Diablo II: Lord of Destruction
|Diablo II: Lord of Destruction|
|Date||June 29, 2001|
|Platforms||Microsoft Windows, Mac OS|
|Genre||Action role-playing game, hack and slash|
Diablo II: Lord of Destruction (commonly abbreviated LoD) is an expansion pack for the popular Action Role-Playing game Diablo II. Unlike the original Diablo's expansion pack (Diablo: Hellfire), it is an official expansion designed by Blizzard Entertainment.
More than a standard expansion, Lord of Destruction not only added content in the form of new character classes and an additional scenario, it also dramatically revamped the gameplay of the existing Diablo II for solo and especially multiplayer. As a result, LoD is largely considered a "must-buy" instead of only being an addition, making it a huge multiplayer success and one of the most successful expansion packs of all time.
Story and plot details
The story continues where Diablo II ended. Two of the Three Prime Evils, Mephisto and Diablo, have been defeated and their Soulstones have been destroyed, preventing their return. However, the narrator Marius was tricked into surrendering the last Soulstone to a false Archangel Tyrael which was revealed to be Baal, the third brother and the very last remaining Prime Evil. Marius was subsequently murdered.
Baal is leading an invasion against the northern barbarian lands. His first attack, against the city of Sescheron, capital city of the Barbarian homelands, leads to the stage where Diablo II: Lord of Destruction is set: Harrogath. Situated at the base of Mount Arreat, it is home to the humans who are sworn protectors of the mountain. Baal is currently besieging the city and destroying any settlements along the way towards the mountain's summit.
Baal, the Lord of Destruction, is seeking the Worldstone, a massive crystal rock of great energies, built to prevent the High Heavens and Burning Hells from consuming the mortal realm completely into their respective folds. It is the source of all the Soulstones and their powers, so Baal wishes to obtain it, corrupt it and complete his brothers' plan to conquer the mortal realm and use it as a staging area to besiege the Heavens in the endless war between the two.
Lord of Destruction adds a number of new features to the core gameplay of Diablo II. These include:
- A fifth act taking place in and around Mount Arreat in the northern Barbarian Highlands, with an additional act boss, Baal.
- Ethereal items: These items do not fully exist in the mortal plane and appear translucent to the human eye. Because of this, they cannot be repaired and will eventually "deteriorate", so they cannot be used anymore, but they also have better characteristics and lower requirements than their repairable equivalents. However, some magical ethereal items are self-repairing, and some have sockets, and can be made indestructible by inserting a Zod rune.
- Runes: stones that give powerful attributes to a socketed item when placed in it or even more powerful bonuses when placed in a certain order forming a "runeword" (see Rune Words section below for more information).
- Jewels: items serving a similar purpose to gems in that they can be placed in socketed items, but which have random characteristics as opposed to the set characteristics of gems and runes.
- Charms: items giving boosts to character's stats when kept in the inventory of the player.
- Two new character classes: the Assassin and the Druid.
- An expanded private stash for storing items (double the size of the Diablo II stash).
- An alternate mainhand/offhand setup that can be switched between via a hotkey in gameplay.
- Hirelings as well as summons can now follow the player outside of the Act in which they were hired. They can also be equipped with armor, a helm, and a hireling-specific weapon (as well as a shield in one case). Hirelings can also be resurrected (for a price proportional to their level) when killed.
- Class-specific items: new items that only a specific character class can use. These items often contain class-specific bonuses, often adding additional skill points for that character class.
- Elite items: more powerful versions of items following the Normal and Exceptional items.
- New unique items, including many Exceptional and Elite Uniques.
- New set items, including sets that use Class-specific items (ie. only one character class can complete certain sets).
- The game can now be played at 800x600 resolution, up from the standard 640x480.
Rune words are a combination of specific runes that are inserted into a socketed item in a specific order, producing an enhancing effect on the item. Rune words are especially powerful in versions 1.10 and 1.11, although many of the more potent, higher-level rune words are restricted to realm ladder play only. All Runewords can be found on battle.net's homepage
Act V Boss Levels
There are several major bosses in Act V.
The player fights Shenk the Overseer in the Bloody Foothills, just outside Harrogath. He is an "Overseer" unique monster and is surrounded by Enslaved.
