

IMO this review is like watching years of TV then doing a review of radio and complaining that the picture quality isn't very good.
If Half-Life was released tomorrow you would complain that the graphics were crappy and the gameplay extremely linear but that doesn't change the fact that for its time it was revolutionary. Same goes for D2 IMHO.
CardJoe 11th May 2009, 10:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by r0z|3o0n
I first played Diablo 2 on a AMD 233mhz with (I think?) 64mb of RAM. It was slow as hell but for the time it was awesome.

For its time it was huge, admittedly it's very linear compared to todays offerings like Oblivion or Fallout 3 but if you were coming forwards from Diablo rather than backwards from todays offerings it was staggeringly good.
I have tried to play it again recently and sure, it doesn't quite feel the same.

IMO this review is like watching years of TV then doing a review of radio and complaining that the picture quality isn't very good.
If Half-Life was released tomorrow you would complain that the graphics were crappy and the gameplay extremely linear but that doesn't change the fact that for its time it was revolutionary. Same goes for D2 IMHO.

True, but

A) it's not a review, just a blog post about the topic so don't take it all too seriously ;)
B) I have played Half-Life 1 recently (I went through the whole series) and it STILL blew me away. Same goes for a lot of games, like Baldur's Gate 2, Deus Ex, Descent, etc.
Xtrafresh 11th May 2009, 11:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
True, but

A) it's not a review, just a blog post about the topic so don't take it all too seriously ;)
B) I have played Half-Life 1 recently (I went through the whole series) and it STILL blew me away. Same goes for a lot of games, like Baldur's Gate 2, Deus Ex, Descent, etc.
Damn you for mentioning it, now i have to install Deus Ex again! :(:(:(
diablo 2 25th April 2011, 14:34 Quote
Are u kitting me this game is awesome !
I always play with 1.10 version and have a lot of fun :)
I download cheated object ;)
Log in

You are not logged in, please login with your forum account below. If you don't already have an account please register to start contributing.



Discuss in the forums
Mionix Nash 20 Review

Mionix Nash 20 Review

30th July 2014

Mionix Naos 8200 Review

Mionix Naos 8200 Review

24th July 2014

MSI Z97S SLI Plus Review

MSI Z97S SLI Plus Review

23rd July 2014