Diablo II: Lord of Destruction
It's probably fair to say that Blizzard has encouraged Diablo II fans to buy the expansion pack, Lord Of Destruction, in the same kind ot way Don Corleone encourages loyalty. The character skill and spell modifications imposed on the online community in their last tew patches have meant many players have found their elite characters dampened and have been 'persuaded' to buy the expansion pack to play through the higher nightmare and hell modes and pick up some new weapons to try and regain their status. Blizzard need not have been quite so militant because Lord of Destruction is good enough to have sold itself, but you can't help but have respect for that kind of sneakiness.
For those not so familiar with the Diablo world, Lord Of Destruction contains two new characters, the druid and the assassin, a fifth act that picks up from the end of Diablo II, two combat sets, plus a host of new weapons and items such as runes and jewels. Among some of the most notable 'tweaks' is the increase in damage of the Amazon's strafe arrow and the reduction in damage of her multi-arrow, which has meant a few pissed off Amazons who have previously poured all their skill points into multi-arrow.
A Bit Of A Tweak
There has also been a reduction in the amount leeching weapons leech, and the whirlwind skill of the Barbarian is now dependent on the speed of their weapon, rather than the standard whirlwind speed. Blizzard seems to be trying to create a level playing field to incorporate the new characters or it could be just a way of getting players to abandon their grip on the original five to give the two new ones a going over.
This has obviously worked, as the two new characters are proving immensely popular, and have boosted battlenet's already healthy attendance. The assassin has proved particularly tasty, as she employs the traits of most of the other characters, plus her own unique charge-up skills. The druid works in a similar way to the necromancer, but instead of summoning skeletons he summons wolves, bears and poisonous vines to his side. If tweaking the sorceress's spell-casting speed helped combat the ever-present problem of online lag, then this guy makes up for it.
Achange Of Face
What makes this expansion pack good value, is that by making-over the original characters, it changes the way the original game is played. Although the fifth act is sadly rather short when compared to the previous four, the enhanced difficulty levels, new weapons and rune words, have kept the trade channels buzzing, and you can't build a superior online character unless you jump in and show off the colour of your money. Blizzard has cleared things up since we last saw Diablo 2 online, the play is quite smooth even on a 56K modem, although there's lag with larger games. Lord Of Destruction is a good package for newbies and veterans alike.
Download Diablo II: Lord of Destruction
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Diablo is dead, hammered back to his own little Hades with a little help from yours truly. Only problem is the little devil's got a big brother and he's smokin' mad. So it's time to stock up on health potions and call up your friends because brother Baal is a callin' and he ain't going away without a fight.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Most expansion packs tend to focus on extending the gameplay of a game without tinkering too much with the actual game itself. Not so in Lord of Destruction.
The most noticeable additions to LOD are the creation of two new character classes, the assassin and the druid, which in itself make replaying the game's original levels worthwhile. Surprisingly, Blizzard managed to create characters that stand out from the original classes in both graphics and tactical advantage, each equipped with 30 unique skills and spells.
The assassin is a master of martial arts, which allows her to do increasingly deadly damage through charge-up attacks and finishing moves, deadly traps ranging from thrown fire bombs to complex proximity-triggered sentries, and the powerful shadow disciplines, a kind of psychic magic which modifies her attributes. The assassin is also the only class that can use the powerful and quick claw-class weapon.
The druid plays a bit like the necromancer with the ability to call creatures to his side, like ravens, grizzlies or deadly plants. He also can manipulate the elements, calling forth volcanoes, twisters or even hurricanes. My favorite druid skill is his ability to temporarily shape shift into a werewolf or werebear, creatures with increased speed, agility and fighting prowess.
The drawback with using the new character classes is that you will need to start the game, multiplayer or single player, fresh and fight your way through to vanquishing Diablo to get to the new levels. But the uniqueness of the new characters makes it a fun ride. If you decide to skip the replay and stick with your old characters you just need to convert them -- a one-time, one-way process.
The game still has lots of new things to play with even without the use of the new classes. Thousands of new class-specific weapons, armor and magic items are included in the game as well as new item sets and new unique items. The expansion adds rune words and jewels to the mix as well, making it easier to create or modify items. There are also charms, items which when held in your backpack grant magical enhancements, and ethereal weapons and armor, which are imbued with magical properties but are irreparable.
Lord of Destruction features a lot of minor changes that make gameplay more fun. Now you can heal and equip your hirelings, and even take them to new Acts. The game allows you to set up two sets of weapons/armor configurations and hotkey switch between them. LOD also features a larger character stash chest, eight new skill hotkeys, "repair all" commands, new automap features and a "fill tome" command. The biggest feature, of course, is the new Act, a fantastic addition set in the Barbarian Highlands and featuring six new quests. Not only does the new Act contain eye-catching glacier graphics, it also includes some of the hardest creatures, 50 new classes and seven new bosses to be exact, and the most difficult quests in the game.
As in the original Diablo II, you can play single or multiplayer, but the added unique items and increased difficulty make multiplayer a near must. Unfortunately the expansion doesn't include any changes to Blizzard's multiplayer Battle.net.
Although the graphics haven't really been changed in the game, the expansion does now allow you to play in 800x600 mode, which gives a wider view and seems to make the graphics less pixilated. Of course you can't forget the cinematic scenes for the new act, which remain at Blizzard's high standard.
Windows 2000, 98 or 95 PC, Pentium 233, 64MB of RAM, a 4X CD-ROM drive, the multiplayer installation of Diablo II, an additional 800MB on your hard drive, and a 28.8 modem or better and internet connection for Battle.net play.
It may cost a bundle at $30, but Diablo II: Lord of Destruction is worth the price. The expansion is so packed with new features, creatures, classes and items that you could mistake it for a new game. And with at least an additional 10 hours of play, the expansion is definitely worth the price. The best game of last year may feature the best expansion of this year.