The player has to find and execute the fallen Barbarian elder Nihlathak in the Halls of Vaught. Nihlathak has the power to summon Ice Boars, as well as the Necromancer skill "Corpse Explosion". Nihlathak also possesses the Sorceress skill "Teleport" and the Druid "Arctic Blast" ability.
The Ancients await the player on the Arreat Summit, blocking further progress into the Worldstone Keep. The player must defeat all three Ancients in a single round of combat. Korlic the Protector utilizes "Leap Attack" in conjunction with a large polearm, Talic the Defender uses a sword and shield, and is a master of "Whirlwind", and Madawc the Guardian is skilled in the arts of thrown weapons, and uses the skill "Shout".
The player fights Baal in The Worldstone Chamber, after killing his pack of minions in the Throne of Destruction. Tyrael appears after Baal is dead, congratulating the player and opening a portal to the completion of the game and commencing of the next difficulty level.
One of the main features of Lord of Destruction is the addition of two new character classes.
The Assassin relies on her martial arts skills and her ability to lay passive traps. Her melee attacks rely heavily on timing and skillful switching of skills, whilst her traps suit a fire-and-forget style of gameplay. Carrie Gordon provides the Assassin's voice.
Her Shadow Disciplines tree contains a mixture of passive skills (such as Claw Mastery or Weapon Block) and buffs (such as Burst of Speed or Venom), along with a few spells such as Mind Blast which stun and confuse the enemy. She also can summon a Shadow Warrior or Shadow Master, two of the most powerful minions in the game. The Warrior variant can use the normal attack in addition to the two skills the player has readied for herself, while the Master can use any Assassin skill, including those the player does not know herself. Both shadows have skill levels proportional to the player's level in the skills, and the Master will favor the higher level skills. The ability to direct the Warrior's skill usage allows a degree of control over her unique among Diablo minions.
The Trap tree provides a few direct attacks, and more importantly, a number of summonable traps. The traps are stationary minions who cannot be targeted by enemies - they will attack any hostile target in range a certain number of times before breaking. Traps are generally either based on fire or lightning, though the level 30 skill Death Sentry both shoots lightning bolts and uses a skill similar to the Necromancer's Corpse Explosion. The blade trap skills are notable in that they confer a portion of the Assassin's melee damage into their own damage - the Blade Fury, easily the most useful of the three, does 3/4 of the Assassin's normal melee damage, but at a large range and at a very fast rate.
The Martial Arts tree consists of charge-up skills and finishing moves. Attacking with a charge-up skill builds up charges on the Assassin, up to three per skill, and then the finishing move releases the charges in a single powerful blow. With the exception of the final charge-up skill, Phoenix Strike, however, each of the charge-up skills is no more effective than the normal attack; only the finishing blow receives any bonus (Phoenix Strike has a greater Attack Rating than the normal attack, in addition to building its charges). The charge-up skills include attacks like Blades of Ice and Fists of Fire, which add elemental damage to the finishing blow, and also skills like Cobra Strike, which adds life and mana stealing to the finishing attack. The ultimate charge-up, Phoenix Strike, uses a different spell for each level of charge (a Meteor for the first, arcing lightning for the second, and a Frozen Orb-like explosion of ice for the third), and typically requires practiced timing for releasing the combo points efficiently. The finishing blows are, for the most part, kicks, such as Dragon Talon, which releases a number of kicks in quick succession, and Dragon Flight, which teleports on to a target and kicks them, releasing any charges. Despite this intricate system, however, many Martial Arts Assassins will use Dragon Talon exclusively, as a kind of Zeal/Smite hybrid
The Druid specialises in nature-based magic, which provide a very large spectrum of possible character types. The Druid can effectively be melee, both small/fast and large/heavy hitting, or any of several types of caster, with direct damage spells, offensive minions, and support minions. Druids are characterized by large life, even when built like a caster. The Druid is voiced by Michael Bell.
The Elemental tree consists of the magic of earth and sky. The 'storm' spells have effects like Cyclone Armor, which protects the Druid from the elements, and Tornado, a vortex of swirling winds that moves somewhat randomly and can deal massive damage. The 'fire' spells are more earthly than the Sorceress's, with spells like Fissure and Volcano. The final Elemental spells are Hurricane and Armageddon; both create a storm that follows the Druid, damaging all who come too close. Hurricane is more consistent, damaging and chilling enemies within range. Armageddon, on the other hand, rains meteorites from the sky around the Druid, dealing substantial fire damage to any unlucky enough to be caught under them. Armageddon is also notable in that it is the only skill in the game that requires each and every other skill in the tree, including Hurricane, which is also a level 30 spell. In the v1.11 patch, "Windies" are very popular, as they are extremely durable for a caster, and a fully synergized Tornado can do very high damage, while Hurricane provides not insubstantial damage, and slows nearby monsters.
