* Prices may differ from that shown
Plot: The plot involves Baal and his destructive trek through the Barbarian Highlands. You are tasked with stopping him before he corrupts the magical Worldstone and opens Hell. You start from where you left off spell and gear wise and gradually make yourself even better with more spells, weapons and armour. All are customizable. The better you are, the longer you will last. As well as the five previous classes to choose from, Lord of Destruction gives you the option of playing the game with either an Assassin or a Druid. Graphics: A new option to change the resolution of the game to 800x600. This allows you to see more of the battlefield and slightly prettier graphics although like with the main game, they still look dated. Controls: Pretty simple. One mouse button for this, the other for that. All there is to it really. Although it may sound a bit boring, it gets quite addictive after a while. Lifespan: Depends on what you want from it I guess. If you want to get to maximum level and get the best gear possible then you're looking at month's worth of game. However, if you just want to complete the quests and stop after then you're looking at about half of the length to three quarters of the main game. There's also the option of choosing one of the other classes to try out or maybe playing with your original character but choosing a different talent tree to specialise in. Overall: This is a great expansion with the areas being a lot bigger then the main games areas and some of the dungeons even equalling some of the main games areas. It's not quite as buggy as the main game but you do encounter the odd one every now and again. However, like the main game, this is a great expansion and well worth playing considering how cheap it can be bought for nowadays.
Diablo II was in its self an excellent and groundbreaking game and the addition of the Lord of Destruction expansion is again excellent. Many an hour has been spent playing this game both solo and on battlenet. Thankfully most copies of Diablo II come with the expansion included. Adding to the existing selection of classes the Lord of Destruction expansion gives you the choice of two new classes the Druid and the Assassin. The Druid is a shape shifting spell caster and the stealthy Assassin is both a master of martial arts as well as being skilled in the use of traps and other fiendish tricks to deal with your foes. Lord of Destruction also sees the addition of an all-new act continuing the story, this is of course therefore Act V, access to this new act can only be done by those characters that have or will slay Diablo in Act IV. This act takes place in the icy Barbarian Highlands and leads the player through new adventures in a well thought out and planned environment leading up to the final battle with Mephisto for whom the expansion is named after. If you are a fan of Blizzard's entertainment games or Diablo II then this game is for you. Even though it is now a little dated graphically the game play remains excellent and the addition of two new characters and a new act give the game that extra playability. Battlenet (the online game playable with other people online) remains busy even now seven years after the release of the game and despite bigger and better games like World of Warcraft coming along. The Lord of Destruction expansion does just that expands the entire world of Diablo II with hundreds more magical items to find, new monster types and a whole new challenge. Please note this review is on multiple sites
Lord of destruction is an add on pack for the critically acclaimed hack & slash RPG. The expansion adds an extra chapter bringing the total upto five. The new chapter is set in the barbarian highlands, the player starts off in a town called Harrogath which is being besieged by the lord of destruction, Baal. He is looking for an object known as the soul stone at the summit of a nearby mountain, it is upto the player to stop him. You can use a character from the original game but once you convert them to an expansion character you won't be able to use them on the original game anymore, which, for the most part is no biggie. As well as an additional quest there are a wide range of new weapons and armours (numbering in the thousands) as well as objects called runes that when combined in specific order to certain items imbue it with immense power. Also a few other tweaks have been made such as an increased stash size (to hold more equiptment), the ability to switch between two weapon sets at the touch of a button and the option to use an increased screen resolution (better graphics). The game also introduces two new playable classes, the druid and the assasin. The druid can morph into ferocious animals while the assasin uses martial arts to subdue the enemy. Both classes are fun to play but I prefer the druid, the were-bear he can morph into is enormously powerful. As it's only an expansion, it carries a small price tag, I picked it up on Amazon for £4.50, well worth it at the price. This is for RPG fans in general and if you liked diablo 2 you'll love lord of destruction.
This is an expansion for Diablo 2. You need the original game to run this so if you haven't got that then a) bad luck, and b) you fool - its brilliant! The gameplay is exactly the same as Diablo 2 except there are a few more hotkeys and items. Lord of Destruction also introduces a 5th act accessible after you defeat Diablo at the end of act 4, and 2 new characters, the Assassin (female) and Druid (male). The assassin is an interesting character, somewhat similar to the Amazon in having specific weapon type skills and a single class summons. It also brings a range of traps and some interesting attack skills to round her off. She works well as a melee character with crowd control. The druid skill trees are summoning, casting and shapeshifting. The summoning and casting are done better by necromancer and sorceress respectively, and the shapeshifting turns you into a melee based were-wolf/-bear, better done as Barb. Overall I enjoy the new style the assassin brings to the game but I find the druid isn't doing anything new. Arguably the biggest benefit of the expansion is that it allows the resolution to go from 640x480 up to 800x600. This makes a huge difference to how the game looks and makes for a more enjoyable playing experience. The addition of Runes, and therefore Runewords allows you to take your high level character from Diablo 2 and make better equipment for him/her. Sadly the drop rate for high level runes is VERY low so it's unlikely that you'll get many of them. There is also an expanded stash so you have more space to store all the new goodies you find. The only other change/addition of note is that on Battlenet there are a number of world events which may occur once you reach certain landmarks. If you own and enjoy Diablo 2 then you should get this. It takes the original game and improves on some of the features, adds new classes and an act. It's also the most common MP game type. Again if you like this take a look at Sacred Gold or maybe Divine Divinity.
