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Opinions 26 May 2023, 13:05

author: Dimitry Halley

I Braved the Diablo Expansion Blizzard Despises - No Regrets!

To quell the wait for Diablo 4, I dived into the most controversial Diablo expansion in history – Hellfire. And it was a blast!

Back at the GDC 2016 conference, David Brevik, one of the main creators of Diablo, was asked about Diablo: Hellfire. His reaction perfectly summarized why this addition has been itching Blizzard for over 25 years.

Oh my god, really? You're gonna bring that up? Basically, it was not made by us; we had a design doc, they didn’t follow it. They made a teddy bear quest. I was f*ing pissed. And that’s really it in the nutshell.

Next, Brevik elaborated on the subject and talked about what went wrong at the end of the 90s. The publisher of Diablo – Sierra – wanted to capitalize on the success of the original, while Blizzard was already working on Diablo 2. So, another team in Sierra was tasked with creating an add-on in an incredibly short time. Communication between the studios must have been even worse than traffic in Boston, and the end result was a hybrid of strange ideas, Blizzard's inserts, and abandoned concepts.

So after finishing Diablo 4 beta about a week ago, I felt a great Diablo emptyness... and I didn't know what could possibly fill it 23 years later. There was plenty of possibilities, but I am crazy, so I decided to go on a wild ride with Hellfire; I completed the expansion as a warrior, and, well, I got tendon sheath inflammation in my hand from clicking... so yeah, it's well worth playing.

How can you even play Hellfire today?

Diablo 1 along with Hellfire are easily accessible: on GOG, you pay less than ten bucks for the original bundled with this add-on, and the game runs without any problems on modern systems. Theoretically, you can adjust the gameplay using various mods, but like Liver King, I wanted the game vanilla!

Diablo: Hellfire, 1997, Sierra - I Braved the Diablo Expansion Blizzard Despises - No Regrets! - dokument - 2023-05-26
Diablo: Hellfire, 1997, Sierra

So why are people hating Hellfire?

Hellfire's issues are sometimes obscured, and other times glaring: the biggest complaint from fans is the inconsistency of the add-on with the original tone. In other wordss, Hellfire simply doesn't fit with Diablo. For example, the Hive dungeons evoke associations with the aliens, mainly with Xenomorph eggs. Both in terms of plot and sound quality, tasks, monsters, or item design, Hellfire doesn't match the predecessor.

If you ask Diablo fans what captivates them in this series, many of them will mention the unforgettable dark-fantasy horror atmosphere, which is simply missing in Hellfire. This difference becomes even more dramatic when we use the command line to unlock the entire content, some of which Blizzard clearly wanted to remove at that time. For example, the mission mentioned by Brevik, during which we find a little teddy bear for a girl, located in the deepest hellish abyss. And you can't forget about the farmer dressed up as a cow either. In addition, Hellfire is based on a fairly early version of Diablo, so you have to give up some of the improvements that later patches introduced to the game.

Would I recommend Hellfire?

At the last management coaching session, I was told: anger passes. If someone is furious, wait 20 minutes, and the conversation will become much easier. In computer games, it's similar: 23 years later, it's very difficult for me to imagine how disappointment people could have felt back then. After all, the excellent Diablo 2 came out anyway. And honestly, I know a million other disappointing DLCs and add-ons to games that were releasid since, which were much worse than Hellfire. Ask the fans of Europa Universalis.

And so I stand on the hill and boldly announce: I had a great time with Hellfire! Today, the addition seems more exotic than disappointing to me – and the Diablo formula still works, even in the case of the first part. Killing monsters, collecting loot, developing my warrior – it still works, although this clicking frenzy is starting to bother my wrist.

And Hellfire offers exactly the variety and freshness that I was missing in my first playthroughs of Diablo 1. Because fighting monsters feels equally fun in typical dungeons as it does in sci-fi dungeons. And thanks to the loot, I upped my chances in the confrontation with the Lord of Hell. So if you're looking for slightly different experiences in the world of Diablo, it's worth taking this slightly archaic journey into the dark past of Blizzard – especially since it goes for peanuts.

The original text appeared on Gamestar.de – we translated it as part of the cooperation within the Webedia group's services.

Dimitry Halley | Gamepressure.com

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