Diablo is an action-adventure game developed by Blizzard North and released by Blizzard Entertainment in December, 1996.
Set in the Kingdom of Khanduras (located in the Diablo series world of Sanctuary), Diablo has the player take control of a lone hero as he or she battles to rid the town of Tristram of the titular Lord of Terror and his demon minions. The game was inspired by rogue games such as Moria and was initially planned to use claymation, but due to pressure from within Blizzard the game eventually ended up in 3D instead. Many of the features seen in the later games were present in Diablo I, such as several distinct classes, a multitude of skills, randomized items and dungeons, hordes of monsters, fast paced combat and multiplayer through Battle.net
Diablo was a best seller and following the first game's popularity an expansion pack, entitled Diablo: Hellfire, was released in 1997. The expansion pack was not developed by Blizzard but by Sierra Entertainment,
Diablo II's storyline progresses through four chapters or "Acts". Each act following a more or less predetermined path, although there is some random-level generation in wilderness areas and dungeons between key cities. There is a list of quests which are usually required to advance the story, though some are optional. In contrast to the first Diablo whose levels consisted of descending deeper and deeper into a Gothic-themed dungeon and Hell, Diablo II's style is much more varied. While Act I is similar to the original, Act II mimics canaan desert while Act III is supposedly based on the Maya civilization jungles. Act IV takes place in Hell and is the shortest, with just three quests compared to the other Acts that have six. The Lord of Destruction expansion adds Act V which continues the story where Act IV left off.
In addition to the acts, there are three sequential difficulty levels: Normal, Nightmare, and Hell; completing the game (four Acts in the original or five Acts in the expansion) on a difficulty setting will open up the next level. On higher difficulties, monsters are stronger and are resistant to an element, experience is penalized on dying, and the player's resistances are handicapped. However, better items are rewarded to players as they go through higher difficulties. A character retains all abilities and items between difficulties, and may return to a lower difficulty at any time.
Players can also create a hardcore character. In normal mode, the player can resurrect their character if killed and resume playing, while a hardcore character has only one life. If killed, the character is permanently dead and unplayable, and all items and equipment on that character will be lost unless another friendly character has the "loot" icon checked.
The game takes place in Sanctuary, the dark fantasy world of the Diablo series, twenty years after the events of Diablo II. Deckard Cain and his niece Leah are in the Tristram Cathedral investigating ancient texts regarding an ominous prophecy. Suddenly, a mysterious star falling from the sky strikes the Cathedral, creating a deep crater into which Deckard Cain disappears.
The player character (PC) arrives in New Tristram to investigate the fallen star. The PC rescues Cain upon Leah's request and discovers that the fallen object is actually a person. The stranger has no memories except that he lost his sword, which was shattered into three pieces. The PC is tasked with retrieving the pieces, a quest during which knowledge of an ancient line of humans known as the Nephalem is discovered. It is gradually revealed that this line, the result of the union of Diablo's angelic and demonic races, has not died out as first believed, and that the PC is in fact a Nephalem as well. A dark coven run by the witch Maghda attempts to beat the PC to the sword shards; once all three have been collected, Maghda seizes them and kidnaps Cain to force him to repair the sword for her own ends. However, with an uncontrolled display of power, Leah forces Maghda to flee, and the witch kidnaps the stranger instead. Cain, dying from Maghda's torture, uses the last of his strength to repair the sword and instructs the PC to return it to the stranger. The PC rescues the stranger and returns his sword, causing him to regain his memories. The stranger is the fallen angel Tyrael. Disgusted with his fellow angels' unwillingness to protect humanity from the forces of Hell, Tyrael cast aside his divinity to become a mortal and warn Sanctuary about the arrival of the demon lords Belial (Lord of Lies) and Azmodan (Lord of Sin).
To avenge Cain's death, the PC tracks Maghda to the city of Caldeum, which is controlled by her master, Belial. The PC kills Maghda, and rescues Leah's mother, Adria. Adria tells Tyrael and the PC that the key to stopping the demons is the Black Soulstone, which can trap the souls of the seven Lords of Hell and destroy them forever. In order to obtain the Black Soulstone, the PC resurrects the mad Horadrim, Zoltun Kulle. Kulle reveals its hiding place and completes the unfinished Soulstone, but is killed by the PC after he attempts to steal it for himself. the PC kills Belial and traps his soul within the Black Soulstone, freeing Caldeum. As Leah studies in Caldeum's library to find more answers about the Black Soulstone and Azmodan, she receives a vision from Azmodan, who tells her that he is sending an army from the ruins of Mount Arreat to take the Black Soulstone for himself. Meanwhile, the PC is revealed to be a Nephalem: an ancient line of humans descended from the union of angels and demons during Sanctuary's genesis.
Tyrael, Adria, Leah and the PC journey to Bastion's Keep, the only line of defense between Azmodan's forces and the rest of Sanctuary. While the others stay behind to protect the Black Soulstone, the PC pushes out from the keep into Mount Arreat. The PC kills Azmodan and traps his soul in the Black Soulstone. However, Adria betrays the PC and takes the Black Soulstone with the seven Demon Lords' souls inside. She reveals that she has been Diablo's agent from the beginning, and that Leah's father is the Dark Wanderer, who conceived her while being possessed by Diablo, making her the perfect vessel for the demon's physical form. Using Leah as a sacrifice, Adria resurrects Diablo. Having the souls of all the Lords of Hell within him, Diablo becomes the "Prime Evil," the most powerful demon in existence. He begins an assault on the High Heavens, the defending angels being no match for him.
Tyrael and the PC follow Diablo to the High Heavens while it is under attack. The defending angels warn the PC that Diablo is attempting to reach the Crystal Arch, which is the source of all of the angels' power. To prevent Diablo from corrupting the Crystal Arch and completing his victory over the High Heavens, the PC confronts and defeats him. With Diablo's physical manifestation destroyed, the Black Soulstone is shown falling from the High Heavens, apparently still intact. After the battle, Tyrael decides to rejoin the High Heavens but remains a mortal, dedicated to building a permanent alliance between angels and humans.
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