Multiplayer Mode (And The Almighty Battle.net)
Diablo 2 also has a multiplayer mode although I can't comment too much on it because I haven't played enough of it to become any kind of real expert. You should be advised at the very least that an entire micro-economy has sprung up around acquiring, stockpiling and reselling magic items in Diablo II multiplayer mode. (Just do a quick Google search for 'diablo 2 items' to see what I mean.) Indeed, last time I checked, which was spring 2008, you could not play Diablo II online for more than 15 minutes without having somebody enter your game with the sole purpose of using the in-game chat system to advertise some website featuring Diablo 2 items for sale.
Unfortunately this has led Battle.net —Blizzard's free online server— to impose very stringent policies on magic finding and muling —among other things— which then has the effect of inexplicably banning legitimate players from the server (albeit, typically a temporary ban lasting only 15 minutes). This means you may get unceremoniously banned from Battle.net servers if you accidentally engage in a style of gameplay that mimics those who use the multiplayer mode to specifically find high quality magic items with the purpose of stockpiling and reselling them.
In fact, there is even a thread on one of the official Diablo II forums explaining that yes, many players are getting temporarily banned from the servers for no apparent reason, stop asking about it, we have no explanation, we are the almighty, bow down before the one who serves, etcetera ad just suck it up. And although many do just suck it up and deal with it and although I have managed to play for many hours online uninterupted, I found these inexplicable temporary bans annoyingly random and frequent enough to —in my humble opinion— render Diablo II multiplayer mode unplayable. Compare this to single player mode where I can play as long as I want with absolutely no interuptions and.. well... you do the math.
But hey, it's all good. I bought the Diablo Battlechest pack mainly for Diablo II single player mode anyway so as far as I'm concerned, I got a collosal amount of bang for my buck.
Extended Whine-and-Bitch Dept.
Well okay I confess. I do have some other gripes about Diablo II. This mainly has to do with the hirelings but there are a couple or three other things as well:
- Forced to take on a hireling — Unlike the classic Diablo II, the Lord of Destruction expansion pack forces you to take on a hireling after completing the Sister's Burial Grounds quest in Act 1 whether you like it or not.
- Hireling turned game into a cakewalk in Act 1 — Playing as the Barbarian in Act 1, the hireling earned from completing the Sisters' Burial Grounds quest turned the game into a cakewalk. I solved this problem by engaging in the nasty little bit of business of killing off my hireling as soon as possible, i.e., I immediately led her into an impossible situation where she would get surrounded by enemies and then I just kind of, you know, (*ahem*) abandoned her (yeah I know, some friend I am).
- Duriel was just too damn tough for the Barbarian — This is also related to my hireling gripe in that all of a sudden, at the end of Act II, it appears essential to take on a hireling in order to defeat the act's boss monster, Duriel. Initially, what I ended up doing was taking on a hireling just before facing Duriel and then simply using him as 'cannon fodder' while I had my Barbarian cowering beside a town portal taking ranged potshots at Duriel using the double throw skill. All in all, this was a very cowardly, non-Barbarian way of defeating this particular act boss. (UPDATE: I have since developed a new method of defeating Duriel using the Barbarian. Please see my Youtube video on how to kill Duriel as the Barbarian using NO TOWN PORTAL and NO HIRELING).
- Monsters respawn after saving and exiting the game — After saving and exiting the game, the next time you fire up Diablo II all the monsters that you had previously killed on any explored or partially explored levels will reappear or be respawned necessitating you to kill them again in order to progress through the game. This sometimes made for gameplay sessions that lasted much longer than I wanted them to as the overall strategy in each play session eventually boiled down to locating and activating the next 'waypoint' (preset teleportation squares) so that I could begin the next play session deeper into the game. Blizzard should have either allowed the player's town portal to be saved along with other saved game data —thus enabling you to pick up exactly where you left off— or simply make respawning monsters an option in the single player game menu.
Okay, rant over... :o)
Despite my criticisms, Diablo II is a fantastically engaging game that comes with eight megatons of replay value. Buy it. Period. If you're a computer RPG fan and you don't own this game, shame on you. Seriously. Diablo II easily tops my 'desert island pick list' (stranded on a desert island with only your computer and one video game).
The Diablo Battle Chest pack (which is what I would recommend) includes the following:
- Diablo I (1 disk)
- Diablo II (3 disks)
- Diablo II Lord of Destruction expansion (1 disk)
- Diablo II Lord of Destruction game manual
- Diablo II Strategy Guide by Brady Games (288 pages)