My 20th anniversary replay of Diablo II has reached Act III, which is beyond where I expected to get.
I have picked up Diablo II again a number of times over the years. I always play through Act I, which I said is very much the Diablo memory act. And I always get well into Act II, though the the Duriel fight is probably the first real check in the game to see whether you are geared and spec’d usefully. I save that one respec that you get until that fight at least, because that is usually the point where I have to get serious. You can get that far in the game with a strategy of “I’ll just carry more health potions!” Duriel is the first place that tends to fall apart for me.
But Act III… that doesn’t have any strong memories for me. Sure, I recognized it when I got there.
But in the first two acts I know what the quest are by heart. In Kurast I am just the new guy in town. Fortunately, Deckard Cain is there to keep me on track.
Part of the reason I forget Act III no doubt relates to its design, which isn’t all that exciting. It is very gray in tone, which is odd for a jungle I suppose, and lacks much in the way of interesting visuals.
It is also a very linear. Not the way that the Diablo III story zones are tightly linear, but there is basically one path forward. Kurast is at one end, Mephisto is at the other, and you just walk straight towards him, stopping occasionally for a dungeon along the way.
No portals, no change of scenery, no doubling back, just walk the jungle, clear the dungeons, find the waypoints, check in with Cain whenever the quest log says. It makes you wish for a bit of the Arcane Sanctuary again, just for a change up.
In that Diablo II way, you have to go collect some bits and pieces again, delving into one dungeon for a brain, another for a heart. They are always in the big shiny chests.
And all the while Cain and his pals back in Kurast are pushing you on with a false sense of urgency. You have to get moving, danger is at hand.
At the far end of the jungle is Travincal, a town clearly in a red district as everybody there is open carrying and the city council is very much anti immigrant… or at least anti me.
The council is kind of a tough fight. They are all mini bosses so I had to run in and out of the fight a few time. You can see I have a portal up in the fight for a quick exit. Also, my mercenary is down again.
The council defeated, you end up with the last drop you need, Khalim’s Flail, which you combine with his hear, brain, and eye in the Horodric Cube.
That assembled, it is back to Travincal to break the magic orb that opens up access to the final dungeon area, Mephisto’s lair, the Durance of Hate.
The Durance of Hate has a few mini bosses in the way, some of the alternate members of the council I think. This was the first time I ran into a mini boss with a serious defense buff, being immune to physical damage.
Fortunately my weapon does other types of damage as well, so he took a while, but we eventually knocked him down. Then there was some more clearing to do, but it wasn’t long before we were facing Mephisto.
He has some more of the council with him, and he delivers his big line, which is that we are too late, his brothers Diablo and Baal have already been and gone. The fight was tough, though not too bad. My merc died, as usual, but I was able to take him down without having to jump out of the fight more than a couple of times.
When he dies, you get his soul stone and return to town. From there you get the wrap up narrative and passage to the Pandemonium Fortress and the start of Act IV.
Act III did not feel as long as the previous two acts, though that may be more due to the lack of distinctive areas of dungeons. But when we talk about short, Act IV brings it. More on that in another post.