Fancy killing demons, flayers, beasties, necromancers and other players? Well this is just what you're looking for. This is another of those games that will eat away at your precious time. It's damn fine entertainment and will certainly keep you busy. You can play solo and online and the game has been updated several times over the years with automatic patches to enhance your experience. There are several characters to play with and this expansion introduces a druid and an assassin who both have their strengths and weaknesses. You start off pretty weak with barely anything to fight with. The first thing to do is wander the wastelands and get your hands dirty in anticipation of scavenging something to wear. At first the treasure is pretty mundane but with progress you can discover better items. There are set items to find (usually in green) which become enhanced once you find more of the set. The best items though have to be the elite items which are damn hard to find. There are 5 scenarios to traverse and this expansion introduces the realm of Baal. Three difficulty settings from normal, nightmare and hell are in place but it's going to take you a damn long time to conquer hell (unless you cheat!) Cheating. Alas this game is rife with cheated items. As soon as you enter battle net you're plagued with cheats and if you want to survive you've no option but to join in. You will get little twerps intent on engaging in pointless battles which can ruin the game. Personally I'd have liked Blizzard to have a duel zone where these individuals can leave the quest players alone! Having said that it's online where this game comes into its own. With its easy to play interface it isn't long before you're engaging in a cross European quest to bang Andariel (boss demon from level 1) on the head! I don't play this much these days due to the fact I've seen all there is to see. It played ok on Windows Xp and I've had no problems with Vista as of yet. Certainly well worth getting and if you ever bump into a character called Doomwager be sure to say hello :D
Whatever you do, please don't play this brilliant game unless you have a modicum of self control! I lost 5-6 years' worth of evenings thanks to the simple, but well-crafted 'tasks' of: a) Killing a lot of very nasty monsters b) Collecting stuff for Internet bragging rights This particular disc is a one act expansion to the original Diablo II, adding a challenge as well as some closure to the events of the original game. The heros must chase a series of diabolical foes across a richly rendered (but compact) world, completing a range of quests that boost their basic abilities and help to expand the storyline. Players can choose from a range of six staple characters (assassin, barbarian, druid, necromancer, paladin, sorceress) to do battle against their many foes. They can join up online with up to seven friends (or complete strangers) to make things easier - although difficulty does scale up as the party size increases. The five acts differ in size in both terms of physical size of the maps and the number of quests to be completed. For example the fourth act, while physically large, doesn't exactly have a lot to do in it. As a result, large chunks of gameplay are spent 'grinding' the same sets of high level monsters over and over again for extra experience and loot. While the basic concept of essentially linear quests and killing the bosses is a familiar one, Blizzard managed another coup in games development by making it particularly easy to trade online with your peers, meaning that a rampant virtual economy of pixels shuttled back and forth around the globe. Third party hacks, websites that sold items that didn't exist and trading communities with tens of thousands of members were spawned and many still exist. The game is enjoyable in itself, but many of the 'builds' are very item-dependant (hence the focus on trading). Once you've mastered a few characters that can handle the game itself well (Player versus Machine/PvM), there is still fun to be had designing characters that can beat on your peers (Player versus Player/PvP). Thankfully? Some of the trading communities are slowing down a little, in preparation for the release of the newest part of the saga - Diablo III. Play if - you're a casual gamer looking for a good, intuitive game with an online community Avoid if - like me, you're a bit obsessive with computer games ;-)
The inevitable expansion set for Blizzard's Diablo II can usually be found for the same discounted price as the main game itself, which nowadays can be as little as five pounds from major retailers, and it requires an install of the main game to run. Developed, like all expansion sets, to build upon the existing game and add new reasons for experienced players to keep playing, 'Lord of Destruction' succeeds in broadening the horizon as far as it reasonably could, but perhaps responds a little too enthusiastically to misguided criticism of the earlier game in cheapening the overall experience. As this is a review of the expansion set in its entirety, I won't go into the mechanics of the Diablo II game itself, something I will remedy with a future review. In the simplest possible terms, Diablo II is a roleplaying hack-n-slash-em-up viewed in isometric from diagonally above, in which the player controls a pre-set character and evolves them in their own preferred way, entirely through the repeated killing of monsters of varying size, shape and colour across a game map that changes with each new game. There are quests to be completed, with rewards to be gained, and the ultimate purpose it to kill the biggest boss monster at the end of each Act without dying too often. The most instantly noticeable addition in 'Lord of Destruction' is that of a fifth Act, tagged straight on after what was previously the end of the game, and done so rather clumsily. An icy environment was the obvious choice after the woodland, desert, jungle and hellish Acts of Diablo II, but fortunately the frosty Barbarian Highlands fit nicely into the game's established storyline. The layout follows the same pattern of Acts one to three, rather than the truncated fourth Act, with a safe 'town' location provided as a starting point by the pleasant warrior barracks of Harrogath, filled with the usual merchants and talkative townsfolk, and an extensive map across dangerous terrain, including caves and dungeons, to the ultimate confrontation with the Act boss (Baal in this instance) in its lair. Perhaps due to the greater focus on creating a single Act for the expansion, Act V looks and plays absolutely brilliantly, and it's clear that Blizzard's development team was attentive to feedback on what worked and what didn't in Diablo II, particularly it seems in regard to the unpopular third Act. The Bloody Foothills, the first hostile area outside Harrogath, is just about the perfect place to combat monster after monster and gain valuable experience points, presented as a narrow mountain path up to the Frigid Highlands that avoids the usual wandering left and right to find enemy encounters by conveniently making 'up' the only option. Fortified weapon towers and doors that must be beaten down to progress are nice touches that now seem lacking in the earlier game, and although both underground and exterior locations follow the same sort of pattern as all the previous Acts but with snow this time it helps that they look fantastic, a vast improvement over some of the more tedious and repetitive later Acts in regular Diablo II. The final confrontation with Baal is ultimately a bit of a let-down after all the pomp that went into summoning forth Diablo at the end of Act IV, but it's handled in a different and rather unusual way to avoid being too repetitive, even if it borders on arcade game territory in this final showdown. The second major addition aside from the fifth Act is the introduction of two new playable character types alongside the original five, in the form of the female Assassin and male Druid. The problem here is that, unlike the icy niche of Act V, the existing characters essentially covered all the bases, expanding on the basic trio of Warrior, Rogue and Sorcerer from the first Diablo game to present the mighty Barbarian, noble Paladin, swift Amazon, sinister Necromancer and wise Sorceress. Skilled in ninja-style combat, setting up traps and fighting hand-to-hand with specialised equipment, the Assassin most resembles the idea of the Amazon, while the Druid, aside from his unique ability to shape-shift into Werewolf or amusing Werebear forms, is more like a watered down mixture of the Necromancer and Sorceress. It's really no fault of Blizzard's that there was no gap left to fill, and these character classes have remained popular among players, but as someone who came to the expansion set a long time after having immersed myself in the larger game, I still have never quite accepted them. Nevertheless, the experience of controlling these new characters, particularly the Assassin with her charged attacks and clones of herself, is just about as different as the earlier characters were from each other, and although the Druid's ability to summon ravens, mammals and vines, and harness elemental magics of fire, ice and wind, are very similar to existing powers of other characters, there really is nothing else like morphing into a huge Werebear form maxed out for maximum longevity and having some friendly banter with Deckard Cain or Charsi. The rest of the changes made by the expansion set are all designed to compliment existing elements of the game itself, and it's here that my (perhaps snobbish) aversion comes to the fore, just as changes often irk old people. Everything has clearly been designed to improve the game based on players' feedback, and in many ways the game does benefit. The ability to add armour and weaponry to hired computer-controlled mercenaries is a huge benefit that prevents them from being a mere meat shield in later Acts, and the larger size of the player's Private Stash is hugely helpful compared to the miniscule amount of space afforded to store special items and gems in Diablo II. The expansion also adds some more all-important hotkeys for faster access to the characters' skills, and the option to play in the more