The Summoning tree governs the calling of natural allies to the Druid. Druid summons are notable for often being more for support than traditional minions. While the wolves and grizzly that the Druid can summon are traditional melee summons, the other summoning spells are a bit different. The first summon, Raven, does marginal damage, but is far more useful for the fact that they cannot be attacked, and will blind enemies by pecking out their eyes. In addition, the Druid can summon one of three Spirits, which provide Paladin-like Auras. While Spirit of Barbs provides thorns aura, Oak Sage provides massive life bonuses for all allies within range, making the Druid very party friendly. The Heart of Wolverine greatly boosts melee attack abilities, but usually the extra life afforded by Oak Sage is more valuable. Druids also can summon one of three vines. The Poison Creeper lurks underground poisoning random monsters, while the Carrion Vine and Solar Creeper consume enemy corpses for life or mana for the Druid, respectively.
The Shape-Shifting tree gives the Druid the ability to become an animal himself, with gigantic bonuses to life. Druids may either become a Werewolf, who is small and quick, or a Werebear, the hulking behemoth. Each form has its own special attacks, such as the Werewolf's Feral Rage, which causes the Druid to get faster and faster as he continues to attack enemies, and adds life steal to his attacks, and the Werebear's Maul, which makes the Druid swing harder and harder as he attacks, and adds Stun to his attacks. The two forms also share attacks, such as Hunger, which only does 25% damage, but has very large life and mana steal built in. It is worth noting that all of the Druid's equipment functions as normal when shifted (though the shifted forms have different animations and therefore different speeds for everything), so he continues to have his item's stats, and he can still block, for example. On the other hand, the vast majority of spells cannot be cast while in Wereform. The Druid's Summons, and the spell Armageddon, are the only exceptions to this.
Lord of Destruction is listed at Metacritic with an average rating of 87 (with one perfect score from Computer Games Online). It is described at Metacritic as an expansion that "should reinforce the staying power of an already legendary RPG." Gamespot awarded the game an 8.2 out of 10, IGN awarded the game an 8.8 out of 10 and Gamespy awarded the game an 88 out of 100.
Within the Diablo 2 community the expansion caused some controversy when Blizzard patched the original game with a patch that made Nightmare and Hell difficulties particularly harder than before; some players felt that Blizzard was effectively forcing them to upgrade to the expansion in order to find the items and gain the abilities necessary to deal with the new challenges.
Many players are also angered by restrictions set on how often games can be made: creating too many games in too short a time span results in a temporary ban of that player's IP address (Also Known as the "Realm Down" restriction, as it displayed this message in patch 1.10, and was implemented in mid-August of 2004). This was implemented in an attempt to stop bots, which would do incessant runs of certain characters, and to soften the impact of such play on the servers; many players will receive a temp ban often, as the most effective forms of item-finding involve repeatedly killing the same boss characters as quickly as possible. More recently, the Battle.Net servers have been configured to drop games in which players get their latency too high, in an effort to prevent duping. While it is effective at preventing the public dupe method, and therefore has done a lot to reduce lag on the Realms, some players find that they get dropped during normal play, and others abuse the system to maliciously drop others from play.
The expansion was released in Summer 2001 as version 1.07, the same version as the beta, but the 1.08 patch was available for download on the same day. Within a few months, 1.09 was released. This was the last patch for two years.
The much hyped patch 1.10 was released on October 28 2003, which radically changed gameplay. The main change was the introduction of "synergy" bonuses that would increase the power of one skill by investing in a different skill. The difficulty of monsters (especially in the Nightmare and Hell difficulties) was increased accordingly. This resulted in a greatly reduced variety of "builds" for each character, since only specific, greatly "synergised" skills were capable of dealing the large amount of damage needed to complete the game. Several high level unique items and new runewords were also added. While the most powerful runewords often required multiple rare runes, duping of rare runes made these high-end runewords widely available to the public. A new hidden Realms-only quest was also introduced. When enough Stone of Jordan rings had been sold back to NPC's on a server, Uber Diablo would appear, dropping a powerful unique Annihilus charm upon death. The Annihilus charm was untradeable and only one could be held on one character at a time. The general consensus amongst Diablo II players is that this quest was introduced to reduce the number of "duped" Stone of Jordan rings on the realms. Many believe that this plan has backfired, as the Annihilus charm is much more valuable than the Stone of Jordan, and that they have caused more duped Stone of Jordans.
