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Carbot is getting into the Diablo 2 business, after the anniversary video he did for Blizzard! The new series, Diablols 2 just got its first entry (and a prelude Ep 0), and as usual with Carbot's stuff, it's a perfect(ly hilarious) encapsulation of a specific part of the game. For Episode 1 we get the absolutely flawless snowglobe that will forever remain a true representation of the Den of Evil + starting experience.
But there's more, as we also got a prelude to the series with episode 0, focusing on the cinematic and explaining how and why the Dark Wanderer burned down that tavern:
And finally here's the actual first D2 Carbot animation, the 20th anniversary Baal run video:
The Diablo 2 20-year anniversary is here! Blizzard have a whole lot of special treats for us on this monumental day, with some Baal-themed wings in Diablo 3, a new bust of big red himself, a great D2 retrospective with comments from the devs, as well as a lot of content from prominent community members, including this awesome Carbot animation.
(Update) Here's a better look at the Baal wings:
It may not be the Diablo 2 remaster announcement everyone was hoping for (and that Blizzard officially said wasn't coming on the anniversary), but it's a whole lot of great stuff! Check out the full details:
Diablo 2 Anniversary (source)
Multiple Great Evils (not just one). Hardcore mode. Gem socketing. Fighting demons outside for the first time. Diablo II has a legacy, and it’s in the bloodstream of every game we’ve worked on at Blizzard since the year 2000. It taught our artists, engineers and designers about mood and atmosphere, about randomness, and about what makes plate mail dress-up so persistently delightful. For DII’s 20th anniversary, we’re stoking the campfire and reflecting on a game that shaped how we make games. In the process, we’ve dreamed up some cool stuff, and we hope you’ll check it out and celebrate with us. To start, watch Baal Runz 101, a video developed by animation sorcerer Carbot Studios that we think is among his funniest work yet—and maybe the truest depiction of battling the Lord of Destruction. Read our Diablo II retrospective, with comments from Blizzard employees who’ve grown up developing, playing, and hanging out in the world of Sanctuary. Follow speedrun record-setter MrLlamaSC on a day-long live speedrun through Diablo II beginning at 9 am PT today. He’ll be playing through the entire game up to and including the Pandemonium event and conquering the “Uber” bosses. Bear witness to the unspeakable evil that is this limited-edition Lord of Terror bust. It looms 9” wide by 7-1/8” deep by 10-1/2” tall–the perfect size to desecrate your computer desk. Diablo’s never looked more terrifying (or more enthusiastic). Log in to Diablo III any time after June 29 to unlock your own tendinous Prime Evil Wings and represent the legacy you forged on Arreat Summit. Baal—as we saw in him in Diablo II—did not have wings, but try to imagine what they would’ve looked like if he did, and if you could’ve fastened them to your hero’s shoulders.
We’re honored that you’re still enjoying one of our favorite games of all time this long after its release, and we’re grateful to spend a little time reminiscing with you. Thank you, The Diablo Team
Here's the 20-year retrospective for Diablo 2, featuring a lot of Blizzard staff sharing their thoughts and memories of the game, including both franchise head Rod Ferguson and Diablo 4 lead Jesse McCree (but unfortunately not featuring some of the original developers, who recently shared their thoughts on a D2 remaster), as well as arguments on why the game has held up for so long and some fun things the community does to make the game more interesting.
"Oh, I'd fought sleep for days at a time... For when I dreamt, the memories would return. Memories of the Monastery, and the Evil which had claimed it! Dreams, memories... I couldn't tell the difference anymore." - Marius
Crafting a classic
When we set out to create Diablo® II over twenty years ago, the goals were seemingly simple: fix the biggest issues in Diablo® and expand upon the original game’s formula. And while its developers didn’t set out specifically to turn the action RPG genre on its head or influence game design for an entire generation after it, Diablo II ended up doing just that anyway.
The development team wanted Diablo II to be bigger, better, faster, and stronger than its predecessor. A story divided in distinct acts with massive, explorable outdoor zones replaced the claustrophobic Tristram cathedral. Five new character classes like the whirling Barbarian and pious Paladin (with two more added in the Lord of Destruction® expansion, the Assassin and the Druid) expanded far beyond the basic Warrior, Rogue and Sorcerer archetypes from the first game. These new classes, in addition to featuring greater gender and ethnical diversity, each feature 30 unique skills to choose from instead of the single shared spellbook from Diablo. Certain abilities like the spin-to-win Whirlwind, the Paladin’s beneficial auras, and the Necromancer’s summoned minions would become staples in many of our games after. Finally, more powerful items, with bigger stat variety than ever, allowed everyone to truly express themselves through their choices in character class, gear, stats, and skills.