detailed and distant 800x600 resolution for the first time, which can be helpful in seeing enemies approach from afar. Getting even more technical, the introduction of jewels and runes complicate the socketing system previously based entirely on gems and skulls, while character-specific items such as shrunken heads that can be used as shields only by Necromancers, that benefit specific Necromancer skills, or wolf heads that Druids can use as helmets are an intelligent addition the game, particularly in the early stages. A few of the changes make the game more fiendish, such as the larger physical immunity of monsters in the hardest game setting ('Hell mode'), which prevents melee characters such as the Barbarian from speeding through the game faster than magic-based players, and of course the fifth Act means an extended playing time before each difficulty setting can be completed, but it sadly seems that the majority of changes made by Blizzard were designed simply to make the game easier. Characters can now gain experience points far more easily than in Diablo II, especially noticeable at the higher player levels, and the quantity of unique and 'set' items (too much terminology to go into here) has been doubled from the regular game, the newer items generally being far more ludicrously generous in the benefits they offer. All of these 'improvements' lead me to grumpily un-click the 'Expansion Character' option whenever I create an online character and struggle through like we had to in the olden days, when Diablo was really about Diablo, none of this new-fangled 'Baal' nonsense, and we were content to make do with a smaller stash size and harder monsters. I still have to play off the expansion disc though, as my old Diablo II play disc is too mouldy and old. And no, I don't often play the first Diablo game and think they never should have made a sequel, as Diablo II is miles better. It isn't 1996 any more, granddad. Aside from my aversions to playing long-term on the expansion, especially in the online community which appears far more concerned with obtaining pointlessly fantastic items rather than having some fun killing brightly-coloured shrieking monsters, 'Lord of Destruction' is still a worthwhile and valuable addition to the Diablo II playing experience when used as an alternative. The fifth Act looks superb and is a lot of fun to play, making it easily the best since the first two Acts, and the quests have been well thought-out. It's also nice to see the Barbarians getting some attention in the storyline and having the opportunity to work alongside their brethren, and my character of choice the Necromancer gets the chance to pit his infernal skills against the villainous Nihlathak in his Halls of the Damned. I haven't even mentioned the musical score for this Act, which is perhaps the finest in the whole game in its epic symphonic majesty, though I'll always have the softest spot for the sitar-strumming of Act I, based on Tristram in the first Diablo game. Unlike the new character classes which seem very tagged-on, the fifth Act is a full and authentic successor to its predecessors, and the new items and possibilities grant even more life to a game that's still going strong so many years after its release, with news of a third Diablo game in the works. Both Diablo II and the 'Lord of Destruction' expansion are fairly old games now, and will play on computers with Windows 95 or NT 4.0 or higher (I've always played on Windows XP), and the expansion requires a maximum of 800MB hard drive space to install the full experience, including the pretty computer-animated sequences before and after the fifth Act. The game is all contained on a single CD which doubles as the play disc and replaces the Diablo II play disc after install, meaning the old timer can be stored away for a few years until you buy a new computer and need to re-install it, only to find that it no longer works. The expansion can be bought for £9.98 on Amazon.co.uk, and it requires the original game which can also be bought for £9.98. Just be warned that this ridiculously enjoyable and uncomplicated RPG may take over a substantial part of your life.
Expansion packs are a sticking point for gamers. Why spend nearly the same amount of money for a quarter of the material? Blizzard, the creators of Diablo, already know how to make a good addition to an existing game. Warcraft III enjoys the Frozen Throne package; Starcraft - possibly the most famous strategy game ever created - has the essential Brood War expansion. Both of these benefited so much from the extra content that it's difficult to find anyone who plays the original on its own. The same can be said about Lord of Destruction for Diablo II. Following Diablo's defeat in Diablo II, his younger brother Baal - the titular Lord of Destruction - raises a monstrous army and attacks the Barbarian homeland of Mount Arreat in an effort to avenge his brother's demise. The original game comprised of four Acts in which you'd do a few quests searching for stuff or - mostly - squishing big monsters. Lord Of Destruction adds a fifth Act that not only gives the opportunity to blast Baal and his minions to bits but also two new character classes, a whole wealth of new equipment and many other improvements to existing features that, in effect, creates an entirely new game. Joining the previous five characters from the original are the Druid and the Assassin. The Druid, like the Sorceress, has control over certain elements but with a more 'natural' side. Tornadoes and volcanoes will sprout out of nowhere if you choose the Druid. In addition he can also summon creatures, like the Necromancer, such as wolves or shape-shift into an enormous bear making the Druid a viable melee character. The Assassin gives an exciting edge to the regular hack and slash element of Diablo. She has a whole section of skills devoted to martial arts that utilise the new claw-class weapons to best effect. Instead of a single use skill like the Barbarian's 'Bash', the Assassin can 'charge' up an ability then release the charged attack with a devastating Bruce Lee-esque kick. Failing that, she can create a magical double of herself and leave very nasty traps for the monsters to run into. The major change to the equipment regards something called socketing. In the original, you could collect gems that could be inserted into your armour or weapons - which gave bonuses to your characters abilities (think 'Pimp My Longsword'). Lord of Destruction gives Runes, which have different effects depending on what part of equipment they're placed into. Placing Runes in a certain order creates 'Runewords' which always have better abilities than their constituents. For example, a quest reward in Act V gives you three runes: Ral, Ort and Tal. Placing them in that exact order into a three-socketed shield makes a Runeword, which gives a massive bonus to your resistances against the elements. There is a lot of new content but you really don't see most of it until you get to the higher difficulty levels that are - well - difficult. Despite the wondrous additions of extra doohickeys and characters with knobs on, there is a gripe or two. The additional monsters and areas of Act V do not do much for me. The schemes of the monsters feel out of place compared against the previous Acts, as there was always a prevailing sense of continuity, whereas the new areas feel rehashed and predictable with only bits of snow to cover it up. Put against more recent titles such as Half-Life 2 or Grand Theft Auto, Diablo II really isn't that pretty - but that isn't why people continue to play Diablo to this day. The moment Act V starts you are launched into a massive uphill battle in an attempt to break the siege. Catapults are flinging bombs and barricades line the mountainside. Coupled with the Star Wars operatic style music, the first few sections are reminiscent of the Lord of the Rings movies. Once you get past all of that it briefly returns to its predictable dungeon crawling. Thankfully, the closing battle does not disappoint. As a final boss Baal is a challenge, without being cheap. What attracts a lot of people to this game is the online element. Blizzard created something called battle.net many years ago. 'Bnet', as it is often shortened to, is totally free to use for anyone with a legitimate copy of Diablo and a modem. The game is exactly the same, except you can have up to 8 different players from around the world in one session. All the dungeons are randomly spawned each time, so you are never fighting the same area twice. Certain elements only exist when you're connected. Downloading the latest patch from blizzard.com will fix some bugs in the game, but also add in new features such as ridiculously powerful Runewords and strictly online-only events. The latest and most sensational extra to Lord of Destruction is called 'Pandemonium', or 'Uber Tristram', that involves fighting ludicrously overpowered versions of Diablo, Baal, and the third brother Mephisto. On paper it sounds impossible, but the hardcore group of online players of Diablo are already doing this fight solo in less than three minutes. Providing you keep within Blizzard's online policy and refrain from using third-party programs i.e. cheating - you can enjoy Diablo's online economy of rare items, the player versus player duels and even the accepted racism that pervades every internet chat room. Lord of Destruction can be played on Windows 2000, XP, ME, 98, 95 or NT 4.0 SP5 or greater. Minimum requirements are Pentium 233, 64MB of RAM, 800MB of available hard drive space, 4x CD-ROM drive and a Direct X compatible video card. You MUST have the original Diablo II game in order to install the expansion. It's also possible to play in 800X600 resolution. It can also be played on a Mac with a G3 processor with an operating system of 8.1 or higher. Same requirements as before. Requires video support for 256-color display at 800X600 though not recommended if computer meets only the minimum requirements. You need a keyboard and mouse to play. Lord of Destruction is masterfully done. Despite the 'expansion' stigma, you quickly realise that without it Diablo II simply would not be complete. But do your best and turn the computer off once in while, eh?