The patch was preceded by the Rust Storm, a sweeping clean-up of most hacked, duped, and otherwise illegitimate items on the Realms. The patch also introduced the Ladder, officially a competitive mode of Realm play that lets the player record his or her name on a list akin to the "High Score" listing in arcade video games. Several runewords and unique items are only available on Ladder. The Ladder is reset periodically – when this happens, all Ladder characters are converted to normal Non-Ladder characters. This creates a separate, initially 'dupe-free', economy on Ladder, and a fresh and equal start for all Ladder players.
The ladder was reset twice in two years, the first being in July 7, 2004, at which time a batch of new "ladder-only" rune words was released a few months into the second ladder season. During this period, known as Ladder Season 2, there was a competition race held by Blizzard to get to Level 99 first for each realm; this was one of the few events Blizzard held for Diablo 2. The first character on each realm to reach level 99 was awarded a prize pack which consisted of a Blizzard T-Shirt, A Signed Copy of the Collector's Edition of World of Warcraft, a toy Warcraft 3 statue, and a Blizzard CD wallet. The race was an intense power-levelling and baal/diablo run competition, and was most notably won on the USWest Realm by Tifas-Revenge, a sorceress, on August 26, 2004.
The second ladder reset took place on August 5, 2005, just after the release of patch 1.11. The third reset took place June 25, 2007, and the fourth reset took place in June 17, 2008, with the release of Patch 1.12 which allows Diablo 2 to be played without the CD. No other changes were made in patch 1.12 to gameplay balancing, so patches 1.11 and 1.12 are literally identical. The ladder is now in its fifth season, and no ladder running competitions have been held by Blizzard since July of 2004.
Patch 1.11 was a surprise for many Diablo II players, since many people from the team who made the game (and the patches up to 1.10) had left the company to found Flagship Studios. The patch introduced, among various enhancements and minor bug fixes, another Uber-quest – this time involving all three Prime Evils. All of them must be killed to receive the Hellfire Torch, another unique, once untradeable charm (you can now place it in the trade window). On face value this charm is more powerful than its predecessor, but some players contest that the slight bonus to experience gained makes the Annihilus charm more valuable, especially when both the difficulty involved in obtaining it, and the high experience penalties in 1.11 are taken into consideration. The Annihilus charm is far rarer than the Hellfire Torch, since the Annihilus charm can only be gained with the collective sale of some 100 Stones of Jordan (exact numbers are 80-120), an expensive ring (and an item that was heavily duplicated by exploiting bugs in earlier patches, as it serves as a form of high-end currency). The Torch however just requires a player able to slay certain bosses on Hell difficulty, which is a much cheaper (albeit, harder) method. There were also some runewords added in Patch 1.11, but they are not widely popular or used often since they require high runes for item stats that are sub-par.
In early June 2006 there was a server side patch installed that allowed the movement of Gheeds Fortune Grand Charm, Hellfire Torch Large Charms, and the Annihilus Small Charm into the trading window. A few weeks later, another server-side patch was introduced that fixed a notorious bug involving the illegitimate stacking of damage-dealing auras on a mercenary.
In mid-August 2006, a Blizzard Representative posted a list of suggestions about things players have wanted to change. He stated that a patch is not guaranteed, but it is looking more hopeful, along with a Ladder reset (read a few paragraphs up for more information about Ladders).
In mid-February 2007, a server-side patch was installed which caused games to be dropped if anyone in the game's ping got too high. This was implemented in order to prevent a lag-based duplication method released to the public at the end of 2006 or the beginning of 2007. While dupe methods have existed for some time, most were known only by small groups, and the secret to them were closely guarded. This particular method, however, became widely known, resulting in extremely large amounts of lag on all realms as many attempted to lag the servers sufficiently to execute the dupe. While many find the game to play much more smoothly after the patch, many have also complained about being dropped from games during normal, non-abusive play.
