author: Hubert Sosnowski
6 Things Diablo 4 Needs to Learn from Diablo 2
Diablo 2 might not be perfect, but it's still a classic game, which did a lot of things really well. I'm probably not the only one who would be happy if Diablo 4 borrowed some specific solutions from the cult-classic part two.
For some reason, Diablo 2 has been tested for the last 21 years on thousands of computers. For some reason, the refreshed Diablo 2 Resurrected has caused a small storm. And by a coincidence, it brought Blizzard better press than any one of their decisions of the last 5 years (which, let's face it, wasn't that hard). Chances are that the young and – let's hope – controversy-free team that was assembled for Diablo IV will repeat that success in terms of quality and PR. Especially if they take inspiration at the right moments from a noble ancestor from two decades ago.
Diablo 3 also has some pretty good elements – the combat formula outclasses that of Diablo 2 and most hack'n'slash games from the first decade of the 21st century. More expansive options related to mercenaries or random quests scattered around the map (not to mention adventure mode) are all great features. But several things in the entire history of the genre hasn't been implemented better by NO ONE but Diablo 2. And although some of them are somewhat hidden, they are the ones that decide about the power and playability of the old, somewhat stiff Diablo.
Runic words that create new opportunities, rather than merely reinforcing existing ones
For some reason at BlizzCon, the developers got an ovation for announcing this feature in Diablo 4. It's a system that gamers have longed for. Yes, the runic words in Diablo 4 are back in glory and splendor, albeit altered by fate. And if there's one element that doesn't quite sit right with me in the previews of the "itemization" system in the upcoming hack'n'slash, it's the interpretation of those classic mechanics. Don't get me wrong, I am at least intrigued by it because of its level of sophistication, but I also have my doubts.
Runes in Diablo 4 will work a little differently than in Diablo 2. In the classic, we looked for a strong enough "vanilla" item with the required number of slots to make a runic word work – and we put runes in there if we had them. With the right combination, we got incredibly good items, rivaling – and sometimes surpassing – the unique versions of different items. Sure, getting them was tedious, but it created new opportunities.
The system in Diablo 4 theoretically offers them even more, but it may come down to upgrading a very sparse set of items – let me explain what I mean. The Runes in D4 are to be divided into two groups: condition and effect. The former will require something from us (e.g. drinking a healing potion), the other will provide an effect (e.g. skills enhancement). And it sounds superb. It's just that you'll be able to theoretically insert them into any item, so that includes powerful unique items (or rather legendary ones, as they're currently called). So it will be reinforcing existing ones rather than creating new opportunities. Unless Blizzard puts some sort of restriction here.
The system from Diablo 2 wasn't perfect, since one of the patches was released, everyone was running around looking for Enigma, so you know – there are no perfect solutions and I give this new one a chance. But I'm not entirely convinced that it will work better than the old rune idea.