Opening Well in the regular Diablo 2, you have 5 characters you can be, A Barbarian, Paladin, Sorcerous, Amazon and a Necromancer, they are all good characters, and as you know, there are 4 acts in Diablo 2 (want more see my Diablo 2 Review), and the main bad guy is Diablo, but now, in the expansion, there is one person we have forgotten about... Baal! About It The worst of them all, the painful and destructive Baal (this part here on the review would be very effective with some hardcore music), he is on act 5, Horogoth, where the Barbarian's live. But dont worry, we have 2 new assistants, an Assasin, and a Druid (the Druid is like a Necromancer really), they are both very good in their own way, the Assasin is good when you are in dark area's, and the Druid is good at magic and summoning, the Assasin knows Kung-Fu, so watch out! My Point of View In my point of view, the best attack for a Sorcerous, is a Frozen Orb, and Lightning Strike, and Meteor. The best helmet for a Sorc is, Shako, that has got 125 defense, 2 to all skills, 2 to all atributes, and it is socketed, and it have 50% chance of finding a magic item. The best wepon for a Sorc is either, Swirling Criystal, or Ali Baba socketed twice. Act 5 Waypoints and Info On act 5 all the Way Points are called: 1. Horogoth 2. Fridged Highlands 3. Arreat Plains 4. Crystaline Palace 5. Frozen Tundra 6. Halls of Pain 7. Ancients Way 8. Worldstone Keep lvl 2 The first area you go in on act 5 is: Bloody Foothills, which is good, because you can do a thing what I call, a Bloodrun, which you start form Fridged Highlands way point, and go back to Horogoth, it gets you loads of experience points. Graphics The graphics on this game are experdensionally good, it is very detailed, and also a very good game. There are 6 quests in act 5, and the first one is Kill Shrenk, and once you've done that, you can socket any item you want, that is your prize. Internet When you play this game over the internet it is far much better, because you get more experience when you have more people in one game. In this game, you can have 1 side of holding weps, and then you have a second side aswell. And in this game, you get a bigger stash, and better wepons, and some rubbish ones. Battle.Net Battle.Net is the Internet engine for all Blizzard games. You can talk to mates, add them to your friends list and so on and so on. Other Blizzard Games Theres StarCraft, which is a Age Of Empires type game, Warcraft and its sequels, which is another type Age of Empires game, but better than StarCraft, and then ofcourse Diablo and its sequels. Technical Details Rating 15+ (ELSPA) Players 1 Minimum Requirements Requires Diablo II to run Win 95, 98, 2000, ME, XP P233 or equivalent 64mb Ram 800mb Hard Drive Space Star Rating... 4 star * * * *
Lord of Destruction expansion takes our hero through the frozen city of the barbarians harrogath, through Mountain arreat and in it in a Search for baal: the lord of destruction.In addition to the allready 4 acts this one adds one more full quested act. That's not all, the Assasin and the Druid are added to the character selection with all new spells and effects. Virtually no-one that plays online on battle.net is caught dead without this pack and it's hard finding someone that only plays Diablo2 original edition. Unconfirmed sources even statd that this 5-th act was made so a sequel chould fallow. I do not wish to let out the secret now, just play and you'll find out. ****************************** 1.10 adds new gameplay tactics with it's Synergy scheme so highlvl cookie cutting is getting to be more and more unuseful. It also fixes lots of old bugs as well as ads some new ones :)
The long-awaited expansion pack for Diablo II (so I'm told, I only started playing the basic game last year) adds 2 new character classes to the 5 that were available before, a whole new fifth act, with characters, enemies, quests and rewards, plenty of new items to the game, and alters certain things like the space available to store items, amount of experience given to characters, and the difficulty of enemies. The resolution can be made nicer too. This all sounds good, (unless you don't understand the jargon I'm reluctantly having to use and don't even know what the un-expansion game was like. In that instance, please read my review "8 Players and a Load of Cows" or failing that, a decent review on Diablo II), but does it make the game more enjoyable? Yes. For a while. If you are familiar with my last review at all, you may remember that I like to play online. In fact, so do most Diablo players- online excites the parts of the brain other non-modem options fail to reach. It's just so much more fun to go home, log on and hack up some monsters with one of your buds either from real life, or one who seems to exist solely within the realm of the game but actually has a house in Holland. The Diablo II expansion, unlike the expansion "Hellfire" for Diablo I, is also able to go online, but there is not much added in the way of online features for this expansion. Act V, or the Barbarian Highlands, is a worthy addition to the 4 exisiting acts from the Diablo II game, especially the starting town itself. Every necessary character- smith, wizard lady and mercenary pimp, are satisifed, and the snow effect makes a welcome change from the eye-irritating hell pits of Act IV. However, the new act is not without its disadvantages. The first area seems a little too obviously designed to cater for many online players' need for a 'quick level up' and a lot of the areas after that look exactly the same. Th ings are not made better by the presence of imps, recently voted Number 1 Worst Enemy Monster on Diabloii.net, albeit very unofficially and in a sort of smug, self-satisifed way by the columnist. This similarity ends however as the last two major areas of the game, the Worldstone Keep where arch-nemesis Baal is camping out, and Nihlathak's sort of crypt place that has a dead nice looking floor. As for the new characters to play as, it would have taken a genius at Blizzard to work out a niche that had not been satisfied with the existing classes: a nails Barbarian, holy Paladin, kind-of-evil Necromancer, elemental Sorceress and agile Amazon, and this must prove that Blizzard Entertainment are not into recruiting geniuses. Instead, we have the Assassin with her kicks, traps and combat moves; my personal worst character out of the 7 now available, but there are always people who like to use them, and a Druid with the ability to shapeshift into werewolf or werebear forms among other things. The only problem with these characters is that there was no way they could replace the 'old' ones in terms of popularity. The Assassin could dish out some power, but wasn't very interesting. Meanwhile, the Druid's interesting level is through the roof, but his summoning spells don't do much damage, even though they look amazing, and his elemental skills are simply weaker versions of the Sorceress' powers. The shapeshifting is powerful for a while, but the character soon starts to die more and more often. My biggest problem with the expansion is how more attention wasn't put in to making the Druid a more worthwhile character to use in comparison to the others. In terms of constant additions to the game, the size of a player's 'stash' chest in each starting town was made larger by popular demand. This made it easier for semi-regular players to store more gems they had found, and halved the number of item mules holdi ng hacked and duplicated armour by people so regular, they might as well live on Battle.net. Ahh, imagine that... oh, sorry. The screen resolution can now also be changed from the blocky 640x480 to a much nicer 800x600 which seems too far away at first, but is nice after a while. There's also a new whooshy sound when quests are completed! A small addition by the expansion which seems to have grown into something insane is the addition of many new items to the game. Suddenly, the items one had amassed in 'Classic' Diablo II, once considered "sw33t" are now considered "kr@p" by the average Expansion player, and the only items that