Having made it through the long and linear third act of the game, I was deposited in the Pandemonium Fortress, the base for the fourth act.
I tend to think of this as “the short act” as well. There are only three quests, two of which are optional, and three waypoints, including the one you start with. Feeling a bit of completionist drive, and knowing the act to be short, I took the time to take on all three quests.
The act itself takes starts in a gray hellscape as you follow the path to the final confrontation. Along the way I found Izual and confronted him.
Finding him is worth it as the quest reward is two more points for your skill tree.
After that, you keep moving forward… though I ran into a problem in getting to the next zone, The City of the Damned. The path there are some stairs that are on the edge of the zone and, after having circled the perimeter of the entire zone, I realized that there was one tiny bit off on one side that I had not gotten close enough to, so of course that was where the stairs were. But I fully explored that zone.
In the city you run into Hephasto the Armorer, who works at the Hellforge. Fighting him is a bit of a battle, and he drops some gems and runes when you defeat him.
But what you really need is the Hellforge on which you destroy Mephisto’s soul stone, which you have left over after defeating him at the end of Act III. That knocks out the second quest for the act.
From there you hit another NPC who gives you a pep talk about moving forward.
Tyreal has your final goal to hand as well.
From The City of the Damned you enter the River of Flame.
From that point you are on the route straight to Diablo.
This is where I started having some problems. I managed to fight my way through to the five seals that you need to unlock in order to release Diablo, but forgot that clicking them spawns a boss and some minions, so clicking two in quick succession got me in over my head and I died in an awkward spot.
Also, I had not thrown up a town portal. So it was back to the way point for a naked run to my corpse, where I put up a portal, then started kiting mobs away from my corpse. Of course, I died a few times doing that… and blew a bunch of gold reviving my mercenary each time as well.
Eventually I got things under control, but it was one of those situations where, after I had several corpses on the floor and my gear as yet not recovered, that I started thinking about calling and end to the run. I pressed on though, got my stuff and then, carefully, cleared out the area and clicked on the final seals.
And then Diablo himself shows up and the fight is on.
And then things were slow going. I am honestly surprised that my “seemed like a good idea at the moment” spec actually lasted this far into the game. But here, at the final fight, it was not cutting it. I wasn’t doing enough damage and was having to jump out through a portal for more heal potions (and to revive my eternally dead merc) way too often.
But I had planned for this. Not too long after launch Blizzard added a reward to one of the Act I quests that let you re-spec just once. I had been waiting until I hit a wall, so I decided now was the time. If not on the Diablo stage, then when?
Googling paladin builds, I came across the Hammerdin spec, where you go all in on Blessed Hammer, and skills that boost its damage. Once I had that set, I went back to Act IV and jumped back in to face Diablo.
It took me a bit to figure out how to use the spec… maybe I should have read that bit before jumping in… but I got it down after not too long and managed to bring Diablo down. Victory was mine.
I went back to the Pandemonium Fortress and got the pat on the back from everybody. I had defeated Diablo, something I probably last did more than 15 years ago. But I was not done yet. I had created my paladin as an expansion character, so there was another portal go jump through, to get to Act V, and another prime evil to slay, Baal
The first two acts I remember very well. I’ve gone back and run them many times. The third act was a bit hazy, while the fourth act is so short that there is little really to forget, save a few details that might get you killed.
But the fifth act, the expansion act… I was having trouble recalling anything at all about that except for being in a frozen tunnel at some point. So I pressed on.