Carrying on with my 20th anniversary play through of Diablo II. I wasn’t sure how far I would get, but I appear to have some momentum.
The first act of Diablo II sets the player up in an atmosphere that is reminiscent of the original Diablo. It could be seen as both the act that welcomes the players from the older game into something that feels familiar… everything is dark, and while there is a lot of above ground play, you spend a lot of time in dungeons as well… while introducing them to the mechanics of the new game.
Act Two changes things up. You run off to Lut Gholein, set in the bright desert wastes.
This is very different from the darkness of the original and what was in the first act.
But the structure of the act, based on six quests, remains the same. And, while there is a bright sunny desert to explore, the first quest sends you down below the town, a dark dungeon with a new tile set for the new act.
There you fight the first boss, which is where I lost my NPC helper. I managed to finish the battle, but I was a bit worried about getting her back. Something in the back of my brain said that you could only revive rogues back in the first act. But once I found the NPC who does the revives, I saw I did not need to travel.
Then it was back out into the desert sunshine.
But the desert is really just a way to put distance between your objectives. The major objectives of the act all tend to be deep in some dungeon somewhere. Somewhere.
Finding the dungeons can take a while as the random desert areas can be somewhat sprawling and you have to eyeball every grid of the map until you find what you are looking for.
The first thing you’re looking for is the Horadric Cube. Sure, finding it in the Halls of the Dead advances the quest line and Deckard Cain is impressed when you show it to him.
But the real reason I want the cube is that by this point in the game my stash has started to fill up with gems and the cube cans transform three of a kind into a higher quality gem. So it is time to clean up the stash.
Also, in a pinch, the cube is bigger on the inside than on the outside, so while it takes up four slots in inventory you have a dozen slots to play with when you open it up.
Once done there the Horadric staff is next on the list. That is further along into the desert in a warren of rather squelchy bugs.
After that, it is the head piece for the staff. Once you have that and have assembled them with the cube, you are off to the palace where the tale continues.
Somewhere deep inside is a portal to the arcane sanctuary. Things came forth from there and slaughtered those in the palace, so you have to clear your way down to it. This actually went very quickly. The random factor and the fact that the upper levels have two connections up and down, mean that it is pretty easy to just go a few rooms and find your way to the next level until you hit the cellars.
Those are a little more complicated, but I managed to stumble my way down to the bottom level and the portal to the arcane sanctuary.
The arcane sanctuary is very much its own place in the game. An Escher-esques series of ramps, stairs, and platforms, it isn’t one of my favorite bits.
There are a couple of challenges to this area. First, a lot of it is made up of narrow paths, so you do not have a lot of room to maneuver. More narrow than most dungeon hallways, you often find yourself having to plow though a wave of melee mobs to get to those casters in the back that are killing you.
But mostly the layout is such that your helper ends up getting hooked up trying to follow you because the pathing algorithm isn’t up to the complexity of the level. So I end up losing my rogue friend over and over. Sometimes the game decides to teleport her to me, sometimes I just have to do without. But you have to keep plowing through until you find the summoner, read his book, then jump through the portal that appears.
The symbols in that screen shot are all the ones that mark the false tomb. The real tomb is marked with the missing symbol, which is recorded in your quest log.
Though the portal puts you into the Valley of the Kings, right at the waypoint, which I always click immediately so I do not have to go through the arcane sanctuary again. It is visually interesting, but not a place I like to linger.
The it is off to Tal Rasha’s tomb.
There are six fake tombs and one real one. Back in the day I would run them all, just on the off chance of getting some good drops. This time I just went for the correctly marked one. The plinth with the symbol, the triangle, is just barely visible in the dark in the upper left of the screen shot.
From there it is another fun dungeon crawl to the room where you use the assembled Horadric staff.
At that point a passage is broken open in the wall, you can see it in the upper left, which leads to the final boss. I took the precaution of opening up a town portal in the staff room, just in case things went badly.
Fortunately, the fight went pretty well. I remembered, from past experience, that I needed to skill up cold resist aura for this fight. I also had saved a couple a couple of pieces of cold resist gear to wear for the fight, so I was able to do it in one go.
After that, the fighting is over. In the back of the chamber you will find the angel Tyrael who has a speech for you.
Due to the fact that we had a power blip before I saved some of my screen shots… Diablo II doesn’t do the screen shot thing so all I do is press Print Screen, then tab out to paste the captured image into Paint.net, which I then crop and save… I lost all of my original screen shots from Tal Rasha’s tomb. I was able to go back and recreate some… I fought Duriel twice… by Tyrael is gone after you speak to him. But I have a video i took back in late 2011 of that speech.
After that the act is pretty much done. You get comments from the main NPCs and are set for Act Three.
For whatever reason, I always seem to miss a couple of waypoints in this act. ITt happened back in the day, and it happened again now.
The Lost City is out in the desert, and once you find your destination and finish, you don’t need it ever again. Likewise, the palace can run so fast that you end up in the arcane sanctuary pretty quickly and can live with just the waypoint there.
So now I have made it through the first two acts and have been deposited in Kurast for Act Three.
Now to see if I get through that.