go for any worth are ones that would even make Charsi sweat with their insanely high stats. Any eBay search for "Diablo" will produce, amongst cars, an unhealthy amount of accounts holding items being sold for physical money. It just seems that all these items have made people lose their way; they didn't buy this game to get a character to level 80 in three days, just so he can wear a Tal Rasha set. They bought it to beat up some zombies, plunder dungeons, and kill loads and loads of big cows. My personal experience of playing on the expansion, having previously engrossed myself in Diablo II online for a few months, was that there were a bit too many people. Gone were the days of logging on to the Diablo-II-GBR-1 channel and seeing about twelve players currently in limbo between trading or playing, with the occasional "I've been put into GBR-2. Must be a busy night tonight if the channel's full!" Now it was rare to see less than 5 channels constantly in use, and as for the trading screen, that thing makes me seasick. No one can operate as fast as some of these players seem to, with multicoloured ">>>> Got 888 ps soj rares need tal rasha ********" inundating your monitor with a little too much shorthand and far too many asterisks. So I moved back to Cl assic Diablo II. That's right, it wasn't just because my expansion disc got stolen/lost, playing offline is just friendlier and less stressful without the addition of the expansion I find. The expansion is very good as far as they go, any more additions and it might as well have been a "Diablo III," but the online is not for me. The last boss is also very disappointing, being much weaker than big bad Diablo at the end of Act IV. Oh, and a final point: once the game has been completed in all difficulties, a character's name has "Baron" or "Baroness" preceeding it on Diablo II. Sounds so much better than "Patriarch" and "Matriarch" on what is often known as D2X or LoD. For that I can only give the expansion 3 stars... well, that and everything else I've said.
******************** Update: Patch 1.09 This eagerly-awaited patch for the Expansion was released earlier this month. It makes a significant number of game changes. I'll review the most significant below. - Hirelings Some may have noticed that in v1.08 it was extremely difficult to get your Hireling (or mercenary) to level up with any decent speed. This has been fixed in the Patch, and a significant improvement should be noticed. - Nightmare Difficulty On Nightmare, the middle of three difficulty levels, the monsters' physical resistance was buggy, making it initially difficult for characters that rely on physical damage, such as the Amazon. This has now been fixed. - Runes and RuneWords Three Runes have been renamed: Jo > Jah , Shae > Shael and Po > Io. RuneWords are some of the best items in the Expansion and one of the most fun and satisfying to make, and were previously available only to those who played on the Battle.net Realms. Now, these are available to Single Player, Open Battle.net and TCP/IP Network games. - Gambling As in Classic Diablo II, it's now possible to gamble Set Items (green) and Unique Items (gold). However, the chances of doing so are terrible, much lower than the 5%/3% respectively in Classic D2. It's now also more likely to recieve a Rare Item (yellow) from gambling. - Item Stats Pretty much every Unique item in the game has had their stats changed by this patch, in some cases, significantly. Many base items have had their stats tweaked also. - Monster Drops Super Unique monsters (the ones that have a gold name AND are found in the same place in every game with the same name) now drop considerably better items than regular Unique monsters (ones with a gold name, but random name and location) The Countess, boss of Act 1 Quest 4, now has a high chance of dropping a Rune when you kill her. - Single Player D2 Significant impro vements have been made to the Single Player game. My opinion below is largely based on the multiplayer game, because on Single Player, monsters have fewer hit points and give less experience than on multiplayer, where their hitpoints and experience increase with additional players in the game. Now, you can simulate additional players in a Single Player or Network game, making experience much easier to come by. As mentioned above, RuneWords other than Ancient's Pledge have now been added to Single Player also. - 6 Sockets In v1.08 it was impossible to find a bow or sword with more than 5 sockets. 6 socket versions now drop in v1.09, allowing, among other things, the ultra-powerful RuneWord Silence to be made in them. (In case you're interested, the combination for Silence is Dol + Eld + Hel + Ist + Tir + Vex in that order) There are many other less significant changes. Consult the patch's Readme file. Unfortunately for balance, there exists another large imbalance in the Expansion, discovered in v1.08 after I wrote the original article - the Sorceress. Her Firewall spell in particular is far too powerful, doing around 4500 damage per second. Playing as her is therefore very easy, and there are literally hundreds of Sorcs who have reached Level 99 on Battle.net. Regrettably, the v1.09 Patch has done little to correct this imbalance. ******************** The original Diablo II was one of my favourite games of last year. Widely criticised by UK terrestrial gaming magazines and hardcore RPG fans for its simplistic graphics and similarity to Diablo I, the game in my opinion set a new standard in sheer addictiveness, particularly in the multiplayer arena thanks to Blizzard's free gaming service, Battle.net. Well, as of a couple of weeks ago, Diablo II has been updated. Actually, scratch that. This Expansion Set makes Diablo II into a whole new game. The Expansion Set has been cunningly titled 'Lo rd of Destruction'. Those of you who have played Diablo II will know that this means that it's Baal, the Lord of Destruction and last of the Prime Evils, that must be stopped this time. In order to do this, you?re going to need a whole new Act, and Blizzard have provided one in the form of, well, Act V. More on this later. Oh and there are a couple of new character classes you can play as, the Assassin and the Druid. Again, more on these later. Sounds like standard expansion set fare so far, right? Wrong. 1. The Great Character Conversion Uproar 2. The Expansion Set Itself (detail on all new features) 3. General opinion and info. 1. - The Great Character Conversion Uproar - Before I get into what makes the Expansion so great, there's a big issue that's putting a load of people off that I want to clear up. This may take a while, but it's important. If you don't want to know, then skip on down to The Expansion Set Itself. Blizzard, to put it frankly, weren't happy with the way people played D2. As you may know, Diablo 2 featured three difficulty levels. You started out on Normal, when you completed the game at that level (killed Diablo in Act IV) you could progress to Nightmare, and then Hell after completing that. Well, Blizzard intended Normal to be relatively easy, Nightmare to be difficult and Hell Difficulty to be very, very challenging. With classic D2, it's not. Any Whirlwind Barbarian* or Static/Orb Sorceress* could put the right points into the right skills and be nearly invulnerable in Act IV on Hell Difficulty (where the best item drops and experience is to be had). This is all changed in the Expansion. Blizzard have made Hell Difficulty into its namesake. It's been put back to how they intended it to be - a skill level which requires teamwork, godly items, clever tactics and possibly a combination of the above to be even possible. This in my opinion was exact ly what needed to be done. Unfortunately, it wasn't a popular decision. Blizzard, as you may know, have provided with the Expansion the capability to convert your old D2 characters to the Expansion (from now, D2X). Some people grabbed a copy of D2X on the day of release, eagerly converted their Clvl 90+ Whirlwind Barbarians and dove into the new Act V on Hell Difficulty to find some of these amazing new items they'd heard so much