Many of us here at Blizzard have fond memories of playing Diablo II. To us it represents childhood memories, friendships created, endless entertainment, and it inspired many of us to join the video game industry as we grew up. Read some of our favorite tales from the office.
Blizzard Employees on Diablo II Rod Fergusson – Head of Franchise, Diablo
What Diablo II means to me is the connection I have with my brother. He’s nine years older, so growing up I often felt like an only child, especially after he left home for university when I was eight. Over the years since, one of the ways that he and I have stayed connected was through video games. After all, he was the first person to introduce them to me.
Flash forward to 2001 and we’re living 1400 miles apart – he’s in Winnipeg, Manitoba and I’m in Seattle, Washington. To stay connected, we’ve decided that every year I’m going to take a long weekend and fly to his place and play video games all day, every day for four days. That year, the plan was Diablo II.
The day that I arrive, June 21, 2001 is the day that the Lord of Destruction expansion was released and so we stopped at the store on the way home from the airport to pick up two copies. For the next four days straight, we did nothing but play Diablo II co-op. After many hours, much caffeine and very little sleep, we actually finished the main game AND the expansion!
That bonding experience was so meaningful to my brother and I that we still talk about it to this day. In fact, when I told him about my taking the job as the Head of the Diablo franchise at Blizzard, he texted me the following – “The Diablo II expansion Lord of Destruction came out on June 21, 2001. On some level that feels like a long time ago but also feels like we just did it. One of my better brother memories.”
Lance Kimberlin – Product Manager, Battle.net & Online Products
After the first time I heard (and jumped from) "Ah...Fresh meat!" I was in love with Diablo. I put Diablo II on hold at Babbage’s in 1999 and waited for what seemed like forever to finally receive my copy—Collector’s Edition #23097 of 70000. I still have the box, the disks, and the epic Diablo action figure. How many hours I spent in game? Uh . . . we’d rather not talk about it.
Jesse McCree - Lead Game Designer, Diablo IV
I love Diablo II because it's super fun! It came out early in my career and was one of the games that helped me grow as a game designer by leading me to understand the importance of simple but well executed game loops and controls. More than anything, I love the tone and world of Diablo II. It's still an inspiration as a Lead Game Designer for Diablo IV!
Lily Gardner – Associate Game Producer, Diablo IV
Putting what Diablo II means to me in concise words that don't amount to a novel may be somewhat difficult, but considering the impact it's had on both my love of games and my career within the games industry (especially here at Blizzard), it would be a shame not to try!
In my younger years, I certainly was no stranger to games. I grew up watching my dad play games and code on his PC, and eventually transitioned into playing games of my own—from a Sailor Moon puzzle game to The Sims, and more. However, my first introduction to Blizzard was through Diablo II and Lord of Destruction.
When I look back on the summer before I turned 12, I think of all the memories I made playing as an Assassin—this fierce, female whirlwind of strength and prowess—and exploring spider caverns, marveling at the level of blood and gore, and cursing my lack of foresight and forgetting to stock up on Town Portal scrolls. I also remember cackling endlessly about a certain secret level. . . .
Much of that fondness for all things dark and demonic, as well as engrossing myself in a game for weeks on end, hasn't faded, and I attribute much of that to Diablo II. Without my experiences in Sanctuary, I may not have ever had the desire to work at Blizzard, or in games, or my somewhat gothic sense of taste may not have ever developed.
So, thank you to Diablo II and all of the talented, incredible people who made it a reality!
Over the years, elements of Diablo II’s design would find their way into several other Blizzard games, whether because they solved a specific need for that game, or simply because they were just fun to bring over. Warcraft® III included random item drops selected from specific loot tables, and hero units who had experience levels and skill points to be distributed, allowing those heroes to be built to suit the player’s strategy.
Later in World of Warcraft®, Diablo II’s iconic skill tree system would influence the talent system from the original release all the way through the Cataclysm™ expansion. Diablo II’s influence is palpable in everything from the three different skill trees per character class to the point distribution system, which allowed players to customize their characters and rewarded them for investing points in certain skills by unlocking more powerful abilities.
