To Play or Not to Play Diablo 2

I have played a lot of Diablo 2 but for unknown reasons, I can’t stop thinking about the rerelease. In an effort to convince myself not to get it I have outlined a list of arguments and then, in completely self-defeating fashion, counter arguments, aka reasons why I should just get the damn game.

Why I shouldn’t play Diablo 2: It’s old

Diablo 3 is a better game and makes its predecessor feel dated and less awesome.

Why that argument doesn’t hold up: I didn’t like 3

Pretending for a minute I don’t routinely enjoy older games, I can entertain this position specifically aimed at Diablo style click-heavy ARPGs. OK, I am done entertaining. I played Diablo 3 close to launch and did not have a great time. Some of my negative feelings stemmed from the digital key reader my friend needed in order to even play the game, some were based on tired old arguments about aesthetics, and the rest comes from a legitimate feeling that the game simply wasn’t up to snuff.

This is apparently not a rare opinion, though while acknowledging the game wasn’t great at launch (and the auction house was bullshit), people seem to think it’s great now. This is not particularly rational, but I kind of don’t care. The bad taste in my mouth remains, I hate that it’s always online, I hate that they fired the Diablo 2 team, I hate that Jay Wilson was mean and made me cry macho gamer tears, and so on and so forth.

And anyway, I play old games semi-frequently. Something newer, shinier, and more accessible doesn’t always win me over – see Chris and my (never) upcoming post on the old versus new X-Com games for more.

Put your bones in the air like you just don’t care.

Why I shouldn’t play Diablo 2: It’s expensive

At 40 bucks, wouldn’t that money better be used on some new, million hour long JRPG?

Why that argument doesn’t hold up: I constantly waste money on worse things

This year I have bought multiple Jake Hunter games in a language I can’t read. I’ve purchased about a dozen enormous WRPGs on Steam. I imported some Gust RPG three-pack from the sexist GamerGaters at PlayAsia – Someone Something: Alchemist of the Somewhere, you know what I’m talking about. Then just the other day, I ordered Balan Wonderworld mostly because it sucks. The idea that I should spend my money more wisely is not new to me, nor is it capable of changing my behavior.

Why I shouldn’t play Diablo 2: It’s always online

To play this rerelease of Diablo 2, you need to be logged in to battle.net and generally speaking, fuck always online games.

Why that argument doesn’t hold up: So was the old version

If my memory serves me, I think the original release was set up the same way as this rerelease – single player is offline and doesn’t require internet, but multiplayer characters need to be logged into the dumb Blizzard network. Maybe the line between single and multiplayer was a little less defined in 2000 but I’m too old to remember. Whatever the case, offline single player and online multiplayer feels like an acceptable mid-point between actually owning what I purchase and being completely screwed over by a giant corporation who has more rights and political power than I do.

If Blizzard had copyrighted the concept of fires in video games From would still be making Cookies and Cream sequels.

Why I shouldn’t play Diablo 2: Blizzard sucks

Activision and Blizzard have had some terrible accusations of sexism. I say accusations because I am a bad writer, not because they’re not guilty. Should we be supporting companies that are so shitty?

Why that argument doesn’t hold up: Everyone sucks

This is not to dismiss the problems of sexism, racism, exploitation, disparity, etc. It’s simply to say if we actually attempted to live to some arbitrary standard of consumption, we would consume nothing. Your clothes were sewn by slave children. People died for the stone you gave your wife. We fought a revolutionary war because rich business owners wanted direct control of the government and legal system. We suck.

That’s not to say all boycotts are worthless. Effectively they are, but if they are meaningful to you then they’re valuable. (I won’t buy the new Metal Slug game because SNK is now owned almost entirely by a murderous prince.) Maybe I am just making excuses for Bobby Kotick, but the Activision behaviors seem to mimic many corporations, including Nintendo of America. It sucks that the company is evil, but it’s hard to be surprised in a world that rewards evil.

