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In order to save you the trouble, Grim Dawn offers these so-called Merit tokens that allow you to beat the game once, and then instantly unlock the higher difficulties for your new characters. Diablo III, instead, now has a campaign-lite adventure mode and scalable difficulty settings. And starting with The Fall of Oriath expansion, Path of Exile has one big continuous campaign.
Even so, Diablo II can still definitely hold its own against its modern counterparts. That is with the exception of one major issue. Endgame. Diablo II essentially has none. You go through the game’s three difficulties, maybe hunt an Uber boss or two, and that’s that.
In that regard, Diablo III offers an essentially endless progression with Paragon levels, the increasingly difficult Greater Rifts, and seasonal challenges. Grim Dawn throws you into the endless depths of the Shattered Realm. And Path of Exile invites you to explore its Atlas of Worlds that essentially acts as an endgame campaign, and shakes things up once every few months with a new Challenge League.
Those approaches are infinitely better than whatever Diablo II has, but if you’re not looking for a continuous experience and just want a good campaign, then Diablo II is still a very much viable option.
Getting It to Work
So, how do you actually play the game today? After all, it was originally released over two decades ago. Well, for starters, you can buy a digital copy directly from Blizzard, although be aware that it won’t be added to your Battle.net client. You’ll need to manually install the game by using a couple of ancient-looking .exe files and then maybe run the game in compatibility mode before it updates itself to the latest version.
Other than that, the game runs just fine on a modern system, and its low resolution isn’t really a problem due to the relatively timeless art style.
If you’re looking to play alone, you can either go singleplayer or create a Battle.net character, which will give you access to some special events and an expanded library of Runewords. However, from what I gather, Diablo II’s Battle.net exists with little to no supervision, and as a result, is plagued by bots and cheaters.
If you’d like to avoid those, you can use the popular PlugY mod to get access to the Battle.net features in a singleplayer game, some quality of life features on top of that, and an expanded stash, which is absolutely crucial.
And if you’re looking for some online action, you can once again take the Battle.net route, or just connect directly to your friends. The latter approach will require you to do some port forwarding, but it’s not that big a deal, and it will allow you to utilize mods in multiplayer.
When all is said and done, Diablo II isn’t exactly a Jagged Alliance 2-type situation where a twenty-year-old game can still be considered the undisputed champion of its genre, but it’s not that far off from its modern counterparts. It does some things better, others worse, and in the end, it’s still a mighty enjoyable experience capable of entertaining you for hours upon hours.
You add a healthy dose of nostalgia, the game’s overall significance, and the relative ease of playing it today, and you get a title that pretty much everyone should have in their library.
And with Diablo IV already in development, and looking pretty good based on some early previews, we may still get a chance to listen to a new rendition of the Tristram theme and Whirlwind across the vast plains of Sanctuary.
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