Some of Diablo II’s most powerful enemies—Champions and Elites—terrorize the battlefield by challenging the heroes with an unpredictable array of randomized powers. The notion of adding random enemy power increases as a way to further challenge and reward players lives on today in World of Warcraft’s Mythic Keystone Dungeon affixes, Starcraft® II Co-op Commanders, and of course in Diablo® III.
The secret to immortality
Today, Diablo II remains popular, and the very dedicated players enjoying it in 2020 continue to find new ways to make it their own. While some prefer the dramatic changes that only the modding scene can provide, others simply choose to creatively engage in Diablo II with self-imposed restrictions. Some variants include:
No gear is allowed in a naked run. No one can pick up any items other than potions. Players agree to rely only on their class skills and teamwork to prevail. Each class brings unique utility that helps the group succeed where a single player would fail. Naked runs usually go up to the completion of the Pandemonium event and the conquering of the “Uber” bosses—all while wearing no items at all!
Ironman is simple in concept. Eight players start new Hardcore characters. Everyone plays together until level 9 while only using items they find—no previously found gear allowed. At that point, the team goes back to town, goes hostile on each other, and then duels to the death. Last one standing is the winner.
Different classes and modes (Hardcore or not) in addition to the randomly generated maps and items make Diablo II very exciting to speedrun. World records for fastest completions are broken frequently, as emergent strategies (and a little luck) keep firm records from going unchallenged for long.
The Holy Grail:
The goal of the Holy Grail quest is to single-handedly collect every set and unique item in the game (meaning you must see the item drop, no trading allowed!). Since this is mostly a single-player challenge, some players like to use spreadsheets or apps to keep track of already dropped items, while others use mods that add infinite stash capabilities to the game in order to keep every item in their impressive collections.
Evil lives on
As we look back on twenty years of Diablo II, we see how the lessons we learned from the game have shaped the last two decades at Blizzard, and we expect it to continue to shape how we make new games (especially Diablo games) in the future.
No matter where you were when it all started, or when you decided it was time to play Diablo II—we’re glad to be able to share these memories with you. Here’s to twenty more years in Sanctuary, where brave souls continue to fight to rid the world of Terror, Hatred, and Destruction—while traversing eerie, dark places, and collecting the shiniest loot. Cheers!
After a new rumor that came out a while ago, based on nothing but the 20 year anniversary of Diablo 2's release and the fact that the IGN Summer Game Fest is going on, we actually got an official blue response to that claim stating that there will be no more Diablo-related announcements coming this month! But we did find out there will be some "fun activities" around the anniversary, whatever that means. Some remain convinced that we'll see a D2 remaster announced during the IGN event, again only based on the fact that Blizzard are participating (but they've already announced Mei at the event, so that might have been it.
Regardless of the actual announcement date, we still don't even know if a remaster is even happening. The most recent (solid) news on the matter was the Vicarious Visions job posting, but that one isn't anything close to definitive either. The best argument for it actually happening is simply the fact that Blizzard have been remastering most of their Classic lineup of games, and D2 is certainly a crowd favorite, so it just makes a lot of sense in general.
D2 Remaster Announce (source)
Hey all -
We don't usually comment on rumors, but before this hype train goes off the rails we wanted to clarify that there are no upcoming Diablo announcements in June. The minions of hell are hard at work getting ready for the start of the next Diablo III Season, bringing you the next Diablo IV quarterly update (very) soon™, and we have some fun activities planned around the upcoming 20th anniversary of Diablo II.
IGN had a chat with original Diablo 2 developers Max Schaefer (Executive Producer, co-founder of Blizzard North) and Matt Uelmen (Composer), and while talking about their latest project, Torchlight 3, they were asked about the rumored Diablo 2: Resurrected remaster. First, Schaefer talked about the actual remastering itself, and the technical hurdles it might involve:
Then the two talked about the mature side of the game, and what they were able to show off since it was pixels (and a more lax era for things like that, with Blizzard being a smaller company), with a concern there would be some pretty hard decisions on how to recreate some of the more mature scenes in current engines. Uelemen also said that as long as it has more violence, gore and nakedness, it would stay true to the spirit of the original.
Check out the full IGN article, including the full video here!