about. They then experienced this: 'What's this? My Barbarian can't hit anything! He's attacking really slowly! His life leech* isn't working very well! He's - dead! He's never died before! OMG, it's too hard! I hate Blizzard!' This has caused uproar in the D2 community. People who were just too used to being able to kill the hardest monsters in the game with ease are hating the new level of difficulty, saying things like 'I won't play again until Blizzard fix the difficulty' or 'I'll never buy another Blizzard game until I can solo on Hell again' What I'm trying to say is: it's for the best. Personally I think that the best thing Blizzard could have done would be to disallow character conversion and force people to start over, but that would have hurt sales. Still, if you think this would be a major problem for you, then I'd advise you to stay away from D2X. It's a much, much better game, though, so live with it if you can - you won't regret it. 2. - The Expansion Set Itself - Now that's over, I can begin to discuss some of that juicy new stuff, and explain how it makes D2X so much better than it's predecessor. I'll start with the two big, obvious new things - firstly the new act. - New Act - The new Act in D2X follows on from Act IV. This means that if you start a new character upon installing D2X then you'll have to play through Acts I to IV before you can see the new one. If you've defe ated Diablo on any difficulty already, then you can go to the Pandemonium Fortress (Act IV town) and talk to Tyrael, who will open a portal to Act V. The Act is set in the Barbarian Highlands - the general theme here is 'cold' where Act I was 'grassland', Act II was 'desert', Act III was 'jungle' and Act IV was 'fire'. The Act V town is called Harrogath, and consists of several NPCs who do all your services like repairing, buying, identifying etc. The meat of the Act consists of several 'surface' areas, which feature loads of catapults, barricades and fortified areas, and several 'ice cave' areas which feature icy demons. The Act in terms of area is larger than Act II, though probably not as big as Act III. Along with the Act come several new quests. There are six in Act V, just like there were in Acts I to III. The quests start off pretty mundane (kill Shenk the Overseer, a Unique monster) and get more interesting as you progress (kill the Ancients without leaving the Arreat Summit). The sixth quest is to kill Baal, the Lord of Destruction, and as a final boss he's not as hard as you might expect. Another great thing about the Act V quests is that they all come with a very useful, even vital reward: * Quest 1 - Maximum number of Sockets inserted into an Item of your choice. * Quest 2 - Set of 3 Runes (more later) and the ability to hire Barbarian Mercs. * Quest 3 - Permanent +10% to resistances and a Rare Item. * Quest 4 - Personalize an item by adding your character's name to it. * Quest 5 - Massive experience boost. * Quest 6 - Baal's item drop, final cinematic, completing the Act. These rewards are much more interesting and useful than the ones from previous Acts. - New Classes - The next important new thing is the new classes. Firstly there is the Assassin, master of martial arts, mental abilities and traps. Secondly we have the D ruid, emissary of nature and proficient in shapeshifting, animal summoning and Sorceress-style elemental magic. Both classes have, in true D2 style, 30 unique skills, 10 in each of the categories I mentioned above. They also both demonstrate creativity on the part of Blizzard. Take, for example, the Assassin's Martial Art skills. There are two types: Charge-up Skills and Finishing Moves. Attack an enemy with a Charge-up Skill and you get a little white orb floating around your character. Then, whatever finishing move you choose to do will get a boost based on the Charge-up Skill you used. You can charge up a Charge-up Skill three times to get an even more powerful effect in your Finishing Moves. The system is, quite simply, great fun to use and very clever. However you could play a completely different Assassin by focusing on Traps or Mental Abilities rather than Martial Arts. There are a lot of different ways to build a successful character, rather than in Classic D2 when there was usually just one 'right' way to do it and nothing else would work. A similar example exists in the Druid's Shapeshifting skills. The Druid has two forms available to him - the Werewolf and the Werebear. While in werewolf form he gets a boost to Attack Rating (the chance you'll hit an enemy) and attack speed, making him a quick, agile fighter. While in Werebear form he gets a boost to Damage and Defence, making him a slow, heavy-hitting tank. You could focus points in one form or the other, or use each form as you choose. There are also other abilities that expand the Druid's capabilities while shapeshifted, such as Feral Rage that gives the Werewolf form a violent life-leeching attack. Again you could make a totally different Druid by focusing in Elemental Magic or Summoning rather than Shapeshifting. -- Items -- Most Diablo 2 players will attest that the biggest aspect of the game was finding new and improved gear for your char acters. With the very best stuff extremely rare, people were at the point of selling ultimate rare exceptionals (godly items) for real money on eBay US. The most I ever saw something go for was US$ 170 for a single bow. Well, Blizzard weren't too happy with the items system in D2 either. Pretty much every character eventually used a setup that consisted exclusively of rare exceptional items. Other innovative approaches such as Set Items, Unique Items, Magic Items, and Socketed Items were completely ignored - they just weren't as useful. It's all changed. There are so many ways in which items have changed in the Expansion. I'll go through each type of item and explain how it's been changed. - Items in general - The main thing Blizzard have tried to do is to encourage players to use a variety of items, not just Rare Exceptionals. They have also tied this in with the difficulty issue I was talking about in The Great Character Conversion Uproar. Some of the new items in D2X are seriously godly, better than anything seen anywhere in D2. However, if you want these items, you're going to have to play the super-hard Hell Difficulty. Blizzard have offered much greater rewards for those characters willing and able to play at that level. - Normal > Exceptional > Elite - Diablo 2 items came in two levels. You started off in Normal Difficuly and could only find Normal Items. You might find, say, a Pike, a large spear, and a suit of Ancient Armour, the strongest type of armour. When you moved to Nightmare Difficulty, however, enemies had a small chance of dropping an Exceptional item. Exceptionals looked exactly the same as their Normal counterparts, but had a different name. Instead of dropping a Pike, the enemies might drop a Lance, the exceptional version of the Pike. Instead of a suit of Ancient Armour, they might drop Ornate Plate. The advantage with Exceptionals was that they had much higher base figures for Damage and Defen se than their Normal equivalents. Therefore if you found a Magic Pike with the magical property '+100% Enhanced Damage' and a Magic Lance with exactly the same property, the Lance would deal considerably more damage due to its base Damage of 27-114 as opposed to the Pike's 14-63. As such, Exceptionals were considerably more desirable but had much higher Strength and Dexterity requirements. One change that has been made to Exceptionals in D2X - they now have Character Level requirements to stop players from unbalancing the game by using them too soon. There was an Exceptional version of every single Normal Item that could be found in D2. The bar has now been raised in D2X. A whole new level of items has been added: Elites. Elite Items again exist for every Normal Item in D2 and boast base Damage and Defense values much higher than even Exceptionals. However, Elites require inhuman strength and dexterity values to even equip, as well as a Character Level requirement from 60 to 80. To continue