And I am still coping with my strong affection for many Woody Allen movies.

Apparently the rerelease makes the characters look more weathered and less like models and gamers sure are angry about it.

Why I shouldn’t play Diablo 2: I’ve already played it

This is the argument that keeps me from getting it. I can’t overcome the thought that I should play other things because I value new experiences. Or I like to identify as a person who values new experiences, kind of like I identify as a person who reads. There are so many other games that require my time, like Balan Wonderworld.

Aspirations aside, I put so much time into Diablo 2 already. My freshman year of college revolved around the title, beginning with the purchase and stoic study of the strategy guide that came out before the game. My roommate and I put hundreds of hours into the grind and I still hate the third area (jungle and whatnot).

Finally, I would likely fall off quickly like the last time I tried getting back into it. Maybe it was a decade ago or so, but I convinced Chris and Pat to get the game and the three of us played together. Or maybe that was Torchlight 2. Either way, I have gone back to Diablo 2 and the obsession never lasts very long. Unless it was Torchlight I was playing; it would be hard to gauge my Diablo 2 obsession based on playing some other game.

Instead of a picture of “gameplay,” here is an image of the best part of the game – looking at items and stats.

The new age hippy kids of today would say that I should play what I want. These hedons endorse removing a game from your system within the first 13 seconds of play time if you aren’t having the time of your life and then using the disc as a surface off which to snort coke. They can’t wrap their avocado-flavored vaping minds around the idea that sometimes there are more important things than pleasure, like withholding pleasure from yourself for no discernible reason.

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1 year ago

I say don’t play it, but that’s partly because I’m biased against Diablo.

But also, I’ve come to a point in my life where if I’m feeling some sort of ethical dilemma about my entertainment, I usually (though not always) find that if I walk away from it, I don’t have any regrets later.

But that’s just me.

1 year ago

you convinced us to play diablo 2. i still have the boxed copy in my cabinet of video game stuff. series has never appealed that much to me other than as a way for us to play multi.

1 year ago

One of the features they added in the remake, which I assume is included in single player mode, is a “shared stash” between all your characters. This actually makes single player a viable Diablo II experience. But if you’re playing single player, you can just use a mod that’s existed for years to patch the base game (IIRC, PlugY is the one that does this).

I also got a hankering to play last year, and got enough out of just playing SP for several weeks switching between characters or making new ones to try out items I had found. You can even enter a CD Key from the original games to get downloadable copies (one of Blizzard’s few good moves this decade).

For me the most fun comes from melding the items you find and the characters you want to play into a complete build, so with a stash of items to choose from you can start to see what other characters might be viable.

It’s still more fun in multiplayer, for sure, but scheduling a multiplayer game is harder than it used to be. Things get much less fun in SP as you reach Hell difficulty and monsters are immune to whole classes of damage, so for me that was a natural “out”.

I’m sure we’ve talked about it before but my experience with Diablo 3 is similar. Bought shortly after launch, didn’t make a single meaningful decision in 5 hours, set it down and haven’t played since.

1 year ago
Reply to  chris

In retrospect, this article is somewhat funny because Jay and I both picked up Resurrected after it went on sale.

I’m actually surprised that Blizzard has made major skill power adjustments that make many classes (or skills) more viable than they used to be. It’s a big step forward for a game that’s been around for a long time.

I do feel a little bad giving Blizzard even $15. And even after playing dozens of hours, and knowing what I’m doing, Diablo II is an endless treadmill of incremental improvements – practically an idle/clicker game, depending on your build. The best you can do is optimize for how quickly you’re improving (really how often/how fast you can roll the dice on items).

Having gone through restarts, I’d recommend a sorceress or an assassin focused on traps if you’re looking for “how fast can I murder endless demons on a budget”. Sorceresses can teleport, while assassins are more durable, can improve their own speed and have better range Sorry, Jay. I remembered summon necro being more fun than it is.

Although the real winner’s move is never to get on the treadmill to begin with.