In June of 2008, Patch 1.12 was released and the fifth ladder season is now currently underway. Patch 1.12 did nothing but allow people to play their Diablo 2/LOD games without the CD if you copy certain files. This was probably done to prevent people from using a common no-cd loading program which allows a single client to open multiple windows of Diablo 2. Disappointingly, there were no other updates to gameplay or any new rune words or changes otherwise as listed in the huge suggestions thread that was on the official Battle.net forums.
Most members of the Diablo 2 community may be familiar with Map Hack, a common program created by Mousepad and several others subsequently that reveals the map. However, Blizzard has been combating Maphack through the use of IX86Extrawork.dll in Patch 1.10 and its "Warden" Program, released around patch 1.11, which will immediately ban both the violator's account and CD-Key. According to Blizzard's EULA, it is illegal to use. Map hack is a gray area however, as there are some purists that believe Diablo 2 should be played without any modifications whatsoever, but several that believe it should be a part of the game since in some versions of Diablo 2 Single Player, once one reveals the map, it stays revealed.
While Battle.Net recently implemented a server-side patch to prevent the public lag-based dupe method, very large numbers of dupes still exist in the economy, and it is likely that duping is still possible, though there is no publicly known method.
Almost all high runes, that is Vex, Ohm, Lo, Sur, Ber, Jah, Cham, and Zod, as well as the majority of Ists and a large percentage of Ums and Mals, that are available for trade are dupes. Nearly all Stones of Jordan, Crowns of Ages, and Tyrael's Mights are similarly dupes. Items with perfect stats, such as 40% Enhanced Damage/15% Increased Attack Speed Jewels and 5% Faster Hit Recovery/5% Resist All Small Charms, are also almost all dupes. Extremely powerful rare and crafted items with known names, such as Imp Shanks (rare boots) and Armageddon Slippers (crafted amulet used for paladins), are literally all dupes, as the original was unique and certainly has never dropped again. Hacked or bugged items, like Wizardspike Gloves (a pair of gloves which has the stats of the Wizardspike Bone Knife) are always dupes, since it is very uncommon for items like these to occur. An exception is e-bugged items, that is ethereal items which have been socketed using the Horadric Cube. In a prior patch, ethereal items would lose their ethereal bonus when socketed, however this has been fixed, with the side effect of the bonus being doubled when the recipe is used. This has been unresolved, and as such new, unique (i.e. not duped) e-bugged items can, and are, made fairly often.
Blizzard has implemented a process known as the Rust Storm to delete dupes. While the 'active' Rust Storm has only been run a couple of times, and has not been run in a long time it did, in fact, delete all dupes, regardless of attempts to mask their illegitimacy. On the other hand, the 'passive' version is run every time a character leaves a game, and may or may not delete any dupes that character has. It can be avoided, and it will not delete all dupes every time it is run. Players may seek a 'temporary perm' for their duped items before leaving the game, avoiding the 'passive' Rust Storm. It should, perhaps, be noted that players can now fairly easily drop others from a game (basically by attempting the patched dupe method), and some players who play without dupes and are hostile towards those who do will, on occasion, drop games for the sole purpose of preventing dupe users from 'perming' before they leave the game, causing many of their duped items to be deleted by the 'passive' Rust Storm.
Another form of hacking found in Diablo 2 are 'Hacked Items'. Using programs like 'Hero Editor', users can edit items to make them more powerful than any other items in the game. Several websites also sell/give away hacked items. Hacked items can only be used in single player or Open Battle.net, as hero editor only works by reading game files.
The overall acceptance of dupes and other cheat items, and Blizzard's own inability or unwillingness to police their own trading forums, has resulted in the creation of "Legit" communities of Diablo II players.
In addition to hacking, there have been, and will continue to be several advertisements in-game via 3rd-party websites that sell items on the closed realms. These are done through a bot (which is illegal according to the EULA), which spams people while playing or in chat channels. There are also bots which play the game automatically for you (such as a "Hammerdin Baal Bot" or a "Magic-Find Pindle Bot"). This has created much controversy in the legitimacy of players on the ladder, as well as ruined the economy. Sadly, Blizzard has not updated it's Warden program to combat all these bots, and it is likely that the game will be abandoned once Diablo 3 comes out just as Diablo 1 was when Diablo 2 came out.