the previous examples, instead of a Lance or Pike you might get lucky and find the Elite version, the War Pike, featuring 33-178 base damage but requiring Clvl 66, 165 Strength and 106 Dexterity. Elites are also very, very rare - the exact chance to find one is determined by your Clvl, but at the Clvls you'll need it's unlikely you'll see one outside Hell Difficulty. - Magic Properties - The range of magic properties has been massively expanded in D2X. Over 100 new modifiers exist, and many are improved, such as the 'add elemental damage' to weapons has been ramped up considerably since not nearly enough damage was added before. Also interesting are the 'Based on Character Level' properties. If you get an item that adds 2 Life per Character Level, the item will give you 2 Life if you are Clvl 1 and a massive 198 Life if you are Clvl 99. Again, rewards for characters that can level up that high. - Magic Items - Items in D2, regardless of their level (Normal, Exceptional, (Elite)) could come in different qualities, identifiable by the colour in which their names were written. Magic Items had blue names and were items enhanced with one or two Magical Properties. Magical Properties fell into two categories - Prefixes and Suffixes. A magic item could have one prefix, one suffix or one of each, but never more than one of each type. Magic Items in D2 were found regularly but were generally ignored, most characters selecting Rare Items, which could have from 3 to 6 Magical Properties. In D2X, Magic Items have been made more lucrative with the addition of Magic-Only Properties. These are properties that can appear on a plain old Magic Item but not on a Rare Item. For example in D2 there was a group of Prefixes that would add a given percentage to a weapon's damage. The best of them was the Merciless prefix, adding +80-100% damage. In D2X, two more modifiers have been added to this group: Ferocious, which adds +101-200% damage, and Cruel, which adds +201-300% damage. However, Ferocious and Cruel can only appear on Magical Items, not Rares. Therefore, you can easily get a Magical Item with damage far in excess of what you might see on even the best Rare Item. - Set Items - Set items in D2 had a green name, and each belonged to a set consisting of anywhere from 3 to 6 items. On amassing the full set, you got not only the magical properties of each Set Item in the set (which were fixed, not random) but a large set of additional enhancements for wearing the whole set. This was implemented quite badly in D2. Set items on their own were pretty useless, as they had no more than 2 magical properties, and the full set bonus though extensive was not worth taking up many item slots which could be better filled with Rares. They are much, much better in D2X. Not only have the number of sets been doubled, with some of the new set items being based on Excep tional and Elite gear rather than normal stuff, but the existing ones have been jacked up as well. Full set bonuses are now extremely desirable, but if you can't complete the set then you get a 'Partial Set Bonus' based on how many of the items you've got so far. The system works very well. It should be noted, though that set items are much rarer than they used to be - Rares seem more common, although Uniques remain the least common. - Unique Items - Identifiable in Diablo II by their snazzy gold names and unique artwork, Uniques were the rarest type of item in Diablo 2. They were basically Rare items with fixed stats. If I found two pairs of Unique gauntlets they would both be the same item. However if I found two pairs of Rare Gauntlets, then the stats would be completely different. There was one Unique for every base item in Diablo 2. Exceptional items did not have Uniques based on them. Save for a few, Uniques were generally ignored - particularly as the Unique weapons available had awful damage. Some were highly sought after and Uniques were considered great items for new characters due to their lack of a Clvl requirement. Uniques have again been increased with the Expansion. The best thing is the addition of Exceptional and Elite Uniques. This means all these new Unique items will have much better Damage and Defense. There is one Unique for every base Exceptional item in the game, but far fewer Elite Uniques. Elite Uniques in every form seem absolutely godly - some of the best equipment you could ever hope to equip a character with. However, they are impossibly rare. The only downside is that all Uniques now have a Clvl requirement, so no handing down those SoJs* to your starting character. (SoJ has a Clvl 30 requirement) - Sockets, and stuff to put in them - Remember Socketed Items in D2? Ignored more than Set and Unique Weapons, Socketed items were items which had no magic properties by default but had holes in which you could insert gems of varying quality. Unfortunately, the bonuses granted by putting even the finest gems into an item were much less than on a decent Rare item. This system is completely overhauled in D2X. The main problem with socketed items was that they could only be normal, not Magic, Rare, Set or Unique. Now, all of the items mentioned can have sockets, so it's an opportunity to customise and enhance the power of these items. Not only that, but there's more stuff to put in sockets too. -Jewels- Jewels are like Rings you can socket, only weaker. Like any Magic or Rare item, they come with magical properties. When you insert the Jewel into a Socket, the magical properties of the Jewel are added to the item. The bonuses available on Jewels are never as high as on Rings to prevent imbalance, but more powerful ones come along as you level up. -Runes- The cleverest new socketable thing. Runes are stones with magical symbols scribed on them. Like Gems, they give a fixed boost to the item depending on whether they are socketed in a Weapon, Armour, Shield or Helm. All Runes have single-syllable names and come in a strict order of rarity. El is the most common, and Zod the least. Including these two, there are 33 rune types. If, however, you get exactly the right set of Runes and put them in the correct order in an item with the exact right number of sockets then it becomes a RuneWord item and gets a gold name, like a Unique. RuneWord items have fixed properties, but are based on the item you do the socketing with. Some require only two common runes, ideal for low level characters. Others require six rare runes, but these are seriously godly items. Some Runes are extremely rare. According to game figures, the game will have one Zod Rune drop for every 144,000 El Runes that drop. This makes the Zod Rune probably the rarest single item in the game. If you do find one, you are most likely blessed. -Gems- The old s ocketable item, the Gem is still useful. The stats on all Gems have been boosted and the higher quality (Flawless and Perfect) gems are more common now. - Crafted Items - Crafted Items are a new quality of item in the Expansion. They have orange names and are never dropped by monsters. Instead, they are created using the Horadric Cube. Crafted Items have several fixed stats and several random stats, so you know partially what to expect. The recipes for creating Crafted Items usually consist of a Perfect Gem, a Rune and the item you want to make into a Crafted item. - Ethereals - Occasionally in D2X you might find an item of any quality (Normal, Magic, Rare, Set, Unique) that looks faded. These items are Ethereal and cannot be repaired in any way. Once they break, they are gone forever. The only way to save an Ethereal is to insert the ultra-rare Zod Rune, which makes it indestructible. As a bonus however, all Ethereal Weapons have 50% enhanced damage, and all Ethereal Armor has 50% enhanced defense. -- Monster Changes -- There have been a few changes to monsters, as well. All the enemies found in Act V are brand new, and some are very difficult. All monsters now have a class, which can be seen underneath their name tag: they are either Undead, Demon or neither of those. Some modifiers only affect one class of monster. In the higher difficulty levels, all monster levels