This old man remembers playing the first Diablo back in high school (yes, this is literally old school for me), when choices were relatively simple and technology was relatively basic. You had 3 classes, 6 equipment slots, a small inventory, and your spells and gear came from manually distributed stats and tomes. And even then, during the age of folks playing together online over dial-up, Blizzard and Blizzard North put together a solid game that had Game of the Year awards and massive sales to its credit. Now Diablo III, the current iteration that has much more control, content, and character customization, is going old school once more by renewing their Darkening of Tristram event.
Those familiar with the game know that your base of operations is New Tristram, after the destruction of the originally named village after the events of the first game. The Darkening of Tristram is a short and fun add-on that lets players experience the quests and bosses of the first game, which was originally part of Blizzard’s Diablo 30th anniversary party last year.
What makes this fun is that in addition to the old bosses and classic loot. Blizzard made the graphics of the levels delightfully retro the second you enter the portal, throwing it way back to how they looked in the original entry into the series. To give you some idea, back in the day on original release, the requirements were a Windows 95 box packing 8MB (yes, megabytes) of memory, a 2X CD-ROM drive (if you’ve ever seen one before), an SVGA video card, and a simply blazing 60MHz Pentium processor.
For those that have forgotten or have never experienced it, SVGA means 800×600 on a 14 inch monitor. And for online play over said dial-up modem (mine was 33.6k) you needed a full SIXTEEN MEGABYTES. So right now, I’m guessing you’re either feeling pretty old or wondering what civilization must have been like on double digit MHz processors and dial-up internet service.
Well kids, respect your elders. Because all of us that lived through it when it was live thought it was simply glorious.
The gameplay stays identical to what you’re used to in Diablo III, but quests like the Halls of the Blind, squaring off against Archbishop Lazarus, and standing toe to toe with the (original) Butcher will take you back to a simpler time. And let’s not forget the original recipe highest level loot we all farmed and ground out for Lord knows how long – the Godly Plate of the Whale, King’s Sword of Haste, and the Archangel’s Staff of the Apocalypse – complete with classic Diablo icons. The same eerie music was there too, adding great ambiance while you fight your way to the Dark Lord. You can use any character you have to play through the event, but Blizzard’s official recommendation is to start with a level 1 toon to get the full experience. I agree, because I went through it on my Torment IV barbarian and absolute facerolling was full effect.
Even with the original music, the graphics pared down and the throwback gear and in-jokes, the one thing I didn’t get from this was the actual fear that came with the first game. It might be hard to believe, but the first Diablo did provide some frights – you won’t get the stress we had running away from the Skeleton King when all we could do was walk, and you may not have that jump when you open a door and the Butcher rolls out by surprise screaming “Fresh meat.” Damn kids and your GeForces and Radeons and whatnot.
At any rate, you have until the end of January to rack up the achievement rewards and a couple of transmogs, one of which may or may not be a very brutal red soulstone jammed right into your toon’s dome.
Oh, and one more fun thing below before you all run out to Old Tristram. Have fun kids.