have been put up - they used to be 25 levels higher on Nightmare and 50 levels higher on Hell. Now the increase is 33 and 66 levels respectively. However there is a hard cap on monster levels of 90, meaning that many of the monsters on Hell difficulty are level 90. If you get to the point where you can fight on Hell easily, then it means there are many more areas in which you can level up successfully. A welcome change. Also, Diablo, the boss of Act IV, has been made considerably more difficult and the timer upon his death has been removed. -- Mercenarie s -- Mercenaries have also been improved a lot in D2X, rather than being useless as they were in the original. You can now access a combined inventory/stats page for them, monitor their level and stats and equip them with armor, weapon and helm. They can also now follow you between Acts and difficulty levels, and if they die, they can be resurrected for a fee. It is currently a bit hard to get them to level up effectively, but this will be fixed in patch 1.09. Apart from that, they seem to die rarely and can inflict serious damage, so I would recommend taking one with you whatever level you are. In case of one being on low health, you can give them a potion by dropping it on their portrait in the top left corner. Yet another great improvement. - Misc Changes - Loads of additional 'convenience' changes exist. For example, you can view the exact % of enhanced damage or defense on items. You can also repair all equipped items with a single click on the new Repair All button, and items now sell for their maximum price without being repaired first. The game also adds support for 800x600 resolution, which gives more screen area to work with and is recommended. Belts can be filled with potions by shift-right clicking on a potion in a shop, and tomes can be filled in the same way. * Some explanations: Whirlwind Barbarian - Barbarian class character specialising in a skill called Whirlwind that could pretty much kill anything very fast. Skill made much worse in the Expansion. Static/Orb Sorceress - Sorceress that specialised in Static Field and Frozen Orb. Static Field took of a fixed percentage of a monster's health, making it great for strong monsters. This skill can be fired very fast, reducing enemies to a sliver of health, then Frozen Orb is used to finish off. Static in particular is worse in the Expansion. SoJ - The Stone of Jordan, a unique ring from Diablo 2 and probably the most popular unique item in the game. A cu rrency of sorts for the Diablo 2 community. 3. Congrats for reading down this far. Now it's time to sum up this Expansion Set, and all I can say is that Blizzard have really surpassed themselves. Like I say, it's a completely different game. Don't go into it expecting Diablo 2 with stuff tacked on- it doesn't work like that. Diablo 2 was a game that had a massive addiction factor, but had a lot of features with a good concept but no realistic use. The Expansion makes all these features into useful ones, making the gameplay much more varied. There are now hundreds of new possibilities, many of them designed to reward high-level characters. However, some people won't be happy with the new level of difficulty - but in my opinion it's one of the best changes. It makes you have to think and work at getting the best setup to be able to do it, rather than going in with a couple of skills and any old equipment and winning easily.
Diablo 2 Expansion Set: Lord of Destruction, is rather good. Forget that, it is very good. But I should clarify that it is a very, very good expansion to a merely decent game. Lord of Destruction accomplishes something impressive - it gives players a reason to go back to Diablo 2, even if they've already beaten it several times. Yes, ultra mega mega replay value. Lord of Destruction is based on the game expansion theory which states that in expanding a game, you don't just add more to it, but you enrich what existed before. While there is a new act added to Diablo 2, of greater importance are the two new character classes and host of additions and improvements to the existing game. Players may now assume the mantle of the Druid or Assassin. The Druid can call upon or become certain animals, while the Assassin makes use of fast attacks, traps, and martial arts to great effect. Neither of the characters play quite like any of the older ones, and both make for some very satisfying play, even if one of the Assassin's skills is way, way too useful. But all types of characters can make use of the many new improvements. Most of these revolve around socketed objects. In Diablo 2, socketed items may have items inserted into them to add attributes. Only gems were available to insert, and they mostly just added elemental damages. Lord of Destruction adds Runes and Jewels. Jewels are more unique and add a greater variety of effects, but the Runes are more interesting. There are about 25 types, each of which has a monosyllabic name. If you insert Runes in the proper order into the proper item with the proper number of sockets, you create a "Runeword" object with some really impressive abilities. Try, try and try again, and eventually you find the one you like the best. Hirable NPC companions now play a greater role. They can be outfitted with weapons and armor, be resurrected when they die and they can accompa ny you through the entire game. Beyond these improvements are other more subtle changes, such as the addition of Ethereal (non-reparable) items, a much larger personal stash and a huge number of new kinds of items, many for the new character classes and final Act. Speaking of which, the new Act steals the entire Diablo 2 show. Diablo is dead, but one of his brothers, Baal, Lord or Destruction, is trying to cause some major badness, unleash hell, etc etc, you already know the story. So, you go to kill him now. Set in the "Barbarian Highlands" this snowy stage makes for some of the best gameplay ever seen in a Diablo game. After the mostly non-interactive and chaotic Acts preceding, it is a great joy to storm military embattlements, burn catapults and kick down doors. Your base of operations is a city under siege and much of the action puts you on the front lines of a military campaign. The sense of immersion is greatly increased. It is a nice feeling, for example, to come across a Barbarian warrior, fighting to save his city, protect him from harm and use him like a a human shield to carve a path for you. The aesthetics of the new scenario deserve mention. While the expansion pack finally includes the option to view the graphics in 800x600 (hurrah !), the new Act takes better advantage of it thanks to some really lushous rendering. The music, however, should get the most honorable mention. In a time when really good game scores are extremely rare, the score for the Barbarian Highlands is an evocative mixture of at least a dozen of my favorite film scores, from Conan the Barbarian to Star Trek: First Contact (remember the opening credits ?) to The Princess Bride and far, far more. After the stale, repetitive tunes of Diablo 2's four Acts, the audio in Act V really lets you know you're in for something a little more special. In order to get to Act V you have to complete the game, as the way only opens af ter you slay Diablo. All is not completely rosy, though. Runeword objects are not totally functional, only working in multiplayer. One patch has already been released but it appears at least one more is one the way. While it is safe to say that the issues with Lord of Destruction are temporary and therefore will be negated by the staying power this expansion is sure to have, the curse of incomplete software is a big annoyance. Still, Lord of Destruction is a great example of what an expansion pack can be. Not only does it add length, but it improves the quality of the entire experience. If not for the bugs and the hefty £40.00 price tag, I would wager that a better expansion to a game will not be seen for some time. If you like Diablo 2 and have any interest in spending some more quality time alone with it, you can't go wrong with Lord of Destruction.